First Kisses, First Novels and a little bit of Darkly Wood …


Fellow author and blogger, Max Power, is promoting his novel, Darkly Wood, this week. I’ve just started reading it, and have high expectations judging from the reviews I’ve read. His post, First Kiss, which can be found here (which made me laugh and cringe in equal measure, and which I recommend you read) reminded me of a post I first shared in April 2014 in which I share the story of my first kiss, a kiss that went on to inspire the love story that became my first novel, Strong as Death. For those of you who downloaded it whilst it was free over the past forty eight hours, thank you. I hope you get to fall in love again for the first time with one of the characters (Mullog seems to have quite a fan club).

My first kiss …

Ships in the night. The summer I learned what that meant, I was fourteen. And a half. I was on holiday with my family. Camping. That was the summer the realisation of my own mortality struck me so forcibly that, so afraid of falling asleep and never waking again, I spent the whole night nestled in the safety that was the space between my parents. It was also the summer of my not-quite-kiss. His name was Mark and he was not-quite-eighteen. For a few brief days, our lives sailed alongside one another. On the last of those days, for the briefest of not-quite-single afternoons, Mark held my hand. And at the end of that afternoon, for a moment that lasted less than a breath, he brushed his lips across mine and was gone and I didn’t know whether I’d been kissed or not. Ships that pass in the night. Some people are with you for a season, then gone for a lifetime, my father explained as I nursed a heart not-quite-broken. That was the summer I stopped being fourteen and a half. That was the summer I turned not-quite fifteen. 

Years, more than I could ever imagine living when I was not-quite-fifteen, have passed since that summer. Other Marks came and went. Some left my heart more than broken, some limped away with their heart not-quite-intact. The seasons I spent sailing alongside my parents have gone. My eldest child has lived for more than half of my lifetime. And I thank God for those ships that have passed; for those whose waters I have yet to share. I am even thankful for the times I was so broken I thought I would never mend. I am thankful to have learned about love and loss and the treasuring of times that can never be gone as long as they live in my heart. And I look forward to discovering alongside which of those ships I will sail in eternity.

Mark was the template for Dylan Lachlan in my novel ‘Strong as Death’. Dylan has Mark’s eyes …

first posted as in April 2014 as ‘Where characters come from (3): Dylan Lachlan 


16 thoughts on “First Kisses, First Novels and a little bit of Darkly Wood …

  1. I’ve said it before Julia, and I don’t mind repeating myself – you write some profound pieces on here. In only a few paragraphs you can take a mature, supposedly life-hardened man and take him back to a time when a light westerly breeze would have made him cry like a waterfall.
    Thank you for the memories that we all share in some way, and thank you also for the reminder that when all is said and done – that’s life.
    Great post my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Timothy Price

    I was a party at a friends in the early 70’s. I was 12 then, and the party was psychedelic and strange like so many things as the early 70’s that hadn’t shaken off the vestiges of the late 60’s. I never drank or did drugs, but there plenty of kids who were plenty of both at the party. I was standing by myself on the patio when an older girl, who I didn’t particularly like, walked up to me, put her arms around my neck and planted a kiss on my lips. I recoiled but she was very high and quite strong, and simply pulled our lips back together. I finally managed to extricate myself, from for her grasp, but that was my first kiss. After she wandered off in search of another victim, I stood in the same place for some time trying to decide if I liked it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. First loves take a long time to get over, sometimes never. I remember mine well. Not only love, but my first touch of a soft budding breast. It was so delicious that after my family migrated to Australia, I lived off that memory for many years. It had to sustain me because there wasn’t much else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know some who’ve been lucky enough to experience first and only love that has lasted … Others amongst us have survived the bumps and bruises and brokeness. As for first touch, I remember well reading that account on your wonderful blog. I’m sure you weren’t the only young man to live through the barren years 😉


  4. Beautifully written, Julia. Oddly enough, I had a rather bizarre dream about my first love last night but I was much younger when I met him. I once had a wise Craetive Writing teacher who advised to only write about that which you have experienced, for that is what will be most believable. I find she was very correct.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it would be very difficult to write something believable about something you don’t understand. The capacity to see through others’ eyes is vital for credible storytelling, in my opinion.

      I hope your dream wasn’t unsettling – it’s a strange country, that land of asleep 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. WK Tucker

    Many times I’ve incorporated a piece of a real person I know into a character in a story. Strangly enough, I don’t see it during the writing process; it comes after the fact.
    Funny how a mind works…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading it again.

      I’m reading Darkly Wood at the moment …

      I popped over to your blog but am guessing you’re having a break from posting at the moment. Or have I missed something? Nice to see you here …

      Liked by 1 person

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