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Jay Mandal

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.

Short story collections

A Different Kind of Love (BeWrite Books, 2002) 

Reviewed by Mark Brown

The Loss of Innocence (BeWrite Books, 2003) 

Slubberdegullion (BeWrite Books, 2001) 

Interview with Jay Mandal

The Short Review: 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 A Different 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 work.

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 they were.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

JM:  Considerably 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?

JM: I probably write for myself, but Iím aware that my stories and novels appeal to gay males and straight females. There is often an underlying gentle humour.

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
collection, 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?

JM: Great! 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 my books.

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.