Rarity From The Hollow is described as a Children’s Book for Adults, and that is pretty much the only description you can give it! It’s a science fiction adventure with some very serious adult themes mixed with comedy to keep it relatively light hearted.
It’s interesting how the author keeps a balance between a completely surreal world and the real world and I like the continuity with characters. The plot is really complex and in some places very dark and it keeps you wanting to turn pages, I’ve found myself almost missing bus stops and coming close to hypothermia in the bath tub when reading this book because I was promising myself I’d stop at the next chapter and then carrying on regardless.
It’s a book I think I’d have difficulty recommending, because you can’t really explain it and I find that unless you’re promoting the exact theme a person likes they tend to refuse to read it. So I’ll say this, if you like reading, read it. If you don’t.. well I’m not sure why you’re here!
You’ll either like it or you won’t but it’s worth trying books out anyway. One thing I’ve learned during my time blogging is that books can surprise you. When I started this book, I wanted to hate it. I wanted to hate it for no other reason than I disliked Lacy Dawn’s name! That’s how fickle we can be. I’ve read horror books which I’ve hated, when that’s the main genre I’d say I like, I’ve read erotica books where the plot has blown other books out of the water.. you can’t label everything. Just try something new, something out of your comfort zone.. something like this!
Lacy Dawn is an 11 year old girl living in The Hollow in West Virginia, she’s living in poverty and dealing with domestic abuse, and she’s asked to save the universe.. and it’s actually really good.
There’s really not much else I can say, not for fear of spoiling the plot.. but for knowing where to start.
I enjoyed this book, and I hope there will be more Adventures to come!
As well as being lucky enough to get this book for review purposes, Mr Eggleton has agreed to answer some questions about the book;
Thank you for the opportunity to tell readers a little about myself, Rarity from the Hollow, and how a fun read can help prevent child abuse.
1. Tell us a little about your novel. What’s it about?
That’s a great question, especially since Rarity from the Hollow at first glance sounds like a novel written for Young Adults because it uses adolescent voice. Robert Heinlein, a grandfather of science fiction, used juvenile voice to address very serious gender and race issues of his day. So, I’m not paving a new road in literature with my work. Rarity from the Hollow is not intended for younger youth, or anybody of any age that is not open-minded about social issues. In the 1970s, Ursula K. Le Guinn coined the term, “social science fiction” and my novel fits better within that subgenre than any other. As displayed on its cover, Rarity from the Hollow is a Children’s Story for Adults. The novel contains social commentary and satire that kids are less likely to appreciate, if they “get it” at all.
My work utilizes science fiction cross-genre as a backdrop. It is not hard science fiction and includes elements of fantasy, everyday horror, a ghost — so it’ a little paranormal, true-love type romance, mystery, and adventure. The content addresses social issues: poverty, domestic violence, child maltreatment, local and intergalactic economics, mental health concerns – including PTSD experienced by Veterans and the medicinal use of marijuana for treatment of Bipolar Disorder, Capitalism, and touches on the role of Jesus: “Jesus is everybody’s friend, not just humans.”
While it doesn’t contain much profanity or any gratuitous sex, some early scenes are realistic, described honestly and with dialogue that corresponds. It is full of contrasts: harsh reality amplifies outrageous fantasy, bitterness blends into acceptance and empowerment, tragedy inspires comedy, and a biography of a victim becomes a science fiction story. It does not fit neatly into a genre, such as romance, horror or even speculative fiction. The story is sweet but frank with no holds barred. It addresses the complexities of real life, but presents sensitive topics that might trigger emotional distress with comic relief. My intent was for readers to enjoy the experiences that I created with everyday words and colloquialism, but not to gloss over realism in the way that some young adult titles accomplish.
The protagonist, Lacy Dawn, is the last person on Earth that one would expect to be charged with saving the universe. In a nutshell, Rarity from the Hollow is about a traumatized little girl who learns to be the Savior of the Universe with the help of an alien boyfriend, for when she’s old enough to have one, and her mentally ill family and friends. It’s up to readers to decide which scenes are dissociative as a result of Lacy Dawn’s severe traumas and which scenes are pure fantasy and science fiction. I hope that readers take away the sense that action empowers one to overcome any real or imagined tragedy.
