Today I am so pleased to welcome Devon McCormack to Joyfully Jay. Devon has come to talk to us about his latest release, Weight of the World, co-written with Riley Hart. Please join me in giving Devon a big welcome!
First off, I’d like to thank Jay for having me on the blog today. This blog has been so supportive ever since I began my publishing journey three years ago, and it’s wonderful to be back here again to discuss my latest release, Weight of the World. I co-authored the novel with gay romance author Riley Hart. It was my first experience with co-writing a book. Riley and I had been chatting online for some time, and one day, she asked if I’d ever collaborated with anyone on a book, and I simply said, “If you mean would I want to collab on a book with you, then the answer is “Yes. When do we start?” From there, we started pitching ideas. I already knew the project I wanted to work on. It was an idea I had about a guy who plans to jump off a high-rise but is talked down by a mysterious stranger only to find out the following day that the stranger jumped himself. I really wanted to write a book about suicide and depression. It’s a subject that’s very personal for me, and this particular idea struck me as having the potential to really delve into the topics in a serious and meaningful way, which is the only way I was willing to work on them. However, when I got the idea, I knew I couldn’t handle it emotionally, and I feared if I tried to write it, it would turn into something dark and morbid. That wasn’t going to work for me. I wanted it to be about hope and to be uplifting to the reader. So when Riley and I started pitching ideas, I just sort of threw this one out there along with several others, thinking, “If she digs it, she digs it. If not, then I’ll tuck it away for another time.” I was relieved when she was as drawn to that concept as I was. After that, we chatted about the characters—their motives, their backstories, their desires—and within a few days, we began writing, together building the characters and the story and taking this seed of an idea even further as we explored the dynamics that led to the scenario described above.
While the actual writing was easy—effortless even—I’d be lying if I said that I always felt like we were going to successfully write a book together. If anything, what kept me working on the novel was this constant feeling like there was no way it was going to work. I was very skeptical about the idea of writing with someone else. I’d worked on other writing projects with people, but an entire book? Riley had done this several times under her other pseudonym, Nyrae Dawn. Truth be told, when it comes to writing partners, she gets around quite a bit. But you didn’t hear that from me. Being new to the process of working with someone else on a book, I was nervous and pretty much thought it was all going to go to shit at some point. (Pretty much how I’ve approached every romantic relationship in my life.) That took a lot of the stress of writing the book off of me because I was just like, “This is a fun project that may or may not work out.” Riley had this thing she’d do where she’d keep me updated about word count. This is how she works evidently. I’m not a particularly religious, spiritual, or superstitious person, but word counts give me anxiety. Make me feel like we’re jinxing the project. I never told her this while we were writing, but every time she would update me about where we were at, I would nearly have a panic attack, especially as I realized we were nearing the end. By that point, I was just in denial. “No. This can’t actually be happening.” But pretty soon, we were typing “The End” and passing the book along to beta readers. And then we were discussing the ever-important questions: When will we release this? How are we going to release this?
ME: I think it’d be kind of exciting if we didn’t tell anyone about it and just kind of sprung it on everyone.
Part of the reason I thought it’d be fun to release it as a surprise was because I’ve had so many books that have been marketed for months…way too many months before they were released. Also, I get exhausted waiting for a book that an author I like has been promoting for nearly a year before it comes out. By that time, I’m so over it. So in many ways, I think that the idea was just a reaction to my own experience as an author and a reader. I also thought it would be fun since it was my first gay romance novel. Most of my readers knew me as an erotica author. Not just writing erotica, but writing some rather depraved work. I have a paranormal series, The Clipped Saga, that depicts some fairly graphic, over-the-top sex scenes. And then my stories Cheating Bastard and Lying Bastard are all about perverse and deranged sexual explorations. Meanwhile, I also write young adult novels, so I enjoy changing things up. But no one had ever seen my romantic side in full-force…yet. And the idea of just kind of springing it on everyone excited me. Plus, I’ve never liked to be predictable. I like surprising people…I guess because I like being surprised. I think Riley, for her own reasons, was just as intrigued by the idea of surprising people as well. Although, we were both itching to break down and tell everyone about our secret project. Fortunately, we didn’t have the cover during the time that we were keeping our secret, and I’m relieved that was the case, because it’s gorgeous, and it made it really hard once we received it to keep the secret. I think we both just wanted to throw it on Facebook and be like, “Oh my God, look at this beautiful book that we’ve been working on!”
But like everything else involved in this project, everything worked out and we managed to keep our big mouths shut. The day of the release, I remember taking pictures with the boyfriend. I wanted an image of me holding our iPad with the cover of Weight of the World on it. I figured people would get a kick out of that. We ended up coming up with what I thought was a pretty funny pic of me covering my mouth and having a sorta guilty expression on my face. Like, “Oops. Did I forget to mention this?” I didn’t tell Riley about the picture, but she knew I was up to something. Once the book went live on Amazon, we called each other and just expressed our appreciation and excitement about the project before…
RILEY: You already have your post ready to go, don’t you?
RILEY: What did you write?
ME: It’s not about what I wrote.
RILEY: Oh my God. Give me a few minutes to write mine.
ME: Okay, and then we’ll unleash this bad boy on the world.
After that conversation, Riley posted about the release, and I posted my pic. And then we were off and running with our new release. It was even better than either of us could have imagined as we saw people’s shock and bewilderment about the release. Even better as the reviews started coming in, and we got to see how much people enjoyed our project—a project that meant a great deal to both of us.
It was a wonderful experience, and Riley and I are already busily working on the next story we’ll be working on again. Thanks to everyone who took a chance on Weight of the World, and if you haven’t already checked it out, I hope you’ll take the time to take a look and see if it might be a book you’d be interested in reading. If not, feel free to follow me on Facebook, where I always keep things interesting.
Thanks again, Jay, for having me on the blog today. Looking forward to returning in the near future!
Zack lost his job, his apartment, and his hope, which is why he ends up on the roof of a high rise, certain that one final step will solve his problems. But a mysterious stranger named Rob happens to be on the roof that night too. He talks Zack down, convincing him there’s still hope left in the world. Zack thinks maybe he’s right, which is why he’s shocked when he turns on the news the next morning to find out Rob jumped himself. Disturbed and confused, he searches for answers, starting with Rob’s brother Tommy Rayburn.
It’s been Tommy’s job to take care of his brother since they were kids, taking the blows from their father so Rob wouldn’t have to. Tommy thought he could protect him, even if it meant carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Considering Rob threw himself off a building, he obviously couldn’t.
Then he meets Zack, a friend of Rob’s who’s suspiciously evasive about how they knew each other. But they’re both grieving and determined to find out why Rob jumped. Answers don’t come easily and soon, they’re soothing each other with sweat-slicked, passionate encounters. Hot as things get in the bedroom, it doesn’t take them long to realize there’s more between them than mind-blowing sex and their pain. But the heaviness is still there, threatening to pull them under, and if they can’t open up with each other to lighten the load, the weight just might be enough to crush them both.
A good ole Southern boy, Devon McCormack grew up in the Georgia suburbs with his two younger brothers and an older sister. At a very young age, he spun tales the old fashioned way, lying to anyone and everyone he encountered. He claimed he was an orphan. He claimed to be a king from another planet. He claimed to have supernatural powers. He has since harnessed this penchant for tall tales by crafting worlds and characters that allow him to live out whatever fantasy he chooses. Devon is an out and proud gay man living with his partner in Atlanta, Georgia.