Author Q & A
Please join us in welcoming Alysia Constantine the author of Sweet who has popped in for a quick Q & A.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Those ambitions have changed so dramatically from when I was younger. After college, I wanted to be a poet. I thought I would publish books of poetry, do readings, maybe get a job teaching poetry workshops at a college. I wound up doing those things and hating them. I had some early success, and got very self conscious, and freaked myself out of writing and into terrible writer’s block. (I do better when nobody notices me, although that seems anathema to the point of being a writer.) I fell out of poetry and into other things along the way. It’s been 25 years, and now it’s something that makes me happy to do. As long as writing continues to make me happy, I’d like to keep doing it. I write under a pseudonym, and that’s part of how I keep it a pleasurable, happy thing to do.
How many published books do you have?
Sweet is my first book.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
I wish I could do that, but I’m not that disciplined. I’ve tried. You know, you can’t leave a bowl of food down to last for a few days for a dog—a dog will eat that entire bowl in one go, and then be hungry for the next several days. A cat will pace itself, and can make that big bowl of food last for several days. I’m more like the dog. I’m terrible at pacing myself, planning ahead, being regular. I don’t think I could endure being a prisoner. My life is also very irregular due to my job and my health. I don’t wake up or go to bed at the same time every day, I don’t have the same amount of energy every day, and every day has a different schedule. So I couldn’t be regular about it even if I wanted to. Which I don’t anyway. I like my irregular, undisciplined life.
Sweet by Alysia Constantine
Publisher ~ Interlude Press
Published ~ 4th February 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Not every love story is a romance novel.
For Jules Burns, a lonely baker, it is the memory of his deceased husband, Andy. For Teddy Flores, a numbed-to-the-world accountant who accidentally stumbles into his bakery, it is a voyage of discovery into his deep connections to pleasure, to the world, and to his own heart.
Alysia Constantine’s Sweet is also the story of how we tell stories—of what we expect and need from a love story. The narrator is on to you, Reader, and wants to give you a love story that doesn’t always fit the bill. There are ghosts to exorcise, and jobs and money to worry about. Sweet is a love story, but it also reminds us that love is never quite what we expect, nor quite as blissfully easy as we hope.
"Speakerphone. Put me on speaker so you can use your hands. You're going to need both hands, and I won't be held responsible for you mucking up your phone. Speaker."
Teddy set his phone on the counter and switched to the speaker, then stood waiting.
"Hello?" Jules said. "Is this thing on?"
"Sorry," Teddy said. "I'm still here."
"It sounded like you'd suddenly disappeared. I was starting to believe in the rapture," Jules said, and Teddy heard, again, the nervous chuckle.
Their conversation was awkward and full of strange pauses in which there was nothing right to say, and they focused mostly on how awkward and strange it was until Jules told Teddy to dump the almond paste on the counter and start to knead in the sugar.
"I'm doing it, too, along with you," Jules said.
"I'm not sure whether that makes it more or less weird," Teddy admitted, dusting everything in front of him with sugar.
"It's just like giving a back rub," Jules told him. "Roll gently into the dough with the heel of your hand, lean in with your upper body. Think loving things. Add a little sugar each time—watch for when it's ready for more. Not too much at once."
Several moments passed when all that held their connection was a string of huffed and effortful breaths and the soft thump of dough. Teddy felt Jules pressing and leaning forward into his work, felt the small sweat and ache that had begun to announce itself in Jules's shoulders, felt it when he held his breath as he pushed and then exhaled in a rush as he flipped the dough, felt it all as surely as if Jules's body were there next to him, as if he might reach to the side and, without glancing over, brush the sugar from Teddy’s forearm, a gesture which might have been, if real, if the result of many long hours spent in the kitchen together, sweet and familiar and unthinking.
"My grandmother and I used to make this," Jules breathed after a long silence, "when I was little. Mine would always become flowers. She would always make hers into people."
Teddy understood that he needn't reply, that Jules was speaking to him, yes, but speaking more into the empty space in which he stood as a witness, talking a story into the evening around him, and he, Teddy, was lucky to be near, to listen in as the story spun itself out of Jules and into the open, open quiet.
When the dough was finished and Jules had interrupted himself to say, "There, mine's pretty done. I bet yours is done by now, too," Teddy nodded in agreement—and even though he knew Jules couldn't see him, he was sure Jules would sense him nodding through some miniscule change in his breathing or the invisible tension between them slackening just the slightest bit. And he did seem to know, because Jules paused and made a satisfied noise that sounded as if all the spring-coiled readiness had slid from his body. "This taste," Jules sighed, "is like Proust's madeleine."
They spent an hour playing with the dough and molding it into shapes they wouldn't reveal to each other. Teddy felt childish and happy and inept and far too adult all at once as he listened to the rhythmic way Jules breathed and spoke, the way his voice moved in and out of silence, like the advance and retreat of shallow waves that left in their wake little broken treasures on the shore.
Only his fingers moved, fumbling and busy and blind as he listened, his whole self waiting for Jules to tell him the next thing, whatever it might be.
Connect with the Author
Alysia Constantine lives in Brooklyn with her wife, their two dogs, and a cat. When she is not writing, she is a professor at an art college. Before that, she was a baker and cook for a caterer, and before that, she was a poet.
Sweet is her first novel.
Rafflecopter Prize: $25 Interlude Press gift card to one winner, e-copies of ‘Sweet’ to five additional winners