Friday 31 July 2015

Book Spotlight: Forte by JD Spero

Today I'm part of the blog tour for a great YA fantasy book, Forte by award-winning author JD Spero. It's another wonderful release by Xchyler Publishing, and I'm happy to spotlight this book. Also, there's an excerpt and a great Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the post so be sure to check that out.  So on with the show, and enjoy...

Forte by JD Spero

Forte is available at: 


 Johannah Davies (JD) Spero was born near a pristine lake in the Adirondacks and has lived in various cities such as St. Petersburg (Russia), Indianapolis, Dallas, and Boston. She has pursued her love of narrative through degrees in English, Russian, and teaching—and has worked as an actress, a yoga instructor, a web design entrepreneur, freelance writer, and a high school English teacher. She lives in the Northeast with her husband and three young sons.

Drawing on her experience as a high school teacher—this time with a social concern, Spero infuses the rites of passage for the teenager—cliques, first kisses, peer pressure, and bullying—with magic. This stresses how tenuous and critical this time is for young people in a new, fascinating way. Written from Sami’s point of view, Spero’s narrative puts the reader into the mind of a fifteen-year-old who must navigate the tumultuous waters of being the new girl—the underdog who starts to win and is intoxicated by it. Truly a page-turner, this action-packed story will have readers of all ages eager to see what happens next. 

Spero’s debut novel, Catcher’s Keeper, was chosen as a Finalist in the 2014 Indie Excellence Book Awards contest and also made the top 5% out of 10,000 entries in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.  

Facebook, Twitter: @jdspero, Goodreads

The Author Visits


(Main character, Sami McGovern, a natural musician is recruited to try out for volleyball.)

Finally, the time has come. I ride the giant wave to the locker room, letting myself get sucked into the energy. It’s like every single freshman girl is going to tryouts. The excitement is contagious. The locker room has transformed into a sort of primping party. It’s a more amped up version of backstage before one of my piano recitals. I’m giggling as I change into gym clothes and follow the others onto the court.
But I stop short on the sidelines.
Payne has the girls running the court lengthwise, tapping the endline paint with their fingers, and running back. What’s this exercise called again? I see Maddie, Shaunie, and Thalia. Pixie is here too, looking miserable. She’s not awful, though.
“Nice work, Maddie,” Payne calls across the gym.
Okay, so Payne has favorites. No biggie. Has she already made the cuts? I have better chances trying out for the New York Philharmonic. What am I thinking? I’m no athlete. They’re all going to laugh at me. Maybe it’s not too late to make a quick exit.
“Are you playing?” asks a voice beside me.
My eyes don’t leave the court. “I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just watch.”
“Me, too, then.”
“Why?” I turn and am startled to see it’s the girl with the scarred neck.
“I thought you might want a friend.”
The scars look terrifying up close—shiny, raw strings of bumpy tissue that used to be skin. My mouth is stuck open, and I blink like mad.
“I’m Brenna,” she says with a huge smile. “Sports aren’t really my thing.”
“Sami.” A tiny wave. “Me, neither.”
“What are we doing here, then?” She laughs.
“You have a really nice smile.”
“You sound surprised,” she teases.
I must turn redder than her scars, my face is so hot. Because it’s true. I was surprised. Am surprised. It’s wrong, but I can’t help it.
Payne’s whistle interrupts us. “You girls joining tryouts or just socializing in your gym clothes?”
No time for apologies. Payne’s eyes are focused solely on me. “Come on. You’ve missed the warm up. On the court now. Let’s go.”
A nervous laugh with Brenna, and I concede. Whatever. This tryout is another orientation thing, right? A rite of passage for the new girl. It will be over soon, and I’ll go home and use my fingers the way they were meant to be used. Piano. What kind of tune will I conjure, what will my muse inspire? I’m daydreaming as I wander into the middle of the court.
Payne’s voice rings louder than her whistle.
“No, Sami. Right in front.”
In front? Me?
Payne grasps my shoulders to place me at the net when I feel something strange. My chest tightens with panic—a force enters me, making my insides quiver. What’s happening?
A jolt, vibration. A charge surging out from my chest to my fingertips, my toes.
The faces around me blur, but the ball is radiant. A blue glow. The ball sails over the net. Bumped. Set. To me? I leap, and it’s like my feet sprout wings. Out of nowhere I reach and—
It slaps the opposite court untouched. A clean strike.
“Point,” Payne cheers.
My body tingles. How on earth did I do that? And then I do it again.
I zone in. That neat leather ball leaves a laser-blue contrail as it’s punched into the air. I know what will happen next. I can predict its path! Am I the only one who sees it glow like that?
Bump, set, spike!
Wahoo! I’m a giant, tapping a ping-pong ball with my big paw. Easy. I’m above everything. Everyone. Even Brenna—the one person who’s tried to be my friend—now wears a worried grin. Something has separated us.
I’m separate from everyone.
The ball comes again. Soaring, my hand curved in perfect form, I guide it over at cheetah-speed that somehow feels slow. My arm retracts within a millimeter of the net, but it feels like yards away.
Everyone cheers. For me.
How did I get so good?
My eyes go to Payne, who’s already studying me. As much as I want to, I cannot turn away. My arms and legs tingle—itching to move, to play ball. The veins in my wrists pulse like a heartbeat. My birthmark throbs on my hand, ready to throttle that volleyball. I make fists, trying to contain it.
I stare back at Payne, the question ringing loudly in my mind: Did you do this?
She gives me a slow, wry smile. Goose bumps rise on my suddenly-athletic arms.
I think I’ve just made the team.

