These authors should be required reading for any up and coming fantasy author

The Elric Saga by Michael Moorcock

This may be a bit cliché of me to say, but there are some authors I would consider required reading for anyone wanting to step into it as a fantasy author. Sure, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, George R.R. Martin, Anne McCaffrey and Terry Brooks are names everyone is familiar with. These stories are the “bread and butter” of any fantasy author. They provide the basis for what we write and the stories we develop, but there are some others you need to consider (in my opinion) to make you well rounded. Please remember, these are my opinion and I may miss some of your favorite fantasy authors. So please, add your own to the comments!

I’ll start out with my all-time favorite fantasy author and the person who inspired me to be a writer myself. Michael Moorcock, author of the Elric of Melnibone saga, is one of the best fantasy authors on par with Tolkien and others. His world-building is amazing, something I’ve never read before. The mythology of the Lords of Order and Chaos, the Eternal Champion, and more are terrifying to say the least. His stories span centuries, millennia even, and yet they flow together in such perfect harmony. It’s not your basic Dungeons & Dragons type of story, but unique in every sense of the word, from magic to mythos.

Elric is the perfect anti-hero, doing whatever must be done to in order to survive and defeat his enemies. He sacrifices friend and foe and its such a sad, solitary life, and you feel for him, every step of the way. All of his characters, from Elric to Cymoril, Yyrkoon, Moonglum and Rackhir are deeply intertwined and carefully written. I adore his wistful yet colorful descriptions of people, places and events. The Sailor on the Seas of Fate and Stormbringer will always be my two favorite novels of this series, because the Seas of Fate introduces the concept of the Eternal Champions to the reader and Stormbringer brings the series to a close like I’ve never read before. It’s a shame that Elric still hasn’t made it to the silver screen, and he would shine amongst fantasy epics.

The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin

Next up is Ursula K. Le Guin and the Earthsea saga. She is both a fantasy and science fiction writer, but I’m focusing on her fantasy epic here. It’s interesting to note that Le Guin meant for A Wizard of Earthsea to be a standalone novel, but then she wrote The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore after discovering loose ends in her first book. I think this is a great example of what plagues fantasy writers when it comes to a single story or a series, and she handled it brilliantly. Then it took her nearly 20 years to write what is considered my many as the second trilogy in the Earthsea cycle.

This demonstrates the patience she had as a writer to properly flush out the story, something many of us (me included) don’t do with our own writing. What I love about her story is the fact that she didn’t plop it down into your standard “middle ages fantasy” where the characters are all white. She went out of her way to differentiate the races of Earthsea into something unique and different, especially for a novel written in 1968. That’s the beauty of Le Guin in all her writings. She does not stick to the boundaries of race, sex, color, creed, or religion in her stories, always outside the norms. She is a must read for just that fact alone.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones

The next one might seem a bit unusual but its Diana Wynn Jones, author of the classic Howl’s Moving Castle. Yes, we all know about it from the beautiful and inspiring Hayao Miyazaki film, but have you read the book? It is completely different from the movie and just as inspiring. I read the series after I saw the movie and I wish I had done the reverse. Her writing style reminds me a lot of Frank L. Baum and his Oz stories, tales with such frivolity and backwards talking that its just fun to read to try to get into the mind of the writer. The other great thing about her is that she has been an inspiration to many great fantasy writers of our time, including J.K. Rowling, Terry Prachett and Neil Gaiman. She is an award-winning children’s author and yet her stories are beloved by all. Her books are a lot like Harry Potter in that she brings magic into our regular world and makes it a part of everyday life. It’s a joy to read her stories and be inspired in my own.

The Dark Elf Trilogy by R. A. Salvatore

Lastly, I would like to mention R.A. Salvatore . . . Yes, he’s not one of the more well known fantasy authors, but he’s one of my favorites because of his attention to detail in writing novels based on Dungeons and Dragons. As a teenager and young adult, I played D&D religiously, and reading these novels kept me in the game when I wasn’t playing. His books were especially provocative on different levels. I think he was responsible for taking the Drow Elf from a regular villain (in the game) to a hero in his Dark Elf Trilogy. Drizzt Do’Urden became so popular as a supporting character in his first book, Icewind, that he moved him to main character for his next three books. The other thing I love about Salvatore is he was once just like many of the independently published fantasy authors I collaborate and communicate with on social media. He worked as a bouncer, writing his fantasy stories in his spare time until he was picked up by TSR to write for the D&D Forgotten Realms novels. His publishing story gives me, and others like me, hope for own stories.

