This week I’d like to welcome Mark Piggott, author of the Forever Avalon Series, to Renee Writes. He’s going to share a little about the second book in his series, The Dark Tides, but first let’s find out more about him.
Mark Piggott enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1983, beginning a 23-year career. He served on three aircraft carriers and various duty stations as a Navy Journalist before attaining the rank of Chief Journalist. Now retired, he is the public affairs officer for Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Va. His first novel, Forever Avalon, was published in 2009. He and his wife, Georgiene, live in Newport News, Va. They have three children.
Connect with the Author
I asked Mark more questions about his life and his writing and this is what he told me:
Why did you decide to be a writer?
I actually wanted to be a comic book artist when I was growing up, the next Stan Lee or Jack Kirby. I took art classes, even went to the Art Institute after high school, but I missed putting the words to my art. That’s when I joined the U.S. Navy as a Navy Journalist. I fell in love with writing the more I did it.Now I write both professionally and personally.
What genres do you write?
I write fantasy. Right now, my stories revolve around the Forever Avalon series. I have self published two books and I’m working on the third to complete the trilogy.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with? If so, what is it and what attracts you to it?
I love steampunk and I’m planning to incorporated some of that when I end the first trilogy in Forever Avalon and go into the next phase of the story. Steampunk is so versatile, bringing together technology, Victorian style and magic (in my case) together.
What authors/books have most influenced you?
I think many fantasy authors were inspired by the masters, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, but my main influence was Michael Moorcock. When I started playing DnD, a friend introduced me to Elric of Melnibone. It was amazing to read the battles and worlds he created in those stories. I read the entire series, from Elric to Stormbringer, in one six month deployment. That was the biggest influence for me as a fantasy author.
When did you first consider yourself an author?
I first considered myself and author when I opened the box from my publisher and held my book in my hands for he first time. It was right up there with my marriage and the birth of my kids. Amazing!
What is the biggest obstacle you face as an author and what do you do to overcome it?
Spelling and grammer are my biggest obstacles. You miss so many things with spell check that you become lazy and it makes your work a little lackluster. When I sent a copy of my first novel, Forever Avalon, to my mother, she emailed me a month later with two pages of spelling and grammer errors. That was a humbling experience. I know I need someone else to look over my work, but financially, that’s sometimes not an option.
What is the best compliment you’ve ever received as an author?
I was invited back to my hometown to speak with a group of other local authors to help raise money for a local scholarship fund. The organizer, Billy Staples, went to school with me. After the event, he came over and shook my hand, telling me that he knew he didn’t treat me very well in school and that I was the better man foit. This was a guy who started a scholarship to help the underpriviledged kids of my hometown telling me I was a better man. That was the best compliment I ever received.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
My publishing consultant at iUniverse, the company that published The Dark Tides, taught me about writing in past tense, since you (as the storyteller) were telling the story. This never occurred to me as I’m use to writing in present tense as a journalist. It really helped me develop a better style when I’m writing.
What do you enjoy doing aside from writing?
I am a regular geek, for lack of a better term. I love movies, comic books, and television, especially Doctor Who. I also love to travel, and with my last child ready to graduate college soon, my wife and I plan to do a lot more.
What book or series do you enjoy reading over and over again?
Harry Turtledove is a great alternative history author. His series, from How Few Remain to The Man with the Iron Heart, is a great look at how American might have been if the South won the Civil War. I love history and I could read these books oer and over again.
What made you decide to self-publish?
As I was getting rejected left and right, I decided that maybe I need to take the chance on my stories myself. I wouldn’t have done it if my wife didn’t support me, so that made it possible for me.
What is your writing process?
Honestly, I see the story as if it was a movie always running in my head. I just write as the scene flows and move on from there. It does make for a longer process.
How do you come up with the titles for your books? Do you find it difficult?
I never start with a title, they usually come to me as I’m writing. My titles came to be from elements of the story itself. Forever Avalon is a phrase about what Avalon means to me. It’s eternal and will go on forever in myth and legend. The Dark Tides is the name of the spell and seemed appropriate as a title.
Have you ever gotten an idea for a story from something really bizarre? Tell us about it.
When I first deployed in the early 80s, there wasn’t a lot to do at sea. This was before video game consoles, satellite TV and the internet. So, I played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons with my friends to pass the time. When you combine late night DnD sessions with missing your wife and kids, it can cause a recurring dream, as it did for me. Everytime I was at sea, I had this dream about being on a medieval fantasy island with them. Finally, near the end of my career, I decided to start writing the dream down, putting the story to paper. The funny thing is, when I finished my first novel, the dream ended.
Do you have anything specific you’d like to say to your readers?
I want to say thank you for all the support and I hope you will stay with the continuing adventures of the Gil-Gamesh and his family on Avalon. There is a lot more to come!
Thanks, Mark, for the great interview. Now let’s hear more about his book, The Dark Tides:
After the devastating and mysterious loss of their patriarch, Bryan, to a strange storm, his grieving wife and children sail to his last known location to lay a wreath in his honor. They are caught in a storm freakishly similar to the one that took Bryan from them. A funeral becomes a joyous reunion, as they find him alive and well on the mysterious island of Avalon, where the descendents of King Arthur rule a world filled with knights, elves, dwarves and magic!
Lord Bryan MoonDrake-as he is now known-has attained the rank of the Gil-Gamesh, protector of the realm. He helps his wife and children build new lives in a medieval society. But all is not well in the kingdom. Dark forces arise to fulfill a prophecy to resurrect Morgana le Fay, the most powerful sorceress in the history of Avalon. If successful, she will unleash the Dark Tides to destroy the line of Pendragon once and for all. To save his family and his king, can the Gil-Gamesh overcome incredible odds and powers beyond his comprehension to rid Avalon of Morgana’s evil forever?
Buy it Now on iUniverse Bookstore, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.