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Wednesday 29 July 2015

Drabble Wednesday: Violets and Aliens

We head to space today on Drabble Wednesday, with a very colourful voyage…

Purple Haze

See the universe, it said.
That damn poster.
Join the Galactic Space Corp.
I should’ve never let it draw me in.
Now I am stuck on this backwater world. Stuck in a dumb menial security gig at the spaceport. And worst of all, I am stuck where everything—and I mean everything, the sky, the clouds, the rain, the soil—is a damn, rotten shade of purple!
Sighing, I lean my body against the bar and signal for a shot of Reposado. The bartender pours and slides the glass over to me.
Oh, frak! Even the damn tequila is purple.


Falling Petals

“She loves me.”
He yanked the oversized petal free of the plant, and smiled at the accompanying screech.
He let the violet frond fall from his fingers. It floated softly earthward.
“She loves me not.” Another yank, another screech, and smile. Another petal drifted free.
Repeatedly he took this action, ripping away sections until one last petal remained.
“She loves me!”
He let that petal fall with the others. The last piece in a patchwork of sentient alien flora, a mauve blanket covering a bound and gagged woman.
“You love me.”
The woman and mutilated alien plant wept in unison.



I miss the mountains most of all.
I loved to wake up to that view. With their snow capped, amethyst spires stretching to the heavens, and the lavender mist enshrouding their foundations. The sky painted itself in vivid colour, mauve and tangerine, with a hint of cerise. The hues reflected in the river, tinting the water as it wended through our village. You wanted to fill your lungs with crisp morning air.
Space is nothing like that. It’s frigid and black and the escape pod’s dwindling air supply is stale. I don’t want to die. I want to go home.


© A. F. Stewart 2015 All Rights Reserved 

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Drabble Wednesday: Midnight

From the forgetfulness of my mind and the call of my midnight muse, I bring you today’s Drabble Wednesday, scribbled in the wee hours of last night…

Witching Hour

The night bird sings in the treetop, keeping time with the warble of the wind. Above them, the moon glows, pale blue and full, lighting the way of the coming traveller. She treads softly, her footsteps a bare whisper across dirt and leaves as she wends her way through the forest. She smiles at the moon and joins the night bird’s song with a faint humming. She has come to sing to ghosts and spirits, to weave her spells and laugh with the joy of magic. She belongs to this place, this time, the midnight of the pale blue moon.

