Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Book Spotlight: Rarity from the Hollow {Gatecrash Tuesday!}

Title: Rarity from the Hollow
Author: Robert Eggleton

A brief synopsis; 

Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in The Hollow isn't great. But Lacy has one advantage -- she's been befriended by a semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It's up to her to save the Universe.   To prepare Lacy for her coming task, she is being schooled daily via direct downloads into her brain. Some of these courses tell her how to apply magic to resolve everyday problems much more pressing to her than a universe in big trouble, like those at home and at school. She doesn't mind saving the universe, but her own family and friends come first.   Will Lacy Dawn's predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?  Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. It is a children's story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended.

Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next -- never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency. 

Today, he is a recently retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/ Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

You can find Robert at his Website, Twitter, and Facebook


"If I could, I would give Rarity from the Hollow as many stars as there are in the universe." - , On My Kindle review.

A Victim Empowered
Lacy Dawn: The Protagonist of Rarity from the Hollow

I’ve worked in the field of child advocacy for over forty years. A few months ago, I retired from my job as a children’s psychotherapist from an intensive mental health program. Many of the kids in the program had been abused, some sexually. Part of my job was to facilitate group therapy sessions.

One day in 2006 during a group therapy session, I was sitting around a table used for written therapeutic exercises, and a skinny little girl with stringy brown hair sat a few feet away. Instead of just disclosing the horrors of her abuse at the hands of a very mean daddy, she also spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future: finding a loving family who would protect her.

This girl was inspiring. She got me thinking again about my own hopes and dreams of writing fiction, an aspiration that I’d held in since I was twelve years old. My protagonist was born that day – an empowered victim who takes on the evils of the universe, Lacy Dawn. As I considered character attributes, Lacy became a most unusual savior of the universe.

I’m sure that you are aware of the history of females in science fiction, including the scantily clad women on book covers and comics, subservient women, Captain Kirk finding beautiful alien women to boldly go where no man has gone before…. Even after women were represented as powerful, Batgirl was still sexy (as ranked in the 2011 Comic Buyers Guide), a Muslim Pakistani American teen superhero (Kamala Khan) is dressed as if she could be a Playboy model from the 70’s (if she were a few years older -- she’s only fifteen and obsessed with online guys), and females are granted extreme physical prowess. A level of violence that competes with males still seems to be a prominent characteristic of power for female heroines in many stories.

Lacy Dawn, protagonist in Rarity from the Hollow, is not sexy or physically strong. Sure, if she punched you in the upper arm with a bony knuckle it might hurt a little, but…. So, in a science fiction story, how could a female protagonist who has no sex appeal or physical expertise in battle rise to become regarded as the most powerful being in the universe?

To a far greater extent than some adults want to think about, average eleven year old girls know something about sex and sex appeal. From Barbie dolls to superheroes, it’s everyplace. Sex would be hard for kids to ignore. In the novel, Lacy Dawn knew about sex, but had also witnessed how ineffective that it was when used by her mother to stop domestic violence in their home. I don’t know how or whether looking sexy has actually helped other super heroes beat evils like vampires, armies, aliens…and when Lacy Dawn grows up a little I’m sure that she will find some use for it, but probably not as a weapon of good over evil. In a couple of scenes, Lacy does seem to use something to manipulate the emotions of males, but it wasn’t sex appeal. It was a green aura of self-confidence that demanded respect.

During group therapy sessions, Lacy Dawn’s real-life BFF was a sexually abuse child. Sadly, sexually abused children typically have premature and twisted knowledge about sex because of their horrific exposures. The easiest thing for me to have done when developing the protagonist of Rarity from the Hollow would have been to have turned a blind eye to the entire matter. To keep the story honest, I instead looked to the real-life Lacy for direction. I modelled the fictional Lacy Dawn based on my observations of positive and supportive peer relationships when such an awful secret is shared, such as between two kids at school.

I named Lacy Dawn’s best friend in the story Faith – a metaphor for “faith is not dead.” In real-life, these girls were mutually empathetic, not sympathetic and there was no drama, such as public outbursts. Lacy Dawn had more positive impact on Faith than any therapeutic treatment model or medicine could have hoped to accomplish. It was an unconditional empathetic love, a trust bond and a powerful tool! The proper application of empathy may be more powerful than the proper application of a light saber. Highly evolved empathy skills were incorporated into Rarity from the Hollow as a source of power, similar to the power of Batgirl’s acrobatic skill, Xena’s sword, or the custom flamethrower used by Ripley in Alien.

The sexual abuse of Faith was briefly mentioned twice in Rarity from the Hollow: an opening scene when it is acknowledged and Lacy Dawn then redirected Faith to focus on studying for a spelling quiz, and a scene when Lacy Dawn contemplates spending the night with a genderless android who lives in a spaceship to avoid domestic violence at home (“Safe House”). Faith is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth (no scenes) early in the story and plays an annoying and comical ghost for the rest of it.

Despite the fact that there are only two brief mentions and no scenes of sexual abuse in the story, several book reviewers have noted the sexual abuse in Rarity from the Hollow. Is there a message some place in this phenomenon? Perhaps individuals should be defined by full attribution and not by their victimizations? Lacy Dawn knew that Faith was much more than a sexually abused kid, and treated her that way. That was another power possessed by Lacy – to hold a holistic view of a person, including during conflict, on that affirmed relationships in common interests. A vision of commonality between opposing forces – capitalism vs. socialism – enabled Lacy Dawn to save the universe in the story.

Lacy Dawn had no sex appeal and no aspirations to improve that skill. She had no powerful weapons, not even a sword. She had no magic other than to levitate so that she did get mud from the path on her sneakers when travelling through the woods, and a heightened ability to see inside of people. But with a look and logic, she influenced the thinking and behavior of those who held the power and authority over all civilizations on thousands of planets. Personally, I’d rather face a thousand raging warriors than to risk one dirty look from Lacy Dawn of Rarity from the Hollow.

I don't think I could have picked a better day to have this guest post than today, on International Women's Day. Thank you, Robert, for this heart-warming contribution.

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