The Tricky Nature of Lies
by Devon McCormack
I started writing When Ryan Came Back a little over a year ago. At the time, I knew I wanted to write a Hardy Boys-type book with a paranormal twist. I didn’t have much more of an idea than that until the day I envisioned my main characters, Steven and Ryan. Steven is your typical gay teen with insecurities about his sexual orientation as well as all those that go along with preparing to leave high school and enter the work force/university system. He’s never known who he is or what he wants to do with his life. His friend, Ryan, is the exact opposite. Ambitious and goal-oriented, he’s nabbed a scholarship for a prestigious university and is working to procure a position at the Atlanta Journal Constitution…until the day he turns up dead. The medical examiner determines it’s a suicide, but when Ryan’s ghost appears to Steven, he reveals he didn’t kill himself. Though he can’t remember what happened, he’s sure it’s related to the story he was working on for the paper, involving two rival churches in town.
As Steven investigates the real cause of his death, he discovers secrets being kept by politicians, religious figures, Ryan, and his own family. All these lead him to wonder who he can really trust. As I started drafting the initial versions of When Ryan Came Back, I discovered trust was the heart of the story. Everyone has secrets–things they don’t want people to know about themselves. In Steven’s case, it’s his sexuality. He understands his sexual attraction to guys, and he accepts that he’s gay, but he fears being “out” isn’t going to make his life easier. But as he runs around town, digging up everyone else’s secrets, he learns how little he ever knew about any of them. And if he doesn’t know anything about them, how can he trust them? With Ryan, this is really difficult. Ryan wants his help, but there are things he doesn’t want Steven to know–like his own feelings for men, his previous relationships, and his use of antidepressants. Steven feels betrayed. He’s doing everything he can to help his friend, who isn’t even being honest with him. But he acknowledges he hasn’t been entirely truthful himself. After all, he’s never told Ryan about his sexual orientation. This is where Steven’s real dilemma is. What is a serious lie? What is a lie that is totally unforgivable? And what are those lies that we can forgive and move beyond?
It’s a question that I’ve struggled with a lot in my own life. I spent my adolescence in the closet, and I felt like a fraud. But is living in the closet out of self defense the same thing as a charlatan who knowingly sells a cancer patient a quack cure? Obviously not. In the same way, I’m sure no one would have much sympathy for a German who told the Nazis where Jewish people were hiding because they wanted to be honest. It’s easy to see that lying and keeping secrets isn’t a black and white subject where we can toss a blanket statement over them all and say it’s always wrong to lie in every instance. There’s a beautiful part of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables where he describes a nun who has been honest her entire life. She’s revered for this. She comes across a moment where she has the option to tell the truth (and keep this good virtue she’s held all her life) or tell a lie (which in the moment will protect the whereabouts a good character). She chooses to lie, and Hugo says her act is one that would make her a saint.
This is the real trick about handling lies and secrets–not throwing a blanket judgment over them all, but having the ability to look into them and understand them on a deeper level. If someone tells a lie, does that make them a bad person? Does that make them evil? There are some lies we can forgive and understand, but how do we sort those from the ones that are unforgivable? This is really what Steven’s story is all about. He has to move beyond a simplistic perspective of lying into a more mature one that can look beyond a superficial judgment and look for what really makes someone a good person.
About When Ryan Came Back
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.
Available at: Dreamspinner Press, Amazon and Barnes & Noble
About Devon McCormack
Devon McCormack spent his childhood climbing trees and hopping over gullies in the woods of the Georgian suburbs. Growing up, he found few gay role models in books and movies. This inadequate representation of gay heroes led him to creating his own. He likes dark, action-packed stories in which characters overcome terrible odds and sinister forces. Though his books take place in worlds where paranormal is the norm, his characters triumph over very real problems by using their strength, will, and determination. A huge fan of love stories, he can’t resist throwing in a couple of charming love interests to make the adventures all the more entertaining. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and spends his time writing and consuming large quantities of frozen yogurt.
Find out more about Devon on his Facebook, Twitter & Goodreads.
Devon has graciously offered up an eBook copy of When Ryan Came Back to one lucky winner!! The giveaway starts now and ends November 18, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. To enter, just click the link below!
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