Tales Untold: Mythos From Around The World now available from Ravens & Roses Publishing

Tales Untold: Mythos From Around The World based on folklore and mythology from around the world is now available from Ravens and Roses Publishing.

This is a collection of fifteen stories based on mythology and folklore worldwide. If you love stories from Greek Mythology, ancient Indian folklore, English Legends, or Scandinavian mythology, this anthology is for you. It includes authors Janie Kang, D.B. Carter, Amorina Carlton, Sathya Achia, Jessica Hopson, Brenda Radchik, Rashmi P. Menon, Sean Doyle, M.N. Kee, Max Turner, Kimberlee Caruso, D.M. Monkson, Chaz Beebe, Joel C. Flanagan-Granemann, and (yours truly) Mark Piggott.

I was honored to be selected along with a great group of authors for this anthology, allowing me to write a unique short story, The Emissary. Imagine a war raging for centuries between angels, demons, and gods, with humanity caught in the middle. While the pandemic reigns worldwide, it brings out the worst nightmare from the depths of Hell . . . Legion. After tricking the Pantheon Council to free it from the ninth ring of Hell, the demon secretly wreaks havoc on New York City. Heaven doesn’t believe the conspiracy. It’s up to the only man left on Earth since the flood carried Noah to safety to stop the monster and convince the heavenly host to aid humanity. He has gone by many names over the millennia, but he is simply known as Gray—The Emissary.

The ebook is now available across multiple platforms, and the paper will follow shortly. CLICK HERE to get your copy today!

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Mark Piggott is an award-winning independent author of several fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. A 23-year U.S. Navy veteran, his stories will take you from the shores of eternal Avalon to a dystopian steampunk future and other worlds.

The Forever Avalon fantasy book series—including Forever Avalon, The Dark Tides, and The Outlander War—is available online at Amazon and other booksellers. His fantasy steampunk novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart, is available through Lulu and other booksellers.

Get ready for The River of Souls fantasy novella from Curious Corvid Publishing. Coming in 2023 from Curious Corvid—the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel. Stay tuned for more new fantastic stories from the imagination of Mark Piggott.

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

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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.

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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.

Courage is a key quality found in the true hero, whether real or fantasy

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
― Nelson Mandela

13Courage… I think the first time we’re exposed to it is watching The Wizard of Oz as a child. The Cowardly Lion showed us both sides of having courage and conquering your fears. While meant to be funny (especially as played by Bert Lahar) it was also quite educational, especially for a child. As we get older, courage takes a different form, like Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird or watching and To Hell and Back and learning about Audie Murphy. Even today, the heroics of people like Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, or the heroes of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting inspire writers like me to exemplify what it means to have the courage to stand up to evil.

Courage has been demonstrated throughout history in stories, myths and legends:  The 300 Spartans who held back the Persian Army, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the march to Selma, or Perseus killing Medusa. These stories inspire all of us to have the courage within ourselves.

However, there are trends to write about heroes that confuse courage with “having the balls” to fight, and that doesn’t work for me. There is a difference between them. A person high on PCP would “have the balls” to confront the police, head-on. Some would call that courage, others might consider it insanity (hand raised high). To some, climbing a mountain in the face of insurmountable odds would call that courageous, while others might consider it stupid. There are so many sides of what to consider as courage.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”
― Mark Twain

Who can say what truly lies inside someone, whether its courage or cowardice. Some people put on the face of a hero, but when confronted, that courage disappears. Others seem timid to most people, yet they are the ones to step up in times of crisis. With the 24 hour news cycle in today’s society, we can see both sides of this on a daily basis. From the heroes who rush into the fire to save lives, to the Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines who charge into battle without question, these are the examples I want to emulate in my stories.

That’s why the main protagonist in the Forever Avalon series, Lord Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon, was a U.S. Navy Sailor. You see, I come from a military family and served in the Navy myself. I not only met and worked with many brave men and women, but I also learned the personal history of many of them.

The best example I can give is Chief Gerald Farrier. On July 29, 1967, the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal was off the coast of Vietnam, readying to launch airstrikes against targets in North Vietnam. Before the first airplane catapulted off the flight deck, an electronic circuit misfired, launching a Zuni rocket off the wing of an F-4B Phantom into other aircraft. Full of fuel and loaded with ordnance, this caused a chain reaction that ruptured fuel tanks and detonated ordnance.

In all the confusion, Chief Farrier ran out on the flight deck with a PkP bottle (a fire suppressant similar to a fire extinguisher but used for fuel fires). Ignoring his own safety, he rushed in to push back the flames so the trapped pilots could escape. He rescued as many as he could before another bomb exploded, killing him and most of the flight deck firefighting team. His courage had an impact on me, as a young Sailor, that I used him as a model for the protagonist in my own novel. Here is an excerpt from The Dark Tides that shows how the courage of one man can save many.

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Inside Flight Deck Control, Bryan rushed into a flurry of activity. McGregory was on the phone with the “Air Boss”—the officer in charge of air operations on Enterprise—while others peered out of the small windows to get a peek at what’s happening on deck.

“Clear away from the window,” Bryan shouted to the sailors. “If you don’t have any business in control, get out now!”

The sailor’s groaned and filed out as the Handler hung up the phone. His mustache twitched—a sign Bryan came to learn as trouble. “Chief, the Boss doesn’t want that aircraft damaging any others,” he said to Bryan. “It’s already clipped another helo and a Hawkeye. Think you can secure it?”

Bryan looked at the Handler, tense and nervous. He’s always relied on Bryan for the tough jobs, and he knew it had to be done. “Yes sir. Just give me Georgie, Bartman and a couple blue shirts and we’ll lock it down.”

