Star Wars novels are better than the movies (except the original trilogy)

Star Wars – The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide: Ruin Cover by Tsuyoshi Nagano.

This being International Star Wars Day (#Maythe4thbewithYou), I thought it best to reflect on one of the best epics in science fiction. The problem is, the books are better than some of the movies, video games, and television series out there.

How many of us wanted to see movies made from Timothy Zahn’s “Heir to the Empire” trilogy? Or salivating at seeing the Yuuzhan Vong and their bio-engineered weapons on the screen. These stories are some of the best out there, but not all are canon. This makes them just a memory, not part of the mythos that is Star Wars.

The first Star Wars book I ever read was “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye” and it was a gem. After seeing the original, I wanted more and couldn’t wait for more. This book have us fans more insight into the workings of the force, before we heard about midi-chlorians. It was also the first time we heard about a kaiburr crystals, which is weird because it’s not related to kyber crystals (i.e. lightsabers) but it’s close.

I am a huge fan of the man series, from the New Jedi Order through Fate of the Jedi. I mean, in this series we had the death of Chewbacca, Anakin Solo and the journey of Jacen Solo from Jedi to Sith. It was an amazing series and, to be honest, it brought me closer to the Star Wars universe.

Novels expanded our knowledge, from characters, planets and races to the new insights into characters we barely knew anything about. The best example of that is Boba Fett. We barely knew anything about him after The Empire Strikes Back, and now we have the entire legacy of the Mandalorians to go with his legend. And it’s all from the books.

The Star Wars universe may have started as movies, but its canon… It’s TRUE canon is written by the authors who have taken us to “a galaxy far, far away” and beyond! It’s one of those many reasons why I became a writer.

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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.

King Arthur is the legend that lives in all of us

“Yet some men say in many parts of England that King Arthur is not dead, but had by the will of our Lord Jesu into another place. And men say that he shall come again, and he shall win the the Holy Cross.”~Sir Thomas Mallory, Le Morte d’Arthur

The legend of King Arthur, Camelot, the Knights of the Round Table, Merlin, Morganna le Fay, the Lady of the Lake and Excalibur… These stories are at the heart of the fantasy genre, the myths and legends we cling to in our stories. It can be found in books, movies, television, comic books, and anime from the United Kingdom, to the U.S., and Japan. The story of honor, courage, magic, and mystery is deep within the psyche of every human being. 

We love the tale of the boy king pulling the sword from the stone; the romantic triangle between Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot; the magic of Merlin and Excalibur; and the evil of Morganna le Fay and Mordred. These are legends ingrained in us that, in one way or or another, we can all relate to.

Image result for the sword in the stoneI first learned about the legend of King Arthur as a boy. Like any child of the 60’s and 70’s, it was taught to me through the magic of Disney. The Sword in the Stone (1967) is an animated classic, telling the story of Arthur and Merlin with a witch named Mim thrown in for good measure. It is a fun movie that taught this classic tale to kids like me. 

I think my exposure to the legend of Camelot was first done through movies, classics like Prince Valiant (1954) and Camelot (1967) to Excalibur (1981) and First Knight (1994), even Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). There has been so many re-imagining takes on this timeless story in so many forms. That’s what makes it such an integral part of the fantasy genre.

Image result for saber arthur and mordred fateMost recently, you can find the enigmatic King Arthur, Mordred, Lancelot, and Merlin as “heroic spirits” in the Fate anime series. Arthur and Mordred are gender-swapped as powerful women, both of the “Saber-class” of heroic spirits. Although it was weird at first, they actually kept the legend intact through this twist. The conflict between these two is better explained in this anime than in any other story I’ve read or watched. It’s an amazing conflict that brings out the vulnerabilities in these characters.

I used the legend of King Arthur and Camelot as the basis for the Forever Avalon series. I took the approach of “what happened next” in the story, looking at it from the perspective of our world today. The idea started with a simple question… What happened? What happened to all the magic, the mythical creatures and monsters? Where did it go? Why did it disappear from our world? The answer, in my mind, was Avalon.

Avalon has always been a place of eternal magic that will never die. Sir Thomas Malory, in his fifteenth century epic Le Morte d’Arthur, tells of King Arthur’s final moments. Bedivere took the King upon his back and carried him to the water’s edge, and there was a little barge floating there with many beautiful ladies in it. “Comfort yourself,” said the king, “and do the best you can. I can no longer help you, for I must go into the vale of Avalon to be healed.” Collins English Dictionary defines Avalon as “an island paradise in the western seas” and derives it from the Old Welsh word “Aballon” for Apple.