As I said at the beginning, these are some of my favorite fantasy writers that truly inspired me in my own stories as a writer, along with many of the classic and legendary authors of the fantasy genre. Let me know your thoughts or add your favorites in the comments.

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers. Get ready for The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel, coming soon, and the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates.

Author interview with InSpiris Audio Magazine with my friend and shipmate, Spencer Webster

I had the great opportunity to be interviewed by my shipmate and friend, Spencer Webster, for his new prodcast, InSpiris Audio Magazine. Spencer and I met during my active duty days in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). We stayed in touch, even after we retired from the Navy. Spencer is working on a new initiative, a podcast called InSpiris Audio Magazine, and I was honored to be the subject of one of his first interviews.

We talked about my progression as a writer, everything that inspired me from anime to comic books and fantasy authors, and how I develop my stories in the Forever Avalon series and my other WIPs. Click on the link below to listen to the interview on YouTube or you can find him on Spotify.

Spencer Webster is a novelist, a storyteller and a retired U.S. Navy Sailor. He also has a million zillion creative ideas and never enough time to make them all a reality. So he’s diving down on a few prioritized goals and InSpiris Audio Magazine is one of them. He wants to learn what is creativity to other people and wants to share stories about what he finds. Spencer Webster is the author of Island of the Lost Soul, a book for sale on Kindle. He believes in the magic of inspiration and imagination and is confident there are a lot of people who might share their magic with him, and in turn with you. Spencer lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife.

Spencer is always looking for creative and inspiring people to interview for his podcast. You can contact him at Also, make sure you subscribe to his podcast and on YouTube to listen to all his content!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His next two fantasy novels, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart and The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series are being released in 2021.

Fantasy Maps help expand “world building” for a writer to take the reader on a journey

High resolution map of Middle Earth - Album on Imgur
Map of Middle Earth from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

“Writing has nothing to do with meaning. It has to do with land surveying and cartography, including the mapping of countries yet to come.”

― Gilles Deleuze

World Building is a skill every writer needs, especially in the fantasy and sci-fi genre. Luckily, as a former D&D DungeonMaster, I have some background in this area before I became an author. Creating the world to take my friends on their many adventures was a part of my life, whether it was Dungeons and Dragons, Space Opera, Rift or any other RPG, I had to create the world in which we were roleplaying.

I used to try and create my own maps using PowerPoint or Adobe InDesign to help me imagine these brave new worlds, but they were poor substitutes and not marketable. Thank God for the independent author and artist community online. They have the resources needed to help bring my imaginary world into a reality.

World building is defined as “the process of constructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe. Developing an imaginary setting with coherent qualities such as a history, geography, and ecology is a key task for many science fiction or fantasy writers.” You don’t know how true that is! As writers, we have to imagine everything from landscapes to cityscapes and everything in between. That means political structure, currency, races, religion, etc. It all has to be accounted for, but the biggest factor is the landscape.

In writing, you need to talk about the cities, forests, roads, and everything else when describing your story. If my protagonist is heading east along the Vanir Road, following the Blackbriar Forest on his way to the Gilded Halls of the Dwarves, I have to know where those places are in relation to his current location. In a sense, you could be writing about going one way and then mention somewhere you protagonist has been, and you say east instead of west so then your world becomes confusing.

Think of it this way… Would you have understood the journey Frodo went on in Lord of the Rings without the map of Middle Earth? Maybe, but the map helped me (as the reader) understand the journey they went on through that map. I like to think about that when I look at world maps from the 1600’s, seeing how they thought of the Earth 400 years ago and how different it is today. Even maps from the 1960’s and 70’s are different from what they are today.

The Island of Avalon
Map of Avalon from the Forever Avalon series, designed by Amy Kruzan.