The Handler picked up the sound-powered phone while Bryan grabbed a flight deck vest and helmet off a hook on the wall. He’d need the safety gear out on the flight deck, especially in this weather. George, Petty Officer Mike Bartman and two blue shirts—sailors who chain the aircraft down to the deck—arrived in Flight Deck Control. Bryan finished buckling his helmet as he relayed orders to his crew.

“Georgie, you drive the tractor. I want that bird hooked up and holding steady. Bartman, you guide him into the helo. Once that’s done, you two lock it down tight. Ready?”

They all chimed in at the same time. “Yes Chief!” Bryan opened the hatch to the flight deck, the wind and rain blowing them down almost immediately. Once everyone is outside, Bryan moved his crew toward the swinging helicopter.

Its rear wheel remained chained to the flight deck but its front wheels broke free, causing the aircraft to swing like a pendulum. Georgie and Bartman go around the island and start up a tractor while the two blue shirts stayed close to Bryan. The ship was listing heavily to right as huge waves crashed over the flight deck. The wind and rain added to the problem, making it hard for them to get good footing.

Complicating things even more was the multiple aircraft around them, strained against their chains by the storm. Georgie backed the tractor on the helo’s rear wheel and, with Bartman’s help, locked the helo down. Once steady, Bartman signaled a thumbs’ up to Bryan to send the two blue shirts in. Heavy chains hung on their shoulders, chocks in their hands, Bryan ordered the two sailors to get to work. He watched as the chocks were placed under the wheels and the chains are hooked on to tie the aircraft down.

Bryan was pleased with his team. He had a great group of sailors working for him. The blue shirts gave the thumbs up and they all started to celebrate, fists pumping and cheering, until without warning, things went from bad to worse.

The ship hit a big swell that caused the carrier to drop fast and list heavy to starboard. Bryan can only watch as Bartman slipped and started to tumble backwards toward the edge of the flight deck.

He acted quickly to save his shipmate; without regard for his own life or safety, he dove after Bartman. The momentum of the listing deck flung him through the air. He reached Batman and knocked him into the catwalk, saving his life, but his life saving gesture propelled him over the side of the ship into the water.

He hit the water hard and momentarily blacked out. His safety gear kicked in, though, and his vest auto-inflated. He rose to the surface and regained consciousness. The waves, wind and rain battered him around. He saw the ship in the distance. The sound of “Man Overboard” can be heard, even with the storm.

The ship started to turn around, but to Bryan it seemed to be getting further and further away from him, as if he was being pulled away from the carrier. The waves continued to beat him about, practically drowning him in its fury.

Bryan became disoriented and fear started to grip him … The fear of dying. He thought about Stephanie and the kids. He remembered birthdays, anniversaries and holidays as images flooded his mind.

Suddenly, he saw a glow in the sky. Bryan thought it was the light from a rescue helicopter, but the ship couldn’t have launched one in this weather. “Is this it? Is this the end?” he thought as the light grew brighter and brighter until it enveloped him. Bryan closed his eyes and accepted his fate.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark 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.

What is our love affair with myths and legends?

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:  I am fed to the teeth with elevated themes! Old dead legends! Why must we go on forever writing about gods and legends?” 

Baron Van Swieten:  Because they do. They go on forever. Or at least what they represent. The eternal in us.” 

─ Amadeus (1984)

I think it’s safe to say that people love stories. We’ve heard them since we were children, at bedtime, around a campfire, on our favorite TV show, and in the movies. Stories are what entertain us whether were sitting in a Broadway theater or watching the latest anime on our smartphone.

kingarthurThere are so many ways for authors and writers to tell their favorite stories, whether its a retelling of an old legend or a brand new story. These folk tales and fairy tales are the composite of our combined history. The give us hope, give us faith, and make us believe in something more than our everyday life. For writers like me, myths and legends are the source of inspiration for my writing.

As you travel around the world, you’ll find that every culture has a lot of the same stories, just told with different characters. There are creation stories, love stories, tales of famous heroes rescuing a damsel in distress, and some about a girl saving the day too. It’s all part of that shared history that all human beings have. No matter what the color of your skin, the language you speak or where you live, its the stories of the past that bring us together.

I’m reminded of the television miniseries Roots, based on the novel by author Alex Haley on how he discovered his lineage all the way back to Africa. He found it through a family story that was passed down from generation to generation. It was the story of how Kunta Kinte went out into the jungle to cut down a tree to make a drum for a gift, and how he was captured and taken away from his village. This story resonated through history until Alex Haley returned to the village of his ancestor and heard the story again, but from one of the village elders. That story connected them together over hundreds of years and thousands of miles That’s the power of stories.

“That’s how it is with legends. The greater they sound, the more must’ve got left out.”
― Tim Tharp, Knights of the Hill Country

Thou some are flights of fancy, others are based on some truths. We’ve seen some stories told over and over again, from Greek mythology and King Arthur, to stories from the Bible. These are some of the great tales that resound in all of us due to their morals, their heroism, their faith, and how they impact us emotionally. These tales have resonated from century to century, across thousands of miles and multiple languages. That is what makes them immortal.

Clash of the Titans is one of my favorite movies, from the original 1981 with Harry Hamlin and Sir Lawrence Olivier to the 2010 remake with Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson. No matter how much the story changed in 30 years, it still had the same myth at its base–Perseus, the Kraken, Medusa, etc. No matter how it inspired the writer, the story was the same at its core.

No matter how they’re told, myths and legends are the stories that we all share. We have a responsibility to keep passing these stories on to the next generation, in whatever form possible, to ensure they remain part of our history.

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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 AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Chapter 3 of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.