There are other accounts of Avalon in literature. According to Geoffrey in the Historia, and much subsequent literature which he inspired, Avalon is the place where King Arthur is taken after fighting Mordred at the Battle of Camlann to recover from his wounds. Welsh, Cornish and Breton tradition claimed that Arthur had never really died, but would return to lead his people against their enemies. Historia also states that Avalon is where his sword Excalibur was forged. This is the part of the legend I tapped into to begin my story.

tow ad7But what happens when Avalon is forced back into the modern world of today? You’ll have to read The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon Series to find out!

In the end, it all started with the legend of King Arthur. His story, whether based on fact or fiction, myth or legend, rings true in the mind of a writer like me. It is the stepping stone that brings you into my world. Take the journey and believe in magic again!

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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.

The new season of Doctor Who has one foot in the Tardis, and one out!

The new season of Doctor Who started with a bang, a big bang! I mean, in Spyfall 1 and 2, we had the return of the Master, the world population being converted into computer harddrives, Nazis (never go wrong with Nazis), spies, and other dimensions. It was great. I thought Chris Chibnal was finally listening to the fans. But…

Then, in the next two episodes, it was the same old Chibnal trying to give us “teachable” moments about climate change (Orphan) and the evils of capitalism (Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror). We were back to square one… And then, a breakthrough.

In Fugitive of the Judoon, we got the return of Captain Jack Harkness, the foreshadowing of the return of the Cybermen, and another version of the Doctor. Wait, what? (I know, I can’t believe it myself). Here was another version of the Doctor, played wonderfully by Jo Martin, supposedly from the past, locked away in human form by the chameleon arch. And once she was unleashed, she was a bad ass. She reminded me a lot of the War Doctor. She even disregarded and mocked the sonic screwdriver, a tool for nearly every man/woman who has worn the mantle of The Doctor. Crazy, right?

So, here Chibnal has given us a proper mystery for the series. This I like. This is what I want. Not only the Judoon, who continue to display their absolute ferocity for the letter of the law, but also another look through the keyhole into the mystery of Gallifrey. Now, I have a theory here, so bear with me. If you’re new to the series, you may not understand this, but you only have to Google one word… Valeyard.

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My theory is that the Jo Martin version of the Doctor is actually from the timeline of the Valeyard. The Valeyard, from the Sixth Doctor’s time, was the prosecutor during The Trial of a Timelord arc. He was a darker amalgamation of the Doctor’s persona, somewhere around his 13th regeneration. However, his plot was uncovered and the Valeyard was supposedly killed but he was seen, at the end of the episode, disguised as the Keeper of the Matrix. Since then, there have only been mentions of the Valeyard, here and there, but nothing more.

Now, we know that this  supposed timeline changed when Matt Smith’s Doctor got a whole new set of regenerations at his finale, The Time of the Doctor. So, did that change the future and the destiny of the Valeyard? If so, how? I think that is the story behind this fractured timeline that Jo Martin’s Doctor comes from. We’ll have to wait and see if it turns out that way, but it’s a definite possibility.

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No then, back to my rant. I want Chibnal to stop preaching to us about social issues. Yes, we’re all afraid that the world may be affected by climate change, but I’m old enough to remember the “second ice age” predictions in the 70’s and Al Gore’s 10 years until Florida is underwater in 2006’s An Inconvenient Truth. We have had dire warnings about the future from every dystopian book and movie for the past 100 years. Remember George Orwell’s 1984? How about Mad Max or Waterworld? I will admit, that Doctor Who has done it’s share of dire warnings about the future in stories (global warming mentioned in Doomsday Cybermen episode for example) but not “in your face” like Chibnal does.

We know we’re going to get taught a few things in Doctor Who… The horrifying deaths in the destruction of Pompeii, how the banana daiquiri was invented in France during the reign of Louis XV, and how the Empire State Building was built by mutated pig men and Daleks. Seriously though, Doctor Who was created to help teach kids about history with a few aliens thrown in from time to time. The Daleks themselves are a living metaphor for the aftermath of nuclear war. It’s been a great plot turn for more than 50 years, so don’t stop now. Leave the “social justice warriors” to the news networks and keep the Doctor  as the witty, time travelling, Earth-loving alien with two hearts for double the fun!

