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The Story Behind Never Really Gone

It's a story of courage, faith, and love.

I think every author wishes a story could come to them as easily as this. Now, almost six months later, seeing the proof copy in my hands, I can’t believe I dreamed the whole thing.

How it happened:

I awoke with Katy Perry’s song in my head:
When I’m gone, I’m never really gone
You think you’re moving on
But it won’t be for long, you’ll see
When I’m gone, I’m never really gone…

I didn’t even know who sang the song. I had to look it up. And then, I said, “Hmmm... Never Really Gone. That’s the title!”

I grabbed the notebook and pen from my nightstand (yes; I keep them there for times like this) and began writing. A whole dream, from beginning to end, played like a movie in my mind. That was about 4:30 AM. I didn’t stop until about 6:30 pm. There may have been a bathroom break somewhere in there, but I don’t remember.

When I finished, I’d filled every page of the notebook. The characters felt so familiar to me, like I’d known them. Of course, I hadn’t. It was the dream, still so fresh, and the few lyrics of that song were still playing in my head.

I contacted my cover illustrator that evening, gave her the plot, and described the characters. I often like to have the cover on hand while writing the story. Imagine my surprise to find that my illustrator, booked months to a year out, had an opening for me. In about a day, she asked, “How’s this?” I can’t lie. I shed a tear. The cover was exactly what I envisioned.

The next step was typing up everything I’d written and adding the meat of the story—the why’s, hows, and oh my gosh’s. No, that part didn't happen in a day. It took a couple of months.

The hardest part of it all was making this a young adult novel, because I don't write many young adult books. But this couldn’t be told as a middle grade story, plus it has a tinge of romance (something I said I would never write).

So what does an author do when venturing out into something new? Research. I looked for similar stories. The In Between which I think is now a movie and You’ve Reached Sam were a couple of books that stood out. Even the movie Ghost fit the theme. They all showed there is a market for this type of story.

I am a Christian fiction author and do think this is a “Christian” story, but not the norm. It is inspiring. It has its share of sorrow, but it also has its share of joy and hope.

I hope you enjoy Never Really Gone. I’m blessed to have been able to write it.

I’m already dreaming of the next book... :)

But in the meantime, here’s a snippet of Never Really Gone:

Droplets of rain landed on the casket. One at a time as if someone were dropping them from a single eye dropper. And then, many eye droppers. A torrential downpour.

Black umbrellas popped open here and there, but most didn’t seem to mind the weather. It was the least of my worries. Someone sang a hymn, and then a couple of people approached the podium to say a few words. When they finished, the pastor asked for a moment of silence, during which Micah’s mother burst into screams. Several people unsuccessfully tried to console her as the casket was lowered into the ground.

I knew exactly how she felt—how each and every person who’d lost someone felt. I knew, because I felt the same way. The same pain. I just had a different way of showing it. There was a dark room inside me that I disappeared into and shut the door. It helped me deal with the numbness and kept me from having to respond to the pain or even eat.

In the end, I was the last person standing at the grave. Soaked and shivering, still looking down at Micah’s casket, waiting. But waiting for what?

A lone figure stood several feet away. The only person not dressed in black, he wore a gray hoodie and torn jeans. He waved and walked away.

As I watched the stranger leave, a hand touched my shoulder. “It’s time to go, Brie,” my mother said, her voice filled with sorrow and pity. She’d gone to get her umbrella from the limo and now held it over me.

I glanced at her, and then down at the grave, then once more at the headstone before I walked away.
In Loving Memory
Micah George

That day, if you had asked me what I thought happened to Micah or anyone after they died, I would’ve told you I was certain Micah was looking down at us from heaven. That he was shaking his head at us because we took this place a little too seriously. That I’d never see him again.

But today…

I’d tell you we are never really gone.

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