I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephen J. Galgon, author of The Circle, and I can’t wait to share it with you! Take a peek below for a description of the book, and for my Q&A!
IMAGINE YOU HAD ALL THE MONEY YOU EVER WANTED at the push of a button. The power to control law enforcement, politicians at the highest levels, the judicial system as a whole. To have what you want when you want it, whatever it is. All you have to do is kill someone . . . before someone kills you.
MEMBERS of THE CIRCLE don’t have to imagine such a life. They live it. The liberation of being both hunter and hunted. The salvation that comes with such freedom. A chance to feel truly alive. A chance to savor each precious moment. Because in THE CIRCLE any moment could be your last.
DOUGLAS GOODWIN isn’t rich. He isn’t powerful. What could the sacred society of THE CIRCLE possibly want with him—just a regular guy with a regular job leading a regular life? What would drive them to coerce a young man who has always valued integrity over hedonism into their midst? And why would Doug agree to submersion in a world of secrecy and murder? It’s unthinkable.
THE HARSH REALITY? Doug has been inducted into an institution where friends become enemies overnight, loyalty is a nothing more than a punchline, and conscience is a burden. Where he will be hunted and expected to hunt other members to their death. With no escape from THE CIRCLE’s ubiquitous influence and domination.
HOW FAR WILL DOUG GO? How much will he sacrifice to preserve his way of life? Will he be swayed by the money, the women, the power? Or will THE CIRCLE consume him, as it has hundreds of others before him, and leave nothing but another nameless corpse in its wake?
1. The Circle features a secret society, money, and murder. How did you come up with the idea for the book?
The idea is loosely based on a campus-wide game I played in 1997 called “Assassins” in which each participant received a fellow students name and a water gun in their school mailbox. We were given 24 hours to “hunt” the name assigned to us and, if successful, take the name to which they were assigned and so on until there was only one person left standing. I was terrible at the game and was assassinated very early on. Deep down though I knew there was a pretty interesting story there, albeit much more sinister. There are no water guns in The Circle!
2. How long did The Circle take you to write, start to finish?
The Circle began as a screenplay back in 2002. As it turned out, I wasn’t a very good screenwriter, but I believed in my story very much and knew it could be more than the 122 pages I churned out over those few months. It wasn’t until 2007, on my honeymoon, that my wife convinced me to finally turn it into a novel. That process began in the summer of 2007 and my first draft was completed in early 2009. I was teaching high school full time, so I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to really pursue publication, maybe deep down I knew it wasn’t quite “ready” so I put it away for about three or four years. In late 2012, after my first daughter was born, I started back up and my second draft was done in a matter of months. Two more drafts came in 2015 and 2017, and each one ended up back on my shelf. It wasn’t until April of 2019 that my wife reminded me of my goal: to be published by the time I turned 40. So the summer of 2019 saw my final draft and a published novel one week before my 40th birthday!
3. Are there any authors or books that influenced or inspired you when writing the book?
I never really considered myself to be an author, so I never presumed I could “be like” anyone. On top of that I never was much of a reader due to mild dyslexia. I knew I liked to read fast-paced, page-turning, edge-of-your-seat thrillers. I loved Angels and Demons (long before the movies) and devoured it in just over two days. I was a big fan of Dan Brown’s work; I’ve read everything he’s put out. I also thoroughly enjoy the work of Christopher Moore, Lamb and A Dirty Job were amazing reads that I couldn’t put down. Lately, a friend said that The Circle reminded him of the work of Sam Sisavath’s Allie Krycek series. Since then I’ve read Hunter/Prey and Saint/Sinner and am about halfway through Finders Keepers with Savior/Corrupter in my TBR pile. Such great reads; I’m quite flattered by the comparison.
4. Did you always know you wanted to be an author? If not, what got you to decide you wanted to write a book?
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would become an author. I went to film school, I was going to be the next Spielberg. Turns out, I ended up telling my story in a different way altogether. I really believe this is a story that needed to be told and that became my motivation.
5. What are some of your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing and publishing process?
Character development is the best and worst part of writing. Creating an entire personality from scratch is very surreal. Throughout the process I constantly had to remind myself that such-and-such character would never use specific language, take specific actions, or be motivated by specific things, and then I would have to find new ways to move the story in the direction I wanted it to go. It was a tremendous amount of fun for me; by far my favorite part of this whole process.
Back in 2009, I sent my manuscript to a few publishing companies and agents looking for representation and all that got me was a great collection of rejection letters; or no responses at all. In 2019, I knew self-publishing was the route I wanted to take. As one might imagine, self-publishing is… not great. On one hand, I had a published novel, the culmination of a decade and a half’s worth of work: a dream come true. On the other hand, I went from author to publisher/publicist/promoter overnight. I thought finding the time to write was hard; I have three daughters now and my wife and I both work full time. There is zero time for me to pursue different avenues for promoting my book. It’s all word of mouth, social media (@TheCircleIsReal on Facebook and Instagram) and great sites like yours willing to help me share this amazing journey with others.
6. What’s up next for you? Are you thinking about writing another book, and if so, is there anything you can tell us about it?
I’m sure every author says this, but I really think this story is meant for a television series. I’d be over the moon if someone in a position to do so would pass my book along to some of the content creators at Netflix or Amazon Prime Video or Hulu etc. There are so many characters with so many unique and intricate backstories. The Circle is everywhere so that means worldwide locations and adventures. I really think this could be something big! We all can dream, right?
The reality is that I’ve had a sequel (with room for a trilogy) in mind for a few years now and have just recently begun to put those ideas onto the page. I have about seven rough chapters written and an ambitious plan for this next book. I really want to delve into the origin of The Circle and the mark it has made throughout recent history. Of course, Doug’s story continues on. The Circle isn’t quite finished with him just yet, and vice versa.
7. Lastly, what are some of your favorite books, and what do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m trying to be the best father and husband I can be. My daughters are 7, 6 and 2 and are a collective handful in every sense of the word. I also teach middle school math which is a rewarding but time consuming endeavor. In any free time I can find, I like to run and play hockey. I would consider myself a movie buff and an avid fan of the NFL. I’m also an active volunteer and fundraiser for the National Brain Tumor Society in honor of my mother who passed away in 2016 after a 13 month battle with stage 4 glioblastoma. Our team “Team Bernadette” is entering its 5th fundraising year and to date we have raised almost $15,000. If anyone is inspired to do so, they can donate to our team at http://bit.ly/FightGBM.
**Check out The Circle at the links below!**