Exploring the mind of a writer is a lot like spelunking

img_7945I saw a great quote from Victor Hugo on Facebook the other day. He said, “A writer is a world trapped in a person.” That’s so true, especially for those of us who write science fiction and fantasy. The world we create in our stories began inside us. You have to dive deep into that world to find all the different facets of what you create. Like spelunking, you never know what you’re going to find.

A writer puts everything he or she is into the story, put together bit by bit from the recesses of their mind. It may take years to develop a story, sometimes less and sometimes more. For me, it all began with a friendly game of Dungeons and Dragons combined with more than 10 years of sea duty in the U.S. Navy.

I’ve told you all before how, during my formative years as a young sailor in the U.S. Navy, I spent most of my off-duty hours with a small group of friends playing D&D to kill time on our long deployments at sea. This led to dreams of me and my family living on a magical island filled with everything from medieval fantasy. It was from those dreams that I created the world of Forever Avalon.

I found it quite easy to translate my skills as a D&D “Dungeonmaster” into creating my story. Actually, it’s a very similar trait, except for the grammar and spelling. My story even started out the same way as it began, with a dream.


The dream … It’s always the same.

Bryan, my husband, was dressed like a medieval knight. He’s in a fierce battle, fighting for his life. Monsters, goblins I think, swarmed around him like angry bees. He fought them off with a fury I’d never seen before. He wielded two swords—one blade was black as night, the other shined like
the sun.

The numbers were too great for him and one of the goblins got through. The creature jumped on his back and stabbed him through the heart with a dagger. He screamed in agony. I felt his pain. He fell to the ground as they continued to beat down on him until he disappeared in a sea of monsters.

I wake up screaming. It’s always the same.


It’s funny how something as simple as a dream can grow into a world all its own. This kind of creativity comes about in so many different ways. Ray Bradbury said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” I find this absolutely true. Whether it’s a blog post, a simple tweet or a few pages of my next novel, If I don’t write something every day, I start to get a little stir crazy.

Writing is that form of expression that helps us through the best and worst of times. Writing is an escape from the real world into that place we created within our mind. I go there every chance I get and, through writing, try to bring as many people as I can with me. Why don’t you come in and join in on the adventure? What have you got to lose?


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed atInkitt.

53-years-old and still a child at heart

The late, great actor George Burns said, “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” That is so true.I turned 53-years-old yesterday yet, according to my wife on more than one occasion, I am still a child at heart. That is absolutely true.

maxresdefaultI still have that spark of imagination, that child-like demeanour that keeps you young at heart. I love to watch cartoons, read comic books, play video games and, in general, feel and act like a kid again. What’s wrong with that?

We’ve been trying to keep that spirit alive through every means possible. I mean, look at movies like Big and The Kid, for example. They try to teach how being that little kid again can help keep us grounded by keeping our hopes and dreams at the forefront.

One of my favorite TV shows is Doctor Who. I know it’s hard to fathom what a 2,000-year-old Timelord has to do with being young at heart, but give me a minute. The 11th Doctor, Mat Smith, was one of my absolute favorites. He could act like a child yet become a serious adult, switching back and forth all the time. I love that idea. That’s what we all need to be.

There are plenty of times when need to be serious adults, but every once-in-a-while, we need to let that inner child loose. It helps keep us young and alive. It’s that spark that helps me as a writer. That little kid in me is a dreamer, thinking about magical islands, flying on the back of a dragon, weaving magical spells.

That’s why I love playing Dungeons and Dragons. You need that child-like imagination to play the game. It’s hard to imagine crawling through a dungeon, fighting off hordes of goblins with nothing but a magic sword without tapping into your imagination. That same imagination works its way into things when I sit down and write. It’s the same feeling I get when I play a video game or watch a cartoon. It sparks that inner child and fills me up with wonder, hope, and dreams. I can’t escape it and I really don’t want to.

So, I may have 53 candles on my birthday cake, it’s not how old I truly am inside. There, I’m still a little boy playing with his Micronauts and watching Superfriends and Speed Racer on a Saturday morning. In my heart and soul, that’s where I’ll always be.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse.The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.


Have you noticed the sad state of journalism today?

There was one thing I learned when visiting foreign ports as a sailor in the U.S. Navy … Never discuss politics, sports or religion. These are three topics that people can be fanatical about, take sides and, more than likely, cause fights. The same can be said for social media today. If you have a different view on certain topics, you will get pounced on and devoured like Garfield eating lasagna.

I’ve worked hard to keep my political views out of my blog, but I feel the need to step in just this once. As a journalist, albeit a military journalist, I have to take exception with the sad state of journalism today. It seems that today’s media are more interested in becoming part of the story rather than reporting on it. They are more interested in “gotcha” questions, hoping for a sensational quote they can point to and spend hours upon hours discussing with multiple pundits and experts. It’s nauseating.

