CORSAIR and the Sky Pirates

Please make welcome Mark Piggott to my blog. Hello Mark! Shall we sit and chat for a spell?  

1. Please introduce yourself to those reading this blog post.

Originally from Phillipsburg, NJ, I am a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Navy. I spent my career as a Navy Journalist, retiring from active duty in 2006 as a Chief Petty Officer. I began my second career as a government employee, working for the Department of the Navy as the editor of The Flagship Newspaper (military newspaper for Hampton Roads, VA) and public affairs officer at the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, Yorktown, VA. I currently work as a writer-editor for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. My first novel, Forever Avalon was published in 2009 by James A Rock Publishing, but after they went out of business, I had to self-publish it at Amazon. That was followed by the next two books in the series, The Dark Tides and The Outlander War. I then released a new steampunk fantasy book, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart, via Lulu. In 2021, I signed with Curious Corvid Publishing. My fantasy novella, The River of Souls, was published in 2022 and my steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, was published in 2023. I live in Alexandria, VA, with my wife, Georgiene. We have three children.

2. Has writing always been part of your life and when did you “know” that it was time to start writing your first book?

I originally wanted to be a comic book writer and artist, but I could never develop my artistic talent well enough so I became a writer. I started writing my own stories during my Naval career. On my last deployment aboard USS Enterprise, I began working on my first book, Forever Avalon. You see, whenever I deployed at sea, I always had a recurring dream about being with my family on an island of fantasy and magic. It probably came from my years of playing Dungeons and Dragons. I finally decided to put that dream into words and began writing my novel. When I finished writing it, I stopped having the dream.

3. How difficult was it writing your first book?

I had no trouble telling my story, only with the basic mechanics of storytelling, i.e. writing in past tense over present tense, overuse and repetition of words (“just” is one of my favorites), proper placement of quotes, etc. Once I got the mechanics down, it’s simply a matter of telling my story. I think I’ve rewritten Forever Avalon multiple times, uploading new versions to Amazon. At one point, I even got a two page list of grammar edits from my mother when I sent her a copy of my book. That was quite humbling.

4. Have you ever wanted to give up and what stopped you?

Not so much writing but the expense of being an independent author. I’ve spent more than I’ve made as an author and it makes me question why I do this. But, I love writing and telling my stories to people. Those who enjoy my books keep me going. When a teenager comes back to me months later to buy more of my books because he loved the story and inspires to be a writer himself—that keeps me going.

5. Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?

I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the love and support of my wife, Georgiene. She is my rock, my love, my reason for doing this. She has given up so much to support me whenever I travel to events, go to book signings, even editing my manuscripts. She is my everything and I thank God that he brought her into my life. I could not do this without her.

6. Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

My stories are based on fantasy, but the characters are real as they delve into the problems they face. My characters live, breath, eat, sleep, laugh, and love through the stories I write. I hope you will come with me to experience their adventures.

7. What is the best advice given to you (book or otherwise), and by whom?

The best advice I ever received is actually from a movie. It was something I said at my U.S. Navy retirement ceremony. It’s from Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” where Clarence the angel wrote, “No man is a failure who has friends.” My success in life is not based on wealth or books sold, it’s based on the people you meet along the way.

8. What is your target audience and what aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?

When I wrote my first books, my own children were still teenagers. I wrote it so they could read it. Now that they’re older, my writing has become more mature, but at the same time, I have grand-nieces who are becoming avid readers. So, I’m shifting some of my writing back to their level. I’m actually working on my first YA fantasy story revolving around teenagers growing up in a town where human and Fae live together. At the same time, with my steampunk historical fiction Corsair and the Sky Pirates, I focus on the historical figures of that era to help teach young and old about people we never learned about in school. For example, I never heard of Bessie Coleman, an African-American woman who flew an airplane before Amelia Earhart. Her story is one of the forgotten aspects of history.

9. Did the cover evolve the same way, or did you work with someone to make it come together for you?

For all of my covers, I had some input with the artist to create my vision to draw the reader in. For Corsair and the Sky Pirates, I wanted to show an airship in all its steampunk glory. For The River of Souls, I wanted to see the eternal river traveling across eternity. I provide the vision, but the artist brings it to life.

10. What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt?

I editing through three finished manuscripts, one is with a beta reader, one with my wife (who always edits my work) and I working through her edits on the third. These include the final chapter of the Forever Avalon series entitled Arcadia Dawn, a new book about religious bigotry told through a fantasy story called A Dance with Darklings and Demons, and finally the YA Fantasy called Pendragon’s Puzzle. I’ve included an excerpt of that story. I am also working on the next installment of Corsair and the third book in my Last Magus series (book two, Dragonfire and Steel comes out in December from Curious Corvid Publishing).

11. Any last words before we wrap things up?

I just want to thank you for this opportunity as simply ask anyone who loves fantasy, adventure, and a little steampunk to take a look at my books. I know you’ll enjoy them.

Amazon Author Page

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