Bull Mountain, the fictional setting of Brian Panowich's new debut novel, is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge foothills, and has enough family history to destroy a man. But how would a stranger pass the time and take in the sights? Brian Panowich's tourist guide to the place can tell you;

Why go?

Waymore Valley is a picture perfect representation of Main Street, USA, and sits in the centre of McFalls County. It’s a one red light, first name basis town—one of the few still striving. Nestled smack dab in the middle of the Blue Ridge foothills, the better question would be; why not go?

When to visit:

Mid October after the sticky heat of summer has tamed down to a cool breeze. You get the best of both worlds in the late fall. A cold beer still works in the afternoon, but a bourbon by the fireplace at night does too. The woods are still green, but bring plenty of shock-orange gear to wear. It’s hunting season and accidents have been known to happen.

Where to wake up: 

There’s only one motel in Waymore and the wallpaper was printed in the sixties, making it only half as old as the cantankerous old cuss that owns the place.  Good luck with that. You’re best off hauling an RV and sharing a jar of shine around a fire with some of your new friends at one of the surrounding park & pay campsites.

Where to eat breakfast:

For the money and the blue ribbon, you can’t beat the spicy cathead biscuits and gravy at Lucky’s. But show up early on Sunday or the church crowd will clean them out, then you’ll be stuck eating breakfast in cup from Pollard’s Corner.

The best tourist attraction to visit:

McFalls County ain’t the sort of town you go to looking to shop for trinkets or zip-lining . If that’s the sort of thing you want, then hit up Pigeon Forge, or Helen, but if you’re craving a chance to turn off the phone and forget what a TV looks like for a while, maybe undo a knot or two in your brain, give McFalls County a shot.

A place to visit that only locals know:

Right up the highway a-piece is a smoky little joint called Two Jacks that hosts a traditional country and western house band on par with anything Nashville, TN has to offer. They play for tips and beer and the bass player can out-George, George Jones.

TIP: Fellas, be careful not to get too chatty with the women-folk until you know what’s what. The chicken wire around the band is there for a reason.

A secret spot:

Twenty or so minutes north of town, and up the side of Bull Mountain, is a swimming hole called Burnt Hickory Pond. There’s a moss-covered casting-rock, and even an old tire-swing. There are no signs to lead you there, but ask the county Sheriff’s office or the Post Office clerk and they’ll be happy to draw you a map. You’ll know the place by the clump of burned out hardwood trees that gives the pond it’s name. Bring a fishing pole, and bottle of bourbon and you’ll fit right in, but stay on the main roads, and don’t be tempted to wander off. Hiking uncharted parts of Bull Mountain is a bad idea. Some of the inhabitants aren’t keen on strangers who take to wandering.

Where to go for dinner:

You can find good country-fried steak and yardbird at Lucky’s, but your best bet is to take a drive out to Dillard, GA and visit the Dillard House. One flat price and the whatever’s on the menu just keeps coming to you. You can eat your back out family style.

Local etiquette:

Tip your hat to strangers. Never ask for where you can find real moonshine. Just wait for someone to offer. I promise it’ll happen. And never, ever, under any circumstances tell the natives how cute they talk. 


Bull Mountain is out in hardback and ebook on the 16th July 2015. Visit the New Voices website for more information.