When I declared the legal statement that all events in my book were the invention of the author, I told a little bit of a white lie. (Well I'm an author - what do they expect?) There is a scene in 'The Forest of Adventures' which is based on a true event: it was the event of my first kiss. (That is also a bit of a white lie too - my technically 'very first kiss' now resides in the Fraudian filing cabinet in a folder called 'Traumatic Childhood Accidents'.)
Here, however is the event I have chosen as my official first kiss. (And as I am author of my own lifestory, I get to choose the narrative sequence.)
I was sixteen - okay, so that 'childhood accident' put me off for a while. It was February and it was snowing, which perhaps explains my romantic pre-occupation with snow. Strangely the kiss itself has refused to stay - I think because I was transported to a different galaxy when he actually kissed me - but those precious, heart racing, slip-sliding moments before he actually reached forward and placed his lips on mine have stayed with me ever since; enough to make it the turning point in my heroine's destiny.
"Rejecting his help, I struggled to my feet, hot blood rushing to my cheeks. I could barely think how I would be able to look at him, and when I finally managed to brave it out, all I could see was an amused and curious smile dancing over his lips.
Snow began to fall and, whether it was the blood rushing to my head, or the effect Blake had on me, I had the sudden feeling of being turned slowly upside down inside of a snow-globe." Time slid; the snow fell in slow motion and Blake looked deep into my eyes. I was transfixed on a single snowflake that was balanced on one of his long, dark eyelashes. His brown eyes were the only promise of warmth in the whole landscape." Chapter 4 'The Forest of Adventures'
What is beautiful about being a young adult is that when these moments happen you live the poetry of the moment - as if you are outside observing the film of your own life. Orchestral scores really do burst out of the heavens, your eyes become various camera shots, you really are able to feel and live metaphors on the spot.
There is no need for nostalgic romanticising - it was really like this, and perhaps this is why I refuse to put the inner adolescent to bed. To hide it away as if slightly ashamed by the silliness and impulsivity of youth. Perhaps this is why I choose to write YA fiction, to always allow the opportunity for my YA self to have a voice - because the adult world can become so pragmatic and cynical; Snow can just become cold and a travel disruption; Kissing just an exchange of custom on leaving the house for work; Eyes just something we use for reading the bank statements or watching television.
As long as my YA self is kept alive then who cares if it's one that is slightly delusional, slightly romantic, slightly silly - at least it's one that feels the passion of life. This is why I love the whole notion of Valentine's Day - because it's a day when there is the potential to write our own poetic scene and be young and beautiful again.