Teach us about the possible and the impossible!

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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 coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

I miss my Doctor Who Christmas specials

I know its Christmas when we put up our Christmas tree and I hang my Tardis ornament on its branches. This year, I got a K-9 ornament to hang right next to it. For geeks like me, it’s not Christmas without Doctor Who. But lately, that’s been missing.

When Jodie Whittaker took over as the 13th Doctor, some changes came (as usual) along with new showrunner Chris Chibnal. One of then was the end of the annual Doctor Who Christmas specials, replaced with a New Year’s Day special instead. Now, I enjoyed last years special (you can never go wrong with Daleks) and the new season debuts this year on January 1, 2020. But something is still missing.

It’s just not Christmas without aliens attacking Great Britain, a “space Titanic” threatening to crash into Buckingham Palace, or a trip to Frank Sinatra’s Christmas party with Marilyn Monroe. All done with the subtle humor and great storytelling Doctor Who is known for.

My favorite episodes are the Matt Smith specials, specifically “A Christmas Carol” and “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe.” Matt Smith had the best comedic timing and was great at making you laugh and making you cry.

The Doctor: “Ah. Yes. Blimey. Sorry Christmas Eve on a rooftop. Saw a chimney, my whole brain just went ‘What the hell!’ Don’t worry, the fat fellah will be doing the rounds later. I’m just scoping out the general chimney-ness. Yes! Nice size. Good traction. Big tick.

Father: “Fat fellah?

The Doctor: “Father Christmas. Santa Claus. Or, as I’ve always known him, Jeff.

It was amazing and heartwarming in “A Christmas Carol” when you hear the beautiful singing voice of opera singer Katharine Jenkins singing the song to calm the shark (long story, watch the special) and at the end when she opens the clouds. It was equally incredible when you see the Doctor spend Christmas with the Ponds after two years apart at the end of “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe.”

That’s what sets these Christmas episodes apart from the regular season episodes of Doctor Who. They not only bring the humor and action we fans expect from Doctor Who, but they also accentuate the spirit of Christmas. It’s the total package.

So, we dont know what awaits us in the new season, but I hope the folks at the BBC will listen to the fans and bring back the Christmas specials. It would be a shame to end traditions here.

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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 Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

No more remakes! For God’s sake, get a better writer!

Is it too hard to ask for something new, not another remake or reimagining of something from the past. We are now approaching our third incarnation of Charlie’s Angels, fourth if you count the time when they replaced Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith during the TV series run. How about an original idea for a change, huh?

I mean it. We now have another Terminator reboot (third since the original trilogy), another Addams Family movie (albeit animated) and our third Lost in Space reimagining. Now they’re also doing prequels to popular shows (The Sopranos and Game of Thrones). Why? What’s the point?

There is enough original material out there for hundreds of new movies and TV series to keep us occupied and entertained. I mean, Charlie’s Angels was great and it fit the 70s mantra of empowering women, but it’s been done and, with all due respect, you will never be better than the original. What’s next? The new Howdy Doody Show with CGI puppets?

Where has all the imagination gone? It’s like they’re looking for a quick fix and easy cash, not even trying to be original anymore. As a writer, it breaks my heart to see talent go to waste. It’s a shame that these executives can’t see the millions of dollars wasted on a movie or series. Of course, if it sees any semblance of profit, they’ll be happy and keep on doing it.

Part of the problem, and the solution, is online streaming services. All of these various streaming channels (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.) allows an open source for new material. However, they’re just as guilty as the big studios. Disney+ is doing multiple Marvel-based series to tie into their movies. At the same time, we’re getting an original Star Wars series in The Mandalorian. Meanwhile, Netflix is doing a Lord of the Rings series where one actress commented she wants to see a female Gandalf. What?

It’s a ridiculous blend of originality and insanity. I don’t know what to believe anymore. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I hope Hollywood would understand that being original is okay. It doesn’t mean redoing it and just change the gender or race of a character. There has to be substance behind the story. If you just want to reboot everything, then why have writers?

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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 Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Violence in media… Escapism or instigator?

I never try to get political in my blog, nor in my own novels, as I think it alienates people who might enjoy my stories. That said, I need to say something about the violent mass shootings this past weekend. A lot has been said about gun control, mental health, violent video games, social media inciting violence, etc. I think there’s a lot of good points on both sides of the issue. I just wanted to take the time to put my own thoughts down, as someone who plays video games, watches violent movies, and writes stories filled with intense battles.

