SmokeLong Quarterly

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Smoking With Michael Patrick Brady

Interview by Matt Norman (Read the Story) September 23, 2014

Michael Patrick Brady

art by Sam Myers

Where did the idea for this story come from?

Someone once told me about a time when they’d narrowly missed getting into a serious car accident. They joked that it was such a close call that they couldn’t entirely believe that they’d escaped—that maybe they had crashed and died and that everything since was some sort of dream. On top of that, my own mother’s macabre sense of humor greatly influenced the tone of the story.

So, you had this compelling idea for a story. What made it feel like something you wanted to tell in 318 words?

A lot of the ideas that I’ve been pursuing recently have turned into sprawling, seven-to-ten thousand word stories. I wanted to challenge myself to do something tighter and more economical. I briefly considered going further, but the story just felt done to me. And I didn’t want to spoil that feeling.

When the narrator meets his mother in the hallway and asks what she’s doing, she giggles and says “haunting you,” and then she runs away. I found this moment to be surprisingly moving, and it made me like her very much. But it also points to the idea that she’s in on the joke. How aware is she of what she’s doing?

She’s just enjoying the simple pleasures of being a ghost.

She’s liberated by her “death.” Do you believe the trauma counselor? Will this run its course, or is she forever changed?

I think it’s inevitable that the rush we feel when extraordinary things happen eventually subsides. That’s why the narrator tries to preserve things as they are for just a little longer at the end of the story. But that doesn’t mean we don’t take a little something back with us when we return to reality.

What are you working on now?

I’ve completed a rough first draft of a (longer) short story about a group of squatters who take refuge in a Gilded Age mansion following a natural disaster. I’m hoping to take what I’ve learned from “Here, Hereafter” and tighten it up a bit.

About the Author

Michael Patrick Brady is a writer from Boston. His work has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Boston Phoenix, and Forbes.com.

About the Interviewer

About the Artist

Sam Myers grew up in Florida, was born in Virginia, and she’s currently living in the U.S. of A. Sam is an eccentric packrat attempting to save the world by recycling, reducing, and reusing. She likes to use alternative canvasses, recycled items, and massive amounts of imagination. Her works range from jewelry, painting, clothing, and so forth. Whatever her mind can create!

This interview appeared in Issue Forty-Five of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Five

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The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction

Deadline November 15!

The SmokeLong Quarterly Award for Flash Fiction (The Smokey) is a biennial competition that celebrates and compensates excellence in flash. The grand prize winner of The Smokey is automatically nominated for The Best Small Fictions, The Pushcart, Best of the Net, and any other prize we deem appropriate. In addition to all this love, we will also pay the grand prize winner $2500. Second place: $1000. Third place $500. Finalists: $100. All finalists and placers will be published in the special competition issue in December 2022.