Michael J. Brien
Oyster River Pages: What’s the most recent work that surprised you?
Michael J. Brien: The story “I am a Walking Star Monster” that Oyster River Pages accepted and published was a surprise to me every step of the way—the main character’s spunk, intelligence and his autism brought me to places that I didn’t know, wouldn’t have thought of putting in one story. Every step, every word, every turn he took was a surprise.
ORP: If you could tell your younger creative self anything, what would it be?
MB: Stay the course, be patient and no, you won’t be famous by the time you are thirty. But stay passionate for the word and the story. Get it out there.
ORP: When did you first learn that language had power? What was that experience like for you?
MB: I was sixteen and got into a car accident with two of my best friends. One of them died and the other was seriously injured. I broke my glasses. I went home that night and wrote a eulogy of sorts at the kitchen table trying to decipher how a sudden rearing up of a car that ran a stop sign could change my world. My mother got out of bed to see why I was up, and I showed her what I wrote. She cried. The writing was cathartic for me and at the same time the power of my emotions in the words was able to get across to my mother.
ORP: Does having a work published alter the way you think about it? Does it alter the way you think about yourself?
MB: Publishing is the next best thing after the initial inspiration and writing of a piece. So, yes, it thrills me when I conceive it, and it thrills me again when I see it in print. I’m not sure altar is the right word, but it bolsters my confidence to know that someone else other than me liked the piece enough to publish it. Yes, it makes me feel good.
ORP: What are you currently working on?
MB: I have several pieces of flash fiction and short stories I’m working on, and then a song or two or poem will weasel its way into the mix and we’ll go out and play together. One always raises its head and says choose me!
Michael J. Brien, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, teaches creative writing fiction and non-fiction workshops at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). He is past editor of Amoskeag, SNHU’s literary magazine, and has published nearly 100 stories in small literary magazines and e-zines since 1975. His first publication was “Mushrooms,” a foray into magic realism. Michael is a long-time member of New Hampshire’s Writers’ Project. He also writes and performs his own compositions on guitar and piano; this year he celebrates 50 years as songwriter/singer/guitarist. Oyster River Pages is proud to publish his story, “I am a Walking Star Monster,” in this issue.