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Obviously, from the title, this isn’t going to be a particularly light-hearted entry. Sorry! So, the pre-sale went up yesterday, yay! It was Valentine’s Day and exactly one month out from the March 14th release date. I feel like that’s very appropriate for a romance novel. After I’d posted on Facebook (to which, I got a lovely reaction from my friends and family), I was speaking with an old friend.

When I was choosing advance readers, I had contacted a lot of people who are friends from my old music fandom. I figured, given we’d all been big fans of a band once, this novel was probably right up their alley as well. This particular old friend was close friends with a mutual friend of ours who passed away from cancer in 2017.

Cheli was, straight up, one of my favourite people in the world. I don’t say that because she’s gone now, she really was. We never met in “real life”, which I think will always be one of my biggest regrets. We met online in the chat room for our favourite band when we were both 18. I can’t even count the amount of hours we spent chatting online, having long (very expensive!) phone calls to her in Scotland and, later, Skype chats (far more cost effective).

Even though we both travelled to America to see the band live multiple times, our trips never ended up corresponding. If I could go back in time, I would of course move heaven and earth to get the chance to meet her in person. Which brings us back to the strange thing about grief. For me, at least, it never really goes away.

It’s just longer and longer stretches of time between being sad. When the person is first gone, everything reminds you of them and you can barely function. Over time, your sensitivity to those memories changes. Charlotte, one of the characters in The Album, bears Cheli’s last name. I made the decision on that character’s name 6 years before she died. I’ve read the book over and over, the name will generally merely give me a sense of happiness at the reference to my friend.

Last night, though, when talking to our mutual friend, it struck me that Cheli would never read this book. I realised how much I wanted her to, how much I would have loved to share it with her and get her opinion. I like to think that she would’ve liked it and that it would’ve brought back fond memories of our younger days, following a band around on their tour.

That’s what happens, you’ll be travelling along fine and suddenly, something will remind you that this person is no longer there to talk to or share things with and never will be again. It’s hard. So yeah, I obviously can’t change the fact that Cheli will never read this novel but I can share it with others and smile to myself when I read Charlotte’s last name and know that there is this one, tiny tribute to my friend in something that means so much to me.

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