Good morning, all, and welcome to my stop on the GRAHAM’S DELICACIES blog tour!
I’m so honored to host an interview today with Emilie and Alex, the two nonbinary bakers in Em Ali’s short stories collection, Graham’s Delicacies! Em and Alex were two of my favorite characters in this book, so I jumped at the chance to talk with them!
Now, before we get into the interview, I’m going to quickly share the blurbs for the three stories, and then we’ll get down to it! And be sure to keep on scrolling past the end of the interview to see Em Ali’s bio as well as some additional information about the collection!
Six people and three love stories all in one bakery.
Jen goes to work, agonizes over college, and looks forward to the stolen moments in the kitchen, where she can watch Emilie bake love into every donut, cake, and brownie. Their delicate friendship takes a step towards a budding romance. But will Jen’s impulsiveness help their romance surviving its first hurdle?
James has never been kissed but he wants to, especially by Sam, who he can’t talk to without turning into a little jerk, and who is made of all the good stuff. Will James’ insecurity in his inexperience ever allow him to make the move to kiss the boy?
Alex won’t let some foodie with a video camera bash their beloved bakery, even if it means they have to be petty. Except they’re nowhere ready for Yujin, the one who got away, and the one attempting to woo them. Will Alex’s second impression of Yujin let them see the sincerity in the bashful king.
NICKY: Hey, y’all! Today, I have the honor of hosting Emilie and Alex, the two bakers of the lovely Graham’s Delicacies! Emilie, Alex, thank you so much for stopping by! I hope your day has been good so far?
*Alex and Emilie smile and then laugh*
Emilie: Sorry, we’re kind of the quietest of the bunch. Hi!
Alex: Thank you for having us, Nicky.
Emilie: Yes! Thank you! Our day has been…
Emilie: *snorts* All days are tiring, to be honest. The reason for that is mainly the changes in our location.
Alex: Graham’s been going through renovations, so we switched to baking at my place, and only doing deliveries for the past week or so.
Emilie: *looks at Alex* I miss our kitchen.
Alex: *smiles* Me, too.
NICKY: Aw man, I hope things get more settled for y’all quickly! *smiles* So let’s get started, shall we? Can each of you tell us how you got started in baking?
Emilie: Well, I started cooking because of my anxiety. I had erratic sleep patterns for the most of my teens, so I stayed up watching videos that calmed me down. I mostly made very simple desserts like cookies or cupcakes then I became very interested in things like macarons, cakes and cinnamon rolls, so I took cooking classes!
Alex: You have such a good reason. Mine was… a bit less…meaningful.
Emilie: Wait, didn’t you bake cookies for a girl?
Alex: Yep. My mom, may she rest in peace, taught me how to bake cookies. I was romancing a girl in my English class. The relationship was fleeting but the hole I fell in for baking is eternal.
Emilie: Oh, that’s so adorable.
NICKY: Emilie is right, that is adorable! What do y’all like most about your jobs?
Emilie: Gah! So many things. I bet Alex here loves that they get to create terrific cakes.
Alex: *chuckles* You’re not wrong. Wedding cakes, the bigger they get, the more monstrous they are. I love them all. But that’s not the thing I like the most.
Emilie: What is it?
Alex: It’s you!
Emilie: *giggles* Aw!
Alex: I’m serious. Getting to work with a person who gets what I want to accomplish, and who is squishy and gives perfect hugs is the best thing about Graham’s.
Emilie: Awwwwwwwww! You’re definitely one of my favorite things about my job, too, Alex! *hugs Alex*
Alex: I bet your number one is Jen, though, right?
Emilie: Oh, no doubt about that. I get to see her a lot, feed her lunch, and go home with her. I’m living the life!
NICKY: Now, Alex, I know you also have a business making wedding cakes, but I’m curious. Do the two of you bake when you’re at home? Is it something you like to do 24/7, or something that you reserve for working hours only?
Alex: Well, a long time ago, I used to spend a lot of time baking, baking, and baking that everything got kind of… chaotic. So, now, I try my best to restrict my baking to the job. I rather not bring the mess home with me. But I do some cooking at home. Though I prefer ordering a pizza more than anything in life.
Emilie: Doing the thing I love for a living means no day of vacation and it’s true if I let it, so I feel the same way about bringing in work home with me. Most of the cooking I do at home is with my roommate, Sam, who’s good at making savory stuff. He makes my favorite pasta!
NICKY: That’s a great mindset! Is there any particular treat that you like to make just to see your partner’s reaction when they see and eat it?
Alex: Oh, this is a good one. Yujin loves kimbap They’re basically cooked rice mixed with vegetables rolled in dried sheets of seaweed.
Emilie: That sounds yummy.
Alex: They are. They’re easy enough to make and the first time I made it for Yujin he, uh, liked it a lot.
Emilie: *giggles* Yes! I love making Jen her favorite things, especially they happen to be red velvet cupcakes. For her graduation party, I’m planning on a three-tier cake of them! It’s kind of our cake since uh, yeah.
