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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. 

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"In defence of package holidays" - my latest piece for The Critic

Posted on August 13, 2022 at 6:05 AM

“At a recent discussion on climate change, a famous feminist author listed activities we need to end right now to ensure the planet doesn’t explode like a frog in a microwave. One of these activities, she suggested, was the package holiday to Lanzarote. Perhaps due to the fact my chair was front row centre, the famous author’s eyes seemed to X-ray my mind: as if she could somehow sense that a week later, I would be downing pints in an Irish pub on the Av. de las Playas on the south coast of this much-maligned island…”

Read my latest piece for The Critic here.

 

"You don't need to like quidditch to back JK Rowling" - my latest Times Thunderer

Posted on July 22, 2022 at 3:25 AM


“One of the few rules to which I adhere is to distrust anyone over the age of 18 who reads Harry Potter books. My own kids outgrew this interminable series in their early teens and on discovering that some adults read books about public school wizards beneath “grown-up” covers I felt the same distaste I feel for any adult who watches Marvel films or plays computer games. For me the phenomenon is yet another example of the infantilism which appears to have gripped society…”

Read my latest Times Thunderer here.

 

"The surprising appeal of Sweden's second largest city" - my latest travel piece for The Spectator

Posted on June 28, 2022 at 3:25 PM


“Sweden is often overlooked as a holiday destination by Brits due to lazy misconceptions about the Scandinavian weather and prices. Yet Swedish summers are arguably more predictable than our own, with average temperatures in the low 20s throughout June, July and August and the food, whether dining at a seaside café or grand hotel, is almost invariably of excellent quality, using local produce, and at prices similar to those back home…”

Read my latest travel piece in The Spectator here.

 

"Has my Yorkshire grit held me back? I'll 'appen that's it" - my latest Times Thunderer

Posted on June 15, 2022 at 10:20 AM


“Wazzocks. That was my first reaction on reading that my fellow Brits are likely to think of me as less intelligent than southerners due to my strong Yorkshire accent. Researchers at Northumbria University say that “accentism” is doing serious social, economic and educational harm to people like me…”

Read my latest Times Thunderer here (paywall)

 

"It's idiotic to send willing workers all the way to Rwanda" - my latest Times Thunderer

Posted on April 20, 2022 at 3:15 AM


“A question for those backing Priti Patel’s proposals to fly migrants 4,000 miles to Rwanda: do you think Britain has a manpower problem? My experience over the past week suggests it does, which is why I find it strange that when young, fit adults arrive on our shores, rather than set them to work doing all the jobs we no longer wish to do, we offload them on to a country with no such shortages…”

Read the rest of my latest Times Thunderer here (paywall).

 

Why didn't airlines and holiday companies see the Easter travel chaos coming? My latest comment for The Independent

Posted on April 9, 2022 at 6:05 AM


“We should have been packing for our Easter trip to Mallorca about now. Having had a number of foreign holidays cancelled in 2020 and 2021, this was supposed to be the year that things began returning to normal…”

Read the rest of my latest Independent comment here.


Hear me discussing class with Carolyne Wyatt and Sophia Money Coutts on Radio 4

Posted on April 2, 2022 at 1:00 PM


Just been a guest on Radio 4 with the fabulous Carolyne Wyatt and fellow guest Sophia Money Coutts talking about my article on class in yesterday’s Times. Listen here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00161lz

 

Does the BBC know what it means by 'working class'? - my latest Times Thunderer

Posted on April 1, 2022 at 2:05 AM


“About chuffing time, you la-di-da southern Jessies. Such was my reaction on learning the BBC is to employ more horny-handed sons of toil like me, finally defining working class as a protected characteristic — like race. The trouble being, in our post-industrial era, it’s harder to identify someone’s class than their ethnicity, as the following example demonstrates…”

Read the rest of my latest Times “Thunderer” here (paywall).

 

Reparations for slavery won't right wrongs of the past - my latest Times Thunderer

Posted on March 23, 2022 at 5:20 PM


“Let’s begin by acknowledging that the Jamaicans who greeted William and Kate with demands for reparations have a point. The trans-Atlantic slave trade was one of the greatest crimes against humanity. Tens of millions died, were displaced, had families and communities ripped apart, all in the name of profit…”

Read the rest of my latest Times Thunderer here (paywall).

 

No, THIS is hardcore: my latest Critic column

Posted on March 21, 2022 at 6:35 AM



“I doubt there’s anywhere drearier to be than Rochdale on a rainy night in 1982. Having missed the bus and facing a 14-mile walk, me and my friend pass shuttered shops and shutdown mills. Suddenly we hear the sound of gruff voices: “Left! Right! Left! Right!” Round the corner they march, skinheads, in braces and Ben Shermans. Seeing us — two out-of-town punks, with bleached hair and scabrous leathers — one points, shouts: “Get them!” We run in fear for our lives, the skins close behind, until at the end of a brick alley we hit a dead end. My friend thatches his fingers and heaves me over the wall; I reach down and haul him up and we are away over a patch of derelict land, the muffled sound of dogs barking, the skinhead shouts fading, laughing…”

Read the rest of my latest column for The Critic here.

 

Spare a thought for 'sandwich generation' - my latest Spectator column

Posted on March 21, 2022 at 3:10 AM


“Sunday was fairly typical. The police picked up Mum, 73, wandering in distress near Halifax bus station, cold, disorientated and lost. Son, 15, was walking with a friend in north London when two older boys stopped them and demanded to know if they were dealing drugs before scrolling through their phones to check. Daughter, 18 was determined to go see her boyfriend despite feeling ill and Dad, 77, sat in a pub on the Yorkshire Moors nursing a pint of ale and a failing heart…”

Read the rest of my latest Spectator column here.

 

Teenagers get a bad press - my latest Indie comment

Posted on February 18, 2022 at 1:45 PM


“Last Saturday evening I was foolish enough to allow 50 London teenagers into my home and treat it as they wished. My daughter’s 18th birthday fell on the Sunday, and due to the impossibility of hiring a hall, club, disco bus or marquee for such an occasion, we resigned ourselves to her favoured option – a house party…”

Read the rest of my latest Indie comment on why the kids are alright here.

 

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.

 


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