Robert Eggleton speaks passionately about child maltreatment, just as he creatively gets the message out in his book, "Rarity from the Hollow." Delve in...
Rarity from the Hollow is an adult literary science fiction novel filled with tragedy, comedy and satire that sensitizes readers to the world-wide social problem of child maltreatment.
“…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them. In fact, the rustic humor and often graphic language employed by Lacy Dawn and her compatriots only serve to highlight their desperate lives, and their essential toughness and resilience….” -- http://awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/
Child maltreatment is a world-wide phenomenon without clear definition. What one person believes to have been abusive, another may consider as appropriate child discipline, and these views may be influenced by cultures, societal norms, or religions. While prevalence rate is difficult to come up with, approximately one quarter of all adults believe that they were maltreated as children – physically, sexually, psychologically….
Let me illustrate the complexity of this huge social problem by talking about my novel. Most readers of Rarity from the Hollow have found that Lacy Dawn, the protagonist, is an abused child. I think so, as well.
Dwayne, Lacy’s father, is a disabled Veteran suffering from PTSD and who had night terrors and rages during which he switched Lacy and her mother, sometimes leaving scars. Within the story, however, all characters believe that Dwayne is exercising “spare the rod and spoil the child” type of discipline based on Biblical interpretation, and is well within his role as a good father and husband.
When writing Rarity from the Hollow, I didn’t want to oversimplify such a complex issue as child maltreatment into a typical good vs. evil theme. Yes, child maltreatment is evil, one of the most evil things imaginable, a defenseless child, after all, but it is also complex. It is likely significantly under-reported, exists in all communities worldwide, yes, including in your own back yards, we all have a responsibility to ensure child welfare, and that each situation of suspected child maltreatment requires individualized assessment and treatment.
I selected the literary science fiction backdrop for Rarity from the Hollow because it was the best fit by process of elimination. The novel also has elements of horror, mystery, romance, self-help, and thriller. It is not a good example of the historical or western genres, although the child maltreatment has been present throughout history, including in the Wild West.
In today’s reality, the systems in place to help maltreated children are woefully inadequate. I felt that the literary, biographical, nonfiction genres wouldn’t work because the story would have been so depressing that only the most determined would have finished it.
I felt that Rarity from the Hollow had to be hopeful. I wanted it to inspire survivors of child maltreatment toward competitiveness within our existing economic structures, instead of folks using past victimization as an excuse for inactivity. I didn’t think that anybody would bite on the theme of a knight on a white stallion galloping off a hillside to swoop victims into safety, like in the traditional romance genre. That almost never actually happens in real life, so that genre was too unrealistic as the primary. There was already enough horror in the story, so that genre was out too. What could be more horrific than child abuse?
I knew that I didn’t want to write a memoir-type story like the emotionally charged Precious which was turned into a box-office hit with the backing of Oprah Winfrey, but which may not have helped prevent the maltreatment of a single kid in real life.
The protagonist in my story and her traumatized teammates needed fantastical elements to achieve empowerment. But, as in life, one cannot overcome barriers to the pursuit of happiness by simply imagining them away. That’s where the science fiction came into play. It provided a power source. I tied the science fiction to Capitalism because in today’s reality it will take significant financial investment by benefactors to improve the welfare of children in the world.