2. That’s still a little vague. Can you tell us a little about your major characters? Maybe that would help describe your story.
Sure, but I’m not going to spoil the story for readers. As I mentioned, the protagonist is Lacy Dawn. She is an eleven year old who has evolved under the supervision of Universal Management for hundreds of thousands of years. Management believes that she is ready to assume her role as the savior of the universe. She may sound like a kid, but readers learn in the first scene that Lacy Dawn is not an average eleven year old. Lacy Dawn lives in a hollow with her worn-out mom, Jenny; her Iraq War disabled dad, Dwayne; and her talented mutt, Brownie. Dwayne, once a football star in high school, returned from the war with PTSD. Jenny didn’t graduate from high school, her teeth are rotting out from lack of dental care, and the family is in bad shape at the beginning of the story.
Lacy Dawn’s android boyfriend is DotCom (the explanation for his “silly” name is revealed in the story). He has come to the hollow with a mission – to recruit Lacy Dawn to save the Universe in exchange for the designation of Earth as a planet which is eligible for continued existence within a universal economic structure that exploits underdeveloped planets for their mineral content. At its beginning, this story feels sooooo serious, but then through tragedy or perhaps because of it, laugh-out-loud comedy erupts. Saving an entire universe is a big job for anybody. It takes more than just magic. Lacy Dawn needs a team. First, she motivates the android into helping her fix her family by putting her foot down and flat out telling him that she won’t save the universe unless he helps her first. The android agrees to the terms. After Dwayne is cured of his mental health problems and stops being so mean to Lacy Dawn and her mom, Lacy Dawn next arranges for Jenny to get her rotten teeth replaced, pass her GED, and to get a driver’s license. The mother feels so much better about herself that she also joins the team.
By this time, the android has fallen so deeply in love with Lacy Dawn that she has him wrapped around her little finger. Add a pot-head neighbor, Tom, who sells marijuana and has a strong sense for business transactions, Brownie, a dog who proves to have tremendous empathy for the most vile occupants of any planet (readers will also understand this comment when they read the story), and Faith, the ghost of Lacy Dawn’s best friend who was murdered by her own father (Faith is not dead – a metaphor of declining church attendance.) and the team is ready to embark on a very weird off-world adventure. On Shptiludrp (Shop Until You Drop), the team meets Mr. Rump and Mr. Prump. They are cockroach brothers who have evolved and now run the center of universal governance. A feud between the two brothers had lasted for eons and presents barriers to Lacy Dawn fulfilling her team’s mission. Mr. Rump is a metaphor of Capitalism, while Mr. Prump represents Socialism, a personality that is more true to their cockroach species.
Since the novel starts out with harsh magical realism in some scenes, including domestic violence, I will give away the ending — it has a Happily Ever After ending like a romance novel. It’s so outrageous an ending that I don’t think that this general comment will spoil the read for anybody, plus I don’t want readers to quit on the story after the third scene, the most dramatic, because they think that the story might be too depressing. It’s not. One reviewer found that it was “laugh-out-loud” funny in subsequent scenes. That’s all that I going to disclose about the major characters because any more might spoil the story. There were supporting characters in various scenes, but I think that you’ve gotten the a pretty good over view.
3. Tell us a little about yourself and your background. What inspired you be become a writer?
I was born into an impoverished family in West Virginia. My alcoholic and occasionally abusive father suffered from PTSD. He had been captured by the Nazis during WWII and had night terrors. My mother did the best she could, but I had to begin working as a child to feed my family. I started paying into the U. S. Social Security fund at age twelve, dreamed of a brighter future for my family, and have continued work for the next fifty-two years.
