Hello wonderful readers. Today I have a great guest post for you from an author who donates half of his book proceeds to the prevention of child maltreatment. Please enjoy the following guest post by Robert Eggleton and find below more info about his cool book, Rarity from the Hollow. (Still a few days left to win this book in our giveaway contest.)
Child Maltreatment and Futuristic Technologies
Rarity from the Hollow, my debut novel, is best classified as adult literary fiction with a science fiction genre backdrop. However, much of the content is more real than not, and the story is based upon real-life personal experiences. I’ve worked in the field of children’s advocacy for over forty years. In 2002, I accepted a job as a children’s psychotherapist for our local mental health center. It was an intensive day treatment program that served kids with serious mental health issues. Many of them had been abused, some sexually. It was during one of those therapy sessions that I met my protagonist, Lacy Dawn, a skinny eleven year old who presented resiliency so powerfully that it inspired other victims toward recovery and empowerment.
During my career, one of the most frustrating attitudes that I’ve encountered, held by professionals and the public alike, has been that nothing can be done to prevent child abuse. This is simply not true. If somebody would have listened to Lacy Dawn’s pleas for help earlier, her family might have been stabilized before she went through a world of hurt. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childmaltreatment/prevention.html The mission of Rarity from the Hollow is to sensitize readers to the huge social problem of child maltreatment through a comical and satiric science fiction adventure.
Yes, child welfare funding is inadequate. I’ve never heard anybody disagree. Most of the funding, however, is spent on after-the-fact out-of-home placements, such as foster care and group homes. https://www.openminds.com/market-intelligence/executive-briefings/how-are-states-spending-child-welfare/ As evidenced by research, it is nineteen times less expensive to prevent child maltreatment than to incur the financial costs of its impact. https://msu.edu/user/bob/cost.html Half of author proceeds from Rarity from the Hollow are donated to the prevention of child maltreatment. http://www.childhswv.org/
I know that it sounds weird, but I modeled the flow of my story after a mental health treatment episode involving a traumatized child: harsh and difficult to read scenes in the beginning of the story similar to how, in treatment, therapeutic relationships must first be established before very difficult disclosures are made; cathartic and more relaxed scenes in middle chapters as detailed disclosures are less painful; and, increasingly satiric and comical toward the end through an understanding that it is “silly” to live in the past, that demons, no matter how scary, can be evicted, and that nothing controls our lives more so than the decisions that we make ourselves.
Perhaps it sounds even wilder, but as I wrote my novel I imagined a therapeutic impact – that those of us who had experienced child maltreatment benefiting from having read Rarity from the Hollow. That’s a giant target audience. So, the story had to be hopeful, to inspire. While prevalence rate is difficult to come up with and there is no estimate of how many read novels, approximately one quarter of all adults believe that they were maltreated as children – physically, sexually, or psychologically. Internationally, forty million children are abused each year: http://arkofhopeforchildren.org/child-abuse/child-abuse-statistics-info.