Alex: As you can see, Leah, Emilie can’t articulate at the moment.
Emilie: I get tongue-tied about Jen.
NICKY: *laughs* I totally get that! It’s cute how smitten y’all are! *smiles* Are there any fun stories from Graham’s that you can share?
*the two exchange a look*
Emilie: Well, most of the fun stories happen when James is around. For a serious guy he sure gets caught red-handed a lot.
Alex: Em here is being nice. James is the worst when it comes to not getting caught making out.
Emilie: *laughs* Yep. I might have… gotten an eyeful once or twice.
Alex: We’re a bakery full of chaotic queer people.
Emilie: Yep! Oh, oh, the times Selena Clarke shows up were fun!
Alex: The actress, right?
Emilie: *gapes* Don’t tell me you don’t know Selena!
Alex: …I’m aware of her.
Emilie: *gasps* Please pardon my friend here. Selena is a frequent customer, who is the reason Graham’s is quite popular now. She once asked to learn how to make saffron cake, but her schedule was impossible.
Alex: And Em here might have gotten a heart attack working with someone they admire.
Emilie: She is sunshine! She is my icon, basically.
NICKY: I don’t blame them! Selena is amazing, I’m jealous y’all got to meet her! Now, for this one, feel free not to answer, but as we know, you’re both nonbinary. What was it like for you to realize this about yourself?
Emilie: Oh… Uh, thank you for asking, but my realization is associated with a lot of negativity. *looks at Alex* Is it okay for you to take this on?
Alex: *holds Emilie’s hand* That’s okay, love. I’ll answer. Well, I was a late bloomer, in a way. It was when I immersed myself in queer culture online, whether it was talking to people on Twitter or Tumblr. I didn’t know what nonbinary meant at first, but the more I read about it, the more it gave me so many answers I hadn’t known I was looking for.
Emilie: Aw, that’s so nice.
Alex: So much of what I used to unlearn my internalized transphobia is from online and from seeing a transgender therapist.
Emilie: I didn’t know that.
Alex: I don’t talk about it a lot, but I saw her a while back, in my early twenties, and it helped.
Emilie: That’s so great, Alex.
Alex: Thank you. I am considering maybe volunteering with trans youth, but I’m quite busy at the moment with Graham’s.
NICKY: *smiles* That is really great, Alex, thank you for sharing. It sounds a bit similar to my own experiencing with discovering I’m nonbinary. *claps hands* Okay, now how about a few fun questions! Describe your dream date.
Alex: Pizza, edging, and naps.
Emilie: In that order?
Alex: Not necessarily. What about you?
Emilie: Oooh, uh, maybe a walk by the beach, watching a beloved TV show. And yes, definitely naps. And pizza!
NICKY: *laughs* Both sound wonderful! Describe your partner as a coffee drink.
Alex: Yujin is… sweet. He’s an iced caramel latte.
Emilie: That’s perfect. My Jen isn’t a coffee drink! She’s refreshing and gives me loads of energy. She’s orange juice!
NICKY: Those both seem super fitting! Now, lastly, please share a couple artists who feature on your playlists!
Alex: You can always find some Marina and the Diamonds.
Emilie: Ufffff, Marina is… a mood. I like a lot of soft music like Mitski, Troye Sivan, though his new album has some questionable lyrics, Paramore, and oh, oh, Jen has gotten me into Lizzo recently, and, uh, I’m very much in love with her and her music.
NICKY: Thank you so much, again, for dropping by the blog!
Emilie: Oh! This has been so lovely. Thank you so so so so so so—
Alex: Thank you. Oh, look, Em, there’s Jen.
Emilie: Jen?! Byeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
about the author
Em Ali grew up on TV and K-pop like many her generation. She learned a lot about how to be a hermit and not interact with people but she’d love to hear from readers through email! maliwrites2 at gmail dot com or social media.
Title: Graham’s Delicacies
Subtitle: A Collection of Love Stories
Author: Em Ali
Length: 227 pages / 54k words
Publisher: Independent Publishing (Blue Latte House)
Publication date: March 5th, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Interracial Romance
Heat level: E for explicit sex scenes
about the cover
Saccharine: Black, bisexual main character with anxiety. Nonbinary, chubby love interest with anxiety.
Delectable: Gay Mexican-American main character. Gay Black love interest
Ravenous: Arab-American, queer, and nonbinary main character. Gay Korean-American love interest.
possible goodreads shelves
M-M romance (Sam and James)
M-Nonbinary romance (Alex and Yujin)
F-Nonbinary romance (Jen and Emilie)
#ownvoices representation: Fat, bi, Arab, nonbinary, and anxious
Saccharine: Explicit consensual sex—chapter 7
Delectable: Explicit consensual sex scene, mention of a parent’s death—chapter 6
Ravenous: Misgendering of Alex, which is challenged on page—chapter 3; Discussion of parents’ death—chapter 6; Explicit consensual sex scene, including D/s dynamics—chapter 7