First and foremost, I want to send my thoughts and prayers to all those impacted by the mass shootings this past weekend. I know that’s not politically correct, but I really don’t care. People affected by tragedy need to be comforted at times like this and offering my sincere condolences is all I can do.

I grew up in a time where mass killings were far and few in between. Although the frequency has ramped up as of late, I can’t blame guns. Guns are just the tool. In my opinion, evil will always find a way. Look at London. They have strict gun laws, so instead, people use knives to commit murder. It’s not the weapon, its the person behind the weapon. Yes, we need better background checks and open communication between law enforcement and mental health professionals to keep these weapons out of the hands of unstable individuals.

As for the argument that violent video games are to blame, sorry but no. In my day, they blamed Dungeons and Dragons for poisoning kids minds when one went cuckoo and killed his friends thinking they were goblins. Video games are just another medium being attacked. Remember, they said the same thing about rock n’ roll music, comic books, certain movies and TV shows, even authors like J.K. Rowling and Kurt Vonnegut were co soldered a bad influence. It’s not the medium, it’s parenting. If parents take the time to talk with their kids and work with them when it comes to media like video games, you can create a better environment for them.

When my son was little, I limited how much time he could play on his video game system and what games he could play. If he wanted to play a rated “M” game, I would play it first to see if it was something he could play. I limited him to fantasy violence. He didn’t play Grand Theft Auto until he was a senior in high school. I just didn’t see a game like that as being productive for a young mind (my opinion).

Social media does play a part. I think social media is being abused by people to incite violence and lash out because they can do it from behind a keyboard. They think it makes them anonymous and, in some cases, invincible; but they soon find out that there can be repercussions. People are losing their jobs and anonymity through violent social media posts. We need better regulatory constraints on these social media companies to make social media more secure, and so that people think about what they type before they click send.

In any case, it’s not the medium that causes these violent acts. Whether its books, movies or video games, these are vehicles of escape. I play video games, watch anime, and write fantasy stories to escape from the doldrums of every day life. I don’t do this to act out violent tendencies that I have dormant inside me. Granted, there are some who do, but as long as they don’t hurt anyone else or themselves, then it’s fine. The key here is individual responsibility.

That’s why we have to look at the individual. We are so focused on other things (i.e. guns, video games, etc.) that we ignore individual responsibility. When did we stop blaming the person for the crime? Yes, mental health does play a part but its not an excuse in every case. Evil is evil and we need to recognize it. Did we excuse Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy for what they did? There comes a time when you have to see if that person lacks morality or remorse for what they did, and if so, they deserve the punishment they get.

There are so many opinions on this matter. What’s important is that all voices be heard and we come together to make informed decisions. LEAVE POLITICS OUT OF IT! I don’t want to see politicians blaming one another or fund raising off these tragedies. That’s a slap in the face to the victims and their families. Set the bullshit aside and work together to make people feel safer when they go into a Wal-Mart, school, or night club. It’s the only thing that matters.

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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 Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

My writing interferes with my sleep, but in a good way

Image result for dreamingMost of us get things stuck in their head, from time-to-time. After watching the new Aladdin trailer the other night, for some odd reason the “Prince Ali” song was rolling around in my head the next morning. I couldn’t get rid of it, not even in the shower (which is another whole level of embarrassing) until I put my headphones on, started the Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, soundtrack and got on the metro.

Beyond that, dreams put things in my head that helps me in my writing. The problem I have is that it’s usually four-to-five different things at once. I’ve started the outlines for three different novels in the past month, and on top of that, I had a distinct dream last night that gave me an idea for another project. I love it when the “creative juices” start to flow (it’s better than writer’s block) but it can also be considered on overload.

My dreams have always been a big part of the inspiration I draw on for my novels. I think it’s a culmination of years of playing Dungeons & Dragons and video games, reading comic books and various sci-fi/fantasy novels, and watching anime, Saturday Morning cartoons, and everything from Star Trek to Game of Thrones. All that “input” has to go somewhere and it’s usually into my dreams.

It’s amazing how this play acts out in my head, but it can also be quite frustrating. I CAN’T GO BACK TO SLEEP! When I wake up from this incredible dream with a story playing out right before me, it’s so damn hard to get back to sleep. That’s especially difficult when I have to work the next day.