In the 8th grade, I won the school’s short story contest. “God Sent” was about a semi truck driver so consumed with theological debate that he caused a terrible accident. As it often does, however, life got in the way my dream of becoming a rich and famous author. I worked and went to school, never finishing any more stories that I’d started, mostly because I was just too exhausted. I started college in 1969, and except for a poem published in the state’s student anthology and another poem published in a local alternative newspaper, my creative juices were spent writing handouts for civil rights and anti-war activities, and on class assignments. I graduated in 1973 with a degree in social work. Afterward, I worked in the field of adolescent substance abuse treatment as I attended graduate school. My creative writing was still on hold. After earning an MSW in 1977, I focused on children’s advocacy for the next forty years. My heartfelt need to write fiction was dissipated somewhat by the publication of social service models, grants, research, investigative and statistical reports about children’s programs, child abuse, and delinquency.
I recently retired as a children’s psychotherapist for our local mental health center. It was an intensive day program Most of the kids, like myself, 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 that victimizes and exploits others to get anything and everything that they want. While my protagonist is a composite character based on real-life kids that I’d met over the years while working at the mental health center, one little girl was especially inspiring. Her name is Lacy Dawn. Rather than focusing on her victimization, she spoke of dreams – finding a loving family that respected her physically and spiritually. She inspired me to make my own dream come true, to write fiction and I haven’t stopped writing since I first met her that day during a group therapy session. Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel, the first full-length Lacy Dawn Adventure, and follows publication of three short adventures in magazines.
4. You mentioned several social issues. Readers might have differences of opinions, different positions on some of them. Do you think that some readers might find your novel too “preachy” for their tastes?
There are many messages in Rarity from the Hollow, everything that I have ever written and will write. That’s why I think of my writing as social science fiction – that’s what it’s all about. But that doesn’t mean that the messages will be interpreted by one reader the same as interpreted by another. I don’t write or want to read anything that is “preachy.” Heck, I don’t even think that religious literature, like the pamphlets that one finds on the floors of public toilet stalls, should be so preachy. I wouldn’t want to touch such content, even if it would have been delivered under more sanitary conditions. I want to write about important issues that one person may think support a particular position but the next reader finds the opposite. I don’t have the answers to the most important questions and challenges that humans face. Your question reminds me of a line from Rarity from the Hollow that a reviewer had pulled out and posted on a blog because she thought that it was significant for some reason:
A person can know everything, but still not have a true answer to an actual question.
One of my personal truths is that not enough is being done to prevent child abuse / exploitation in the world. I don’t think very many people, regardless of our diversity, would disagree with helping maltreated children in need. Author proceeds from the Lacy Dawn Adventures project, from sales of Rarity from the Hollow, have been donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia: http://www.childhswv.org/
5. Which authors have influenced your writing?
I’m not sure that you have enough bandwidth for me to make a complete list of inspirations, so here’s a few. Of course, Heinlein’s determination as an aspiring author after having been rejected so many times inspired my own persistence. Also, the way that he progressively treated racial and gender issues in his fiction at a time when science fiction was regarded a pulp for kids inspired me to consider incorporating social commentary into my fiction. Ferlinghetti, the poet of the Beat Generation, showed me how to enjoy my anger about political and societal issues. Similarly, Vonnegut’s anger in Breakfast of Champions helped me stay strong as a children’s advocate and as a writer, and how to continue to have fun experimenting with my writing style outside of commonly accepted structures and formats. One book critic found that the writing style of Rarity from the Hollow was a quarter-turn beyond Vonnegut. I’ve already mentioned Ursula K. Le Guin as a role model of social science fiction.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter series reinforced my faith in the potential of adolescent morality and the future of the world, which was comforting. The protagonist in Rarity from the Hollow just had to be a kid. Watership Down by R. Adams was such a sweet adventure that some of this element just is a necessary ingredient of even the scariest or saddest story. I want my writing to be as hopeful regardless of barriers. I incorporated sweetness into the character of the android and the dog in Rarity from the Hollow. The versatility in cross-genre and the use of humor by Bradbury – I have enjoyed everything that he’s written. It taught me that people finish what they read because they are experiencing enjoyment. Recreational reading is not like a homework assignment. I kept this lesson in mind to ensure that Rarity from the Hollow would be a fun read despite its introductory tragedy. Dean Koontz and Stephen King have been masterful. Nora Roberts knows how to get me in a romantic mood. These elements were incorporated into my writing, except, for me, romance has to be based on true love, real or imagined. Lacy Dawn lets the android kiss her on the cheek, once, period, and there has never been a stronger love. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by D. Adams and Another Roadside Attraction by Robbins pushed me into the wilder side of writing regardless of censorship, as did the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics. I was influenced to speak the truth as the characters saw it in Rarity from the Hollow, regardless of whether the story fit within a preconceived publisher’s sales formula.
