It’s June and that means it’s time for another year of Pride Month spotlights! I’m so excited to spotlight Café con Lychee by Emery Lee and share the interview with the author!
Welcome Emery! Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Can you start off by introducing yourself?
Hi! I’m Emery Lee, author of YA romcoms Meet Cute Diary and Café Con Lychee. I’m a huge boba tea enthusiast, an avid anime fan, and a professional snuggler of dogs.
How would you describe Café con Lychee in one sentence?
Café Con Lychee is the story of two sons of enemy businesses overcoming their animosity toward each other in order to save their parents’ shops from going out of business while accidentally falling in love in the process.
Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of Café con Lychee?
Theo Mori is this kind of angry, jock character who’s openly proud about who he is but carries a lot of repressed feelings about not feeling like he can live up to his parents’ expectations. Gabi Moreno is very much the opposite—awkward and shy, great at school, but terrible at sports, which his parents really want him to succeed at, and unfortunately very closeted. Ultimately both boys find their weaknesses are the other’s strengths and their realities are the other’s desires.
What representation will readers find in Café con Lychee?
Theo is a gay, Chinese and Japanese American boy with ADHD. Gabi’s gay and Puerto Rican with anxiety.
Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?
I’m very big on letting the characters lead me where they want to go. In a book like Café Con Lychee where hitting the right plot points was really important, I started off with a little more of an idea of some key things I knew needed to happen and how the characters would get there, but after that, I let them do what just feels natural for them.
Do you have a favorite scene, moment, or quote from the book?
I actually have three! The scene where Gabi comes out to Theo, the scene where Theo teaches Gabi how to play soccer, and the scene where the book gets its name. There’s one line that I LOVE from the book, but it’s a spoiler so I won’t mention it here.
What is something readers will find in Café con Lychee that they may not realize based on the synopsis?
So far, I think a few people have read the romcom part but missed the “stuck in the closet” part and didn’t realize there would be homophobia and struggles with coming out in the book, so that’s something I think people should definitely be aware of. Also, while Theo’s side of the story is a lot more casually queer, he does have some issues with his family—namely his uncle and his grandmother—where the story touches on some unhealthy family dynamics and expectations.
What’s something you hope readers will take away from Café con Lychee?
A boba craving mostly LOL. And maybe an understanding that being queer and a person of color are not inherently at odds, and queerness is something we can bask in a celebrate just like we do our own cultures.
What are three books you would recommend if someone enjoyed Café con Lychee?
Bad At Love by Gabriela Martins, The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters, and Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa.
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
I have a short story in the All Signs Point to Yes anthology all about romance short stories for every star sign, and that comes out May 31st of this year. I also have a short story in the Transmogrify trans fantasy anthology that comes out next summer!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Sometimes bitter rivalries can brew something sweet
Theo Mori wants to escape. Leaving Vermont for college means getting away from working at his parents’ Asian American café and dealing with their archrivals’ hopeless son Gabi who’s lost the soccer team more games than Theo can count.
Gabi Moreno is miserably stuck in the closet. Forced to play soccer to hide his love for dance and iced out by Theo, the only openly gay guy at school, Gabi’s only reprieve is his parents’ Puerto Rican bakery and his plans to take over after graduation.
But the town’s new fusion café changes everything. Between the Mori’s struggling shop and the Moreno’s plan to sell their bakery in the face of the competition, both boys find their dreams in jeopardy. Then Theo has an idea—sell photo-worthy food covertly at school to offset their losses. When he sprains his wrist and Gabi gets roped in to help, they realize they need to work together to save their parents’ shops but will the new feelings rising between them be enough to send their future plans up in smoke?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emery Lee is an author and artist whose love for chaotic and morally gray characters started at a young age. After graduating with a degree in creative writing, e’s gone on to author novels, short stories, and webcomics across a variety of genres and demographics, though YA fiction has always held a special place in eir heart. Drawing inspiration from Eastern media, pop punk music, and personal life experience, eir work seeks to explore the intersections of life and identity in fun, heartfelt, and inventive ways. In eir downtime, you’ll most likely find em marathoning anime or snuggling cute dogs.