Mapping is essential which is why, as a writer, I am happy to employ mapmakers in helping me create my worlds. The first one I used was Amy Kruzan, known in Instagram as fantasygraphicsbya. She took my description of Avalon and mapped the enchanted island, as told in the Forever Avalon fantasy book series, into a working map. Now, she helping me with a new layout of Avalon following the aftermath of The Outlander War (I won’t spoil it, so please read it to understand why). Imagining it was one thing but seeing it is something completely new. The layout reflects the ideas I had more than 20 years ago when I started writing the first book in the series.

I found many map artists on Twitter and Instagram. They are quite prolific in creating these myriad of worlds for dreamers like me. The ability to take the words and descriptions to design the forests, mountains, lakes, seas, rivers and cities is designed down to the ridges on the cliffs to the pine trees swaying in the wind. It makes it difficult to formulate things like trade routes, ship ports, rivers and canals, roads, etc. These are all essential for a vibrant or lackluster economy, which makes your fantasy world believable. I mean, how can you take care of an entire island without farmland, shipyards, and all the necessities to feed the populace, export commerce, and transport goods from one place to the other.

“You can’t map a sense of humor. Anyway, what is a fantasy map but a space beyond which There Be Dragons? On the Discworld we know that There Be Dragons Everywhere. They might not all have scales and forked tongues, but they Be Here all right, grinning and jostling and trying to sell you souvenirs.”

― Terry Pratchett, The Color of Magic

So, besides the regular social media crowd, there are artist websites like Art Station, Deviant Art and others allow artists to showcase their work so it makes for a great place to research styles, designs and artists. Although many maps, especially fantasy maps, look similar in many respects, but its the fine details that make the map into something special and unique for your story. You can find the artist you’re looking for to take your story into the world you’re creating.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

Is “Krull” the most underappreciated science fiction and fantasy movie of all time? YES! Yes it is!

Krull Movie Poster #2 | Fantasy movies, Movies by genre, Movie posters
Movie poster for Krull (1983)

I’ve been wanting to write this blog for some time but I never got around to it. I know I’ve mentioned Krull and shown my love for this movie in previous blogs, i.e. Top sci-fi/fantasy movies of the 1980s, etc., but I’ve never focused in on just how AWESOME this movie is. You had an all-star cast (by today’s standards), a fantastic storyline, and great special effects (okay, by the 80’s standards anyway!) So, why has this movie been relegated to the back shelves of video stores, streaming services, and the dustbin of many dvd collections. The fact is it shouldn’t be. This movie is a gem that should be watched and often. It’s binge worthy in more ways than one.

Krull is a 1983 science fiction/fantasy swashbuckler film directed by Peter Yates and written by Stanford Sherman. It followed the journey of Prince Colwyn and a group of outlaws on the planet Krull who are attempting to save Princess Lyssa (Colwyn’s bride) from the Beast and his army of Slayers from her captivity in the Black Fortress, an impregnable citadel that teleports to a new location at dawn. To aid in his fight, he seeks soothsayers, sorcerers, a cyclops, and a mystical weapon called the Glaive.

The film stars an ensemble cast: Ken Marshall as Prince Colwyn, Lysette Anthony as Princess Lyssa, Trevor Martin as the voice of the Beast, Freddie Jones as Ynyr, Bernard Bresslaw as Rell the Cyclops, David Battley as Ergo the Magnificent, Alun Armstrong as Torquil, the leader of a group of outlaws (including early screen roles for actors Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane), John Welsh as The Emerald Seer, Graham McGrath as Titch, and Francesca Annis as The Widow of the Web.

The first thing you need to understand that this is the early 1980s, when everyone was trying to match the popularity and box office bonanza that Star Wars brought with it. So, it had a big budget for special effects, marketing, etc. I mean, Krull had an arcade video game, not something they did for every movie. They really thought they had a box office hit on their hands. Unfortunately, the critics were not on their side.

Critic Janet Maslin found Krull to be “a gentle, pensive sci-fi adventure film that winds up a little too moody and melancholy for the Star Wars set”, praising director Yates for “giving the film poise and sophistication, as well as a distinctly British air”, and also “bring[ing] understatement and dimension to the material.” Baird Searles described Krull as “an unpretentious movie … with a lot of good things going for it.” A retrospective review by AllMovie journalist Jason Buchanan hailed it as “an ambitious sci-fi/fantasy that even in its failures can usually be forgiven for its sheer sense of bravado.” Ryan Lambie, reviewing for Den of Geek in 2011, called it “among [t]he most visually creative and downright fun movies of the enchanted 80s” and “a well-made film, and an entire galaxy away from other cheap, quickly made knock-offs that showed up in the wake of Star Wars.”

