Robert is a fellow social justice warrior who worked as a children’s advocate for over forty years before writing Rarity from the Hollow. This adult literary science fiction novel is about a young girl who faces many hardships due to poverty and abuse, but who is destined to be greater and more important than anyone could have expected. Robert’s years of experience working with traumatised children is evident in his storytelling, creating a tale that pulls no punches but is full of dark humour and hope.
What made you decide to sit down and actually write Rarity from the Hollow?
In 2002, I accepted a job as a psychotherapist for our local mental health centre. Part of my job was to facility group therapy sessions. Most of the children in the program had experienced maltreatment, some had been sexually abuse. In 2006, around the table used for group therapeutic exercises, sat a little girl with stringy brown hair. Instead of just disclosing the horrors of her abuse by one of the meanest daddies on Earth, she spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future – finding a loving family to protect her, forever and ever. She was inspirational to me and everyone who interacted with her. I named her Lacy Dawn as she became the role model for the protagonist in Rarity from the Hollow.
Did you ever have an “aha” moment while writing this story?
The most significant “aha” moment concerned the internal dialogue – making it work. Rarity from the Hollow is written in third person omniscient narrator. I experimented with placing some of the inner thoughts of characters in italics following the speaker’s voice. I knew that for some busy book reviewers, this style could feel like it slows down the read and could result in head hopping if an attempt would be made to read my novel too quickly, but for leisurely readers with time to contemplate it felt like a good fit. In a nutshell, my “aha” moment was that I wanted to write for readers who had time to contemplate a story.
What do you hope people take away from reading your book?
Rarity from the Hollow was originally conceived as a means to raise money for a child welfare program where I used to work in the early 1980s. Helping abused kids is in by blood, my soul.
The mission of the project is to sensitise readers to the huge social problem of child maltreatment through a comical and satiric science fiction adventure. I hope that people who read Rarity from the Hollow take away that a book that includes tragedy doesn’t have to be depressing to read – that such a story can be a lot of fun and full of entertainment.
What was the most difficult thing about writing this book?
The most difficult thing about writing Rarity from the Hollow was editing out great scenes because they didn’t fit the flow of the story. Some of these scenes I caught myself, while others were caught by one of three independent editors who worked on the novel. To make cutting them a little easier (emotionally), I saved them for hopeful future use in a different story.
What is your favourite chapter (part) of this book?
My favourite scene is from Chapter Ten of Rarity from the Hollow: “One Moment, Please.” This scene may not be a readers’ favourite, however. It’s my favourite because it describes the first time that Lacy Dawn stands up to her abusive father. I knew the ending of the story and that it all becomes comical and satiric, which involves scenes that readers may enjoy more.
Have you written anything else before or after this?
I have a long history of writing, including three short stories that were published by magazines, but Rarity from the Hollow is my debut novel. Another of my stories will be published soon in the next edition of Far Horizons magazine. The next novel is Ivy – a most unlikely invasion of Earth based in an almost forgotten town. It’s also literary science fiction and addresses the huge social problem of drug addiction.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?
Frankly, since the release of the final edition of Rarity from the Hollow, I’ve been spending most of my time on promotions. Since I’m now retired, I have flexibility as to schedule but I do have to pick up an odd job here and there just to make ends meet financially. Writing comes easy for me — it’s almost like I can’t turn off the ideas — so I don’t have to wait for inspiration to write.
What books have most influenced your life?
Too many books have influenced my life to even begin to answer this question. So, let me point out that Charles Dickens believed that a novel must do much more than merely entertain, but his works entertained very well.
Where can Rarity from the Hollow be purchased?
It can be ordered directly from the publisher:
or on Amazon