Midnight in Paris

Watch the clouds drift in the indigo sky, playing hide and seek with stars, and the coquette, silver moon. They beckon, those celestial beauties, flashing their siren gaze earthward. They glint and twinkle starlight and moonbeams to the city streets, and reflect their radiance off the steel beacon of the Eiffel Tower.
This is Paris at night, in darkened splendour, alive with the quiet, and the gentle sounds of evening. Hear the Seine ripple, against soft laughter and the click of heels. Amidst it all we linger, strolling hand in hand, midnight lovers waiting for the morning sun to rise.

Midnight Man

The crow caws once, then twice more. The air shivers, and the grass bends at the edge of the woods. A cold, grey fog rolls in, thick as wool, carrying a silhouette. A figure.
Can you see him now? The Midnight Man.
Tall and gangly, all angles and crisp bits, dressed in black. He wears a long coat and a top hat. The crows gather round him in flight, and one perches on his spindly arm.
Stay quiet. Don’t let him see you.
You mustn’t look into his eyes… they say his eyes are hollow. Inky voids sinking into death.

© A. F. Stewart 2015 All Rights Reserved 

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Interview With Author Dani Hoots

Today, I have a great interview with the prolific, multi-genre writer, Dani Hoots. Enjoy...

Interview with Author Dani Hoots

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

Well, I am an author that resides outside Seattle, Washington with my husband and two cats. I have a B.S. in Anthropology and a Masters of Urban and Environmental Planning from Arizona State University, where I am also enrolled in an online program for Novel Writing through the Piper Center at ASU. My hobbies include learning German and Swedish, playing the violin, volunteering for conservation organizations, and watching anime and reading manga. I also love working at conventions, such as Comic-con, where I get to meet my readers and other artists like me.

You have an impressive array of novellas and series. Could you tell us a bit about your books?

Yes. I have five series currently that are either finished or I’m in the middle of them, along with some free short stories that are available for download. They all range from science fiction, fantasy, to horror and romance.
A Falling Starr Trilogy follows Angela Starr as she can’t remember who she is, and is taken to a new world and finds out that it is her home. She must figure out who exactly she was in this world and why there are so many people after her.
A World of Vampires Series follows different myths and legends throughout the world about vampires, and each novella has to do with a different character in a different place and time in history as they discover these creatures. My stories range from 1930’s Boston, following the Native American version of a vampire called a Hooh-Strah-Dooh, to 1700s Scotland with the Baobhan Sith, and the newest one to be released is set in 16th century Chile with the Peuchen legend.
The Sanshlian Series, which includes my first indie published novel The Quest, follows Arcadia Rieturf who was taken from her family and trained to be the Emperor’s Shadow. She becomes emotionless and ruthless, believing in everything her master, the emperor, does—that is, until she runs into her long lost brother who wants to find the legendary planet of Sanshli, which can be used to destroy the Pandronan Empire and bring back the New Republic that once ruled. Now Arcadia must choose between her loyalty and her family.
My Broken Heart Series is a collection of different romance stories of people who have had their heart broken. For this, I decided to do all types of “doomed to fail” relationships including a girl falling in love with her father’s intern, a graduate school teacher-student romance, boss-employee relationship, and so on. This series also includes two LGBT novellas that have not yet been released.
Lastly, I have a series called Damon Salvatore: Life After Lost that I published through Kindle Worlds. This is through The Vampire Diaries and follows Damon just after he runs off from Mystic Falls after he is turned into a vampire.

You are also working on a comic called Hel's Labyrinth. What’s the premise, and how does working on a comic differ from writing a book?

Hel’s Labyrinth follows a girl named Phoebe who unwillingly gets trapped into Niflhel, the Scandinavian underworld, with seven other circus attendees. There, they have to face Norse mythical beings that are trying to kill them and survive to the end of the labyrinth to face Hel herself, as she is the one behind it all and is trying to bring Ragnarok to end the world. To learn more about it and stay informed, please check out our Facebook page:

Working on a comic is a lot of fun, especially when it is with a friend. Being a writer can be lonely a lot of time, so working on joint projects is definitely exciting. I found that the difference is when it comes to actually writing the story, as you don’t need to worry about describing things since that is what the art does. Mainly, all your focus is on dialogue and you have to make sure all the information is given only through dialogue. It is quite interesting, actually, to have to change your focus on how most information is given. As for marketing and all the pre- and post-production work, it is a lot like writing a novel.

