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Mark Liam Piggott is the author of several novels, including “Fire Horses” and “Out of Office” (both published by Legend), and dozens of short stories published in anthologies, magazines and online. He has had hundreds of features published in the nationals, researched and presented for television and film, and been a guest interviewee on TV and radio. Now an editor for literary consultancy The Oxford Editors, he is represented in the US by Titans Management.

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Racist, sexist claim puts me on same page as the greats: my latest Times Thunderer

Posted on January 17, 2022 at 2:00 AM


“Norman Mailer and I don’t have much in common. Aged 22, Mailer was fighting in the Pacific, whereas I was working in Harrods’ warehouse. By 25, Mailer had published The Naked and the Dead, his staggering novel drawing on his wartime experiences; I was raving the night away on ecstasy, returning home in the early hours to trip over rejected manuscripts…”

Read the rest of my latest Times Thunderer here (£)

 

Opening the anthology: my latest essay for The Author

Posted on December 27, 2021 at 6:25 AM


In the cold hard winter of 1983, I was an angry, skint 16-year-old sharing a room with a mate, having been booted out of home a few months before. It was a desperate time, but there were chinks of light, and for reasons then unclear, one night I put pen to paper and wrote a poem. 37 years later it was published in an anthology.

In the new issue of The Author, I write about my feelings at seeing my old poem in print, ruminating on why we write, and for whom. Above all else, I hope my story will serve as a lesson to all wannabe writers out there: keep writing, keep dreaming, and above all, Never Give Up.

Read my essay, “Opening the anthology”, in the Winter 2021 issue of The Author.

 

Last chance saloon... obtain all 4 of my published books absolutely free

Posted on December 23, 2021 at 3:35 AM


From 20-24 December 2021, all four of my published books are available FREE on Amazon Kindle.

What they said about “Fire Horses” (shortlisted for BBC 5 Live Book of the Month)

 

“Reading Fire Horses is like riding pillion on a motorbike driven by a poet”

– Jonathan Trigell, author, “Boy A”

 

“As a debut novel it shines, both in the quality of the writing and the insights into mankind and modern history”

– Mike French, “The View from Here”

 

“Passionate, powerful, poetic – a fine debut from an original talent”

– John King, author, “The Football Factory”

 

“Piggott’s debut novel is a plausible evocation of seamy ‘80s life viewed through the prism of complicated male friendship. Piggott’s eye for social detail is acute, and his love for his characters shines through.”

– John O’Connell, “Time Out”

 

“Every serious or even semi serious reader deludes themselves with the notion that they “have a book in them”. We read the mundane, run of the mill fiction that populates many of the best seller lists convinced that we could do at least as well ourselves. Then, out of the blue, a book comes along that destroys this fantasy. A book that is so well conceived and crafted that it brings us back to earth with a resounding thud. Our delusions evaporate as they are exposed to true literary ability and talent. Fortunately our perception is not so befuddled that we can fail to recognise excellence when we are in its presence. Fire Horses is such a book and Mark Liam Piggott it seems is such an author.” -Glasgow Book Group

What they said about “Out of Office”

(Winner of Book Group “Book of the Month”)

 

“Piggott’s writing conjures evocative portraits of individuals lumbering between political correctness and more culturally ingrained biases. He possesses a way with metaphor and analogy which, when utilised sparingly and with a lightness of touch, rivals Martin Amis. He is expert at offering up succinct definitions of the quite complex web that multiculturalism, changing technologies and generational misunderstandings can weave around us.”

- “Outside Left” magazine, issue 22

 

“Mark Piggott is a talented and exciting writer; his novel is original, powerful and fast-moving, and takes the reader, all unprepared, into places he would probably have avoided had he been warned. But from page one it is too late; he is being hurtled along and he cannot get off.”

- Paula McMaster, “Bookgroup.info”

 

(In July 2009 The Book Group awarded Out of Office the title "book of the month" – along with novels by Hilary Mantel and Cormac McCarthy).

 

“This is a book that really makes you think about contemporary Britain and the difficult issues of race and class with which it is still grappling. It's also a book that resists easy answers and skewers political correctness. Mark Piggott wrote a few months ago in The Independent that British `state of the nation' novels tended to fall under the radar, but he has written one here that deserves a wide audience.”

