Who doesn’t like surprises, right? Okay, maybe I should clarify. Who doesn’t like good surprises? You know, the kinds that bring a smile to your face when you think about them later in the day, month, or year.
Some of the most memorable kisses are ‘surprise’ kisses. Sure, there can be the reward and satisfaction of getting a kiss after climbing the mountain of anticipation and expectation, but those sneaky surprise kisses sure make for great scenes in books, or in movies, or AT the movies – as my guest Siri Mitchell will show us today.
Known for both historical and contemporary romances, Siri’s books have the uniqueness of being written in first person. Which is fun and intimate. Awash with feelings from the head of the characters. I have to give my plug for Kissing Adrien, my ALL TIME FAVORITE book of hers, but she has many others with just as much emotional appeal or light-hearted fun. To find out more about her books, visit www.sirimitchell.com
Okay, so Siri, what do you think makes a good kissing scene?
A great kissing scene has to incorporate the personality of both the kisser and the kissee. I could envision the most wonderful of kisses and describe it in the most romantic of terms, but if it fails to respect the characters of the people involved, then it won’t produce any sighs or butterflies on the part of the reader. Like any other scene in fiction, a kissing scene has work to do. It has to move the plot forward, introduce or solve conflict, reveal character, and/or deepen a theme. That’s a lot to expect from a kiss!
What sort have wonderfully suprising example have you brought for us today?
Here’s one of my all-time favorite kisses (from The Cubicle Next Door). I think it serves all four purposes I listed above. It takes place between the main characters, Jackie and Joe. They’re in a movie theater, watching a Bollywood movie.
That’s how we ended up in the center of the Kimball’s Twin Peak Theater, perched on the first seats in the upper section, legs propped up on the railings. We were half-way into it when Joe started talking.
“Have any more popcorn?”
I handed him the container.
He fished out a few un-popped kernels and started crunching. Shifted in his seat. Crossed his legs. Uncrossed them. “Okay. Enough dancing around the subject. Just kiss her already.”
“This is torture. Why does it keep showing them dancing in Paris and Tahiti and Saudi Arabia? They live in India. And they’re both dirt-poor.”
“They love each other, right?”
“Then why don’t they just do something about it? Hold hands. Anything.”
“It’s not like they have to fall into bed every time they meet. There’s something to be said for self-control and physical restraint.”
“There’s also something to be said for not looking like a dancing marionette.”
“If you can’t watch nicely, then please leave.”
He was quiet for a few minutes and then he leaned toward my ear again. “How can you watch this without understanding the words? Why aren’t there subtitles?”
“Are you blind?”
“Then use your eyes. Can’t you see what they’re feeling?”
“Maybe. I can guess. But it would be nice if it were backed up with words. Then I’d know for sure. I mean, she could be crying because she has something in her eye. How am I supposed to know for certain it’s because of something he said? Give me a break. I’m a guy!”
“Just. Shut. Up.”
He was good for about two minutes and then he leaned toward me again.
I took the popcorn container from him, hunched over, and shifted down three seats.
I shifted down two more.
He did the same.
“If you don’t stop talking I’m going to stand up—right now—and scream.”
“Oh yes, I would.”
“If you stand up, then I’m going to stand up—right now—and kiss you.”
“Oh yes, I would.” He was serious.
I plunged my hand to the bottom of the popcorn container.
There was nothing there but a few kernels Joe had left behind. I grabbed them and shoved them into my mouth. Started crunching.
He didn’t say another word. Not for a long time. Not until one of the more elaborate song and dance sequences at the end. Then he leaned over and looked me straight in the eye. “If they sing one more song…”
The images from the movie screen cast kaleidoscope shadows on his face. His eyes were sweeping back and forth across my own face.
“Aren’t you going to stand up and scream?”
My scalp began to tingle. My mouth had suddenly gone dry. “Why?”
“I talk. You scream. We kiss. That was the deal.” He stretched his arm across the backs of our seats. “You’re not going to back out on me now, are you?”
I could not look away from his eyes. I wanted to. But I couldn’t. It was a physical impossibility. I had no control over my body. Because before I could even register his question in my brain, my head began jerk back and forth.
“Good.” He smiled. I saw those dimples. Then I felt his hand caress my neck.
I must have closed my eyes, because the next thing I knew, they were flying open as his lips touched mine.
He brought his other hand up to my neck.
And I must have closed my eyes again. Because all I can remember was being in a world devoid of any sensation but touch. And taste. And a feeling in the pit of my stomach as if I were driving down a mountain road way too fast. Careening out of control. And the only way to get out, to get through, was to hang onto Joe.
When I next opened my eyes, I found I was clutching fistfuls of his sweater. And I meant to push him away, but then he started kissing my neck and I decided it would actually be better if he were closer.
Slowly, I became aware of a sort of change around us. Tried to open my eyes, but it felt as if I were attempting to lift the garage door with just one finger. I put a hand to Joe’s chest. Tried to push myself away from it.
He put a hand up to cover mine, and then brought it up to his face. Broke away from my lips.
I watched as he kissed my open palm and then released my hand.
And then, we both blinked.
Because in between when our kisses had started and when they had ended, the movie had also ended, the theater had emptied, and the lights had been turned on.
Joe smiled. Gave me a last, quick kiss and then stood up and held out his hand for mine.
I just sat there, looking up at him. “Were we just making out? In public? In a movie theater?”
“Which question do you want me to answer first?”
“Were we making out!”
He sat back down. “We were kissing.” He put his hands up to my face.
I batted them away.
“Jackie. We were just kissing. I didn’t even…touch you anywhere.”
“Well, it felt like you touched me everywhere!”
“Shh.” He put out a hand to smooth my hair away from my face.
“Stop touching me!”
“It’s not okay. It is not okay that I become just like my mother.”
“How would you know?”
“All I have to do is the opposite of what she did and then everything will be okay.” I could feel tears coursing down my cheeks, but I could not stop them. “I am not my mother.”
“I am not my mother. I will not be out of control. I can’t see you anymore. I can’t kiss you anymore.”
“Okay. That’s fine.”
He took me by the hand and pulled me onto his lap. Wrapped his arms around me and began to rock, forward and back. Forward and back. Forward and back.
“I can’t see you anymore.”
Sometimes a kiss isn’t just a kiss. In fact, I’d say that most of the time in fiction, a kiss isn’t just a kiss. (Julie, have you and Siri been comparing notes?)Of course everything turns out just fine in the end for Jackie and Joe. They’re kissing again on the last three pages of the book.
What a great scene, with so much emotional drama AND humor going on at the same time. I think sometimes it’s easy to JUST focus on the physical aspects of the kiss and forget about all the deep rooted things the characters bring to the kiss too. When you blend all that together, a kiss can pack quite a punch. Thanks for sharing today, Siri, and I look forward to your new release She Walks in Beauty coming this spring.
Kissing Quote of the Day:
“I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.”
Bull Durham (1988) – Crash Davis (Kevin Costner)