You’ve also written a book (based on the Vampire Diaries) for Kindle Worlds. How was that experience?

It was a lot of fun since I got to be able to write about a character I absolutely love. There is definitely a lot we don’t know about Damon in The Vampire Diaries and it was fun to put together some of the pieces, even though it’s not canon. It was also helpful in developing a fan base and beginning my career as a writer.

You write in several genres. Do you have a favourite? And if so, why?

I am not sure what would be my favorite, but if I had to pick, it would probably be urban and historic fantasy. I love doing research on different times in history, or different places throughout the world, and learn a lot by writing A World of Vampires Series, and a novel I am working on called The Chained. Science Fiction is a close second though, as I have great interest in space exploration and grew up reading Isaac Asimov and Star Wars books. 

Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?

I try to write every day, even if it is just a little. I make myself a pot of herbal tea, get my cat to lie down next to me, blast some music that inspires me (ranging from folk to German metal), and go to work in my study. That is pretty much my every day. My ideas originate from many things, such as dreams, history books, or just interactions with people on the streets. I find inspiration in everything around me.

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

I would have to say that a lot of the time being a writer can be very lonely. Sure there is a lot of people online to talk to, but actual physical interaction is a lot different. That is why I like working at conventions, meeting people, and joining clubs like German club, soccer, and volunteering places.

Do you have a favourite author, or writing inspiration?

My favorite authors include Isaac Asimov, Kevin J. Anderson, Timothy Zahn, and I get inspired by many animes and mangas, such as Sailor Moon, Fairy Tail, and Trigun. Isaac Asimov was a very scientific writer and it is very motivating how he was able to incorporate it in his writing. When I was young, I read a lot of Timothy Zahn and Kevin J. Anderson and those stories were what made get serious about writing, along with watching/reading Sailor Moon, Trigun, and many other Japanese anime and manga.

What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?

My next project is going to be a young adult paranormal mystery. It is still in the works, but I know it will follow a young girl who is starting her freshman year at a boarding school outside of Leavenworth, Washington. She starts hearing a voice talking to her and strange things begin happening at the school where she has to solve the mystery of what happens. I’m very excited to start working on it soon and I hope to release the first one this fall. 

You can find out more about the author and her books at her websites:

Sunday 19 July 2015

Book Spotlight: Sevara: Dawn of Hope

Today I have a book spotlight for the YA fantasy novel, Sevara: Dawn of Hope by Damian Wampler. Enjoy!

Sevara: Dawn of Hope by Damian Wampler

Sevara’s orphanage teaches wife etiquette instead of arithmetic, domestic duties instead of grammar, and stick fighting instead of phys ed. There’s a swimming pool (but no water) and a doctor (who sells the unwanted girls to slave traders). All girls must become servant-wives, or be kicked out onto the streets with nothing. Sevara refuses to marry, and doesn’t last long on the outside.

Luckily, someone has been watching her.

Given incredible powers, Sevara must choose between protecting the city, and saving the only man she’s ever loved. Dawn of Hope is a one hundred thousand word young adult novel that will appeal to readers of all ages, and is suitable for children over the age of thirteen.

Sevara: Dawn of Hope is available at:

Author Bio:

Damian is a lifelong documentary photographer who originally hails from Newark, Delaware. Damian earned a bachelor's degree in English and Anthropology from Boston University and boarded a place bound for Kyrgyzstan shortly after, where he taught English for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer. Later, he earned a Master's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Russian, Eastern Europe and Central Asian Studies, and returned to the Kyrgyz republic as a Fulbright researcher. He returned to the United States to study digital photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He also wrote and produced a full-length play which premiered June, 2009. Damian is also the writer and creator of the Sevara graphic novel.

Author Website: 

Friday 17 July 2015

Interview With Tabitha Darling

Today I have an interview with author Tabitha Darling who stops by to chat about her new book, Chiron's Honorand writing. Enjoy.

