Jay Mandal is a
busy writer from
Southern England. He has written three novels and numerous short
stories, which have featured in popular gay publications, in his
collections Slubberdegullion, The Loss of Innocence, Precipice and in
the forthcoming Best Gay Romance 2009 anthology.
A Different Kind of Love (BeWrite Books,
The Loss of Innocence (BeWrite Books,
Slubberdegullion (BeWrite Books,
with Jay Mandal
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Jay Mandal: Thatís
difficult to say. I started writing short stories in 1992 after a
holiday in America (I spent a couple of days in San Francisco which Iíd
wanted to see because of Tales
of the City by Armistead Maupin), and the first edition of
Kind of Love was published in 2002. The second edition
came out on 21st October 2008. Some of the stories Iíd written ended up
in other collections, though, in order to provide a good balance of
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
JM: Not really, although
I suppose all writers hope for success! I might have hoped that
individual stories would be published in a magazine, but Iíd had little
success with a novel I had written, and I was told at some stage that
collections/short stories "donít sell". The novel was The Dandelion Clock which
has sold over 1,500 copies so far.
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
JM: I chose ones I
liked, with a mix of long and short, and humorous and serious. The
collections didnít have individual themes. The stories were mostly gay
romance. One editor made suggestions about the storylines Ė sometimes I
did rewrites Ė but other editors tended to accept them pretty much as
TSR: What does the word "story"
mean to you?
shorter than a novel, possibly including flash fiction. The latter has
various definitions, but my flash fiction pieces are 200 words or
thereabouts. Then the tricky bit: something to do with plot and theme,
which I have trouble getting to grips with. I often just write and hope
it turns out all right and the story reaches a conclusion. Although I
have written both novels and short stories, I seem to have the ability
to get to grips with emotions and themes in a relatively short amount
of time, so the short story suits my style of writing. It can be a
challenge, of course, to use fewer words to convey the plot. Iíve also
been able to play with devices such as a whole story with only a few
words of narrative. And Iíve written a collection of 100 flash fiction
pieces which use even fewer words to convey the plot.
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
probably write for myself, but Iím aware that my stories and novels
appeal to gay males and straight females. There is often an underlying
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
anything at all?
JM:I think Iíd ask
if the reader enjoyed the stories and, if so, why. I hope my stories
are just a bit different. And were readers surprised they werenít all
about sex and shopping, especially my novel All About Sex?
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your books?
Especially, if theyíre being enjoyed and I know from reviews that most
people do enjoy them. In fact, both DKOL and The Dandelion Clock
came out over five years ago and have been selling well enough for
second editions to be published. I have now sold over 2,500 copies of
TSR: What are
you working on now?
JM: I suffer from
depression, so my writing Ė and reading Ė often grinds to a halt. But
Iím part way through a novel, several short stories, and some flash
fiction. Iíve also been working on the second edition of DKOL, which came
out on 21st October 2008; and proofing my contribution to Best Gay Romance 2009.
A piece of flash fiction was read out in at the July meeting of Tales of the DeCongested
at Foyleís bookshop in London.
TSR: What are
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
JM: Apart from mine, you mean! Fishboys of Vernazza by John Sam Jones; Good Clean Fun by Michael Arditti; and Alex Baldwin Doesnít Love Me by Michael Thomas Ford. Iíve also read the anthology Best Gay Love Stories 2005, and recently heard the marvellous news that my short story, Chiaroscuro, will be included in Best Gay Romance 2009. Iím looking forward to reading the work by the other writers.