Kissed by a Rose was the first “Full Length” novel I ever wrote. By “Full Length” I mean it was some eighty thousand words long—guidelines vary but the general rule of thumb seems to be that anything under about fifty thousand words is a novella and anything over that is a novel.
It was also the first work of any kind that wasn’t first published by Ruthie’s Club, who had published my short stories up to that point, as well as Charlotte’s Secret and Lost & Found before both of those novellas were picked up by Phaze.
Because it was the first project of that kind of size that I’d completed, it was, and still is, special to me. Despite my tendency to be a ‘pantser’—someone who writes by the seat of their pants rather than planning out the plotline in detail before writing it—the story actually ended up pretty much how I’d hoped when I started writing it, which is always a bonus.
It’s a pretty simple concept. Two people from ‘different worlds’ meet and fall in love and then have to face the obstacles caused by their different backgrounds. In this case, Chloë is a pampered movie star and Adam is ‘normal’.
Adam is the POV character, although the story is told in the third person not first. We still see everything through Adam’s eyes and interpretation though—including Chloë.
I love Chloë. I love that, as a reader, you’re never really quite sure about her. Not just because of the way she behaves, but because of the way other people, Kim in particular, react to her and speculate about her motives.
I like Adam and the supporting cast too, but it’s Chloë who is the standout creation in this book.
Because while Chloë makes cameo appearances or is mentioned often in future books (she is a ‘star’ after all), it’s Kim who makes the biggest impact in a future book—although by then she’s taken on a new, unexpected identity and she never actually confirms who she is to the reader, anyone with a keen mind can work it out.
A word about the title. It was a difficult one to nail down. The book went through a number of ‘working titles’—Chloe’s Education and Little Miss Movie Star are the two I remember—but the final title came about after a drive home one night and the Seal song coming on the radio. The song is Kiss from a Rose, but it’s close enough to see where it’s come from. The “Rose” is, of course, Chloe. She’s called “England’s Rose” in the book a few times.
Kissed by a Rose is also the book that introduced what would go on to become The Westmouthshire Universe, where my books since have been set. Originally the book was set in Aberystwyth, which is the university that I attended, but as I started to write it I realised that the town had changed so much since I was there, and my memories of the place were pretty rose-tinted and foggy anyway, there was no way I’d be able to convincingly describe the town or any of the landmark in it. So I invented a fictional university town to set the story in—based on my foggy, faded memories if Aber—and Westmouth (and by extension, Westmouthsire) was born.
Kissed by a Rose remains one of my favourites. It’s not perfect, not by a long way. And ‘technically’ my later books are ‘better’—the writing is stronger and cleaning, the characterisation and plots are superior, but “Kissed” will forever be special to me. And so will Chloë.