Michael Wehunt’s short fiction has appeared in Cemetery Dance, Electric Literature, The Dark, Year’s Best Weird Fiction, and The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, among others. His debut fiction collection, Greener Pastures, was published in 2016. He lives in Atlanta with his partner and their pup. It is also said that he lives in the woods and online at www.michaelwehunt.com.
1. What inspired your story in Shadows & Tall Trees 7?
Poets. Not so much poetry itself as the people who write it, the way they see the world. How they see aging, time, and love interests me because the way they tell us about these things is so profound. But I imagine poets see the world both very differently and exactly the same as anyone else does, with the same flares and oversights. I’d been in a phase of reading Mary Oliver, James Dickey, and Louise Glück, each of whom can be very earthy poets in their own unique ways. So an earthiness lent itself to me, and the story came to me through Corrdry Smith.
2. Can you recall the first story you ever read that made you think “I want to be a writer!”
Like countless others, as a kid I’d think “I want to be a writer!” when reading Stephen King. But I don’t count that. It was when I read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, when I was eighteen or nineteen, that I truly realized not just what fiction could do but the power of the words and the sentences and how their lungs were built. I wanted to do that. It would be almost as long again before I actually started writing fiction, but that novel has never left me for a single day.
3. What scares you?
Losing the people I love and their place in the fabric of myself. I’ve been preemptively mourning them in my work for a while now, I think, and I hope that when the time comes, and the heart begins to have holes punched into it, it will have laid at least a thin foundation of coping. For now, I enjoy my time with them. Also, wasps and hornets, although not nearly as much terror is stirred in me as when I was younger.
4. You can take five books to a desert island: which ones do you choose?
Flannery O’Connor – The Complete Stories
Julian Barnes – The Sense of an Ending
Cormac McCarthy – The Road
David Mitchell – Cloud Atlas
Louise Glück – Poems 1962-2012 (Of all the poets I love, this book is the thickest and would eat up the most hours stranded on that island.)
5. What’s next for you?
I’m writing my first novel and have recently reached the point where I can claim to be “deep into it.” Past the point of no return, certainly, at least to my mind. I’m hoping to finish it sometime in early summer, then I’ll spend the rest of the year tweaking it and seeing what its fate might be, along with writing a handful of new stories for my eventual second collection.