How can you compartmentalize your sleep so you can (a) you can put those wonderful dreams to good use, and (b) you can still get a good night’s sleep. Some people suggest keeping a tablet next to the bed. I tried that but I can never wake up enough to write anything down. I’m also afraid that, if I would get up to start doing that, I would never get back to sleep.

I think that’s why I am working toward being a writer, so I can wake up and start writing without having to worry about making the metro on time. It would be great to be able to write whenever these crazy ideas pop into my head. I don’t want to lose what could be a great idea to sleep.

The last time I had a dream like this was this past year. Back in June 2018, I had a simple dream–waking up on a crossroads, nearly dying, and studying magic from a hermit-like caster to become a bad-ass warrior/caster. This led me to the book I just finished writing, The Last Magus. From the original dream, six months later, I had a manuscript of more than 180,000 words. That’s the power of dreams.

I usually get my best ideas from recurring dreams, like my last one, and it sticks with me until I finish writing. So, then I know it was meant to be. I haven’t had a repeat of my dream from the other night, so I’m not sure if that’s one to go with just yet. Even still, when I close my eyes tonight, I will wait and see if another new idea hits me.

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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 coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Why can’t they leave great franchises alone?

Why is it that there are no more original ideas? Instead of coming up with something new, people–and by people I mean comic book editors, movie and television executives–decide to reinvent or re-imagine a classic instead of making an original idea. There are so many original ideas out there from the many independent, self-published authors, why do they have to mess with success?

A great, more recent, example is the Ghostbusters franchise. Now, I may get in trouble for this but hear me out. Instead of going with a third movie in the trilogy, they decided to re-imagine it with an all-female cast. Yes, it had some very funny moments and some of the cast were great (Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon were my favorites) but it failed to grab the spirit of the original. Now, Jason Reitman is working to make a third movie with some of the original cast for 2020. That is getting praise from the fans of the original movies, and panned by some who think we didn’t give the reboot a chance. We gave it a chance and we didn’t care for it, enough said.

Another example is Star Trek. It was great to see Star Trek go from the original series, to The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, etc. I was even a fan of the Enterprise prequel. Then we got the reboot with Chris Pine, which was okay but it seemed to be more about bring the “millennial edginess” instead of a way of telling a new story. Even the new TV series Discovery has redefined Klingons different from the original premise. And now, there’s word the Quentin Tarantino will be given a chance to put his mark on Star Trek. Why? Why mess with something that already has a deep-rooted fan base.

Look at the movie 2015 Max Max: Fury Road. Because it was written, directed, and produced by George Miller, the creator of Mad Max, it had the same feel as the original movies. It was visually awesome, great cast, and a decent story. It even won some Oscars, a first for the franchise. You see, they didn’t need to update it because it was good as it is. You don’t need to make wholesale changes to a franchise just to make it interesting.

Image result for the mandalorianAnother great example is Star Wars. Now, there have been hits and misses with the franchise since the end of Return of the Jedi. The animated series have been top notch, the Rogue One prequel was OUT OF BOUNDS! However, they have not found the original magic from these successes in later projects. The Force Awakens was good, The Last Jedi not so much. Solo was, in my opinion, better than I expected it to be, but it had too many plot holes. I am looking forward to the Mandalorian Netflix series as well as future releases after Episode 9 (which I am patiently holding my breath for) because they will be original movies separate from the Skywalker saga. That’s where they need to go. We don’t need a reboot of the same characters with new actors, but rather, let’s go to another part of the vast universe.

With all these examples, I just want to make the point that there are stories out there that haven’t been told yet, but they need to be done right. Look at Stephen King’s The Dark Tower and how badly it was done. These editors, producers, and directors need to keep the writers in mind to keep the story true to the original intent. Granted, some things may be out of the budgetary range of some movies (though not impossible with today’s CGI technology) but it is from the writer that it even exists in the first place.

Even in comic books, story lines are now being rewritten to accommodate the way they were done in the movies. Really? So, the original stories aren’t good enough anymore? Sorry, but that’s just being too damn lazy to be creative and original.

I have had the great opportunity to meet, talk to, and read the books of other independent authors like me through our connections on social media. There are a lot of great stories out there, worthy of a movie or series. That’s where the inspiration for the next big TV series or blockbuster movie should come from, not someone’s idea of the next reboot should be. Quit re-imagining things and let’s be original for a change.