Granted, with people like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton running for President, you have plenty of gaffes to talk about, but nowadays, it’s difficult to get past the reporter’s bias. Just by listening to the tone of their voice and type of questions they ask can determine a reporter’s political leanings and that’s my biggest problem.

edward-r-murrowThe media are supposed to be the sentinels of the truth. They investigate, question and report on the activities of the government to keep the people abreast of what our public officials are doing. There is no better example of that than Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965). His reporting style focused on facts, not on sensationalism. He never made the story about himself, even when he was pulled into it. One of the best journalism movies out there is George Clooney’s “Good Luck and Good Night” from 2005. It should Murrow’s reporting during the “Red Scare” hearings by Senator Joe McCarthy. You can see the same great examples of journalism in movie’s like “Spotlight” and “All the President’s Men” as well. It doesn’t matter who is in power in Washington, D.C.

Journalists today are more interested in courting favor with those in power to maintain relations that can help propel them into the spotlight, maybe even a better job. That’s how ridiculous the mainstream media has become. All it takes is a quick Google search to discover whether a journalist is being disingenuous or flat out lying. You can also tell their political leanings when they ask on candidate tougher questions than another. It seems most of them don’t even try to hide it anymore.

walter-cronkite-vietnam-720People say that the Vietnam War was lost when the government lost Walter Cronkite. During a trip to Vietnam in 1968, he said, “It seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate.” That one sentence told the American people that the war was not winnable and, by most accounts, turned many against continuing the campaign. It is said that President Lyndon Johnson was heard to say, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.” That is the power of journalism.

Like authors, journalists are storytellers, but they rely on facts, not fiction. We need our media to get back to that philosophy so we can make critical decisions about the direction of our country, but without the sarcasm or commentary. Like Detective Joe Friday always said, “Just the facts, ma’am …”


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble andiUniverse.The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

Enter the half-demon named Abdel Ben Faust: An excerpt from THE OUTLANDER WAR

0e03a44Whenever you’re writing a story, you always need a good villain. Villains are the bane of your heroes existence. In fantasy, a good villain is usually a powerful warlord, an evil sorcerer or sorceress, or maybe a grotesque creature. In the case of Abdel Ben Faust, it’s a little bit of everything. He’s a half-demon and a master swordsman, the perfect killing machine, available for the right price.

You’ll meet Faust in the third book of the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War. It’s currently available for preview at Inkitt.com as part of their “Story Peak” novel contest, where three manuscripts will be selected for publication if it gets more than 100 people reading the book. Yes, sorry for the shameless plug but a writers’ gotta do what a writers’ gotta do.

Faust has everything a writer looks for in a villain:  Strength, guile, intelligence and no morals whatsoever. He’s a perfect sociopath who thinks only about himself and his needs. I think of him like a Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy, killing without remorse. You can relate to his heritage and his upbringing as the cause for his apathy, but to me, he made that choice all on his own.

I created Abdel Ben Faust from a character I once created in my early days of binge-playing Dungeons and Dragons during my misspent youth. He was a half-orc fighter with (natural rolled) 18/00 strength. I haven’t introduced Orcs in Forever Avalon yet, so instead, I made him a half-demon. His heritage plays a major role in The Outlander War. For now, I wanted to give you a glimpse into the pure evil by introducing Abdel Ben Faust to you.


On Avalon, South Essex was known as a city of artisans. The finest craftsman could be found in South Essex of all mediums—wood, metalwork or canvas—as well as exceptional tailors, tinkers, and tradesmen. It was a town full of the finest shops you could ever find outside of New Camelot.

The Black Swan was one of the most reputable taverns in South Essex, with the finest wine and spirits in all of New Camelot. The food at the Black Swan also had a reputation for being the best served in all Avalon. But even the best places can attract some unsavory characters.

Inside, the tavern was brightly lit with the glow of candlelight and roaring fires. The rooms were decorated in the finest silk drapes and tapestries of red and black. The décor epitomized the name of the tavern as swans could be seen represented in various shapes and sizes from statues to wall sconces.

While the rest of the tavern was crowded, as usual, the back of the room was empty, except for one guest. The owner did this at the request of the guest but also so his other patrons wouldn’t be subjected to his company.

He sat alone with his back to the wall, gorging himself on rare roasted beef and bottles of 500-year-old Aldinian Whiskey. He appreciated spirits, especially rare ones, and he always came to the Black Swan whenever he was in town because they always carried the best.

His name was Abdel Ben Faust, a mercenary by trade and considered by many as the finest swordsman on Avalon. His long black hair was pulled back tightly in a ponytail, exposing his pointed ears and long face. A scar ran from his left temple, across his nose, and down his right cheek … A reminder of being cut from his mother’s womb. His mustache was long and thin, hanging down below his chin, but that was where his true heritage showed through.