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Krull | 411MANIA
Ken Marshall as Prince Colwyn and Lysette Anthony as Princess Lyssa in Krull (1983)

Everything sci-fi that came into the movie theater megaplexes of the 1980s was compared to Star Wars or considered a Star Wars ripoff, but Krull was different. It had one thing that other movies did not… Magic! This was a full-bore fantasy genre movie locked into a world of science fiction. Yes, Star Wars has some fantasy elements in it with “the force” and other abilities, but in Krull, we are talking swords and sorcery. I mean, there are three certifiable “Gandalf-type” wizards (and one “not so much”) in the mix here. Krull blends the two together so perfectly that you don’t know what your watching, and by the time you do, the movie has already sucked you in.

Then there’s the weapon… The Glaive. It’s a bladed, flying metal starfish that, in truth, reminds me of Xena’s Chakram in how it flies through the air and returns to his hand. We are told in the beginning of the movie that the Glaive was just a myth, but the old wizard Ynyr knows where it is and that Colwyn will need it to defeat the Beast. My one complaint about this movie is that we don’t get to see him use it until the very end. Granted, the final fight between Colwyn and the Beast and Slayers is fun to watch, but it’s not enough. I mean, this weapon is what sold the movie to many fantasy fans like myself, and we didn’t see enough of it. You have to wonder how many D&D Dungeon Masters tried to recreate this weapon in a game (hint, I did!)

This movie also has your various fantasy tropes including magical beasts (Fire Mares or “Clydesdales on Steroids” running across canyons without stopping), magical beings (Changelings that kill with a touch) and an ancient, albeit bad ass soothsayer, living in the heart of a spider web (the Widow of the Web, aptly named). Not to mention a cyclops with a tragic back story, a great overhand throw, and a heart-breaking death (sorry for the spoilers but it’s true!) This is a true fantasy world invaded by a space-faring megalomaniacs hell-bent on destroying one world, then the next. You get this from the end of the movie when the narrator (Ynyr) proclaims they (Colwyn and Lyssa) would rule Krull, and their son would rule the galaxy! Really? I’d like to see that sequel!

Spider guardian of the Widow of the Web, Krull (1983)

The special effects were, without a doubt, some of the best to come out of the 80s. It’s not CGI, but the different sets combined with brilliant costumes, make-up, and effects blended well together. The fighting was a little staged and rigid in places, but it was overall well done. I loved the weapons of the Slayers, firing off a laser blast from one end before turning it around to use as a sword. The main magic we see used by the wizards in this movie was foresight and shapeshifting. There was no fireballs or lightning bolts, but transformations into everything from a tiger to a puppy (yes, a cute little puppy!) With all that, it was laid out brilliantly in the story.

Like I said, this movie is not Shakespeare and it’s nowhere near Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or other big movie genres. Krull is just plain fun, from start to finish. It’s a great story to follow along, interesting characters to laugh and cry with, and keeps you in your seat from beginning to end. Krull is a movie that should be part of a film festival, not relegated to the back row of your dvd collection. If you haven’t seen it, watch it today! If you have seen it, but not in a while, pull it out and watch it again! See what you’re missing!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

Building a world, from the ground up, isn’t as easy as you think

Worldbuilding: How to Create a Believable World for Your Fiction ...

Worldbuilding is defined as “the process of creating a fictional world that can be as complex as designing an entirely new and unique location with exotic creatures, societies, religions, and governments.”

Most people think creating the story is the first step of a writer. Wrong. The first step is creating the world. Sure, the story is the idea, but you can’t have a story with the world it exists in. Whether that be another world like Middle Earth or a dystopian future, version of the United States, you need to create it first so you know the elements you’ll need in your story. We’re talking people and races, type of government, land masses, bodies of water, etc. Your cities will need names, what religion do they worship (if any), even the technology used (medieval, steampunk, cyber-tech, etc.) all need to be considered.

