Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the four hundred and thirteenth, is of cross-genre author Robert Eggleton. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Robert Eggleton was born into an impoverished family in 1951, the oldest of four children. He grew up in low income neighborhoods surrounding Charleston, West Virginian, U.S. His alcoholic and occasionally abusive father suffered from PTSD, called “shell shock” back then – night terrors caused by WWII traumas – and had difficulty holding onto a job. Robert’s mother did the best she could, but Robert had to begin working himself as a child to feed his family. He started paying into America’s Social Security fund at age 12, dreamed of a brighter future, and has worked at various jobs for the next fifty-two years.
In the eighth grade, Robert won the school’s short story contest. The award made his dreams concrete – A Writer. As it often does, life got in the way of his dream. The Vietnam War motivated him to go to college to avoid the draft. As covered by local press, Robert organized antiwar protests while attending college. Except for a poem published in the state’s student anthology and another poem published in a local alternative newspaper, his creative juices were spent writing handouts for antiwar activities and on class assignments. He graduated in 1973 with a degree in social work and with no student loan debt.
Robert worked in the field of adolescent substance abuse treatment as he attended graduate school at West Virginia University. His dream, creative writing, continued to be “on hold.” After earning an MSW in 1977, he focused on children’s advocacy. He helped establish a shelter for runaways, a community-based residential program for high risk youth as an alternative to putting kids in huge institutions, and a state-wide network of family-like emergency children’s shelters. His heartfelt need to write fiction was dissipated somewhat by the publication of nationally distributed social service models, grants, and research on children’s issues.
Robert’s dream of becoming a creative writer continued to take a back seat to nonfiction when he accepted a job as a juvenile investigator for the West Virginia Supreme Court. He worked in this role from 1984 until mid 1997. During this period he was the primary author of dozens or investigative reports on children’s institutions, and statistical reports on child abuse and delinquency published by the Court, and now archived by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
After running a small nonprofit agency that served people with developmental disabilities, Robert went back home to direct services. He accepted a position as a Therapist in an intensive outpatient children’s mental health program. Most of the kids, like Robert, had been traumatized, some having experienced extreme sexual abuse. One day at work in 2006 it all clicked together and the Lacy Dawn Adventures project was born – an empowered female protagonist beating the evil forces that victimize and exploit others to get anything and everything that they want.
Robert soon found out that it takes much more than good creative writing to become an author. It wasn’t like in the 8th grade when his hand-printed story had won the school’s contest. He was naive about the protocols within the marketplace. Technology was in a period of rapid advancement with publishers presenting a mixture of electronic and traditional submission guidelines and publication formats. Robert was lost. A day after he registered for his first ever science fiction forum experience, he was banned for life due to what the moderator said was self-promotion of his debut novel.
The next day at work, Robert reassessed his life-long dream of becoming a creative writer. During a group therapy session, he looked into the kids’ faces as they disclosed the horrors that they had experienced. It fueled his determination to make his own dream come true and he dedicated half of any author proceeds to a child abuse prevention program.
Subsequently, three short Lacy Dawn Adventures were published in magazines. Robert then found a publisher for his debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow – a traditional, small press located in Leeds. Since the publisher was willing to bear all upfront costs, Robert signed the contract and Rarity from the Hollow was released in 2012 as a paperback and an eBook by Dog Horn Publishing.
Robert then learned that release of his novel was the beginning of a long journey called marketing. His novel has received glowing reviews, most notably by long-time book critic Barry Hunter and by the Missouri Review, award winning authors Darrell Bain, and Piers Anthony, and others, Robert’s writing was compared to that of Vonnegut by the editor of the Electric Review, A Universe on the Edge. A retired editor of Reader’s Digest published that Rarity from the Hollow was the best science fiction that he had read in several years.
Four months ago, Robert retired from this job as a children’s psychotherapist for the local mental health center so that he could concentrate on writing and promoting Rarity from the Hollow. He is holding off on the release of the next Lacy Dawn Adventure, Ivy, until he achieves greater name recognition. Shorter works are pending consideration – two poems and a short story have been submitted to magazines. Another very short story has been entered into a contest. Robert is finally pursuing his life-long dream of becoming a full-time creative writer, but he may need to get at least a part-time job in order to pay his bills in the meantime.
And now from the author himself: