Come out to pick up some great reads at the Book Fiends Readers Festival in Manchester

One thing I realized after attending my first steampunk festival last month is how much they love to read. When you consider classic authors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are considered the Godfathers of Steampunk as we know it today, this much true. The steampunk genre revolves around everything from science fiction to romance, historical fiction to fantasy. But for some, its an obsession, and as an author, I want to encourage that type of obsessive behavior in people.

One of those groups is the Silk City Steampunk and Oddball Newt from Manchester, CT. They are hosting their third annual Book Fiends Readers Festival on Saturday, June 25, from 11am to 5pm at Cheney Hall, 177 Hartford Road, Manchester, CT. It is a celebration of steampunk, science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, supernatural, paranormal, and poetry authors. The event is FREE and open to the public.

Besides meeting some great authors (including yours truly) and artists, there will be sword fighting demonstrations, food trucks, author panels, and BYOTC (Bring Your Own Tea Cup) for the Tea Cup contest. There will be a VIP meet & greet after the festival from 5pm to 7pm (tickets $10 per person). Visit Oddball Newt Productions for more information and for future steampunk events in Connecticut.

Events like these are great opportunities for you, the readers, to meet the authors of your future favorite books and pick up some great bargains to add to your summer reading list or to your bookshelf. Let’s help each other out in this endeavor. If you’re in the New York/New England area, I hope you take the time to come to the festival. I look forward to seeing you there!

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy/steampunk 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 as a paperback/ebook at iUniverse Publishing,  Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series, is available 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 River of Souls fantasy novella, coming soon from Curious Corvid Publishing along with the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky PiratesThe Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are future installments of his current fantasy book series, plus so much more coming soon.

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.


One of the great things about the independent author community is the camaraderie, the close ties we all share in our desire to be storytellers. We share our books for peer review, our working knowledge of the world of self-publishing, and advice on marketing, writing, and anything else to make a name. We also talk about each other through social media, through book reviews and author interviews. It was through one of these connections I met Ally Kelly and her group, Worldsmyths – A Haven for Fantasy Writers.

Allison “Ally” Kelly lives in a small town in eastern Connecticut, where she’s lived since she was three. Ally has an Associate’s Degree in General Studies and Graphic Design. She founded Worldsmyths in 2016, after seeing a need for a writers group focused on the fantasy genre. First established as a forum, Worldsmyths serves as a group for speculative fiction writers. In 2021, Worldsmyths will be celebrating their fifth anniversary with a fantasy anthology to be published.

Ally and her team were kind enough to interview me for their blog, so I am returning the favor with an interview of Ally.

What are your aspirations as a writer?

Mostly I just want to be published. I’ve dreamed of being a published author since I was a little girl, and my writing journey has been a long and ever changing one, but I think it’s definitely heading in the right direction. As for where I see myself, hopefully with at least one or two books with my name on them in my hands. I’m currently planning on self-publishing, so we’ll see where that takes me.

What challenges have you overcome and how has this changed your life?

Most of my challenges have been on an educational level. I’ve always been kind of an average student, and I struggled with pretty much any subject outside of English. It took me a long time to graduate college the first time, and the path wasn’t easy, but I think I came out stronger in the end. I went back to school a second time, because I realized that I might have some kind of talent with graphic design/social media outside of them being hobbies, and graduated with that degree, but have just kind of been in limbo with that since then.

Do you have a hero / role model who has shaped you or your values or character?

This is honestly a tough question to answer, and I’m not sure if I have one. I feel like my parents have both influenced my values in big ways, and I have relatives who’ve done so, too. Judy Garland and Lucille Ball have always been heroes to me. My favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz, and as I’ve grown older I’ve learned more about her life and the struggles she went through as an actress living in the twenties. The same goes with Lucile Ball – I used to watch I Love Lucy on Nick at Nite and would crack up laughing because I thought she was so funny. She had such a huge influence on how women are portrayed in television today, which is pretty awesome.

What aspect of the writing process do you find challenging? Easy?

The most challenging for me is probably world building, although I would say trying to structure a novel and make sure the plot make sense are close seconds. I also struggle with self-editing, but I think part of that comes from not having reached the point of needing to self-edit a whole draft until the last few years, so it’s more of a lack of experience thing. I’m not sure if there’s one single thing that I think is the absolute easiest part of writing, but I love when I’m writing a scene or chapter and I have a clear vision for how it’s going to go, and the words just flow from my fingers without struggle.

Who is your favorite author and/or book genre? List some of your favorite books.

Juliet Marillier is my favorite author. I read the first book of her Sevenwaters series when I was a junior in high school, Daughter of the Forest, and I didn’t know how much that book would end up influencing me as a writer and reader at the time, but I fell in love with it. Other favorites include Rick Riordan, Kristin Cashore, and the Harry Potter series. Throughout a lot of my childhood I used to read the Star Wars novels that are now “Legends” and almost exclusively read those books, so many of those novels are favorites, as well.

What advice would you give to up-and-coming or new authors?

Find a writing community to be part of. It can be overwhelming and scary, especially if the community is already pretty established and has a lot of members, or if you’re generally pretty shy about your writing, but it’s 1,000% worth it. Something we pride ourselves on at Worldsmyths, my Discord writing community, is that we are a laidback community and won’t judge you if you’re new to writing and turn you away. We’ll always do our best to help steer you in the direction of helpful resources that can help you become a stronger writer and try to be as encouraging as we can. The friendships you find in writing communities are invaluable, as well.

Is there any place that you desire to travel to? Why do you want to go there?

Ireland. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to go there. Part of it is probably because my family is very Irish, and we have ancestors that probably came to America during the potato famine, and I’ve always loved that. Another part of it is that I’ve become more interested in writing stories with fairies over the last few years, and they’re a big part of my main project. The fairies I’ve created are very loosely inspired by Irish lore, and Ireland definitely has a lot of places that I could see as being visual representation of some of the places in my main project. I was supposed to go to Ireland in May 2020, but with the pandemic it had to be put on hold, hopefully until 2022.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on the first novel in a high fantasy trilogy. I’m several drafts deep into the first book, but it’s had to go through a lot of developmental changes so it’s still a ways from being published.  The first book is currently titled Fae’s Gambit, and is about a girl named Alana who has to travel through the Fae lands in order to save her brother from a curse that’s been placed on him, but it turns out she’s meant for much more.

Make sure you check out all the talented fantasy writers that are a part of the Worldsmyths group and follow them. It’s how we make our writing community grow!

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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.