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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 iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Is it okay to cry over movies, music, or books? Even for a big, tough man?

158979-163217I think every one of us knows a “tearjerker” when you see one. They come in many shapes and sizes. It could be a movie, a song, a television show, or even a good book. I am the first one to admit that I am a “big baby” when it comes to certain things.

I cried the first time I heard “The Christmas Shoes” by NewSong; during the final episode of M*A*S*H, and at the end of Les Miserables. One of the worst times I cried is when I was writing my second book, The Dark Tides. I have own “Red Wedding” scene (which was not meant as a ripoff to Game of Thrones, since I wrote it before I even read or watch the series) where a number of main characters were killed. It was quite heart-wrenching for me, as I had grown so fond of these characters and killing them was quite painful.

Even during my editing process, I found myself in tears every time I read those pages. Even now, it’s hard to re-read it without getting choked up, but that’s the kind of emotion I want to evoke in my readers. I want them to feel that emotional depth in my stories so it causes people to react.

“There’s no crying in baseball!” — Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own

According to Dr. Michael Bader, from his article “Why We Cry at Movies,” a wide range of phenomena are resulted from movies and books. He said, “that people repress feelings and perceptions that are too dangerous to experience, but, under conditions of safety, are able to finally begin to let them out.”

The safest place we feel is in our homes, a movie theater, even in our own car. At those moments, the repressed feelings we associate with the music, words or what we see come out.

When asked what made him or her cry in such a situation, Bader found that “it might involve a parent-figure, spouse, or friend understanding the hero, or offering protection or love. Right away, I know that these feelings have been there for much of the patient’s life.”

It’s hard to cry at the moments of pure emotion, especially for a guy. I think the old adage of a big, tough guy being brought to tears at moments like this is a “common norm” from the early days, as men were meant to be big and tough. In contrast, today’s “metrosexual” or “snowflakes” are in touch with their feelings, so crying is everyday. These are two huge contrasts, but it applies to many people today.

Image result for asuna and yuuki death sceneI think it’s okay to cry when the time calls for it. The other night, I was watching Sword Art Online II on my iPad while my wife was watching Shark Tank on TV. (FYI, if you haven’t watched SAO, you should, and spoilers ahead!) It was the episode where Yuuki, a girl with AIDs who was living in the VR realm, died surrounded by her friends and all the gamers in ALO. It was quite an emotional moment. I just couldn’t help it as the tears just poured out of me. My wife looked at me as if I was crazy, crying over an anime, but I just couldn’t help it.

I think these types of emotional outbursts helps us as cope with everyday life. We laugh, we cry, we feel joy, and we feel sadness. These are the emotions that authors, like myself, hope to bring out in people when they read my stories. I want those emotions to resonate and bring out that emotional response. It’s what makes us human.

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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.

Doctor Who provides geeks with their own Christmas tradition

doctorwho2811aThere are many traditions from various cultures around the world when it comes to Christmas; but in Great Britain, and in the homes of geeks around the world, nothing is more sacred than the Doctor Who Christmas special. After a long day of presents, family, and food, it’s nice to curl up under a Tardis blanket, wrapped in a eight-foot long scarf, with a nice bowl of fish fingers and custard to watch Doctor Who celebrate the joy of Christmas and, sometimes, regenerates into the new Doctor.

This year is no exception as the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi, meets up with the first Doctor (brilliantly played by David Bradley, recreating the role originated by William Hartnell) and will conclude with his regeneration to the 13th Doctor, Jodie Williams.

During the first run of the program (1963 to 1989), while not an official Christmas special, one episode aired on Christmas Day: “The Feast of Steven”, the seventh episode of the twelve-part serial The Daleks’ Master Plan, which aired on 25 December 1965. The episode was a comic interlude in the style of a pantomime, in the middle of an otherwise epic adventure. In its final scene, the Doctor and his companions celebrated Christmas with a toast; the episode ended with the Doctor (William Hartnell) turning to camera (breaking the fourth wall) and saying, “Incidentally, a happy Christmas to all of you at home.”

