I have loved Em Ali’s writing ever since Soft on Soft came out. And, let’s not lie, we could all probably learn a little bit about promotion from Em. They are pretty much a wizard at it.
But onto the guest blog post that you are all here for!
Writing Graham’s Delicacies was so much fun because I didn’t plan any of it. This might sound risky as heck for a writer who’s starting up, but I cannot lie to you. I wrote “Saccharine” out of pure need to write smut. Yes, I did it for myself. I wanted to see how I’d write a sexy scene between two very much in love persons. I managed it with Emilie and Jen, and it was so much fun that I couldn’t help myself from writing James and Sam’s story. Those of you who read Graham’s Delicacies might notice that “Delectable” is full of hilarity. I wrote James as this grumpy uptight dude, who is crushing so hard that he can’t help himself from staring at Sam and exposing himself to everyone who could feel the intensity of his feelings. It was only a matter of time before I wrote about Alex’s story. With Alex, I wanted it to be a different kind of story. Yujin wasn’t another worker at Graham’s, and while they had known one another prior to the beginning of the story (that hot as f*ck scene in the beginning? IT WAS SO MUCH FUN TO WRITE), they hit a bump in the road to their HEA.
Slowly, what began as a simple fun over the break I had in December turned into a thirty something thousand words monster that I refused to leave unfinished. I pulled so many words from my chest that my wrist refused to work for a day. I panicked. I still had to revise and give Emilie and Jen more of that good fluff that I am so good at writing (or so I like to think!) Thankfully, my wrist checked into work the next day and I jumped back, typing away at Emilie’s story and making my precious baker suffer. It’s okay, they got to have an awesome girlfriend like Jen, so they forgive me.
Back to the topic on hand: interlinking stories are, in a word, fun. It’s fun to figure out how each couple’s dynamic will contribute to the next couple’s plot. I especially liked making Jen and Emilie the established couple in “Saccharine”, who everyone kind of recognized as The Couple. Their story is set in the past and current time, setting up the dynamic between those working in Graham’s and setting up for why Alex loves the shop so much.
“Delectable” also changed up the dynamic in the shop. Sam’s arc, albeit tiny, allowed me to introduce a new face to the cast; which you’ll find out when you read the book! I won’t spoil you but he’s so precious and I’d die protecting him. (Alex might do the same.) Moreover, we got to see James open up and get friendlier with the others in Graham’s. I’m sure the dude appreciated the shenanigans because now he’s got besties!
“Ravenous” is set in a time after the shop gained popularity (thanks a lot, Selena Clarke*) and it put it on the map for people outside the shop like Yujin. I loved writing Yujin’s job; he’s a foodie who is so generous with his time to the level where he’d treat his fans to desserts on a month long tour! Imagine an icon like him taking you out for cake? I’d faint. Then there’s Alex, who’s protective and so guarded. By “Ravenous”, I was head over heels for this cast and I wanted to give them all of my money.
I don’t know if this is considered a short story collection, or simply a novel, but I loved every second of writing Graham’s Delicacies. If you’re planning on writing short stories that interlink like I did, my only advice is to GO WILD WITH THE TROPES. Your cast will become a found family, not only to them, but to you, too!
Another advice is to keep significant details for the timeline separated. I loved revising and reworking scenes for ultimate cuteness levels, but I also cursed myself for not keeping a neat outline! So, be more like James. Organization is key!
*Those of you who didn’t read Soft on Soft: Selena Clarke is an actress/model who hyped the shop on her social media and hence why the place got chaotic.
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.