Author Spotlight – Liam Perrin
Liam Perrin has been roughly geosynchronous for more than a few decades and likely will remain so. Most recently, he orbits the center of Earth from a position outside of Phoenix, Arizona where he writes stories about Less Valued Knights and tries to avoid high speed collisions with his wife, one daughter, a miniature Australian shepherd, a Russian tortoise, and a cat which turned up uninvited. It’s not as hard as it might sound – avoiding the collisions. The cat is away on a walkabout, and the rest are pretty sedentary. Except for the tortoise. He gets around.
Thanks! It’s great to be here. The last book I finished was Josiah Bancroft’s Senlin Ascends. I loved the sense of discovery he delivered, puzzling out how his world works, his skilful metaphors and effortless prose. I’m currently reading Sam Hooker’s Peril in the Old Country which I’m really enjoying.
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
Monster-infested dungeons are the best kind. I was always the DM in our campaigns so it’s tough for me to pick just one role to play… Side story: in junior high I silk-screened “Dungeon Master” in a cool font on a black t-shirt for an art project. I got picked on pretty relentlessly for that. I didn’t care, I wore it anyway. So… in true D&D style I have my dice here and I’m going to roll to see who I am for this adventure: I am… a male half-orc rogue who favors the rapier. Call me Zurlog the Cleaver (which I mistakenly pronounce as “clever.” The ‘a’ is silent, I say. Like me. And/or I’m illiterate.). I believe I’m silent as the wind on a calm day and can blend into any background at will. I couldn’t be more wrong, but no one has had the courage to tell me the truth. If the party is going to make it through this alive, someone’s going to have to confront me, and I’m going to have to accept the truth about myself: I’m a terrible rogue. I enjoy (rigged) games of chance.
Please write a story about Zurlog. Immediately.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons in your frankly awesome-sounding tee, how do you like to work? (In silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? Do you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit?) Tell us a little bit about your writing method!
Silence. Or, I’ll play the same playlist every day while I’m writing and only while I’m writing. I architect and plot to a point, and then I garden and pants within the framework I’ve established. I tend to wear clothes while doing these things, but I often forget to brush my hair. That’s becoming less and less of an issue as time progresses and the hairline recesses.
Nothing remarkable here: Tolkien, Lewis, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Vonnegut… As for a creator I’d like to work with – this is maybe going to sound strange and totally random but I’d love to work with Kelsey Grammer.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it? Alternatively, what games have you enjoyed recently?
I’m currently re-watching Frasier (hence probably the answer above). We’re always looking for clever and clean humor to watch as a family, and Frasier fits the bill for us. I also play Skyrim relentlessly. I’ve spent way too much time modding and exploring that game. Mostly modding. At this point I’m not really playing Skyrim anymore but a sort of Skyrim-flavored creation of my own making.
I used to enjoy modding Skyrim, but then I took an arrow to the knee.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
Because when this happens it also transpires that all calories are temporarily rendered powerless, I would take a tour of every pastry shop, breakfast eatery, and Italian restaurant and partake of anything I fancied.
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
The third Less Valued Knights novel will follow our heroes into a country of strange adventure where they’ve been charged by Arthur to shadow Gawain and his cousin Owain and keep them from hurting themselves. There’s a monstrous giant, an enchanted red knight and his twin, three mysterious fairy ladies, and a cynical Irish soldier with mad skills on a quest he believes he is as likely to complete as finding a fence made of sausage.
Sounds like it’s going to be packed! What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Best: Write. Worst: You’ve got to _____ if you want to be a writer. The only thing that should go in that blank is the word “write.” Anything else is the speaker’s own albatross.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
There’s this theory I have of creative types – there are the Jackson Pollocks who get excited by blank canvases and abstract vibes and whatnot. And there are MacGyvers who thrive on puzzling themselves out of tricky situations with only a used gum wrapper and their shoelaces. I tend to be the latter. So the tricky part for me is at the front end of a project where anything is possible. I get myself started by putting arbitrary constraints on myself and turning the story into a puzzle to solve rather than an empty canvas to fill. (See for example, how I approached the what-d&d-class-are-you question above 🙂 )
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
Where? Ancient Sumer. When? As it grew into the Akkadian Empire. Why? It was the first empire (afaik) – so you’ve got a lot of firsts going on, and I’d love to see it all happen. And the Sumerians had really great beards.
You are not wrong about that beard!
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
Adler and Van Doren’s How to Read a Book. My high school library had a copy and my friends and I used to joke about the apparent ironic tautology. Yes, yes, this is the kind of thing I did for fun. (cf. being teased relentlessly for my Dungeon Master t-shirt). Years later it was on a list of books to read before beginning grad school. It was very good. And now I know how to read a book.
In the back of a dusty tome of Arthurian legend is a list of orders Arthur established in addition to the Round Table. There were the Queen’s Knights, the Table of Errant Companions, the Knights of the Watch, and the so-called Table of Less Valued Knights. This table, it was said, was reserved for those knights which were too weak or lacking in courage to go on adventures. But nothing could be further from the… well, okay, it was pretty much true. But adventure they did. These are their stories.
*Hands you a book which you can collect at http://liamperrin.com/free-
Thank you so much for joining us Liam, not to mention for the free book!