Book Nerd Interview
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
They might be surprised that I love literary fiction and poetry as much as fantasy. Maybe not though. People read widely. For those who don't, you'll find Flannery O'Connor just as dark and violent as any Conan story.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
I hated school. Or most of it. I liked elementary school and college. Everything in between was not my favorite. Ideally I think school should be a place where you learn how to learn. Everything else is just memorization. I think elementary school and college are the places where that holds true. Elementary school because you literally don't know anything. They have to instill a foundation in you. And college because you're supposed to be old enough to articulate some independent thought. The rest is just book reports.
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
I've got the same book for both answers. Lord of the Flies. No one would deny that it's a work of Art with a capital A. But it's also a great adventure story. And the more times you read it, the more levels you'll find in it.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
The only real advice is to read a lot and write a lot. I think all authors give some variation on that.
For those who are unfamiliar with your novel; The Burning Isle, how would you introduce it?
The Burning Isle is a dark revenge story set in a fantasy version of Ancient Rome with lots of magic and violence.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Cassius?
Cassius is a difficult guy. He holds his secrets dear. But about a third of the way through the book, I realized how scared he was about the things he was doing. He projects an image of cool self-control. But inside he's terrified.
Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
It wasn't really a conscious decision. The story just took up a lot of headspace and muscled other ideas out of the way until I finally finished telling it.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
It's a bit of a strange choice but I'd like Cassius to meet Elric from Moorcock's Eternal Champions cycle. Both dark and moody sorcerers. Both cursed to leave destruction in their wake. Maybe they could start a support group.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I'm currently working on another story set in the same universe as The Burning Isle and with some returning characters. That's a little vague, but it's all I can say right now.
Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
I'm not sure it's the best place I've ever been, but Red Rock Canyon in Colorado made me feel like I was walking on another planet. Very unique experience.
What's the memorable summer job you've ever had?
I was a camp counselor for two summers in my mid teens. Probably the best job I've ever had.
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
This a tough one. I was a teen in the late 90's which, at the time, seemed like a drag. Looking back now though, probably just being a teenager was less than fun. I'm not sure I can pick another decade. Maybe the 80's? The 70's seemed scary, particularly in NYC, which is where I grew up. I don't think I would have fit in during the 60's or 50's. Before that I'm not sure they had a concept of teenagers as we know them today.
What is your greatest adventure?
I work in an emergency room. Every day is an adventure.
Where can readers stalk you?
Twitter is best @WillPanzo.
“A man has only three reasons for being anywhere: to right a wrong, to earn a coin, or because he is lost.”
Cassius is not lost…
The mage Cassius has just arrived on the island of Scipio. Five miles of slum on the edge of fifty miles of jungle, Scipio is a lawless haven for criminals, pirates, and exiles. The city is split in two, each half ruled by a corrupt feudal lord. Both of them answer to a mysterious general who lives deep in the jungle with his army, but they still constantly battle for power. If a man knows how to turn their discord to his advantage, he might also turn a profit…
But trained on the Isle of Twelve, Cassius is no ordinary spellcaster, and his goal is not simply money. This a treacherous island where the native gods are restless, and anything can happen…
Praise for The Burnig Isle“…[an] early contender for debut fantasy of the year good and likely to become a new favorite amongst the grimdark fantasy crowd.”—Elitist Book Reviews
“…shades of Apocalypse Now creep into parts of the narrative…as Cassius becomes more desperate and unhinged and events start to seemingly lose touch with reality the story reaches the intensity of a fever dream.”—RT Book Reviews, 4-stars
“This book would make a fantastic movie…If you want an intense, violent, magical read set within a brilliant fantasy realm, definitely give this book a try.”—Quiet Fury Books
“Your Essential Fantasy Reading List for the Rest of 2016”—Inverse.com