His skin was reddish-brown and, from his chin, grew horns that resembled a goatee, twisted like braided hair. Abdel Ben Faust was a half-demon, the son of a witch and an Incubus, conceived during a blood moon in a magical ritual. His mother died while giving birth to him. He had to be cut from her womb by the same clerics that killed his demon father.

Faust was raised a slave, tormented regularly for his demonic form, but in his torment grew strength and resolve. He molded himself from slave to warrior, becoming a master swordsman, available to the highest bidder.

He has avoided conflict with the Gil-Gamesh since his return to Avalon thanks to an innate ability from his demonic lineage. Faust can conjure “demon holes” to move from place-to-place, unseen. Demon holes were doorways of black smoke, fire, and brimstone. Only binding him in iron chains prevented him from using his power.

Faust came to South Essex to indulge his tastes while the Gil-Gamesh and the rest of the Knights of the Round Table moved to the coast to protect Avalon from the Outlanders. He knew there would be no trouble coming to the Black Swan and drinking his fill before moving on to his next job.

The curtain to the back room was pulled aside as young Finnick Devereaux, son of the Earl of South Essex, Sir Robert Devereaux, stepped in. The young man was nearly 50, young for a noble of Avalon. His dirty blonde hair, dashing good looks and fine clothes endeared his upright lineage. He pulled a handkerchief from his inside pocket and waved it in front of his face as he tried to dispel the stench coming from Faust.

“He is here milord, just as I said,” Finnick said to someone behind the curtain. A robed, hooded figure stepped through, walking right past the young noble.

“Good … Leave us Finnick, and make sure we are not disturbed,” the hooded figure said.

“Are you sure you want to do this milord?” Finnick asked. “The last man who interrupted Abdel Ben Faust while he was eating had his head chopped off and tossed into a stew pot.”

“Not worry, I’ve come bearing gifts,” he said as pulled a bottle from out of robe pocket. Finnick just bowed and left the room, closing the drapes behind him.

The stranger walked up to Abdel’s table but stopped when he drew his sword as he chugged down the last of the whiskey, resting his blade across the table. It was a broad sword, nearly four feet long, with a jagged edge etched along the top edge of the blade. Wisps of smoke rose up from the sword, as if it was burning, as the runes etched on the blade glowed softly. This was Deathsong, a cursed blade that only Abdel Ben Faust could wield and he did so very well.

“I’d think twice before sitting down,” Faust warned as he finished his drink. The stranger just placed the bottle down in front of him. Faust dropped his own bottle to examine the gift.

“Can it be?” he exclaimed. “Panaque, distilled from the vines of the dryads of Meliai, over 4,000 years old!” He popped the cork and smelled the delicate bouquet of the fine spirit. He looked up at the stranger and nodded his head to the chair in front of him. The hooded figure sat down as Faust sheathed his sword and poured himself a drink.

“So to what do I owe this honor and who do I have to kill to keep this bottle?” he asked as he took a sip of the delicious liquid.

“The bottle is yours, Abdel Ben Faust, a gift for listening to what I have to say,” he began. “But first, I have a question for you. Last year, when Morgana le Fay was resurrected, why were you not part of her forces at the Battle of Idlehorn Mountain? Surely a swordsman of your caliber could have turned the tide in her favor.”

Faust seemed to be insulted by the stranger’s accusation but took it in stride for the moment. “Her cause was lost from the moment she began,” he scoffed as he took another sip.

The hooded man seemed irritated by his answer but just sat back and listened. “Why do you say that?”

“Because she let the Gil-Gamesh live,” he answered. “You don’t give someone like the Gil-Gamesh any glimmer of hope. She should have killed him when she had the chance. That’s always been the problem with despots like Kraven Darkholm and Morgana le Fay. They want that power but they want to gloat about it in the process. That’s what got them killed.

“I don’t side with losing causes,” he concluded as he downed the last of his drink. “I’ve answered your question, now you answer mine … What do you want?”

“I want you to lead an army to take Avalon out of the grips of the Pendragon’s and the Gil-Gamesh,” the stranger said without skipping a beat.

Faust just laughed under his breath. “Well if you wait long enough, the damn Outlanders with all their technological weapons will do it for you.”

“Oh, I doubt that,” the stranger impugned. “If the Gil-Gamesh is as resourceful as you say, then all I have to do is wait until he restores Avalon as it was before, hidden from the outside world. Then, we tear Avalon apart, taking the throne and killing him in the process.”

Faust was not convinced by the hooded stranger’s plan. He laughed again as he poured himself another drink. “Well in the first place, you’d need an army at least 10,000 strong,” Faust calculated. “Hell, the goblins don’t even have half that number anymore, and the trolls are all whipped lackeys for that Shield Maiden now. So where is this army you speak of?”