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I am originally from Alaska. Having spent nearly 20 years up there, I learned to hunt for food, trap and fish etc. I have seen fifty below zero temperatures, five foot snow, moose, bear and the northern lights. After finding Mr. Right I am now a happy Texan author, editor and artist. I own three horses, four chickens, and three geese. I am also wife to a robot building husband and mom to a one year old.

Can you tell us about your newest release, Chiron's Honor?

Chiron's Honor brings a genetically engineered centaur species back to Earth after a separation of nearly 3,000 years. The centaur cannot reproduce, their longevity is severely shortened and they are looking for answers to have a chance at living again. This book is meant to bring realism to classical mythology.

Your new book is a fantasy. What interests you about the genre as a writer? Are you a fan of the genre, and if so why?

I am a picky reader as I have read all the great classics such as Tolkien, Asimov, and James Herriot etc. I can't stand formulaic books, shallow plots, or the shallow use of writing and language. What I like about the fantasy genre is just pushing the limits of what we assume, tweaking the standards, messing with the status quo. Experimenting, and testing. I like a good unicorn book, or a novel with rich character in dragons, and in the human characters. No more wizards, spells, apprenticeships, or doomsday, but give me a really well thought out book and sharp author. I am definitely a fan of fiction and fantasy! In this crazy world we need it!

You’ve also included aspects of mythology in your book. As a writer what do you find most intriguing about myths?

Ironically I got interested in mythology from Stargate SG1, an old sci-fi T.V. series. It is fascinating to learn about the old languages used, how the common person lived, the ruling structure of a society, how they viewed nature and animals, how religions and concept of magic were perceived. I prefer to read the old stories, which were once considered fact and just ask in my writing what if they had been true and we never found out? That is the underlying question in this current series I'm working on.

Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate

My ideas pop into my head usually without forethought. Literally while I'm typing! Chiron's Honor actually wrote itself, there was no plan whatsoever except the vague idea of what I wanted to get across. Even the structure formed itself partway through, I liked it and kept it. The structure itself I have never used before. I think the book surprised me!

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

Editing, I hate editing! Second, is advertising. Lastly, researching old dead civilizations!

Where do you get your inspirations or ideas?

Pretty much in one of two ways. I get lucky have great ideas that pp into my head for which I quickly jot down notes. And lastly, literally n the fly while I'm typing. Beyond that, just the desire to mess with assumptions and see where they take me.

Do you have a favourite author?

Not just one favorite author but many. If I was forced at threat to my life, I'd have to say Tolkien.

What’s the next project? Any new books in the works?

This has got to be a trick question! I have two books in one series to work on, two books each in their own series to finish, and two more each in THEIR own series to write. I am working on five separate series at the same time, and just hop from one book to the next as I feel the need or finish a book to move on.

You can find out more on the author and her books at her website and blog.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Drabble Wednesday: Comeuppance And A Little Sunshine

Today on Drabble Wednesday it’s payback time, with three stories of less than savoury characters getting theirs. Also the last story, The Real Estate Game, features the main character concept by one of the winners in my Sunshine Book Show Rafflecopter Contest, Linda Bonney Olin. Congratulations, Linda, and I hope you enjoy your character’s demise.

No Rhyme, Nor Reason

“One bone, two. Is the sky still blue?”
She skipped a few steps, stirring up dust.
“Two bones, three. What will become of me?”
She twirled about, dancing, coming to a stop beside a figure slumped in the corner. “My name’s Lucy, what’s yours?” No answer, and suddenly—
“Time for grub, maggots!" The prison guard ambled down the corridor between cells, followed by men pushing three trolleys. As he neared, the guard halted abruptly, staring into Lucy’s cell.
“What the— Lucy! What did I tell ya! Stop killing your cellmates!”
“Why?” She giggled. “Three bones, four. I want some more.”