6. What are you working on now? What can readers expect?
My intention is to write Lacy Dawn Adventures, short and full-length. Rarity from the Hollow is the first full-length adventure to have been published. There have been three short adventures published in magazines. Lacy Dawn’s age can vary among the adventures. After all, she is actually thousands of years old and powerful enough to represent any age that she chooses. Lacy Dawn is a teenager in Ivy, the next full-length adventure to be published, she was eight years old in a story entitled, “Stainless Steel,” but that is not a Young Adult story either. She is an adult with a hologram double in a story that is pending consideration by a magazine and entitled, “My First Real Job,” which would likely fit Young Adult genre because of the action scenes, but kids would probably miss most of the satire and metaphors. My future writing depends on reception. If Rarity from the Hollow is well received, I would enjoy more speculative fiction. However, I have an interest in most genres. I even occasionally read a Romance novel. Yes, older guys can still feel romantic. I’m not sure that I’d be very good at writing sexy scenes, but it might be fun to try.
7. What are your favorite things to do in your spare time?
Since I don’t have very much money in the personal budget for recreation, I’m so fortunate that my favorite things to do in my spare time are very cheap. I enjoy writing. I enjoy reading. I read and write in all genres, except extremely technical nonfiction. Every scene that I closed when writing Rarity from the Hollow was a thrill, and, all in all, that adds up to one heck of a lot of fun times that were shared with friends and family.
Maybe it sounds a little warped, but I also enjoy getting practical things done, especially things that have longer life-spans, like semi-permanent home repairs, building construction – I love working with concrete, block, and stone because it lasts so long. And, if you accomplish building something with those materials, every time that you see it brings back a sense of accomplishment. This attribute was assigned to Dwayne, Lacy Dawn’s father in Rarity from the Hollow. There were scenes of home improvements after the father’s mental illness had been cured with the help of the android. My favorite was when Dwayne hung the family’s first door on their bathroom.
In stark contrast, I hate changing the cats’ litter box. Who doesn’t? But, for me it’s not just that it’s a nasty job, it’s that the cats are just going to crap in it the minute after it’s clean. Duh! “Couldn’t you have done that business a few minutes ago?” I sometimes fuss at one. Oh well.
I enjoy video games, but I try to stay away from them because I’m easily addicted, and I hate that feeling – addiction. I enjoy vegetable gardening, but I never could get into flower gardening, probably because flowers don’t taste good – after all that work, they just wilt. I enjoy a good movie, but it has gotten so expensive that I get bummed out if the movie sucks. “Lacy Dawn Goes to the Movies” was the name of one of the chapters in Rarity from the Hollow. It was a documentary about her role during human evolution toward development of savior attributes, but she really wanted to go to the movies to see her first Harry Potter film, like the other kids at her school were talking about.
I enjoy a lot of music, especially if I discover a new band that sounds like one from when I was younger, especially psychedelic rock. You might be amazed at how much new music, especially Indie, sounds so much like the music from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Metallica was the feature band in Rarity from the Hollow. A very well-known and highly respected science fiction book critic noted the significance of the selection of Metallica as the featured musical act in his book review:
“…Eggleton has crafted a novel that deals with social commentary mixed with some eerie science fiction and a strange problem that Lacy has to solve to save the universe with the help of her family and her dog, Brownie. I can almost hear a blue grass version of Metallica while reading this. I expect to see more from Eggleton and Lacy Dawn. Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.”
— Barry Hunter, The Baryon Review
In a nutshell, and I could go on, I enjoy life and will be disappointed when mine runs out, unless there is something better on the other side.