The stranger reached into his robe and pulled out the ruby amulet, still glowing from the strong magic’s imbued within. Faust just looked at the amulet, unfazed and uncaring. “What’s that supposed to be?” he asked.

“The key to controlling the most powerful army in creation, the Wraith Legion of Purgatory!” Abdel Ben Faust was stunned, aghast at the stranger’s claim. The Wraith Legion was an army of fallen knights, trapped in purgatory because of some dishonor or shame that fell upon them in life. They served a penance, keeping the demons of the underworld in check until, one day, they’ve earned their place in Heaven.

“No one can control the Wraith Legion. It’s impossible,” he exclaimed.

“You can with this,” the stranger said, dangling the amulet. “With this amulet, they will follow your every command. You will be their General, Abdel Ben Faust, and you will conquer Avalon for me.

“In return, I will give you the Twin Swords of the Dragon Moon as payment, for your collection.”

It is known that Abdel Ben Faust has, over time, collected the sword or weapon of every knight, every warrior and every monster he ever bested in battle. He kept his collection hidden from prying eyes. He liked to savor each and every victory by looking at the weapons of his fallen enemies hanging on the walls of his vault. Adding the swords of the Gil-Gamesh would be the centerpiece of his collection.

The stranger had intrigued Faust with his offerings but wasn’t convinced completely just yet. He needed to know something more. “Who are you?” he asked.

The hooded figure stood up and peeled back his hood, revealing his face to Faust. The half-demon was stunned as he recognized the face almost immediately. “You? But that’s impossible, you’ve been dead for centuries, millennia even! It can’t be you!”

The stranger pulled the hood back over his head and sat back down. “I assure you, it is me, Abdel Ben Faust. I have many machinations at work, but I need a general to lead my army. You are the one man I can entrust with this task because I know that you will only accept my offer if you believe it can succeed.

“So will you, will you join me?” he asked. Faust sat there, stroking his chin, contemplating all the stranger has offered him. After a few moments, he raised his glass to him.

“When do we get started?”


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble andiUniverse.The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

Negativity + Anger = Less Creativity

I find myself looking for advice on every topic, from politics to movies, through the internet; but I have to say, the best advice out there still comes from the pulpit. Now, I’m not here to preach or get religious on you, but I really learned something today and I wanted to share it with everyone.

My wife and I are not regular church-goers, but we watch Paster Joel Osteen anytime he’s on. Some people like him, some hate him, some say he’s more guru than a minister, but to me, he is an excellent preacher. I love the way he takes everyday life, scriptures, and Bible stories and weaves them into his sermons. Watching and listening to him over the past few years has taught me more about being a good Christian than 18 years of growing up a Southern Baptist.

Today, he was talking about negativity and how it can impact your life. He talked about how hanging onto negative emotions can block you from your inner creativity and reaching your goals. It really hit home with me because of what I’ve been going through this past year and how it’s stifled my ability to write.

I lost my job recently. It was me being stupid and thinking it couldn’t happen to me and, guess what, it did. Since then, I had to cash in my 401K, file for bankruptcy and cut back on a lot of the luxuries in my life.

I took the opportunity to do what I love to do and write. I was able to push through and finish my third book in the Forever Avalon series, but that was several months ago. I tried to start writing my fourth book but the creativity just won’t flow. I know the story I want to write. I can see it in my head, I just can’t make the connection to write it down. Writer’s block is normal but it’s more than that. My creativity has stalled and diving towards the ground.

I know that I’m still hanging onto a lot of excess negative baggage. Every time I drive by my former place of work, my stomach tightens and I my head hurts. It’s found its way into my dreams that wake me up at night. Everyone has told me to move on and get past it, but it’s not that easy. I spent more than 30 years in the U.S. Navy, both as a Sailor and a civilian. It’s what made me the person I am today and I threw it away.

I would love to sit at home and spend my days writing, spinning story after story and make a life at this, but it’s just not possible right now. This “black cloud” that’s hanging over me is still there. I did make it go away, for a while, when I went up to the Military Academy at West Point to write for the 2016 Warrior Games. I was in my element, writing press releases and feature articles by day and working on my own stories at night. When I look back at those two weeks, I know that there is a silver lining out there for me, I just have to find it again.

I’m sorry if I seem to be venting and using my blog to tell my sad little story, but there is point coming. I know there are probably a few people out there feeling the same way I do. I just want to relay that message from Paster Osteen. You need to let go of the negativity, whether it’s getting past something bad that happened in your life, a fight with a loved one, a sudden illness or maybe even something worse. Let go of it all and you can find that inner peace, that spark of imagination or find yourself making that goal.

I know I’m going to work on my issues to get back to writing. I have many more stories to tell and I don’t want this one thing to stop me in my tracks. We all have to find a way.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.