Smiling Exercises, and other stories: A collection of flash fiction by Dan Malakin

About the Book:

Smiling Exercises, and other stories: A collection of flash fiction

An apocalypse of fish.

The politics of holding open an office door.

A man wakes to find a secret vagina in his armpit.

All this and more in SMILING EXERCISES, AND OTHER STORIES!

Each story is 1000 words or less, perfect to start the day/end the day/enjoy on the toilet/put off that suicide for another three minutes.

This collection includes two stories shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, as well as others first published by Litro, decomP, Word Riot, Mad Swirl, Cricket Online Review, Everyday Fiction, Metazen, Space Squid, nthposition and many more great magazines!

My Thoughts:

This is perhaps one among three or maybe four books that I have read that is in this style of writing. I was swept away by the concept of flash fiction and the stories. They are indeed short and to the point. The entire plot is put out there in 1000 words or less and it is simply amazing. It’s quite difficult to write stories this short and convey the entire message.

Many of the stories are thought provoking, some are horrifying and some will just bring a smile to the face. The stories will bring a myriad of emotions into the mind of the reader. This book is a quick read, but it can also be read slowly, one story a day or however is convenient. The author has a brilliant way of writing and sometimes the reader will need to pause and think about what they have read.

The author has mastered the art of crafting and delivering these thought provoking, everyday events turned into short stories which are a delight to read. There are many a story that I am sure the reader will be able to relate to. This is definitely worth picking up!

In Conversation with Dan Malakin

We have had the pleasure of talking to Dan Malakin about his writing and his life. Read on to know what he had to say:

  1. Tell us a little about yourself.
    Hi Namrata, thanks for having me on your website. My name’s Dan
    Malakin, as you know, and I’m a writer living in London with my wife,
    daughter and Boddington the dog. I’m also one of the fiction editors
    at The Forge literary magazine.

2.       What prompted you to start writing?

I guess I’ve always been drawn to writing. Even as a kid I’d scribble
stories down and hand them up to my confused mum, who wouldn’t be able
to read my illegible handwriting. In my teens I wrote lots of terrible
poems, and ran this photocopied magazine called Fluffy Dice, which had
a readership of about ten people, most of whom probably never opened
the first page. It didn’t matter; I enjoyed the process.

3.       How did the book “SMILING EXERCISES, AND OTHER STORIES” happen?

I’m fortunate to have been pretty widely published – over a hundred
stories and counting. I’ve also got a little soft spot for flash
fiction; both of my Bridport prize shortlists were in the flash
fiction category. So when putting together a collection, that seemed
to obvious way to go.

4.       Where did the ideas for each story come from?

All the stories in the collection originated from prompts, and all
were written – the first draft anyway – in under an hour. I find
putting myself under that kind of pressure helps me to come up with
something original.

5.       How much does your day to day life inspire you?

Quite a lot in fact. I’m a new father, so my daughter has started
appearing in my stories (under various guises), plus my own parents
are getting old – and that has started to appear in new stuff.
Everything’s bubbling away inside. I guess writing is a way for me to
work through some of it.

6.       What do you do when you aren’t writing?

Thinking about writing. Really, I’m a bit obsessed. My wife tells me I
get this glazed look when I’m thinking about a story I’m working on.
She worries that I’m having a stroke.

7.       If you had to write a short story, in one paragraph now, what
would it be about?

It would probably be a fairly meta story about a writer writing about
writing. Kind of like a funhouse of mirrors, but with words, and me
screaming in the middle.

8.       How much time do you spend to write each short story?

That depends. For flashes, an hour for the first draft, then however
long it takes for subsequent drafts. A long story, say 5k words, I’ll
try and get the first draft down in two days (again, keeping myself
under pressure). The final draft will probably take a couple of
months. I’ve just finished the final draft of a novel though – and
I’ve been working on that for 2 years!

9.       If you had to pick a career that was not writing, what would
you choose and why?

I would love to work with dogs. They’re such wonderful affectionate
creatures. So much better than humans in so many ways.

10.   Finally, what message do you want to share with us readers?

Always read what you want to read, not what you think you should.
That, I believe, is the biggest reason why people don’t read more.
There’s such a range of books out there – especially now that people
can self-publish what they themselves would want to read – so don’t
settle for what others tell you.

Check out Dan’s website: www.danmalakin.com
Twitter handle: @danmalakin