|photo: David Kernaghan
A military brat, Brian Panowich grew up constantly on the move, living in Germany, Rome, East Berlin (before the wall came down) and the Swiss Alps. He was a touring musician for 12 years before settling in East Georgia with his family. He now works full time as a firefighter. Bull Mountain (Putnam, July 7, 2015) is his debut novel.
On your nightstand now:
It's crowded, but there are two on top: first, The Stolen Ones by Owen Laukkanen. His Stevens and Windermere books are some of the most underrated and top-notch thrillers on the market. The guy writes like a steam train. The other one on deck is The Friendship of Criminals by Robert Glinski. It involves the Polish mafia and was written by a Polish defense attorney. Picking that up was a no-brainer for a guy with the last name Panowich.
Favorite book when you were a child:
I was raised on comic books, and I'm proud of that. My father loved them, and as a kid I devoured them. I was obsessed. Frank Miller's Daredevil comics made me want to become a writer. I didn't make the jump to actual books until middle school when a friend gave me a ratty paperback copy of Stephen King's The Stand. I remember taking it with me on a family vacation to Disneyland, and I mostly stayed back at the hotel because I needed to know what happened next with Randall Flagg more than I needed to see Space Mountain.
Your top five authors:
Elmore Leonard, Cormac McCarthy, John Connolly, Tom Franklin, Wiley Cash.
Book you've faked reading:
Everything by Hemingway. Oh, and Moby-Dick. I've owned it since high school, but I've never read more than a few pages. It's over there eyeballing me right now. Maybe I'll try again today.
Book you're an evangelist for:
It might sound a little outside my wheelhouse, but World War Z by Max Brooks is one of the most outstanding books I've ever read. The way that book is structured, documented and delivered is brilliant. I liked that book so much, I gave copies of it out as groomsmen gifts at my wedding. I even bought it on CD for the best man, because I knew he wouldn't read it.
Book you've bought for the cover:
I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve Earle. Tony Fitzpatrick did the art on most of Steve's records, and they are gorgeous, so when I found out he was doing the jacket of Steve's first novel, that was my main motivation to be there waiting on launch day. I'd have bought that cover even if it had been wrapped around the phone book.
Book that changed your life:
Give Us a Kiss by Daniel Woodrell. I was still trying to find my voice when I read this book, and I remember finishing it, setting it down and walking outside into my yard and realizing everything I wanted to write about was right there staring me in the face. That moment was so profound for me, I still get goose bumps talking about it.
Favorite line from a book:
The last line from Daniel Woodrell's Tomato Red: "Hang the blame where blame belongs. Now you've heard it."
Which character you most relate to:
Mother Hubbard, maybe. My wife and I have four kids, it really does feel sometimes like we live in a shoe.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. It got to where turning each page of that book was a gut-wrenching experience. I'm jealous of folks finding that one for the first time. Pour yourself a bourbon first.