First Kiss

My first appearance in a YA anthology is now on the shelves: First Kiss (Then Tell): A Collection of True Lip-Locked Moments edited by Cylin Busby. I’m stoked to be in this collection. It’s dead funny and there’s not a dud story in sight. How could there be when they’re penned by the likes of Cecil Castellucci, Shannon Hale, David Levithan, Sarah Mlynowski, Laren Myracle, Robin Wasserman and Scott Westerfeld?1 If you don’t believe me about the fabulosity of this anthology then would you believe Booklist?

This entertaining collection of true “first kiss” stories by popular YA authors arrives just in time for Valentine’s Day. The risk of veering into groan-worthy, “when-I-was-your-age” territory always exists when adults reminisce about their teen years, but these authors treat their own stories with the same freshness and respect with which they approach their YA novels. The stories include Deb Caletti’s thrilling and empowering kiss, “as right as warm sidewalks and plums bought at roadside stands”; Cecil Castellucci’s secret and slightly shameful smooches with a bad boy; and Justine Larbalestier’s disgusting yet hilarious drunken kiss on a floating dock. Some stories are poems, one is a play, and a few are in comic form; despite the reality-based entries and mix of forms, the collection is classified as fiction. Kissing quotes and facts are interspersed, making this a good collection for browsing. The reader will finish this volume and know that whether a first kiss is anticipated or unexpected, dreamy or forgettable, this rite of passage provokes a complex mix of fear, excitement, and relief.

“Disgusting yet hilarious”. I am SO proud. Those words pretty much sum me up. However, the kiss I describe in that story was not, in fact, mine. I cheated and stole someone else’s story. And to make matters worse I can’t even remember whose story it is.

If you only read one anthology this year make it First Kiss!

And because I’m curious—anyone care to share the story of their first kiss? I’d share mine but I really can’t remember it. Sad, but true.

  1. Though, Scott cheated and wrote a haiku. []


  1. Ellen on #

    I could, if ever called upon to do it, still point out the exact place where my first kiss occurred, because it was in a subway station, and I’ve been there many times since!

  2. Beth on #

    Rather mushy and romantic – I saved my first kiss for the man I will be marrying in two weeks! And we kissed for the first time when he proposed.

    It was on a hill overlooking the ocean – our secret picnic spot. It felt awkward and strange but oh-so-perfect, and things have only gotten better since.

  3. Mary Elizabeth S. on #

    I have not had my first kiss yet. But I will be sure to send out the story via message-quokkas immediately upon its occurrence.


  4. Jonathan Shaw on #

    although i hardly qualify as more than a lurker, here’s my first kiss story (without capitals). i was 23 years old, and a member of a catholic religious order with a vow of chastity. i had decided to leave the order, and was at a party at a university friend’s house a couple of weeks before i was due to leave the cloisters, sitting in the kitchen minding my own business, when a woman i knew slightly came and sat on my lap and started kissing me — pashing is probably more accurate. this caused great delight among my fellow eng lit students, and to me.

  5. Peter D. Tillman on #

    This reminds me of some silly survey that was floating around when I was in college — a real one, I think. Anyway, it had categories of making out neatly broken down, eg
    2)fondling female breast (clothed)
    3)fondling female breast (unclothed)

    For the record, I’m hazy on the first kiss, but #3 is vivid. A beautiful blond English girl — who also informed me her previous boyfriend had been a much better kisser. Ah, well. But *great* b.t.

    Cheers — Pete Tillman

    “Beauty is skin deep. But how rich you are can last a long time.”
    (Christine, age 9)

  6. Patrick on #

    ya authors can have kisses?

  7. Justine on #

    Patrick: Only if their mouths are closed.

  8. jocelyn on #

    sad to say, i’m nearly seventeen and have yet to experience my first kiss. and have no prospects at the moment, and i’m not the type to make out with strangers at a party (rather obviously, i guess). it’s a little embarrassing to admit that; i’m the last of my friends, by far.

  9. Justine on #

    Jocelyn: Actually, my story in the anthology is a lesson on why it’s a bad idea to make out with strangers at a party. Especially if you’ve been drinking. Drinking + strangers = bad idea.

  10. cherie priest on #

    Hilarious, yes. Disgusting, no. Maybe a little gross sometimes …

    As for first kisses mine wasn’t so interesting. He was a cute boy who gave me a ride home from work (because I was stupid and desperate and stranded, and any kids who are reading this should never never accept rides from random cute boys). He came around looking for me a few days later. We ended up making out in the apartment complex swimming pool.