In the Forever Avalon series, I had to create the island of Avalon, from the various races, land masses, creatures, etc. It was a daunting task. I started with the capital, New Camelot, and worked out from there. A lot of my world building included a lot of research on myths and legends. From the Elven city of Alfheimer to the Dwarf mountain of Hursag, these are places within the our world mythology when it comes to Elves and Dwarfs. Since Avalon became a repository for all magic in the world (in my story), I wanted it to accurately portray the legends while adding my own touch.

When writing, you set your characters out on quests and journeys, and to do so, you need to know where they’re going and what lands or obstacles are in their way. Forests, mountain ranges, towns and cities all need to be identified with unique names and their own personality, for lack of a better word. In Avalon, the Fenris Mountains were named because the jagged peaks resembled the teeth of the legendary creature. Blackbriar Forest so named because, in the deep recesses of the woods, no light can pierce the canopy, leaving it a dark and dangerous place to travel. Merlin’s Pinnacle is a lone peak that stands separate from any mountain range, said to be the resting place of the eternal magician. These are just some of the places I created within the world of Forever Avalon, and even now, I’m adding or changing things as the story progresses.

One of the best tools in world building, for me, was Dungeons and Dragons. I played the RPG religiously as a young adult. As a writer, I found it to be a great tool in world building and character development. In fact, I took some of the characters and places I used as a Dungeon Master and player in D&D and used them in my novels. For example, in my latest novel, The Outlander War, there  is a new character named Abdel Ben Faust, a half-demon mercenary. This character is based on a half-orc fighter I played in the game. I had to make some adjustments since Orcs don’t exist in my world, but the basis for the character came from D&D.

A Brief Intro To Worldbuilding – Alexandra Peel

I also took inspiration from other fantasy novels, which I’m sure many authors do. In the Forever Avalon series, the home of my protagonist, Lord Bryan MoonDrake, is the floating dragon island of Emmyr. I took this from my love of Michael Moorcock and the Elric series, in which Melniboné (The Dragon Isle) and only surviving city is Imrryr, known as The Dreaming City. For many of us today, it’s the authors of these series that has inspired us to write our own stories. As they say, imitation is the most since form of flattery.

Another great tool for world building, especially when it comes to names, is Google. Searching through the different names in different cultures, whether its a Surname list or using Google translate to look up words in different languages for a town name, it becomes a helpful tool for writers. For example, when I named taverns and inns in Avalon, I always named them after an animal with an adjective to make it more colorful:  The Grinning Toad, The Weathered Wren, The Green Griffon, The Crooked Goose. This kept my thought process in line as I was writing the stories.

Maps are also useful. I’m no mapmaker, but as I put things together in my novel, I made a makeshift map of the world I was creating. I just marked the major points so I could figure out directions and to ensure consistency as I wrote my novel. I didn’t want to say they went north one time, and the next time they were going to the same place but I said south instead. You need to be consistent in your planning.

So, you need to think long and hard about the world you’re creating. The landscape is as essential as character development.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

What it takes to write a book, no a series, without going completely crazy

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I have to admit, this has been a journey for me. I like to say it’s been a 20-year trek, since Forever Avalon was first published in 2009, but in actuality, it’s been a nearly 40-year journey for me. I wrote a little bit in high school, but not as much as I do today.

It all really started around 1984, for me. I just joined the U.S. Navy, finished boot camp, and was waiting for to join my “A” school class for military journalism at the Defense Information School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind. I spent my time in specialty classes to improve my typing speed (I still “hen and peck” at the keyboard to this day) and performing odd duties, like manning a reception desk in the Broadcast Department office. This was really “busy work” while I waited for a spot to open in the next available class schedule.

When I wasn’t on duty, I found some like-minded friends and we spent our evenings and weekends playing Dungeons and Dragons. I had also started writing then, although it was nothing like the Forever Avalon series. I originally had ambitions of being a screenwriter, so I wrote a D&D based screenplay called “Justice by the Sword” and, to be honest, it sucked. I think most writers probably feel the same way about their first piece of work. I still have it, though, as a memento of my first attempt as a writer, to remind me of this journey I started on.

After “A” school, I reported to my first duty station, the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal. It was a behemoth, quite intimidating for a young sailor, but it was an experience I’ll never forget. Like at “A” school, I spent my off duty nights at sea playing D&D with my friends. Yes, I was a full blown nerd. You have to remember, this was before video game consoles, the internet, cellphones, and satellite TV. The only video games we had were the arcade machines on the mess decks that you dropped your quarters into. D&D let us escape those 16 hour work days, separated from family and loved ones, into a world of fantasy.