So far, eight of one hundred and four independent book blog reviewers have privately disclosed to me that they were victims of childhood maltreatment and that they had benefited having read my story. One of these reviewers publicly disclosed: “…soon I found myself immersed in the bizarre world… weeping for the victim and standing up to the oppressor…solace and healing in the power of love, laughing at the often comical thoughts… marveling at ancient alien encounters… As a rape survivor… found myself relating easily to Lacy Dawn… style of writing which I would describe as beautifully honest. Rarity from the Hollow is different from anything I have ever read, and in today’s world of cookie-cutter cloned books, that’s pretty refreshing… whimsical and endearing world of Appalachian Science Fiction, taking you on a wild ride you won’t soon forget….” http://kyliejude.com/2015/11/book-review-rarity-from-the-hollow/
Here’s another very touching review of Rarity from the Hollow that included public disclosure of child maltreatment by a book blogger: “…I enjoyed the book so much that a few months after reading it I just picked it up again…reminded me of stuff in the past but somehow it also made me feel less alone. It made me realize that there are so many children in this world getting abused, going through the stuff I have been through…. The fact that there’s sci-fi/fantasy in it (such as genderless alien DotCom) kinda makes the book easier to read, less heavy on some moments… I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s 18+ but do keep in mind it’s a very heavy book to read yet so worth it.” https://booksoverhumans.com/…/rarity-from-the-hallow-by-ro…/
While sticking close to the mission of sensitizing readers to the huge social problem of child maltreatment, I wanted to produce a story that readers would enjoy: “…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, only instead of the earth being destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass, Lacy Dawn must…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…Eggleton sucks you into the Hollow, dunks you in the creek, rolls you in the mud, and splays you in the sun to dry off. Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” http://awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/
“…Full of cranky characters and crazy situations, Rarity From the Hollow sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved… Robert Eggleton is a brilliant writer whose work is better read on several levels. I appreciated this story on all of them.” https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/rarity-from-the-hollow
I retired from direct practice a couple of years ago and have been working very hard to tell the world about my novel. It’s a traditional small press publication and doesn’t have a high dollar marketing budget behind it. The final version paperback was released to Amazon on November 3, 2016, and the eBook was released on December 5, 2016. Both are currently on sale. As an Advance Reading Copy and final, Rarity from the Hollow has received considerable praise. Yes, my ego is stroked when the story receives a glowing book review, especially ones that indicate that my work might outlive me: “… Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s Animal Farm. I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list.” https://marcha2014.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/5-stars-for-rarity-from-the-hollowby-robert-eggleton/. “…It feels timeless, classic and mature in way that would ensure its longevity if more people knew about it… a distinctive approach to the adult-fairytale/modern-retelling sub-genre…I would even say it could be read in a college setting both for the craft itself and its unique brand of storytelling. The premise is brilliant.” https://taylaroi.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/rarity-from-the-hollow-by-robert-eggleton-a-revised-book-review/.
All things considered, however, especially as we face potential federal budget cuts for U.S. domestic spending and international aid under the Trump administration, reductions that would adversely affect needful children, what would really make me feel good would be to raise a little money to help out kids. Children’s Home Society of West Virginia is a nonprofit child welfare agency established in 1893 that now serves over 13,000 families and children each year in a most impoverished state with inadequate funding to deliver effective social services. I used to work there in the early ‘80s and stand behind its good work. Some of the ways that this agency helps to prevent child maltreatment are:
- Adoption, including pregnancy counseling and assistance with legal services;
- Birth to Three, which assists families care for children who exhibit developmental delays and strengthens the families’ abilities to care for their children at home;
- Comprehensive Assessment and Planning for children and families involved with child protective services to ensure the appropriateness of services and safety of the children;
- Child Advocacy Centers within which children suspected of having been maltreated can be interviewed in a supportive environment by all involved parties (police, social workers, medical staff, defense, etc.), including video recordings, so as to prevent the children from further trauma by exposure adversarial courtroom proceedings;
- Parenting Education for parents involved in divorce proceedings;
- In-Home Child and Family Services to keep families intact when there is no imminent danger to the child but supportive services, such as case management or transportation is needed;
- Exceptional Youth Emergency shelters serving youth with disabilities;
- Foster Care in private family homes that sometimes adopt the children initially placed there if freed for adoption through legal proceedings;
- One mid-town youth center that focuses on after-school and summer academics, delinquency prevention, and parental development;
- Right from the Start which targets high risk birth mothers and high risk infants to ensure that proper medical, economic, and social service needs are met;
- Emergency Shelters (9) for youth in crisis (this was where Robert worked as the Director of Shelter Care – He started 5 of these family-like settings but the network has since expanded);
- We Can, a program that recruits volunteers to augment services provided by child protective services workers;
- And, a Youth Services program in an under-served part of WV that turns around mostly younger teens who are heading in the wrong direction.
So, yes, prevention works, but what about the butt holes that hurt kids? Can they be “fixed” so that they stop their maltreatment of others? As a professional and personal opinion, I would never trust treatment alone to cure a pedophile. I believe in accountability, punishment, and ongoing monitoring to protect us all from that worst type of human. At the same time, it has been my experience with other types of child maltreators, present in all countries, religions, cultures, socioeconomic classes…, that many abused children still love their biological parents and that some abusive parents dearly love their children. This was the situation in Rarity from the Hollow. Lacy Dawn, more than anything in the universe, wanted for her parents to be cured of their mental health problems that contributed to the maltreatment. The father is a war damaged Vet suffering from PTSD, night terrors, and anger outbursts, who was raised in a subculture that respected the value: “spare the rod and spoil the child.” I see posts by proponents of this value every now and then on Facebook.