The actual Christmas specials we know and love today started with the 10th Doctor, David Tenant, after his regeneration from Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor, at the end of the first season of the relaunch of Doctor Who under Russell T. Davies. “The Christmas Invasion” was about an invasion by the Sycorax while the Doctor recovers from the effects of his regeneration. It ends with David Tenant donning his famous suit and trenchcoat. So, from that point on, here is my TOP 5 Doctor Who Christmas specials.

gallery_uktv-doctor-who-bernard-cribbins-5.  The End of Time, David Tenant (2009) — The End of Time was the final episode with David Tenant as the Doctor. It involved the return of the Master (John Simm), an alien device called the Immortality Gate, and the return of Rassilon (Timothy Dalton) and the entire planet of Gallifrey to bring about the end of time. The best part of the episode is the end, when the Doctor takes a grand tour and visits all the companions he met over the years, including a stop off with Rose Tyler on New Year’s Day of the year before she met him. It’s a sad ending with the Ood singing an operatic farewell as he limps back to the Tardis. The one thing everyone remembers is his last words, “I don’t want to go!”

the-10-best-doctor-who-christmas-specials-that-every-true-whovian-must-watch4.  The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe, Matt Smith (2011) — I will start off by saying that Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor has three spots in my Top 5 Doctor Who Christmas specials. His specials were the most memorable to me. Besides the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker), Matt Smith is one of my favorite Doctors. After a World War II widow saves his life, he repays her and her children by trying to bring a little fun in their Christmas; but, as usually happens with the Doctor, things run amok, including a trip to another world that’s about to be destroyed. In the end, the Doctor saves her and her family, including her deceased husband. As with most Christmas specials, the ending was the best when he reunites with Amy and Rory for Christmas dinner. The fact that they always set a place for the Doctor brings a tear to his eye, and makes it a memorable special.

 landscape-1448898478-doctor-who-the-husbands-of-river-song3.  The Husbands of River Song, Peter Capaldi (2015) — River Song has been one of my favorite companions of the Doctor since her first appearance in “The Silence of the Library” with David Tenant. We learned about River’s long history with the Doctor through Matt Smith’s run as the Doctor. It all came to a close with Peter Capaldi when they finally reached the “Singing Towers” on the planet of Darillium, where he gave River her own sonic screwdriver. It also has the best “Hello Sweetie” in all the episodes of Doctor Who with River Song. This episode had everything you want to see in a Doctor Who Christmas special–giant robots, split-head aliens, a spaceship falling from space, and a jewel heist. What more could you ask for?

time-of-the-doctor__1311261242432.  The Time of the Doctor, Matt Smith (2013) — This episode was Matt Smith’s final one as the Doctor, leading to his regeneration into Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor. It also spanned centuries as the Doctor defended the town of Christmas on the planet of Trenzalore. This was supposed to the Doctor’s last battle, where he dies at the end of his regeneration cycle. Every race across the universe is trying to prevent the Doctor from answering “the oldest question in the universe” that would return the Timelords and Gallifrey from it’s exile in another universe. They feared the resurgence of the Time War and so, the Silence was born to stop the Doctor. Like The End of Time did with David Tenant, The Time of the Doctor brought everything from the beginning of Matt Smith’s tenure to a close–the crack in the wall, the question, Silence will Fall. In the end, Matt Smith gives, what I think, is one of the best speeches by the Doctor at the end of his time. Add to that, the reappearance of Amy Pond and her final words, “Raggedy Man, Goodnight,” touched my heart as he took off his bow tie and regenerated.

christmascarol1.  A Christmas Carol, Matt Smith (2010) — There are so many reasons I absolutely love this episode, it’s hard to pick just one. I’d have to start with the music. Singer Katherine Jenkins is the voice of an angel, bringing a beauty and soul to this special that has never been matched. Her song brings the joy and spirit of Christmas to life. Second, the comedy is just so damn funny. In my opinion, Matt Smith has the comedic timing of Charlie Chaplain and it shows in this episode. From his photo of him with Santa Claus (“or as I like to call him, Jeff”),  to the shark in the wardrobe, and his “marriage” to Marilyn Monroe was absolutely priceless. Lastly, the story was a wonderful rendition of the traditional Charles Dickens classic. Michael Gambon gives a perfect rendition of Scrooge, or Kazran Sardick in this episode. I especially loved their twist on the Ghost of Christmas Future, showing a young Kazran his grouchy, future self to change his heart. I will watch this Christmas special before all others. It is, at heart, what Doctor Who is all about.

So, here it is. I have a feeling that that the “Twice Upon a Time” might make it’s way up there after this year’s episode airs. Until then, Merry Christmas to all!

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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, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.