    At the time it was rather thrilling, except that I thought he was a little dumb. Cute, but dumb. I was just so excited that somebody seemed to *like* me.

    (I was sixteen.)

  11. Mary Elizabeth S. on #

    Jocelyn, don’t feel bad. I’m nineteen and I can promise you won’t die from being non-kissed (or even from the embarrassment of said state).

    Huh. Imagine if you would though. If everyone had to have been kissed before their 18th birthday or they’d die. Ah! Ah! Brain monkeys! HELP!!!!


  12. Eliza on #

    We were lab partners in a freshman computer science class. We spent several weeks sitting very close together at all hours, working intently on projects; one evening he sent me an email solemnly asking me “out” to dinner at the college cafeteria, and waited for me at the entrance. Because it was slightly late, nobody else was in sight – so we stole a short, awkward smooch before walking inside, hand in hand.

  13. rebecca on #

    aw hell, and i was just at the bookstore. oh well, i’ll be going back on saturday, b/c libba bray is coming heeeeere! yayayayayayayay!

    (and speaking of which, do you (or anyone) know what libba bray’s email is, b/c i am blind and cannot find anything except the livejournal one, and no one ever uses the lj addresses.)

    the anthology sounds soooo good. and for some reason, i didn’t realize these were true stories. hehe.

    my first kiss was incredibly boring. it was during a truth or dare game in seventh grade. lame lame lame lame. 😛

  14. celsie on #

    My first kiss involved flying three thousand miles out of my way to meet a stranger, to find out french kissing isn’t perfect the first time around, that two people with glasses can grind scratches when you’re not careful, and then avoiding the boy for a week after realizing I didn’t even really like him all that much.

    My mother still wishes we’d gone to Disneyland with the rest of the family. But no, I dragged her out to Ohio for a boy I didn’t even really like.

    Second one was much better. We’d been dating a couple of weeks, and just came home from a New Year’s party. He cracked his knuckles, he was so nervous, and kissed me on the front porch of my house before leaving for the night.

    I married that one.

  15. lili on #

    my first kiss was with a GIRL and hence even more nervous and awkward and confusing. i remember going into the bathroom and looking at myself in the mirror to see if i looked different. I did. all pale and trembly. she was my best friend in high school, and still is my best friend, although our relationship is kissing-free nowadays.

  16. _iris_ on #

    haven’t had a first kiss yet. i don’t mind though…
    (by the way, this is entirely unrelated, but you have converted me to a quokka lover. i am spreading the word that quokkas are the cutest! thank you for posting all the pictures of the cutest creatures in the world!)

  17. sherwood on #

    I was 12, he was an older man of 13. I thought, eeew, I can taste his spit, this is totally gross, and then kept trying to avoid him. But within three months he was dead, his parents had thought he was whining when his appendix had burst. I felt guilty for years and years that I hadn’t let him kiss me as much as he wanted, slobber and all.

  18. jennifer, aka literaticat on #

    I was in second grade. Young hussy!

    A boy by the name of Colin had a club – only girls who french kissed him could enter.

    I’ve never been able to resist belonging to a club.

  19. dragonfly on #

    my first kiss was with my first boyfriend. we were both fifteen. it was late summer, he was walking me home from driver’s training, and we stopped to talk in the cul-de-sac at the end of my street. we were standing under a tree, with the sun blinking through the leaves when the wind blew, and i was completely surprised by the kiss.

    it’s a pretty memory. and as i still have happy friendship-type memories for my first boyfriend, it isn’t tainted by a break-up story. 😛

  20. serafina zane on #

    and yeah. nonapplicable to moi. loser with no social life stuck in small-town gene pool of drunks and stoners.

  21. Kris on #


    I was almost 19 when I had my first kiss…no need to worry! There was really no one in high school that I dated, so there was no chance to even get close to kissing someone.

    My first kiss was with this guy I dated freshman year…my first boyfriend, actually…Every time we’d part for the night, we both would stand there awkwardly. No one wanted to make the first move. One night, frustrated that he wouldn’t even try to kiss me, I grabbed him and planted one on him. After that, kissing wasn’t a problem. 🙂

  22. Roda on #

    There are some books that I read and think, “Hmm, one day when I have a daughter of my own I’d like for her to read this book.” That’s how I feel after having read this anthology! It was AWESOME. I’m going to write my own “First Kiss” story and put it in the book for my daughter –or son– to read one day.

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