Crawling Into Bed With ALYSIA CONSTANTINE
And a Good Book
Important things first, are these sheets silk or cotton?
Cotton, are you kidding me? Things get snagged on silk. Plus, I have dogs and cats.
What are you wearing?
Don’t you mean “who am I wearing?” That came out sounding dirtier than I meant it… I was thinking of the red carpet question, not something dirty.
What are we snacking on in bed while we read tonight?
Well, if by “in bed” you mean somewhere other than bed, then we can have popcorn. But if you actually mean the bed in which I’m supposed to sleep, then fruit-flavored vitamin C drops, because anything else is going to make crumbs in the bed.
If I open this nightstand drawer, what will I find?
A reading light, two bottles of expired pills, 17 defunct pens, and a bunch of stuff that didn’t have anywhere else to go, so I shoved it in this drawer.
Do you roll up in the blankets like a burrito, or kick the covers off during the night?
I have a full bed. Aside from my partner, who sleeps next to me, we have a cat and two dogs, one of which is a Pit Bull. I’m lucky if I get any covers at all. Burrito. I DREAM of being a burrito.
Can I put my cold feet on your calves to warm them up?
Absolutely not. My calves are cold. Have a dog.
What are we reading? Book title: Sweet Author: Alysia Constantine
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.
You might imagine that these keys, the ones Teddy lost, the ones Jules found, are symbolic in this tale, that the transfer of these keys will unlock something between the two men who've held them. You might even imagine that somehow, by some chance of fate, Teddy's mysterious Hope Key opens Jules's apartment. Certainly it should, you might think, open his heart. You must let go of that silly fantasy, for such magical coincidence will not come to pass here. We who are telling you this story are pragmatists and, more importantly, your own experience should tell you that life almost never unfolds so neatly or symmetrically.
This is something in which Jules firmly believed, that life's coincidences were simply that, and that such coincidences contained no hint of design or rightness or serendipity. Yet he kept the keys in his right-hand pocket and, in quiet moments of his day, allowed his thumb to rub against the warm metal. He imagined that he was polishing a soft groove into the key tops, imagined burnishing the jagged bumps of the keys until they no longer knew the locks for which they'd been cut, but only the shape of his thumb and the constant, slight pressure he exerted upon them, so that, he imagined, when he returned them to their owner—if he could part with them—they'd be worn and soft and dully shining, and would fit nothing but his own hand.
Return to me, he found himself singing under his breath as he gently stirred cream into a pot of brown, bubbling sugar at the stove. Morning light was just beginning to sliver in through the tiny slatted windows on the east wall of the kitchen, and Jules could hear the hum gradually pick up: the city's taxis and rushing bikes and quick-clicking heels on the pavement building to a steady music.
He had always been an early riser, so baker's hours had come quite naturally to him. It was this hour—still gray even in summertime, when the city was slowly cranking into motion, when he felt the solitude and stillness of the dawn hours cracking open and falling away—it was this hour that was his favorite.
Come back to me, come back to me, come back, he sang, investing the song with all his belief. He sang the melody clean out of the words until nothing was left but a soft, breathless chant, an invocation. Jules was not entirely sure to whom he was calling—the image in his head shifted between Andy, whose presence it was his ritual to conjure in the lonely hours of the early morning as he worked, and the soft-spoken, dark-eyed, key-losing customer who'd begun to haunt him.
This morning, he might even have been calling himself, for as his body moved on its own memory, he felt his thinking self fade and blow away like dust. He kneaded butter to a soft spread, then folded and rolled and folded and rolled the dough for the croissants. He set the caramel to cool, creamed butter and sugar by hand, lovingly mixed a dark chocolate cake batter and coiled paper sleeves into a pan for the cupcakes. His hands, his arms, his lower back all worked without his guidance, knowing by heart the movements of stir and stretch and stroke. He closed his eyes. He worked tenderly. He moved like a lover.
Meet 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.
Where to find the author:
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/AlysiaConstantine
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: C.B. Messer
Tour Dates & Stops:
Rafflecopter Prize: $25 Interlude Press gift card to one winner, e-copies of ‘Sweet’ to five additional winners