It was in that haze between fantasy and reality that I found my calling, my dream, my story as a writer. It started as a recurring dream. Whenever I was deployed, I would have this dream about being with my family on a magical, medieval fantasy world. It was like living in an Isekai anime. This dream stayed with me for more than 20 years, half of which was spent on sea duty, deployed overseas. Finally, in 2001, during my last deployment aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (Yes, I served on the Enterprise! Take that, nerds!) I decided to write down the story. I didn’t play D&D anymore (not many Chief Petty Officers into RPGs) so I took my stories to heart and started to write. I spent my off duty time developing my Forever Avalon story, including world building, developing characters, and creating the stories behind the myths and legends of this fantasy world of mine. It was a breathtaking experience.

I finished writing my manuscript over the next few years, followed by editing and then researching publishers to send it to. It wasn’t until 2008, two years after I retired from active duty, that I was finally accepted by a publisher and my dream became a reality. Forever Avalon was published. Then, I stopped having my recurring dream. It was as if I was telling myself that I had to write this story and my job was done. I can’t explain it, I couldn’t if I tried, but this story was, and always has been, a part of me. Now, more than 20 years later, the story (at least, this part of it) is complete.

I don’t mean to sound overtly mysterious, but I can say I’ve already written Book Four in the Forever Avalon series, and started writing Book 5. I have one more trilogy planned before I completely finish this fantasy series altogether. To be honest, the same thing happened to me recently. I started having a dream about waking up at a crossroads in another world (do you see a pattern here…), nearly murdered, and resurrected with a “clockwork heart” to train as a magical warrior. This dream led me to write another new novel I recently finished, The Last Magus. I haven’t done anything with it yet as I’m still editing, but it’s cut from the same cloth.

I know a lot of these stories have been influenced by the movies and television shows I’ve watched and the books I’ve read. It’s the same for many authors; you are influenced by the experiences of your lifetime. The first part of this journey of mine is coming to a close, but I still have more stories to tell. To me, it’s just getting started.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for presale and will be released on 28 February 2020 from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Is it Wrong to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon? No, it isn’t!

I can’t help but chuckle (under my breath) every time I read the title of one of my favorite anime… Is it Wrong to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon. It’s a problem that’s plagued D&D players since its inception, and now, it’s an anime.

When I first saw this anime, I thought it was to good to be true. Here is a story based on my years of playing Dungeons and Dragons. I mean, a “Little Rookie” dungeon crawler falls for the beautiful “Sword Princess” while trying to prove he’s worthy of her; all the while, he’s pursued by a variety of women who he considers just friends. Yup, every D&D players dream.

Is it Wrong to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon, or Danmachi, takes place in the fictional city of Orario to when gods all came down seeking excitement, limiting their divine powers to perceive and experience the lower world, offering mortals to fight monsters assorted in an underground labyrinth known as Dungeon as part of the god’s family, or Familia. The story follows the exploits of Bell Cranel, a solo adventurer under the goddess Hestia. As the only member of the Hestia Familia, he works hard every day in the dungeon to make ends meet while seeking to improve himself. He looks up to Ais Wallenstein, a famous and powerful swordswoman who once saved his life, and with whom he fell in love. He is unaware that several other girls, deities and mortals alike, also develop affections towards him; most notably Hestia herself, as he also gains allies and improves himself with each new challenge he faces.

As I watch this anime, I come to one basic conclusion… We’re all Bell Cranel. He is the plucky, wannabe hero who wants nothing more than to prove himself to the woman he loves. This is something that every man, or woman, has done in some form or another. We all want to be worthy of love, and Bell tries his best to work past his own inadequacies to become the hero he wants to be, through hard work, determination, and heart.

The world created by this anime is fun and exciting. You have your basic fantasy elements–Elves, Dwarfs, demi-humans, etc.–but also a real twist on the gods themselves. You have all pantheons included, from Greek to Norse and Far East deities, and even some gender-bending. Loki and Hephaestus as women actually works for me. With the exception of some of the female deities (Freya and Ishtar as an example) most of the gods don’t exude the divine power they embody. They’re just there to gather together a Familia, improve their status, and bestow their divine blessing on them.