Yes, access to mental health and substance abuse treatment, psychotherapy and medical models that exist today are evidenced based – they work, and decrease the occurrence of child maltreatment because if a parent is “messed up” it’s a correlate. The problem appears to be access to treatment. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/looking-for-evidence-that-therapy-works/?_r=0 Antipoverty, job training, employment and similar economic development programs, social issues included in Rarity from the Hollow, can also reduce child maltreatment. I live in West Virginia, the state with the poorest economic outlook in the U.S. http://business.wvu.edu/centers/bureau-of-business-and-economic-research And, the state with the highest overdose death rate in the nation. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html In Chapter Two, “Recess” in my story, Lacy Dawn counsel peers at school whose parents have lost jobs because of the coal mines shutting down, an issue that has risen to national prominence and one reported basis for the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Accords on the environment, now a controversial news item. It seems like a lot of stuff in life in general in one way or another affects child maltreatment rates because children are the most vulnerable. Part of the treatment of the father in my story involved job training and gainful employment.
In Rarity from the Hollow, what appeared to be fantastical means implemented by an alien who was sent to Earth were used to treat the mental health problems of the parents that contributed to the maltreatment of Lacy Dawn. In a nutshell, her genetic spawn had been manipulated for millennia as the best hope for becoming the savior of the universe. The alien, named DotCom, a recurring pun in the story, lived in a spaceship hidden in a cave behind Lacy’s house and his mission was to recruit and train her. Lacy didn’t mind saving the universe, but her family and friends came first – as a prerequisite to accepting the job that the alien offered was that her parents had to be “fixed.”
While I’ve appreciated compliments by book reviewers who have spoken about my wild imagination, I confess that the fantastical means employed by the alien in my story to treat the parents were based on today’s medical reality. I’ve already mentioned that in the beginning of Rarity from the Hollow, Dwayne, the abusive father was a war damaged Vet experiencing anger outbursts and night terrors. The mother was a downtrodden victim of domestic violence who had lost hope of ever getting her G.E.D. or driver’s license, or of protecting her daughter. Diagnosis and treatment of these concerns affecting the parents, as representative of many similarly situated, were based on emerging technologies presented at the 2015 World Medical Innovation Forum: https://worldmedicalinnovation.org/ . Yes, in real life, like in my story, patients have been hooked up to computer technology for medial diagnosis and treatment.
Additional exciting research was presented at that Forum and may one day may revolutionize psychiatric treatment. Most relevant to my story were: (1) smart brain prosthetics, wireless devises being tested for potential to relieve depression, PTSD, Bipolar Disorder…neural engineering to manipulate brain signals; (2) sophisticated imaging systems that are minimally invasive to brain circuitry for diagnosis (3) and, healing the brain with neuromodulation and electroceuticals to treat depression and schizophrenia. http://hitconsultant.net/2015/04/30/tech-revolutionize-neurological-psychiatric-care/
The question, it seems, is not whether child maltreatment can be prevented and treated, but instead: Are we adults willing to invest in the future by protecting kids?
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. A Children’s Story. For Adults.
“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
. “…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” — Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)
“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” —Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)
“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” —Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author
“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” — The Baryon Review
“…Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’ I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list.” — Marcha’s Two-Cents Worth
“…I know this all sounds pretty whack, and it is, but it’s also quite moving. Lacy Dawn and her supporting cast – even Brownie, the dog – are some of the most engaging characters I’ve run across in a novel in some time….” — Danehy-Oakes, Critic whose book reviews often appear in the New York Review of Science Fiction
“… The author gives us much pause for thought as we read this uniquely crafted story about some real life situations handled in very unorthodox ways filled with humor, sarcasm, heartfelt situations and fun.” — Fran Lewis: Just Reviews/MJ Magazine
Half of author proceeds are donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia for the prevention of child maltreatment.