High Stakes Hnefa-Tafl

The chieftain hesitated, his hand wavering over a game piece. He glanced at his opponent. The inscrutable stranger smiled.
One of his nearby servants coughed. “Quiet!” The chieftain roared, and struck the man in the face. “I need quiet!” Then he inhaled, and shifted a piece.
“Unfortunate.” His opponent made his play. “I have captured your king. You have yielded the game.”
“NO!” The chieftain slammed his fists on the board flinging it into the air.
“Yes! I will collect our wager.” The stranger waved his hand. “Your soul!”
The tyrannical chieftain gasped and died, while his oppressed subjects cheered.

This next story is the result of my Sunshine Book Show Giveaway. My prize winner, Linda Bonney Olin, got to create and name a character to be used in Drabble Wednesday. Here is her character, iffy real estate agent Emma Faye Kerr, and her poor unfortunate (but well-deserved) fate:

The Real Estate Game

Emma Faye Kerr stared at the black spot on the wall. She couldn’t unload this rattling monstrosity of house on unsuspecting clients if they could see the problems.
“Stupid painters. They promised they’d hide those mold stains. I’ve got a couple ripe for the plucking coming in an hour.”
She leaned in, taking a closer look. Her hand brushed against the spot.
“What the—”
She screamed. Black slime slid from the wall onto her hand. It grew, engulfed her, consuming flesh and bone. Within minutes nothing was left of Emma Faye Kerr but a black stain on the floor.

Friday 10 July 2015

Interview With Robert Eggleton

Today I have a great interview with talented writer Robert Eggleton, author of Rarity from the Hollow. Enjoy...

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

Thanks for the invitation. I was born in 1951, the oldest son of an impoverished family in West Virginia. We received government surplus food called commodities. My alcoholic and occasionally abusive father had PTSD from WWII. It was called shell shock back then.
My mom did the best she could, but somebody had to support my family. I worked odd jobs until I got a minimum wage one in a drug store when I was twelve. I’ve made payments into America’s Social Security fund for the next fifty-two years.
In the 8th grade, I won the school’s short story contest: a redneck semi truck driver became so obsessed with the conflict between Jewish vs. Christian theology that he lost concentration on the road and caused a terrible accident. I decided that I wanted to be a writer and dreamed of getting rich. As it often does, life got in the way. Between school and work, I was too exhausted to write any more stories until recently.
I continued to work at various minimum wage jobs during high school and college. Work, antiwar activities and school kept me too busy to write stories, so I wrote poems on scraps of paper. One was published in the state’s 1972 West Virginia Student Poetry Anthology. Another was published in a local zine. I graduated in 1973 with a degree in social work and received an MSW from WVU in 1977.
After college, I focused on children’s advocacy. The Vietnam War and the draft had ended. My new political cause became children’s rights and welfare. I was involved in this emotionally charged work for the next forty years. It supplanted my need to write fiction. Instead, I wrote manuals, research, investigative, and statistical reports. 
In 2003, I became a children’s psychotherapist at our local community mental health center. It was an intensive program for kids with very severe emotional disturbances. One day at work in 2006, during a group therapy session, I met the real-life role model for my fictional protagonist. Lacy Dawn had been severely abused, but was so resilient that it was inspiring to everybody who met her, staff and her peers alike.
I started writing fiction. Three short Lacy Dawn Adventures have been published in magazines.  My debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow, was released in 2012 by Dog Horn Publishing, a small traditional press located in Leeds. In May 2015, I retired from my job as a children’s psychotherapist so that I could concentrate on writing fiction that introduces Lacy Dawn to the rest of the world.  

Can you tell us about your book, Rarity from the Hollow?

Sure, but I don’t want to spoil anything for its readers. This novel, similar to the truck driver’s introspections that I mentioned before, 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.

This novel was written for an adult audience, but does not have graphic sex scenes, a lot of violence or any of the other similar content that one might assume to be attributable to an Adults Only classification. It is sweet but frank and honest with no holds barred. It addresses the complexities of real life for some people, 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 YA titles accomplish.

In a nutshell, Rarity from the Hollow is about a little girl who learns to be the Savior of the Universe with the help of her family and friends. It’s up to readers to decide which scenes are dissociative as a result of Lacy Dawn’s traumas and which scenes are pure fantasy and science fiction.