The status thing is what brings out the D&D vibe in this anime. Their status is maintained on a magical tattoo on their back. The gods use a drop of their own blood to update and track their status as they fight the magical monsters in the dungeon. It keeps stats like a basic D&D character sheet–level, skills, abilities–and changes as they grow in power. It’s really reminds me of my long weekends spent in late-night D&D sessions!

Image result for danmachi anime fanart bell and ais

This anime has all the characteristics of a traditional “harem” anime as so many beautiful women are throwing themselves at Bell, and he is oblivious to all of it. His innocence and embarrassment at the affection shown to him is quite charming. His awkward nature reminds me of how I was around girls at a young tender age. It brings me back to my youth and, for someone my age, it keeps me “young at heart!” Add to that the adventure, dungeon crawling, monster fighting, and magical combat, and you’ve got a great story. The characters are engaging, enticing, and fun to watch.

Is it Wrong to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon is a great anime to watch and follow. I hope this storyline continues for quite a long time. There are many more stories of Bell and his Familia to be told and I look forward to watching them.



Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Stop trying to justify “political correctness” by bashing fantasy classics

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write this week, then I heard about an American science fiction author bashing J.R.R. Tolkien as racist. When I read the article, it became even more laughable because he claimed that he was racist because of the way he portrayed Orcs as an “inferior” race.

Yes, you read that right. The greatest fantasy author of all times is a racist and a bigot because he made a make-believe race that were considered inferior by most people, i.e. those who read Tolkien and the author himself. Never in my life have I heard anything so ridiculous and self-serving. These comments seem to be coming from a man trying to sell his own books, because he sure doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Now, before I go any further, I want to inform you that I hate political correctness. I am “old school” for lack of a better word. I don’t agree with changing words just because you don’t like them. To me, free speech is everything. If you don’t like it, then don’t read it, watch it, or listen to it. However, I hate stupidity and he’s just downright stupid.

The author (who will remain unnamed as I will not promote him in any way, shape or form) said Tolkien “depicted evil creatures such as Orcs as ‘worse than others’ and said this had ‘dire consequences for society.'” Sorry, what? Is President Trump planning to turn away immigrants because he’s afraid they’ll join the dark lord Sauron to destroy America? Gimme a break!

Okay, first you have to understand what Orcs are… They’re mostly evil. Some like Warcraft depict Orcs as neutral or evil–like some do in D&D–but most portray them as evil. It’s part of what Orcs were meant to be.

Remember, Tolkien created Orcs, so all of us fantasy authors go by his writings for reference. Beyond that, it is well known that Tolkien was one of the most staunch critics of racism, fascism, and Nazism. It is well documented in his writings.

Now, here is where he gets really, really wierd. The author says, “I can easily imagine that a lot of these people that were doing the dark lord’s bidding were doing so out of simple self preservation and so forth.” Really? I guess they killed all the humans because they were afraid of Sauron, not because humans tasted good. This quote shows me that this man never read Tolkien, and if he did, he’s trying to use today’s “PC bullshit” to justify his opinion.

Why? Why do we have to do that? Why do we need to take one of the Top 5 novels in America (as per The Great American Read) and trash it because you want to be politically correct. If you want to do that, write your own damn book about Orcs being the downtrodden of society, but to me, it’s pretty insulting comparing Orcs to South American migrants (yes, this idiot did that too!)

There is a place for criticism. I have negative reviews on my own novels, and I take them to improve myself as an author. It just seems that for this author to go after a literary legend like Tolkien is more about bringing attention to himself.

You can read the article about this author and his comments here and decide for yourself. I, for one, don’t plan on reading any of his books anytime soon.



Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

It’s no wonder I can’t sleep with the constant storytelling running in my head

“Writing is literally transformative. When we read, we are changed. When we write, we are changed. Its neurological. To me, this is a kind of magic.” — Francesca Lia

Some people find it hard to write. It’s called “writer’s block” for a good reason. I seem to have a different problem. I have multiple storylines running in my head, like a Broadway play on steroids.

These storylines are for two different books I’m currently working on. I see them in my sleep, when I’m walking my dog, waiting in the elevator, or riding on the metro. It’s a constant barrage of ideas and they won’t stop.