- Andrew Blackman, author, “On the Holloway Road”

What they said about my shorter fiction

"Ten Thousand Hours” was a very striking story; its plot is masterfully conducted; the setting is oppressive but never stagnant, as the story ultimately has an interesting twist."

-The New Yorker

 

Praise for Midnight Hollow (first published in "Still" anthology, Negative Press, 2015)

“An old man named Edward explores the empty town hall where he used to be a caretaker. He finds his old floor buffer, and gives the place a polish for old times’ sake. This piece is a poignant evocation of time passing, and reflecting on what’s been lost in a life. And the ending is a real shock to the system…”

-David Hebbelthwaite (Huff Post)

 

Praise for Hatful of Holloway (first published in the "Down the Angel and Up Holloway" anthology, Pulp Books 2006)

“’Hatful of Holloway’ by Mark Piggott is a helter-skelter, cultural reference loaded pub-crawl around Holloway, with the suicidal son of a Scottish Earl, and his pal, Murf, a loquacious Dubliner with an appetite for a nasty brand of porno mag. This is a mad-cap adventure, deserving of a few readings to fully appreciate its density and tragi-comic heart.”

— Small Press Review Issue One, July/August 2007 p23

Get them here


 


 

"There is risk in not spending Christmas with my elderly parents" - my latest Telegraph column

Posted on December 20, 2021 at 7:25 PM


"In this, the strangest of years, I’ve even changed my Christmas song. Usually it’s Fairytale of New York on Boombox repeat, but this year it’s Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

Read the rest of my latest Telegraph column here (you might need to subscribe but if you’re new I believe you can read it for free!)

 

A Christmas Appeal - please save me from this 9-5 Hell (it won't cost you a penny)

Posted on December 20, 2021 at 3:10 AM


This Christmas, I want to reach out to you – yes, YOU - with a very personal appeal. Since the age of 16, apart from a few spells on the dole, I have unfortunately had to supplement my meagre income, from writing by engaging in something called “work”. This is an intolerable state of affairs for someone of my sensitivities, and it has to stop. No longer do I wish to live my life clock-watching, time-checking, forelock-tipping. All I want to do is WRITE.

Now you can help me – and it won’t cost you a single penny. All you have to do is go to my Amazon pages, and there to obtain any of my four published books – Fire Horses, Out of Office, Kidology and Militant Factions – absolutely free. Make someone’s Christmas – and mine most of all. Because if enough of you obtain my books, and they rise through the Amazon ranks, there’s even a chance I might be able to do this fulltime.

I must stress that this is the very last time I will make such a crazy offer. Great things are afoot, both here and in the US, and more will be revealed shortly. So, this is your last chance to be in on the secret before it’s no longer a secret, and you join the mass, serried ranks of my various fan clubs. Why be a number – when you can be a name?

Goodbye for now,

Mark P

London, December 2021.

PS I love you, you know. I really do.

 

Militant Factions: free on Amazon Kindle from 20-24 December 2021

Posted on December 19, 2021 at 7:50 PM


A truck driver has the fright of his life in the woods of Finland. A couple who've never met make a strange and sinister pact. A teenage runaway finds himself the plaything of an older woman. A man seeking oblivion in a small Australian town unexpectedly finds friendship. A seagull takes revenge on a perverted teacher. English football hooligans in Russia discover a terrifying new drug. Post-Brexit Islington falls apart.

Two thirds of the stories in this collection have been published in, on or at anthologies, magazines, and literary websites, and are joined by nine original stories. Set in the US, Australia, Finland and Iceland, plus London, his home for over 30 years, this is Mark Piggott's debut collection. Bleak, humorous, erotic and shocking, the stories are very different but are all, in their own way, examples of a style the author calls "savage whimsy."

Militant Factions also contains some of Mark's creative non-fiction, including some acclaimed travel pieces, brief sketches of his strange life, and a 20,000-word examination of homelessness in London in collaboration with artist Martin Toft. Extracts from Mark's three published novels ("Fire Horses", "Out of Office" and "Kidology") complete the anthology, demonstrating the incredible versatility of this provocative, original writer.

 

Praise for Mark Piggott’s short stories

"Ten thousand hours", first published by Prole Books (2011)

"Ten Thousand Hours” was a very striking story; its plot is masterfully conducted; the setting is oppressive but never stagnant, as the story ultimately has an interesting twist."

