Even geeks can be heroes in Justin Calderone’s novel LARP: The Battle for Verona, a fantasy adventure tale of true friendship and the disastrous consequences of social pressure.
Welcome to the blog today, Justin!!
Life is a big high school cafeteria, and society (you and me!) has labeled everyone. But, the message of LARP: The Battle for Verona is that the peer pressure we face in our teen years isn’t important, and it doesn’t last forever.
LARP is an acronym, which stands for Live Action Role Play. These are the folks who dress up in period garb and reenact battles, and, sometimes, entire historical villages. LARPers fall under the “geek” umbrella, which also houses Star Wars/Star Trek fans, sci-fi fans, and gamers.
I wrote LARP: The Battle for Verona with the idea that we’re all geeks, and we just don’t know it. Who’s to say that the aging football jock is any cooler than a LARPer? Maybe the geek chick in your 11th grade math class would be a better option than the head cheerleader, because the cheerleader isn’t gonna look like that forever. She might not even look like that next month!
Dennis, the main character in LARP: The Battle for Verona, is in his early ‘20s, and he faces these issues. Brad, his ultra-jock older brother, still harasses Dennis about being a LARPer, and still loves to tell his “greatest hits” of high school football stories. Dennis’ friends, Freddy and Mark, still enjoy LARPing, and haven’t changed, socially, since high school.
What if Dennis had followed in Brad’s footsteps, and joined the football team, instead of becoming a LARPer? What if he would have pursued Alyssa, his dream girl, instead of spending time with his “geek” friends?
Who hasn’t wondered “what if?” I know I have, and, maybe, LARP: The Battle for Verona is my way of answering that question for myself.
Dennis, the main character in LARP: The Battle for Verona, is a 20-something live action role player, or LARPer, who is seriously considering giving up the game for good. He’s tired of dealing with his overzealous friend, Mark; he’s tired of his older brother’s constant put-downs; and he’s tired that he doesn’t have a girlfriend – particularly Alyssa, the one woman he’s been pining over for years.
Dennis and his fellow LARPers have never been considered cool, but there’s a chance to change that when a rogue terrorist group of Mongolians in medieval garb invades their hometown of Verona, a fictional island located off the coast of Washington State. With the US military out of options to save the island, the friends decide to do what any dedicated LARPer would do – put on armor, strap on swords and fight for their home.
“The message is that anyone can be a hero at any time,” said Calderone, of the fantasy novel. “Social classification is meaningless. If you believe in yourself, you can overcome any obstacle.”
One of Calderone’s main goals in creating LARP: The Battle for Verona was to write a novel that is appropriate for any audience. “Many Christian parents don’t want their kids reading contemporary young adult, or fantasy novels, because of the controversial themes in those novels,” Calderone said, adding, “So, I wrote a book that is thrilling, engrossing and suitable for everyone.”
Additionally, LARP: The Battle for Verona is a novel with a broad age appeal, much like The Hunger Games, Twilight and Harry Potter.
New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry calls Calderone’s novel “a witty, action-packed adventure that will leave you breathless.”
Fantascize.com raves about LARP: The Battle for Verona calling it a “Geek Gem…a fair balance of action, adventure, cynicism, and romance. I would recommend this book for adults and teens.”
Calderone is a high school English teacher and author of Revolutions, a collection of poems published in 2004. A graduate of La Roche College and Gannon University, Calderone is expected to earn his second master’s degree from Edinboro University in 2014.
About the Author:
Calderone grew up in Verona, Penn., a suburb just northeast of Pittsburgh. He earned a bachelor’s degree in professional writing from La Roche College and graduated from Gannon University with a master’s degree in education. Calderone is expected to graduate in 2014 with a second master’s degree in educational leadership from Edinboro University.
Calderone, 36, began his journey as a writer nearly 20 years ago after reading Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Angels. He is the author of the 2004 collection of contemporary poetry Revolutions.
An English teacher at his alma mater, Penn Hills High School, Calderone lives in his hometown of Verona with his wife Emily and 1-year-old son Sam. He enjoys watching baseball, listening to music and has a special place in his heart for Spiderman.