At times, it can be maddening. Paul Goldman said, “Closing my eyes, the scene within unfolds as it has for thousands upon thousands of years.” That’s what it feels like inside my head at times. Even when I’m doing the simplest of things, like eating dinner or watching TV, I still find my mind wandering into my stories.

I think that’s the curse of being a writer. Maybe ‘curse’ is too strong of a word, but it’s accurate. I am a storyteller. My job is to tell people the wild and wierd stories, flights of fantasy, that stirs the imagination of my readers. It’s what drives me to be a writer. I love it, no matter how much it bugs me, I absolutely love it.

This kind of inspiration is what drives me to be a writer. It fills my pasion, forges my imagination, and makes my life worth doing. I need to be driven to write even better. Whenever I speak to groups about writing, there’s a story I tell about where the Forver Avalon series comes from. I’d like to share that with you.

I joined the U.S. Navy in 1983. Back then, we didn’t have the internet, video games, or satellite TV. Many Sailors spent their off duty time playing board or card games. Me… I played Dungeons & Dragons. My friends and I would seal ourselves away in the #4 aircraft elevator mechanical room late at night and spend our off duty time playing D&D. It helped pass the time when you’re deployed for more than six months from your wife and kids.

dnd5For me, these late night D&D sessions fueled an already active imagination. Combine that with missing your wife and newborn baby daughter and it can lead to some rather strange dreams. During my first deployment, I started having a recurring dream of being with my wife and daughter on an island of fantasy and magic, lost in time and space. That dream evolved and grew with each of my deployments and subsequent birth of my other children.

In 2001, I was deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (yes, lucky me to have served on my favorite starship’s namesake!). Although I wasn’t playing D&D at this time, the dream stuck with me. However, it was more detailed and elaborate than ever before, so I decided to start writing it down. I spent my off-duty time writing my story, putting it together in a cohesive story. By the time my deployment was done, Forever Avalon was born. My story was complete.

The funny thing is, after I finished writing the book, I stopped having the dream. It disappeared completely. It served its purpose, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. D&D helped me develop my imagination and writing has given me an avenue to use it. Its who I am, in my heart and in my soul. I am a writer. So let the band play on. It just fuels my passion.




Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Monsters, myths, and legends are on my pages and in my dreams


You know how your dreams can seem real, even though you know it’s just a dream? For a fantasy writer, it’s like living with an entire world inside your head. When I played Dungeons & Dragons, it was even more vivid when you played. It was like living in that world, even though you know its not real.

That’s what I love about being a writer, especially a fantasy writer. No matter how bad things are in the real world, all I have to do is sit at my computer and step into my fantasy world. You have to wonder if this is how it was in centuries past. When people sat around and listened to the storytellers spinning their yarns about giants, dragons, and Gods, did they feel the same as me?

I’ve been talking with other writers via social media and we all have the same ideas behind our stories. It’s like there’s a genetic quirk for fantasy writers, or if you like, geeks in general. We all have that same built-in mechanism that lets us close our eyes and open them into a whole new world (no, do not start singing the song from Aladdin!)

It’s crazy, but lately my mind has been totally focused on a new story I’m writing, The Last Magus. Don’t worry, I’m not stopping the Forever Avalon series. I’ve already written Book 4 and I just sent Book 3 to the publisher to begin editing and layout. It’s just an idea that came to me and I’ve been running with it for the past few months. It’s been dominating my mind when I’m walking my dog, sleeping, and writing. The story plays out over and over again in my head, from wherever I’m at in writing it to the end. It’s like it’s on a frickn’ loop.

As its playing out, I’m writing dialogue, creating background imagry, character development, the works. It’s like I’m a movie director and the set is inside my head. I don’t know whether to love it or hate, mainly because it can be all consuming. When you’re at your job, and you’re trying to get work done, and all you can do is think about the next chapter in your story, it can be frustrating. It’s times like this that I wish I could be a fantasy writer full time.

It’s hard being a part-time writer, which I’m sure many others can relate too. You want to spend every waking moment writing, but there’s just not enough time in the day. I think that’s why I spend my nights dreaming about my story. Even when I’m asleep, I’m writing my novel.

I think for some people, this can lead to sheer and utter madness. But for a writer, it’s just another day at the office. We’re already a little mad anyway.



Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.