-The New Yorker

 

Praise for Midnight Hollow (first published in "Still" anthology, Negative Press, 2015)

“An old man named Edward explores the empty town hall where he used to be a caretaker. He finds his old floor buffer, and gives the place a polish for old times’ sake. This piece is a poignant evocation of time passing, and reflecting on what’s been lost in a life. And the ending is a real shock to the system…”

-David Hebbelthwaite (Huff Post)

 

Praise for Hatful of Holloway (first published in the "Down the Angel and Up Holloway" anthology, Pulp Books 2006)

“’Hatful of Holloway’ by Mark Piggott is a helter-skelter, cultural reference loaded pub-crawl around Holloway, with the suicidal son of a Scottish Earl, and his pal, Murf, a loquacious Dubliner with an appetite for a nasty brand of porno mag. This is a mad-cap adventure, deserving of a few readings to fully appreciate its density and tragi-comic heart.”

— Small Press Review Issue One, July/August 2007

 

Read 100 extracts from Militant Factions on Facebook

On Twitter search for:

#MilitantFactionsQuotes

Buy Militant Factions FREE from 20-24 December 2021

*From 20-24 December 2021, all four of my published books will be available FREE on Amazon Kindle.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 100: Metaphors, like oil, coal and the humour of John Bishop, were a diminishingly limited resource

Posted on December 19, 2021 at 7:05 PM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 100:

Peter took rejection badly. He felt the only reason his book had failed to ingratiate itself to a publisher’s heart was because it didn’t fall into any of the niches which seem to preoccupy the Booker judges and review sections so much. In his admittedly jaded eyes these included the sub-continental, ‘scent of lotus blossom’ genre; the surreal, ‘zebra with Munchausen’s trying to get a job’ genre; the William Trevor genre; too many novels where posh lady authors try to imagine the exotic poverties of their domestics; and the ‘I took ecstasy at a footie match’ phony-phonetic bullshit, wanked over by suburban kids and swooned over by publishers who hadn't heard of Burroughs and who wouldn't know a good writer if Peter kicked their fucking heads in!

It was this, rather than actually having anything to say (let alone the means, ability or drive to do so), that kept Peter at his untrustworthy type-writer in search of the perfect metaphor. Metaphors bothered Peter. Metaphors, like oil, coal and the humour of John Bishop, were a diminishingly limited resource. There were only so many ways to describe snow, for example, and that bastard Updike had stolen most of those. What Peter needed was a metaphor, but they don’t just swoop out of the sky: one must search high and low in the hope that just once, one might drop on your head.

From “White Hawks”, one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

*From 20-24 December 2021, all four of my published books will be available FREE on Amazon Kindle.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 99: Brad brought flowers and pills and a packet of condoms

Posted on December 19, 2021 at 7:00 PM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 99:

Brad brought flowers and pills and a packet of condoms and by the time they reached the bed was so blasted he couldn’t get hard. Honey was on her knees trying to work him with her mouth when out the corner of her eye she was movement: behind Brad’s stupid blonde head and his closed eyes mom tiptoed in on the thick wool shag and hit Brad over the skull with the claw end of a hammer.

-From "Honey Trap and the Trolls", one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 98: Felt a feeling never felt before, then it pass

Posted on December 18, 2021 at 6:00 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 98:

Sis open her legs and I tried waggling around. She sure thought it funny. But then a weird thing happen and little man grow big. Sis’s eyes bulge and her bit gets all gloopy and it slides in sweet as syrup. Felt a feeling never felt before, then it pass and I’m in the squished up van all hungry and too dirty to feel dirty.

-From "Little Man Inside", one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

*From 20-24 December 2021, all four of my published books will be available FREE on Amazon Kindle.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 97: Miller puts down the glass on her dresser and goes to the kitchen

Posted on December 18, 2021 at 5:55 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 97:

He wakes mid-afternoon. Miller rises, groggy, picks up the tumbler, sniffing the pink stain and proud he feels no urge to lick. Taking the glass over to Joanne’s bungalow he knocks: no answer. Pushing the kitchen door open he listens but hears nothing except the ticking of a clock. Her bedroom door is slightly ajar: she’s lying on her stomach, snoring. Her dress is hiked up, white lace on show. Miller puts down the glass on her dresser and goes to the kitchen, writes a note, then he takes her car keys, gets in the Holden and drives.

-From "Ten thousand hours", first published by Prole Books (2011), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

“Ten Thousand Hours” was a very striking story; its plot is masterfully conducted; the setting is oppressive but never stagnant, as the story ultimately has an interesting twist." - The New Yorker.

