Estranged childhood best friends take their dying mentor on a cross-country road trip in Cochrun’s Here We Go Again (Atria, Apr.).

Grief is an unusual topic for a rom-com.

I think grief is one of those things where—life happens around grief. I wanted to be able to explore that in a love story. I pitched this to my agent as my sapphic road trip rom-com about death, thinking she would immediately shut it down. It was a time when, honestly, I hadn’t experienced much grief in my life. And then, unfortunately, I had a lot of experiences with loss in the year that followed, as I was drafting. It ended up being really cathartic to process those experiences in writing.

Tell me about the dynamic between heroines Rosemary and Logan.

The characters came to me way before the concept did: they were always teachers and they were always workplace rivals who had been childhood friends. Rosemary I pictured with Paris Geller—from Gilmore Girls—vibes, whereas Logan I pictured as Finley from Generation Q in terms of apathetic nonchalance. I love a little bit of opposites attract.

What inspired their relationship with their former teacher, Joe?

I was a high school English teacher for 11 years. There’s something really beautiful about teachers who make students feel seen and validated, especially if they don’t have those experiences at home. I think for a lot of queer students in particular, that’s something they’re seeking when they enter a classroom. That’s really what I wanted to honor: teachers play such a pivotal role in that self actualization when we’re figuring out our identity.

How did you approach the sex scenes?

I didn’t come out as lesbian until I was 33, and a big part of figuring out my sexual identity was that I also identify as demisexual. So I like writing characters like Rosemary, who have less sexual experience and for whom prioritizing sex is atypical. With the main sex scene in the book, what I really wanted was to show a moment where, obviously they get to be intimate and it’s hopefully somewhat steamy, but also we get to see Logan really demonstrate an understanding of who Rosemary is and what she needs.

What do you hope readers take away from the book?

There’s a moment at the end where Logan tells Rosemary, “There’s no way around it, you can only go through it.” Sometimes that’s all we can do: feel our grief or loss or extreme sadness as a way to get through it. Both characters are also trying to reconcile who they wanted to be when they were young with who they’ve become. There’s a piece of the book that’s really about finding yourself through adventure and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.