Author Joy Norstrom is on the blog today. Her book, Out of Play is available now from Crooked Cat Books.
Name: Joy Norstrom
Book Title: Out of Play
Genre: Women’s Fiction
What sparked the idea for Out of Play?
I wanted to write the kind of story I enjoy reading, and for me those are the ones that make you laugh out loud in a doctor’s office, or blink back tears on a crowded bus.
Out of Play is about a married couple at a relationship standstill. The main character, Gillian, believes her husband is choosing his hobby (LARP) over spending time with her and misses the how connected they used to be. For those not sure what LARP is, it stands for Live Action Role-Play. It’s an immersive, character-driven game where participants dress in costume (ie: medieval knight, goblin, elf) and interact with other characters in real time.
I first learned about LARP around the time I started writing Out of Play. I thought the idea of people immersing themselves in another world, even if only for a weekend, was fascinating and thought it might be a fun balance for some of the heavier relationship topics I wanted to explore.
How long did it take for you to write the book? Did you do have to do any research?
It was almost three years from the time I started writing Out of Play to the first time I held a published copy of the book in my hands. That includes the time it took to write, revise, edit, query, re-edit (fun, fun!) plus do all the other fun stuff that needs to happen when you publish with a small press.
And yes, I definitely spent time researching LARP as well as issues related to grief and loss as they are central themes in the book.
A lot of readers wonder if I (or my husband) LARP. The answer is no…or maybe, ‘not yet!’ I was lucky enough to have a Larper friend who was willing to beta read the manuscript for me. Beta reading involves going over a manuscript and providing feedback to a writer regarding what works and what’s complete crap. Obviously you’ve got to trust whoever betas for you and having thick-ish skin certainly doesn’t hurt. My beta reader suggested several YouTube videos and other online resources for me to check out and he also invited me to a local LARP meet-up.
The meet-up involved beers and discussing LARP with actual larpers. The group was very gracious to me. They answered my questions, occasionally switching in and out of character (yes!) and told me about things I wouldn’t have thought to ask about.
As part of my research I also observed a few Viking re-enactments with my mother. Re-enactments are different from LARP as there is no game-play going on. The participants stay in character and can spend several hours or days in costume participating in activities that would have occurred in a real Viking village (minus the rape and pillage, thank goodness!). The participants made fishing nets and cooked over fires and made footwear from leather. They ‘battled’ with rubber tipped arrows and blunted swords and spears. Fun fact: A fairly rugged looking Viking hit on me during one of these re-enactments. It was rather uncomfortable especially with my mom present. This situation became the inspiration for my Ivan the Wanderer character.
How did you celebrate when you learned Out of Play was going to be published?
Oh gosh! I happened to be at work when I received the email. I was over-the-moon excited! Heart palpitations, giddy, all that good stuff. My family and friends were very supportive and thrilled for me. It’s often several months between knowing your book will be published and when it’s actually launched, so there was lots of time for impromptu celebrations over cider and wine and cake.
What’s one piece of advice you would offer your younger writer self?
Listen to your mom. Sometimes she’s right. If I never say it again, I’ve at least said it here. Several years ago she told me I should write a book. And what did I say? “Ya, right. I could never do that.” Yet here I am, an honest to goodness author. I wrote the whole damn thing, even the hard scenes that troubled me for days.
Where can readers find you (website, blog, social media, etc.)?
Readers can find me on:
and my Website: www.joynorstrom.ca
And for those avid readers out there I can also be found on Goodreads and Litsy. I like to post about the books I’m reading and love swapping book recommendations.
Thank you, Joy! Out of Play is available now.
Hilarious, surprising and deeply moving. Out of Play explores themes of grief, loss and letting go.
Gillian is stuck in a humdrum marriage and is at a loss on how to fix it. Her husband regularly ditches her for weekend adventures participating in Live Action Role-Play, otherwise known as Larp.
With tensions running high, Gillian seeks professional advice. She is surprised when her therapist encourages her to try larp. “Who knows? It may make you smile. It may make you laugh. It may even improve your sex life. How terrible could it be?”
Gillian is skeptical, yet decides to give it a go. If larp doesn’t work a marital miracle, Gillian can walk away knowing she tried everything before giving up on her dysfunctional marriage.
Will going on a role-play adventure heal Gillian’s marriage, or will the game shed light on everything that is wrong?