The Booktopia Book Guru asks
author of Bull Mountain
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I’m a military brat, so although I was born in Ft. Dix New Jersey, I spent most of my childhood traveling around the country, and the world, until my father finally settled us in East Georgia when I was Twelve. That’s where I consider my home. I went to Georgia Southern University to study journalism, but decided I’d take a year off and move to Nashville, Tennessee to try my hand at writing songs and ending up never going back. I traveled most of my adult life as a musician. I suppose being a tumbleweed was in my blood.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At twelve I’m pretty sure all I wanted to be was Laura Self’s boyfriend. Nothing else really mattered at the time. At eighteen I wanted to be Bruce Springsteen and change the world, as I was no doubt born to do, and at thirty I wanted to be Cormac McCarthy, so I could write something as majestic as Blood Meridan. I’m also happy to say, that at Forty-three, I’m pretty glad to be me.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
That I was no doubt born to be Bruce Springsteen and change the world.
4. What were three works of art – book, painting, piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
Give Us A Kiss by Daniel Woodrell had a lasting profound effect on who I wanted to be as a writer. That book woke something in me I didn’t know I had, and put me down the path I’m on now. Music is also one of the great loves of my life, and without Waylon Jennings’s Honkytonk Heroes record, or Johnny Cash’s American Recordings, or Springsteen’s The River, I might be an altogether different person, much less a different artist.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I’ve done a little of everything before landing here. My father was a jack of all trades that way, and it was passed down to me. When I was much younger I wanted to write and draw sequenal art for comic books, I worked hard at it, and got pretty good, and than I picked up a guitar, and took that route. It wasn’t until I settled back down in Georgia after the birth of my oldest daughter did I finally return to writing as an outlet to create. I think all artists, no matter what the medium, need to produce something–anything, or that part of them starves to death and leaves the rest of them misreble. I couldn’t allow that to happen to me, and that led to this novel.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
It’s a story about the internal and external struggles surrounding The Burroughs family in North Georgia. An imfamous clan known for bootlegging, running guns, drugs, the works. Clayton, the youngest son of three generations of outlaws decides to buck his heritage and take a different path by becoming a Sheriff in a small neighboring valley town, but as anyone around here can tell you, Family doesn’t work that way. Escaping who you were born to be isn’t as easy as it seems, and things can go south pretty quickly.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
A smile. I write stories with no other intent than to entertain. I hope people read this book, enjoy it, and then loan it to a buddy. I love to talk about the books I’m passionate about and I hope I can inspire folks to do a little of that.
That’s a loaded question. I love Cormac McCarthy, and Daniel Woodrell, C.J. Box, and John Connolly for their skill on the page and for constantly producing books that spin my head around, but I also love guys like Tom Franklin, and Wiley Cash, not only for their incredible writing and imaginations ( They are two of the best in the business) but because of the accessibility they give their readers. Tom Franklin sent me a email once about his love of comic books after seeing a comment I made about Marvel on Facebook. Mr. Cash took the time to answer a note I sent to him about how much I enjoyed This Dark Road To Mercy, and at the time, I had no book coming out. I was just a fan. That kind of thing means the world.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
I have two goals at this juncture in my life.
1. To live long enough to see my kids become happy adults.
2. To provide the means for that living through writing books they can be proud of.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
That’s easy, be wary of writers giving advice. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions of the writers you admire, or seeking out instruction on the craft of writing, but writers that make their sole living by telling other writers how to succeed at being a writer can be downright predatory. Also, never pay to play. If you want to write something and give it away for free, that’s up to you, and how important a part you feel it will play in your career, but never pay someone to publish your work. It’s a racket almost 100% of the time.
Brian, thank you for playing.
by Brian Panowich
Clayton Burroughs is the Sheriff of Bull Mountain and the black sheep of the brutal and blood-steeped Burroughs clan. In the forties and fifties, the family ran moonshine over six state lines. In the sixties and seventies, they farmed the largest above-ground marijuana crop on the East Coast, and now they are one of the largest suppliers of methamphetamine in the Southern states.
An uneasy pact exists between the law man and his folk, but when a federal agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms shows up in Clayton’s office with a plan to shut down Bull Mountain, his agenda will pit brother against brother, test loyalties, and lead Clayton down a path to self-destruction. At its heart, Bull Mountain is a story about family, and the lengths men will go to protect it, honor it, or, in some cases, destroy it.
About the Author
Brian Panowich attended Georgia Southern University before taking a twenty-year detour to travel the country playing music. He started writing again in 2009. Two of his stories were nominated for a Spinetingler award in 2013.