*From 20-24 December 2021, all four of my published books will be available FREE on Amazon Kindle.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 96: She watched villagers flee up mountains to disappear into the thin air of the desert heights where eagles hovered

Posted on December 17, 2021 at 4:25 PM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 96:

On the computer she watched barbarous men dynamite ancient mosques and crucify non-believers, make women their chattels and bury crying children to their necks in the earth. She watched villagers flee up mountains to disappear into the thin air of the desert heights where eagles hovered, vultures dined.

-From "The Night News", one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

*From 20-24 December 2021, all four of my published books will be available FREE on Amazon Kindle.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 95: Now I remembered where I was: amongst the enemy

Posted on December 17, 2021 at 1:50 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 95:

Now I remembered where I was: amongst the enemy, a thousand miles from home. I knew what the Russians did to captives: I had heard of a woman from NKVD who was worst of all, with terrible ideas and never expecting answer.

I was pushed into a cell much like the fox-hole, which had already taken on an alluring air, wrapped in warm nostalgia: here was a small room excavated out of the side of the river bank with hole for toilet and luckily no window. There were twenty within, German and Ukraine; no others of my country.

-From "The Angel of Stalingrad", first published in “Greetings” anthology (Enthusiastic Press, 2019), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

*From 20-24 December 2021, all four of my published books will be available FREE on Amazon Kindle.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 94: It couldn't last. One by one we were picked off by the streets

Posted on December 16, 2021 at 3:25 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 94:

It couldn't last. One by one we were picked off by the streets. Mainline fell under a train - one of his bouts of narcolepsy; Mekong put his dick where it had no business: Pedo likewise, an outraged stepfather. Just me and Mick: drinking and fucking and doing our best to change things.

-From "Meat City", broadcast by 4'33" (2011) and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 93: How the hell could they close a glacier?

Posted on December 15, 2021 at 1:45 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 93:

The place looked closed, but the guy waved happily enough when he saw us squinting through the door. I thought all these guys were meant to be depressed. Maria flirted with him as we browsed. Not that we needed much: cigarettes, snacks, whiskey for Maria. I could sense him looking at the car; his eyes screamed we were crazy. It was winter, and this was the only road. The only place it led to was the glacier. He followed me out to the car and as I pumped gas he looked solemnly at me, his cheeks red from generations of cold.

“You know the glacier is closed.”

Behind him I watched Maria lift shit from the till. Chocolate, water. In a world of ice she wanted water.

“What?”

“The glacier. It is closed. For winter. The snow gets too serious. Tourists stop, the fishermen go elsewhere. There is no rescue for people. I close in two days and I go to the city.”

Maria laughed shrilly. I knew what she was doing: impressing herself upon him, upon his consciousness. She was chickening out. I was angry. I didn’t like her much, but she was cheating on herself. It was like exams: as the teachers always told you, when you cheat, you only cheat yourself. I never cheated in school and I failed. Failed in everything.

How the hell could they close a glacier?

-From "Crystallize", first published by Aesthetica Magazine 2006, and one of the short stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions". Available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

*From 20-24 December 2021, all four of my published books will be available FREE on Amazon Kindle.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 92: All the pain, selfishness, friendships forsaken and lovers forced out by my obsession...

Posted on December 14, 2021 at 3:00 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 92:

On that strange afternoon when I heard my novel had been accepted I sat in my study, Linda’s photograph looking down. When I thought of those who’d hurt me I felt vindicated; when I thought of those I’d hurt, I felt sad. The two cancelled each other out: I just felt numb.

They might not believe me but I never set out to hurt anybody – except, sometimes, myself. Nevertheless, sometimes people got hurt. All the pain, selfishness, friendships forsaken and lovers forced out by my obsession; was it really worth it? As I sat there, I had to remind myself I had no choice. There was nothing else I’d ever wanted to do. So: now what?

-From "This is the fierce last stand of all I am", first published in “The View From Here” magazine (2009), now published in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" - available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 91: It was probably the only time I was both young, and knew that I was young

Posted on December 13, 2021 at 1:50 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 91:

London, June 2010

It was that journey around Europe that first gave me some idea as to the size and complexity of the world, giving me a travel bug that ails me to this day. It was probably the only time I was both young, and knew that I was young. It wasn’t so long ago, yet there were these things called lira and franc, drachma and peseta; instead of cybercafés we had post restante; there was no Eurotunnel, just the cold dock at Dieppe. Not long in terms of the universe; but in terms of my life, a distant age, fading memories: fading pictures.

