Mark Piggott: Building New Worlds Forever
Sometimes, writers articulate their stories into one giant story that ends up being something that they are most known for. Then, they typically write other books with other memorable characters. Some writers like to build worlds with multiple storylines and multidimensional characters. This works especially well in science fiction and the fantasy genre.
“I’ve always been a ‘geek’ when it comes to the sci-fi/fantasy genre,” said Mark Piggott, author of the Forever Avalon series, a series of books set in one fantastical universe.
“Growing up in the 60s, I spent my Saturday mornings watching Ultraman, Speed Racer, and other imported Japanese anime of that era. I loved all the classic science fiction movies and TV series, from Star Trek, the Six Million Dollar Man and Battlestar Galactica. I collected comic books from Marvel’s Spider-man to DC’s Legion of Superheroes. I even started creating my own comic book characters as I originally wanted to be a comic book artist, but I was never able to get my drawing up to snuff.”
Piggott went the writer’s route and that enabled him to expand his imagination, and his horizons on the possibilities to what he might do.
One of the principal themes in his stories is mixing folklore with fantasy. Here, he used the King Arthur folklore.
“I always loved the King Arthur story,” Piggott explained. “The boy king, the sword in the stone, Merlin, etc. I’ve read everything from “Le Morte d’Arthur” to the comic book “Camelot 3000” as well as movies (Monty Python and the Holy Grail being my favorite). My approach to the Arthurian mythos was to look at it from a “what happened next” perspective.”
In his world, Arthur has passed away so Piggott explored what happened next to his descendents and the people in his kingdom.
“That’s where the Forever Avalon story picks up,” he beamed. “I had to research not only the Arthurian legend but also where the other legends came from, i.e. Elves from Norse
and Scandinavia, Dwarves from Scandinavian and Germanic tales, giants from Russian folklore, etc. I even research some of the African mythology like Aide Hwedo, the rainbow serpent that created the world. In my story, all the magic came together in one place… On Avalon.”
Piggott detailed that much of the inspiration for this series came from interminable days and nights of playing Dungeons and Dragons. It was his go-to game in the 1980s and also when he joined the U.S. Navy.
“It was a great way to pass the time when you’re deployed,” he remembered. “Also, D&D is a great platform to help an aspiring writer with story development, world building and character creation. So, on my first deployment, I was spending all my off duty time in the #4 aircraft elevator maintenance room on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal playing D&D. In the few hours of sleep I got every day, I thought about my wife and new baby daughter, so I started to have a recurring dream, about being with them on an island of fantasy and magic. My dream stayed with me through my whole career, every time I deployed, and changed as my family grew.”
From that point, he wrote everything down and it enabled him to create an entire world with mystical characters. He began the process during his last deployment in 2001 on the USS Enterprise.
He detailed the process in creating his characters from the Forever Avalon series, and how he based the major characters, the MoonDrake family, off his own family.
“I used their personalities, their hobbies, their own unique traits to create these characters,” Piggott revealed. “I even used their middle names as the characters’ first names. The others were created from characters I played in D&D, or others created by people in my RPG circle of friends. Some just came from pure inspiration. I thought about
it like a ‘cattle call’ for actors. I thought about what their personality was, their appearance. I used baby naming lists and genealogy searches online to find names that matched the character’s personality.”
His love for creating wonderful worlds mixes with his love of storytelling. It is his way of being part of something for generations.
“Storytellers are how we know our history, myths and legends,” Piggott said. “Creating my own and intertwining them with the original mythos makes the story even more memorable. Being able to add my own imagination into these tales makes it all worthwhile. We all want the fame and notoriety of being an author, but it doesn’t come easy, and I don’t do it just for that. I like telling stories, period.”
As he has written for many years, he has gained valuable insight into how to perfect his craft, and what writers should prepare for.
“Research, not just for your books but also of the publishers, editors, and marketing,” Piggott’s advice to future writers. “There are a lot of scammers out there, taking advantage of independent authors. To be honest, I’ve spent nearly $15,000 in 20 years on publishing, marketing, and more. I learned the hard way that you can’t spend your way to success.”