Legend tells of an impostor-sword crafted by a witch-queen, destined to destroy a king. The whole story has never been told. Until now.
Recently appointed to the Table of Less Valued Knights, Sir Thomas the Hesitant doesn’t mind that the credit always goes to celebrity-knights. He tells himself this frequently. He doesn’t truly believe it. The truth is, he thinks it’s rubbish.
When five armies attack England, everyone on the Round Table is too busy to track down the missing court wizard. Seizing the opportunity to shine a light on the Less Valued, Thomas vows to rescue Merlin and sets himself on a collision course with a talented but overconfident rookie sorceress, a lizard with delusions of grandeur, and one rather unfortunate pigeon.
Only one thing is certain – things are not as they seem. They seldom are.
Faycalibur releases on February 1st. To add to your Goodreads TBR, click here.
A follow up to Perrin’s fantastic debut, Sir Thomas and the Table of Less Valued Knights, Faycalibur is a joyful adventure in the vein of Monty Python, and the work of Terry Pratchett. To receive a FREE eBook copy of Sir Thomas and the Table of Less Valued Knights, you can sign up for Liam’s newsletter here.
Liam will be doing a series of giveaways with various Sir Thomas swag via his newsletter in the runup to release, including signed copies, mugs, posters, and digital artwork!
Hi Liam, thanks so much for joining us, and congratulations on the upcoming release of Faycalibur! It’s already been making quite a stir at the Inn.
Thanks so much for having me!
I’m always a bit of a sucker for stories about people who wouldn’t ordinarily be the main character. Can you tell us a little about what first drew you to the idea of the Less Valued Knights and why you wanted to tell their tale?
I’ve always been drawn to those sorts of stories too. I’d written some short stories, and I was trying to figure out what I could possibly write a whole book about… I found myself browsing some the Arthurian corpus, and there in the back of a dusty volume in an unassuming paragraph was a short list of the chivalric orders Arthur established in addition to the Round Table. It included the Table of Errant Companions and another table of knights who, it said, were too sick or too cowardly to quest or go on adventures. I laughed out loud and thought there has to be more about these guys. But there wasn’t (at the time – I know of one other novel now). In all of history and the entirety of the Internet, there was just that one sentence. I knew I had to tell their story. Their true story. These guys aren’t cowards. They’re the reasonable ones with everyday shortcomings living in a world that’s more than a bit mad and just trying to do the right thing.
Sir Thomas the Hesitant was first published in 2013. Was it tricky to come back to these characters and pick up where you left off?
Yes ha. Can I do it again? Is my humor the same? Do I care now about the same things I did then? I spent a year just re-reading Morte d’Arthur and creating a Less Valued Knights bible listing all the things I’d said about the people and places and things in the world and making character notes and whatnot. Here are some stats that might surprise you about a book that doesn’t even pretend to be an epic fantasy: 79 named characters, 34 named locations, 10 legendary artefacts… the list goes on. Past-Liam often succeeds in making present-Liam’s life very difficult.
What lessons would you say you learned from writing Sir Thomas that you were able to apply to Faycalibur?
I pantsed book 1. And that was a lot of fun. And that worked for me at the time. But I wound up with a draft that needed a LOT of revisiting. A lot. I think Sir Thomas went through more than 7 drafts over almost ten years. For Faycalibur and going forward, if I have any hope of doing this for a living, I knew I’d need a system. I wound up taking an online class with Nick Stephenson and Joe Nassise called Story Engine. It was transformative for me in terms of process. I can’t praise it enough. Here’s a photo of my wall where I’ve hung the notes I made from that class. That’s my process now:
It becomes clear early on in Faycalibur that things aren’t quite as rosy as they appeared at the end of the first book. Thomas is growing dissatisfied with his “less valued” status, even a little resentful. What made you want to explore this direction for him?
If this was a modern story, Thomas basically finished freshman year in book 1 and he’s now a sophomore. My high school principal took my entire sophomore class into the auditorium one day and explained to us that the word “sophomore” comes from words meaning wise-fool. He said we think we know the score, but we don’t. So stay humble. Stay focused. Etc. Thomas didn’t get that lecture…
Without too much in the way of spoilers, there are some very memorable scenes in this second novel – which did you find the most enjoyable to write, and why?
I had so much fun with every scene in Faycalibur, but there is a moment between Thomas and Elisante… It’s just a few lines but there is so much happening and it really gets at the core of Thomas’ character… Elisante tells Thomas he’s not like other knights. She means it as praise, but Thomas understands it as an insult. But rather than lashing back, he owns up to some things. He says he knows, but he hopes to be like the other knights some day. This just confirms what Eli doesn’t want to believe about him – that he’s the real deal. So she tells him not to hope too hard. And he still doesn’t get it. And he doesn’t know he’s one of the few real deals around. And Eli knows it’s best to keep it that way (for now). So that’s the most poignant moment to me. In terms of humor – I was surprised how much fun I had writing Lancelot. And there’s a bit of an ode to Statler and Waldorf going on throughout that just pleases me to no end. I hope that readers enjoy that element too.