-From "Beware the Undertoad", first published @ 3:AM Magazine (2010), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 90: Nothing has prepared me for Cable Beach...

Posted on December 12, 2021 at 6:10 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 90:

Nothing has prepared me for Cable Beach: the dinosaur layers, the vicious reds, the camel trains and 4WDs leaving temporary signatures on hard wet sand – the perfect sun, slipping into the ocean, the fucking SCALE. So awesome your heart hurts – I taste blood, tears form unbidden, my throat betrays me. It’s like Mars underwater. We go driving across the Martian sand (because we’re not allowed): it’s like skippering a hovercraft, afloat but not quite in control.

-From "The Boab Sentinels", first published @ 3:AM Magazine (2008), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

*From 20-24 December 2021, all four of my published books will be available FREE on Amazon Kindle.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 89: Hemingway would have taken a goat skin of wine to recover; I take Ibuprofen

Posted on December 12, 2021 at 6:05 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 89:

We head north east to Soria, a small town in Castilla y Leon of Oi! graffiti and churches capped with the enormous nests of white storks and their broods. But I can’t take it in: I’ve been struck down with a combination of sun stroke and a heavy cold, and insist we stay in a pension: the Hotel Viena (36 euros), with cramped toilets, a bar, TV, and two soft beds.

To recover Hemingway would have jumped out of bed and wrestled a bear, or shot a fascist. I just lie and groan, allowing Lynda occasionally to dab at my brow with a damp cloth as I wait for the Paracetamol to work. It doesn’t take long - they’re soluble. I can’t swallow pills.

A real low point: I sneeze, and bang my head on the corner of the bed unit, puncturing the skin, snot everywhere. Hemingway would have taken a goat skin of wine to recover; I take Ibuprofen. Of course, Hemingway had the advantage that global warming hadn’t then been invented. He might have found blowing up a fascist bridge harder if he’d had to worry about applying Factor 4 to his moustache first.

-From " Fever Espana: the sun also surprises” (or, “The Road to Pamplona: Fiesta In A Clio)", a shorter version of which appeared in TNT Magazine (2002), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

*From 20-24 December 2021, all four of my published books will be available FREE on Amazon Kindle.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 88: Floating above the paddy fields in an Indian helicopter

Posted on December 12, 2021 at 6:00 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 88:

Floating above the paddy fields in an Indian helicopter, flashes of colour all around: painted elephants, greedy buffalo, colonial villas ruined by the sun and the vines. Everywhere we visit becomes short hand for somewhere else, other paths we have travelled: the blue/white houses of Panaji could be Portugal, the sleaze and sloppy pancakes of Calungate Benidorm, Vagator and Chapora’s Hampstead posse smugly smoking bongs on the beach with cows Kohs Samui or Pha-Ngan.

Travelling nowhere, but eating well; fish curries swell. Only I go to India and gain weight.

-From "The Cockroach Clause", first published @ The Writers Link (2001), and one of the stories in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

*From 20-24 December 2021, all four of my published books will be available FREE on Amazon Kindle.

 

#MilitantFactionsQuotes 87: In the summer of 1983, I was fortunate enough to spend a night under the stars

Posted on December 11, 2021 at 5:00 AM


#MilitantFactionsQuotes 87:

In the summer of 1983, I was fortunate enough to spend a night under the stars. Although I had known homelessness with my mother as a small child, and would know many more years of housing insecurity, I can point to that night on a park bench in a place called Three Bridges and say, 'you made me.' Everything in my life I place before or after that night, full of revelations, an epiphany worthy of Joyce; I finally resolved that, for me at least, there was no God- my own personal a priori was established, as I stood (or rather lay) on the brink of adulthood. I resolved that I would always have to do things, 'get on', for and by myself. And, most relevant perhaps to this essay, the recurring themes of homelessness, rootlessness and alienation in my writing would be given a legitimacy no-one will ever be able to snatch away.

-From "Pixelation", a collaboration with photographer and artist Martin Toft. Read the whole text in Mark Piggott's fiction/non-fiction collection "Militant Factions" available in paperback or Kindle from Amazon.

 


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