Devon McCormack talks ghosts and teens and his new story

Last month I did an interview with Devon McCormack about his YA story Hideous. Today Devon is back to talk about his recently released When Ryan Came Back, a YA coming of age story with a ghostly twist. Just in time for Halloween as well! Stay tuned for the review, it will follow tomorrow.

Without further ado, I give the floor to Devon:

Ghosts and Teens by Devon McCormack

First off, I’d like to thank Larissa for having me on the blog today to talk about my new release, When Ryan Came Back.

When Ryan Came Back_Final

Blurb: Steven’s life changes forever the day he discovers his childhood friend and lifelong crush, Ryan Walters, standing in his bedroom. The problem? Ryan Walters committed suicide just days earlier.

Ryan tells Steven that he didn’t kill himself. He believes he was murdered and that his death is linked to an article he was working on for the school paper. Steven sets out to solve the mystery, but as the story unfolds, so does Ryan’s secret life of sex with guys and depression. Steven realizes suicide is more plausible than Ryan’s conspiracy theory, but he struggles to convince Ryan of the real cause of his death. And despite revelations of his friend’s closeted life, he must face the truth that Ryan doesn’t—and never will—love him.

I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with the paranormal. When I was little, my friend and I would whip out the good ole trustworthy Ouija board and attempt to summon spirits. Many years later, I would visit a cemetery with friends, and we would try to conjure up those from beyond the grave. Some of my friends would freak out and either leave our little experiment or continue on, expressing their concerns throughout. I wasn’t particularly scared of this sort of dabbling into the paranormal. I took it fairly seriously, though, because if there was something, I wanted to know. For some time after college, I researched communities that professed access to the supernatural. I interviewed psychics, channelers, faith healers, and other supposedly paranormal phenomena. I think it’s safe to say I was looking for answers. I didn’t find anything satisfactory, but I’m not sure I know what I was really looking for.

You’d think after an intro like that, I’d have some awesome ghost story to tell, but I really don’t. Most of what I have are stories of others who’ve believed they’ve experienced something that exists outside of the realm of scientific understanding. These days, I don’t really care about experiencing the paranormal, and I’m fine with letting its reality exist within the pages of stories, but there’s still something fun about the notion of ghosts–the idea that impressions of life somehow linger beyond their expiry date. To some extent, it’s just fun to believe in magic. That’s what’s great about the supernatural. It’s like there’s a secret world…a Narnia…that we can all be a part of if we want to. Regardless of whether or not that’s really possible is debatable, but it’s tempting to believe regardless.

Knowing that backstory, it’s probably not all that far-fetched I decided to write a ghost story of my own…perhaps just to explore a question I’ve had since I was a kid: what if I encountered a ghost? I used to believe such an experience would have answered so many questions I had about the nature of the universe, but really, it would only raise more questions. Why are there ghosts? Does this prove on religious mythology is more correct than another? Does everyone become ghosts? Is there anything beyond being a ghost? And so on…The discovery of a ghost really doesn’t settle any questions, just raises new ones. That’s something I wanted my main character to explore in When Ryan Came Back. Too often, I find that movies and stories pre-assume a correct ghost myth to follow when looking at a ghost. Usually, the trope is the ghost is here to settle unfinished business and once they do, they’ll move on through some ethereal light to paradise. In my book, while my characters believe this could be a possibility, they don’t assume this is why Ryan is here or what they need to be doing. There are two theories: 1) some mystical force is at work that involves fate bringing them together this way and 2) there is a reasonable scientific explanation of some other plain of existence that Ryan is on and it is just as random that Steven can see him, as most of life tends to be. Like most things that are considered paranormal, it’s this big question mark that produces more and more questions.

When Ryan Came Back conjectures about and explores the unknown, and I think it’s a perfect fit for the main character’s age because what senior in high school isn’t facing the unknown as they try to consider their future? There are so many unknowns that it’s daunting. Do you go to college? If so, which one? Do you need a job to get through it? Do you stay at a dorm or an apartment? Can you afford either of those things? What are you going to do for the rest of your life? If you don’t make the right choice and pick the right major, will you fail at life and find yourself rambling to invisible friends on the side of the street? And no one can really answer all of these questions. You may be able to have a pretty good idea of how things will unfold, but you can’t figure out your entire life at seventeen. You just have to live and let things fall into place (or fall apart, as they do occasionally) and eventually see how everything pieces together. And in When Ryan Came Back, that’s what Steven finds himself struggling with. How does he handle all these unknowns about life on top of this huge unknown with his friend lingering around?

So if you’re interested in checking out my new book, it’s now available at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, ARe, and Barnes & Noble. And since Halloween is just around the corner, I recommend you also check out my demonic possession story, Hideous, and my vampire novel, The Pining of Kevin Harding.

Thanks again for having me on the blog, Larissa!

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