Your book integrates serious social issues into its narrative. What led you to write a novel that included these issues?

The short answer to your question is tradition. Historically, fiction has fueled social activism, debate, and the adoption of evolving or devolving social policy. Frankly, while I've read nonstop for decades, when I started writing it, I was not aware of the big debate in the marketplace about whether fiction should or should not be pure escapism. I now belong to a writer’s group in cyberspace with members who debate this very issue. The focus seems to be on whether the inclusion of serious topics in fictional works would help or hurt sales.

Did the GLBTQ titles increasingly being released, and the popularity of television shows such as Modern Family, influence the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that same-sex marriage was a Constitutional right? I don’t know and the answer wouldn’t make any difference to my products. I simply write what I know, what I’ve experienced in my own life, and hope that readers enjoy the comical slant that I place on complex issues.  

I do believe that all artists have an opportunity to have a positive or negative impact on society. Artists aspire to achieve an audience. They need one as much as they need oxygen or food. There are many examples of fund-raising campaigns for various wonderful causes put together by popular artists. It was in remembrance of George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh that I have donated author proceeds to a child abuse prevention program in West Virginia.     

Why did you decide to use the SF/Fantasy genre as the underpinning of the novel, as opposed to another genre?

I selected the SF/F backdrop for this story 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 social issues that we talked about before have 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 the story 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?

The protagonist 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 significantly improve the welfare of children in the world. Our governments are unlikely to do so in the near future because of the politics.

What did you find most challenging about writing Rarity from the Hollow?

Writing comes easy for me, but the third scene in the story was especially challenging. It was a domestic violence scene that triggered my own psychological distress. Tears blurred my vision each time that I reworked it. The only other challenges were the typical ones that all writers of anything experience, such as proofreading what you intended to write instead of what’s actually on the page. After I submitted a story to a publisher in the early morning hours of July 4, 2014, I still found typos that I’d missed.

Your book is also, in part, a satire. Was that a conscious choice to offset the more stark aspects of the novel, or did it evolve as a natural process of writing? 

I’ve always loved to read the puns, the double entendres, and satire in the works of others. I’m sure that had a big impact on what I write. Some of the satire in this novel evolved as a natural process, while other sections were inserted because I had found the narrative in need of a lighter tone to offset stark aspects. If I found a place during the drafts that I felt was too “heavy” for me to read as its writer, I figured that it would be way to much for the reader.

Do you having any writing inspirations or favourite authors?

I’m not sure that you have enough bandwidth for me to make a complete list of inspirations and favourites, so here’s a few. 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 experiment with my writing style outside of commonly accepted structures and formats. 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. 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. The versatility in cross-genre and the use of humour by Bradbury had to have been a subliminal inspiration, especially now that I think about it. Dean Koontz has been masterful. 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. And, Stephen King’s use of everyday horror convinced me that alarming scenes can be created by using almost anything as a prop.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Is this a trick question? Nobody can always do what they like to do, but the activity that I like most is reading. Of course, there are other activities that I enjoy, such as watching WVU sports, gardening, home repairs, family events, and my son, he’s 41, always has something new and fun to show me, usually from the internet.

What’s next for you?

Hah! This is another trick question.  I will continue to write fiction for eternity.

Author Bio:

Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate 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. Today, he is a recently retired psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia. 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:

Find out more about Robert Eggleton and his books and these websites:

Rarity from the Hollow

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 is hard. She has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire.

“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.”
—Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest

“Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.”
—    Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review

About the Author: I recently retired after 52 years of contributions into the U.S. Social Security fund so that I could write and promote my fiction. I’m a former mental health psychotherapist in West Virginia. But, after coming home drained from working with child abuse victims, I didn't have the energy left to begin its self-promotion. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program in my home state. A listing of services that are supported can be found here:  

The Press: Dog Horn Publishing is a traditional small press located in Leeds. Adam Lowe is the owner.  The press also showcases other semi avant garde titles and publishes a popular magazine for the GLBTQ community (Vada).  

Purchase links:

Link for excerpt of the 1st Chapter:

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