Please give a warm welcome to author Robert Eggleton! Today we chat about personal influences, YA SFF literature, Tom Sawyer, and plenty more. And don’t miss out on the International EBOOK GIVEAWAY of Rarity from the Hollow at the end of this post!
1. Who are your non-writer influences?
I am so fortunate, Susan, to have been involved with many positive influences in my life. As with many folks, my mother was the biggest the most influential. She was one tough cookie – faced barriers without flinging, at least not so her kids could see her struggles. She understood and practiced unconditional love, taught her children well – to respect diversity, to work hard, to dream, and to laugh.
There’s a long list of people that were influential, kind without condescension as I was growing up. When I was a boy, a manager of a grocery story hired me to clean and paid me in food that fed the family, kept it intact. He taught me to work hard for those things most important, like family. Another manager gave me my first real job when I was twelve – cleaning a drug story for which I was paid in real money, social security deducted from check with my name on them. Special thanks and accolades go out to Chief Miller of the St. Albans, West Virginia, Fire Department. Not only did he save my life by dragging me out of a house fire that killed my father when I was thirteen, that man took me home with him to life – kindness to strangers. I’ll never forget that man, and he didn’t forget either. Years later, after the fire, I had finished my graduate degree and was working for the West Virginia Supreme Court – he called me at work a couple of weeks before he died. My list of positive influences during childhood goes on, and on, and on…….
As a young adult and on into adulthood, to this day, my fortune has continued. From my eight grade English teacher who motivated me toward creative writing, to a zillion brave kids who protested the Vietnam War with little recognition for their hard work but kept it up until that war ended, to Dr. Wiggins, a philosophy professor at West Virginia State College who influenced me by demanding critical thought, all of those famous role models who cared about justice and fair play, like Martin Luther King, Jr.,… man, there are so many that it’s not possible to name the most influential.
My wife has been highly influential and continues to reinforce my love for academics – she’s the smartest person that I’ve ever met. She’s like a Trivial Pursuit expert or something. My son has been a tremendous influence on me, especially in this world of rapidly changing technology. He won’t buy it when I make an excuse that I’m too old to learn new technology or to keep up with new musical groups. I has kept me thinking young.
I can’t tell you the name of the biggest recent influence on my life because it’s confidential information protected by law. I call her Lacy Dawn, the protagonist in Rarity from the Hollow, but she’s a real-life, skinny, brown haired, eleven eye old girl that I met when I was a children’s psychotherapist. I recently retired from our local mental health center after working in the field of children’s advocacy for over forty years. One day in 2006, Lacy Dawn was sitting around the table from me during a group therapy session. Instead of simply disclosing her victimization, she spoke of hopes and dreams – finding a loving permanent family who would protect her mentally, physically, and spiritually. She’s the most powerful person that I’ve met in my life. Lacy Dawn influenced me to make my own dream come true – to become a writer of fiction and to never give up, on anything.
2. Is there a book to movie/TV adaptation that you found excellent?
I am looking forward to Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clark being shown on the SyFy channel later this year. That’s one of my favorite books and I hope that the producers pull it off in the manner that it deserves. Personally, I thought that 2001: A Space Odyssey was a masterpiece of a book and movie both, but I’m sure that some would disagree. Even though the movie deviated some from the books, I loved The Lord of the Rings and who in their right mind would or could disrespect Harry Potter on paper or screen. Maybe it was just my corresponding moods as I read the book and watched the movie, but I close with my personal number one: Jurassic Park, written by Michael Crichton and the film directed by Stephen Spielberg.
3. What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?
I would love to have a den or a home office to write in, and if I did it would probably be messy with notes and open books. My wife and I live in a small house that has become almost a library because it is filled with books. I write in the living room and get fussed at by my wife for not keeping it neat. I point the finger back at her because she’s the one who refused to adapt to eBooks. Books seem to be dust magnets and, especially with the older ones, vacuuming is tedious so as not to damage their covers. Frankly, I don’t think that “neat” is a term applicable to my writing environment.
I can write anywhere. Actually, since I was a kid I do write everywhere, all the time, even in my dreams. Writing is not the issue. It’s the recording of the writing. For example, I used to write poems on scraps of paper, including in restroom stalls, at the park, any place or time that life forces coalesced. Guess what happened to all those papers? Right – the washing machine drain or clothes dryer filter. That’s life. To produce writing I need a PC now. I’ve tried laptops without success. When I leave my house, such as to go to a restaurant, I take paper and pen, jot notes if an idea strikes, but I need a full sized monitor and keyboard to actually produce. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older.
