“Greener Pastures is now a true live book, just as the whispers said it would be,” I wrote here in April of 2016, when the unreality of having my very own book in the world still brought a swell of emotion. It is still a true live book as you read this, and that swell of emotion still sneaks up on me from time to time. This collection of 11 stories has been read and loved by far more people than I ever dreamed, along with being nominated for two major awards–the IAFA’s Crawford Award and the Shirley Jackson Award. Thank you to every single reader who has explored these pastures with me, and if you’re here out of curiosity about the book, thank you, too.
Paperback and Kindle editions are both available on Amazon, or you can see all purchasing options on the publisher’s store. What are these greener pastures, you ask, and should you trust such a nice, innocent phrase? Perhaps the nice spread of press reviews will help convince you to step into them. Just take your shoes off first, so you can feel the grass on your feet as well as the vital things that live in the soil.
The book’s cover art was hand-drawn and inked by the incredibly talented illustrator Michael Bukowski. Many of my stories involve trees in some way, and I noticed that the stories I was assembling for the collection featured trees to a greater degree than my usual ratio. Sometimes the trees stand in the background as a presence. Sometimes they take center stage. But I knew that Bukowski would draw me some beautiful, elegant, creepy trees. And he most certainly did, with breathtaking detail and care. Through much idea-swapping and brainstorming, the two of us pulled the essence of these 11 stories into a book cover I still can hardly believe will grace my fiction. Here is the full wraparound cover. Readers of the book will recognize four of the stories referenced in the artwork.
And, of course, here is the table of contents:
“Of Insects, Angels, and People Too Tired to Go On” (introduction by Simon Strantzas)
“Beside Me Singing in the Wilderness”
“A Discreet Music”
“The Devil Under the Maison Blue”
“October Film Haunt: Under the House” (original to the collection)
“Deducted From Your Share in Paradise” (original to the collection)
“A Thousand Hundred Years” (original to the collection)
Finally, I’ll share a few thoughts from authors who were kind enough to read Greener Pastures in advance. I asked some of my very favorite and most respected writers, and that they even read the stories at all is humbling and amazing.
“With Greener Pastures, Michael Wehunt creates visions of creeping dread and transfiguration that lift a trope-heavy genre into the realm of existential poetry. There are things in here I’ve never seen before, some of which I devoutly hope to never see again. The stories thus collected trace a journey through the heartland of an America that’s unfamiliar yet primordially recognizable, stripped down to its red-soaked roots and bones–the squirming heartstrings of a nation founded by heretics and outlaws, in all its irreligious ecstasy. Occasional spasms of regret and terror aside, you’d kick yourself for not coming along.”
—Gemma Files, award-winning author of Experimental Film and the Hexslinger trilogy
“Michael Wehunt’s Greener Pastures is a wonderful collection of quietly creepy tales that are mature and smart enough to let their effects linger. An impressive debut. Just stay away from that house where your favorite weird horror movie was filmed, okay?”
—Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil’s Rock
“Weird, emotionally complex, Kafkaesque, dread-filled: I might apply all these terms and more to Michael Wehunt’s collection Greener Pastures. It’s one of the finest debuts I’ve read in years. Wehunt understands that true strangeness comes out of the personal, and that true horror is what happens during the complex interactions between real human beings. Greener Pastures is outstanding work.”
—Steve Rasnic Tem, award-winning author of Deadfall Hotel, Blood Kin, and Ubo
“Michael Wehunt’s stories are a landscape of the strange and uncanny that his characters navigate with compasses fashioned from loss, sorrow, and solitude. Often, the true horror is not what they find at the end of the journey, but what they discover within themselves along the way. Unsettling, emotionally resonant, and beautifully written, Greener Pastures is an impressive debut.”
—Damien Angelica Walters, author of Sing Me Your Scars and Paper Tigers
“Most fiction can be categorized by its preoccupation with either form or content. Devotees of both camps claim superiority. Yet the best fiction—that which moves and challenges in equal measure—pushes the limits of form while fearlessly plumbing the depths of experience and consciousness. Michael Wehunt is tackling enormous, timeless questions about human life—our impulse toward conflict, our lust for immortality, our endless need for connection and communication—and simultaneously exploring the boundaries of written expression. His experiments with structure and language will attract notice but it’s the unsettling yet recognizable desires driving his characters that will resonate and linger in memory. This delightful debut collection represents the early days of what will no doubt be a remarkable career.”
—S.P. Miskowski, author of the Skillute Cycle series
“Occasionally the Horror genre sees authors who simply emerge out of the aethyr fully formed, their vision striking and their voice unique. Michael Wehunt is one such specimen. His fiction is a delicate wedding of Raymond Carver-style humanism and the authentically nightmarish. Greener Pastures is a book that stirred in me feelings of awe, terror, and envy. Wehunt is an astonishing talent.”
—Richard Gavin, author of Sylvan Dread
“Michael Wehunt understands that terror and grief are necessarily conjoined—and in these stories, he draws them nearer still, employing deft skills that recall those of Peter Straub, Robert Aickman and Jorge Luis Borges. Watch out for this one: Wehunt will break your heart and chill your bones.”
—David Nickle, author of Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism
“Moving through landscapes rendered with a poet’s precision, the characters in Michael Wehunt’s compelling stories confront deep mysteries of the self and the world. In the process of plumbing the unremembered and the unknown, Wehunt’s characters undergo transformations catastrophic and sublime, occasioned and spurred by their growing contact with the hidden portions of themselves and their surroundings. Wehunt skillfully invokes the history of horror fiction and film even as he is at work crafting the genre’s future, in one of the more remarkable debuts in recent memory.”
—John Langan, author of Sefira and Other Betrayals
“A deft and subtle collection of terrors, full of precise observations and chiseled language, and shot through with genuine dread. Michael Wehunt’s Greener Pastures strikes me as how it must feel to be watching a sunset and suddenly realize you’re being bitten all over by something you can’t see, softly at first, and then harder and harder as whatever it is realizes you can’t move. These tales have a remarkable, almost pastoral sense of calm at moments, which lulls the reader and makes their disturbances all the more palpable.”
—Brian Evenson, author of A Collapse of Horses and Last Days
“The stories in Michael Wehunt’s collection, Greener Pastures, move from quietly tender to coldly vicious effortlessly, like the gentle breeze of a fall before hitting the jagged rocks below. These stories are united by the author’s beautiful mastery of evocative language and darkly elegant imagery. Whether bathing in blood falls, listening to ghosts reveal terrible secrets hidden in the insides of jazz, to the monstrous footprints of a beast carrying inconsolable sorrow, Greener Pastures is a virtuoso performance of everything there is to love in dark fiction.”
—Bracken MacLeod, author of Mountain Home and Stranded
“As though sprung from the forehead of Zeus, Michael Wehunt has come abruptly onto the scene with the seasoned maturity of a veteran. His stories are lighted way-stations in the dark and unnavigable territory between the beautiful and the horrific. If he’s this good now, I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us in the future.”
—Nathan Ballingrud, author of North American Lake Monsters
Thanks for reading! And spoiler alert: Check your definition of greener at the door.
(You can check out some of the promotional fun I’ve had here.)