August 4, 2016

Intergenerational Horrific: a guest post by Robert Eggleton, author of "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 isn't great. But Lacy has one advantage -- she's been befriended by a semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He wants something in exchange, though. It's up to her to save the Universe.
 
To prepare Lacy for her coming task, she is being schooled daily via direct downloads into her brain. She doesn't mind saving the universe, but her own family and friends come first.
 
Will Lacy Dawn's predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?
 
Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. It is a children's story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended.



Intergenerational Horrific
a guest post by Robert Eggleton

Do you think that Godzilla is cuddly? When did you start identifying the social and political allegory of King Kong instead of being afraid that he might jump off the screen and tear you to bits?

I remember watching The Exorcist in 1973. The females seemed to be enjoyably alarmed, but one guy with us at the theater covered his eyes with his palms and started shaking, barely making it to the end of the movie. I suspect that we have all become so desensitized to horror that many would consider these scenes mild today: “Desensitization to Violence” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4522002/

In contrast, the same mainstream desensitization does not appear to have occurred with respect to language that includes sexual references. The famous and popularizing line in The Exorcist, “…your mother sucks cocks in Hell…,” might be more likely edited out of a film today. After all, in 2002 Spielberg caved in to the pressure and edited out the equally popular and very similar insult in his rerelease of ET: “…penis breath….”

Of course, ET was not horror, but its roots may have been: The Thing (1951), War of the Worlds (1953), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Village of the Damned (1960)…. All of these films, regardless of original genre, are most likely now watched for comedic effect and not just because of their low budgets and melodramatic performances. Horror has undergone continual assessment and modification due to desensitization. I’m not saying that Spielberg imitated anything, only that he probably watched numerous films about extraterrestrials and laughed, thereby blending horror and comedy: The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant (1971), The Stuff (1985), The Beyond (1998)….

I never intended Rarity from the Hollow to fit within the horror genre, or within the comedic horror subgenre. One book reviewer disagreed and knocked a hole in my theory that audiences have become so generally desensitized to horror that they would be increasingly difficult to scare:

“I didn't manage to finish this book. Mostly because I found it a little too disturbing for my tastes. I am a 19 year old who still enjoys Disney and can't watch a horror film because they are terrifying after all. But for fans of horror movies and Stephen King this book is perfect. It is psychologically disturbing at a different level to what I have seen before and this made it hard for me to read, especially the scene describing her friend’s death. The writing style is very good, you can actually imagine it is written by a child right from her thoughts as she struggles through her life of abuse. But the book just wasn't right for me, I would urge you to make your own opinions up about the book and if you are not easily scared or disturbed like I am, then I would urge you to give it a go for yourselves….” http://thereadingrose.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/review-special-review-request-title.html

A little surprised by this review, I modified my pitch to other book reviewers to include a disclaimer:

“Except for a scene involving domestic violence in the third chapter, there is no violence or horror -- no blood, guts, gore, vampires, werewolves, but there is one comical and annoying ghost. There are no graphic sex scenes in the novel. The renewed romance between the protagonist’s parents does include off-scene sexual reference, but nothing that is beyond real-life typical teen exposure. The android coming of age during his pursuit of humanity is reality based. Any boy above thirteen years old would attest. However, Lacy Dawn never lets the android get farther than to kiss her on the cheek, once. The android expresses no interest in sex. He falls in love, all consuming love by the middle of the story. The “F word” is used twice, but there is little other profanity. There are two mild sex scenes past the middle of the story that could disturb some folks with conservative values on the subject, but one of the scenes is comedic and the other involves the habitation of a maple tree by the ghost mentioned in this paragraph, so Rarity from the Hollow is not erotic.”

I also began to wonder if this book reviewer’s alarm to the novel was based solely on the fact that there is nothing more horrific than child abuse. Lacy Dawn, the protagonist, begins the adventure at age ten and it takes her until she is fourteen to save the universe. The term, “dildo,” is used in a punch line of the opening scene. Is the novel experiencing an ET-like reaction similar to the phrase “penis breath”? I added a line to the book’s blurb:

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. It is a children's story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended.


An aspect of the intergenerational horrific in Rarity from the Hollow that cannot be edited out and that may upset some readers of mainstream fiction in any genre is that of family violence. All the scary movies with the best special effects, masterpieces in fiction, will never desensitize anybody to the horrors that some children face. Building upon concepts implemented by many authors, the horror was mitigated with comedy for impact:


“…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/

The second edition of Rarity from the Hollow will be released soon. With respect to sexual references, mostly puns, it was toned down a little to reduce shock effect. The annoying and spontaneous erections experienced by the android and joked about in the story were made less prominent.

But, the everyday horror, harsh child discipline, child abuse, and domestic violence, found in early chapters couldn’t be minimized – it’s reality. If you can’t face real-life horror, despite the general impact of desensitization to it among subsequent generations in our society, please don’t go to work in the local Emergency Room or read my novel. If you do decide to give the story a try, the original, uncut version is still available and the early tragedy amplifies the subsequent comedy and satire.

I wonder if one day, especially given the impact of cyberspace on pop culture, whether we will all have been exposed to everything in every conceivable book. I hope not. That would be a very sad time for any generation.


Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state 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, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next -- never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency.

Today, he is a recently retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. 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. http://www.childhswv.org/ Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

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