4. If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in YA SFF literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?
The poorest selection of books for a syllabus on college level YA SFF would be popular YA SFF books. Students who would register for such a class either would already be experts on those books or would have been looking for easy elective college credits. As the professor, it would be up to me to spoil the party.
In the tradition of literary fiction, I would ask each student to select a novel that targets an adult audience and covert it in a summary to YA, and convert a chapter of it to YA writing style. Then, make a presentation to the class with their classmates functioning as editors who “censor” YA content. In my opinion, adults are harsh censors, children are much more astute about the world around them than adults want to acknowledge, and college age is a time where a proper balance could be found, but not likely to make it through an editor and achieve publication. The final exam would be an essay on the practical ethics of self-censorship when writing YA novels. Since the essay is a personal opinion, every student who completes the assignment fully, by instruction to the letter, would get an ‘A.’ The students who didn’t complete would be sent to the eternal slush pile until they grew up and decided to write stories for adults.
5. Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?
I would love to share an awkward fan moment if I had one. The closest that I could describe would be friends and acquaintances wanting to compliment my writing and to talk about Rarity from the Hollow. In summary, I shrug at compliments because they cause me to feel awkward.
Sometimes I think that artists are the worst interpreters of their own creations, possibly the last to understand where it all came from. A good example would be the lyrics to the 1967 rock song by Procol Harum, “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and the lyrics have been interpreted many times with as many incongruous findings. The lyricists think that the song was about picking up a girl in a bar. Personally, I think that the creation of this and many great works are attributable to a power greater than the humans through with the inspiration flowed. I know. That sounds totally flakey.
Still, this belief affects the way I react to compliments, or criticism, and also affects the way that I regard works by others. Recently, for example, Rarity from the Hollow received a Gold Medal from Awesome Indies. The reviewer found, “…profound observations on human nature and modern society….” Maybe that’s so, but maybe not. Regardless, it even makes me feel weird to be in the same room with someone when they read such a high compliment, so I usually excuse myself. And, in any case, I’ll take full blame for what’s wrong with the story, but believe that some of what’s right about it, the magical parts, is beyond me.
6. What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?
The only geeky argument that comes to mind is whether or not it was an antiracism stance, a subliminal political message by J.K. Rowling when Harry freed Dobby from the Malfoys by giving him one of his socks. This argument escalated into a debate about social activism and fiction, yada yada, yada. I know that it sounds stupid, especially between close friends, but his argument actually got heated. Fortunately, my friend’s wife interjected something that took both sides of the debate, and that ended the argument. I, personally, still feel that science fiction fuels science fact, both technologically and socially. And, my friend still thinks that good fiction is pure escapism. I don’t remember exactly what his wife said but it was something to the effect that the best fiction is a work that one escapes into while addressing the realities left on the outside, in the real world. I don’t know. It sounded smart at the time – smart enough to end our argument.
7. What is the first book you remember reading on your own?
Tom Sawyer is the first book that I remember reading on my own. It had a lasting impact on my life, especially with respect to the balance between work and pleasure.
8. You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?
Since I get to pick someone to run an obstacle course with me it might as well be the best athlete. I pick Bruce Jenner in his prime as a runner, her prime now. After we win, the libation would be spring water in abundance to the great God of Equality, the one true god who ensures that haters are unhappy humans.
Lacy Dawn is a little girl who lives in a magical forest where all the trees love her and she has a space alien friend who adores her and wants to make her queen of the universe. What’s more, all the boys admire her for her beauty and brains. Mommy is very beautiful and Daddy is very smart, and Daddy’s boss loves them all.
Lacy Dawn, the eleven year old protagonist, perches precariously between the psychosis of childhood and the multiple neuroses of adolescence, buffeted by powerful gusts of budding sexuality and infused with a yearning to escape the grim and brutal life of a rural Appalachian existence. In this world, Daddy is a drunk with severe PTSD, and Mommy is an insecure wraith. The boss is a dodgy lecher, not above leering at the flat chest of an eleven-year-old girl.
Yes, all in one book.
It is a children’s story for adults with a happily ever after ending.
Places to Find Robert Eggleton
Open International! Robert Eggleton is offering up 6 ebook copies of his book Rarity from the Hollow. To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) Leave a way to contact you; 2) What YA SFF books have you enjoyed? This giveaway ends Jan. 31st, 2016, midnight.