Your books have a lot of appeal to both adults and children (I know a few people who have read them with their kids) – they’re very wholesome as well as funny, and one of the biggest recurring themes is kindness. What do you hope people take away from your work?
I’ve gotten some high praise from parents and teachers and students because it can be hard to find books with a high reading level that are still appropriate for all audiences. I personally was raised in the wild by a pack of feral authors including Pratchett and Vonnegut and Tolkien and Adams, so I have zero interest in dumbing down vocabulary or sentence structure. It turns out there are readers looking for that (are there any publishers listening?)… Sorry, you hit a button there ha. What do I hope people take away…? With Faycalibur specifically…
How briefly can I state this and how much do I want to reveal? Okay… here’s the deal.
Everyone gets it wrong with the Arthurian legends. They focus on the love triangle with Arthur and Guinevere and Lancelot. But Arthur spends upwards of 20 books in Morte d’Arthur trying to build and then hold together a great, big family. What destroys everything in the end is the result of a kind of a family feud between Gawain’s clan and Lancelot’s. In Malory at least, the big problem is failure to forgive. Today, I think we have the same problem at least in the US where I live and write. We’re demonstrating in all kinds of ways how good we are at getting angry at each other. Forgiveness is the way out of that – and not in a live-and-let-live sense, but a forgiveness that actually reconciles people and that results in a stronger relationship going forward. Phew. I’m writing comedy right?
But this leads to another takeaway – I’m really thinking of this all as an ode or tribute rather than a parody or satire. I’m following Morte d’Arthur closely (for Faycalibur, see Morte d’Arthur Book 4, Chs. 1-16) and trying to make sense of events that transpire there while weaving in the Less Valued. This is unique as far as I can tell with Arthurian works – most retellings use the legends as a jumping off point to tell the story they want to tell, and aren’t as interested in really digging into the originals and telling the stories they tell.
Let’s say Sir Thomas is getting a movie adaptation. What would be your dream casting? I’m particularly interested to hear who you would choose for Gus (I swear that my mind kept drifting to Martin Prince from The Simpsons).
I am TERRIBLE at this so I’ve asked my daughter for help. Here’s what we came up with:
Thomas – Tom Holland
Philip – Nick Robinson
Marie – Zendaya
Elisante – Mackenzie Foy
And Gus – Gaten Matarazzo from Stranger Things. I enjoy every moment Gaten is on the screen. But Martin Prince works really well too 🙂
The Less Valued motto is Somnia Salvebis, or “Nonsense, you’ll be fine”. What’s your personal motto?
It’s funny you should ask – I was just recently trying to work out the Latin for this… I’ve gotten in trouble more times than I can count for making up reasons for things on the spot in conversations, and I’m so dead-panned about it that people believe me and I don’t realize that they believe me and… it doesn’t end well. My daughter is the same (though she gets in less trouble somehow). So I’ve always said that our family motto should be “Plausible but Incorrect.” And that, honestly, sums me up pretty well on a lot of fronts. But not the crucial ones. I hope.
Reviewers have compared your work to that of several influential comedic writers. Who would you list as your major influences and how do you feel that their work has helped you to shape your own?
Tolkien was the first. He introduced me to wonderment. Pratchett and Adams were second and introduced me to absurdity, word-play, and stories that are self-aware. Lewis came later and introduced me to hope.
And finally, can you give us a hint as to what’s next for Thomas and the gang?
At the end of Faycalibur, Thomas is finally ready to see Philip’s point of view – there’s nothing wrong with staying put and doing their job. But Arthur has been manipulated politically into exiling his own nephews. He’s not happy about this, and he has a mission for Thomas, Philip and Gus. One of those three is going to have a great time. The other two, not so much. 🙂
We at the Inn can’t wait. Thank you Liam!
Liam Perrin has been relatively geosynchronous for more than a few decades and believes he is likely to remain so. Most recently, he orbits the center of Earth from a position outside of Phoenix, Arizona where he tries to avoid collisions with his wife, one daughter, an arthritic miniature Australian shepherd, a hibernating Russian tortoise, and an 80-pound Sheprador who will love you to death. Seriously, she doesn’t know when to stop. Not unlike the author who will just go on and on about himself. The only way we’ve been able to get him to stop is to actually get underneath the desk here and physically yank the cable from the