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Nov 12, 2019

Neighbor to Neighbor: Shrewsbury Author Reveals Pain and Patience between the Pages

By Shanna O’Mara

The Galgon family participated in the National Brain Tumor Society's Brain Tumor Awareness Walk in Asbury Park this year. They all wore team shirts that read “I Raised My Hand to End GBM.” Galgon said his brother was the first to mention this idea: “The way he justified all this happening to my mom, who was just an amazing woman, was that God sat down with all the Galgons and said, ‘One of you has to get cancer.’ And she raised her hand, so it wouldn’t happen to any of us.”

Father of three. Teacher of many. Author of one – so far. Meet Shrewsbury’s Stephen Galgon.

Born in Brooklyn, Galgon grew up in Brick then moved to Toms River with his wife, Maria. In July 2018, they finally decided to make the move to Monmouth County.

“We looked at so many houses and couldn’t find one that checked all the boxes,” Galgon said. “I told my mom, ‘Give me a sign when it’s the right one.’”

Galgon’s mother, Bernadette, passed away in February 2016 after a hard-fought battle with stage 4 glioblastoma. While visiting a house in Shrewsbury, Galgon walked into a bedroom to find décor hanging on the wall, the lyrics of “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts displayed within a frame.

“That was the song she and I danced to at my wedding,” his voice cracked.

A house quickly became a home.

From left: Stephen, (top) Jocelyn, (bottom) Mallory, Maria and Emilia

He and his wife raise three girls: 7-year-old Mallory, 5-year-old Jocelyn and 1-year-old Emilia. Galgon has now been teaching seventh grade math at Markham Place School in Little Silver for six years. He admitted he loves the area in which he works, lives and raises a family.

“We really hit the lottery with neighbors,” he said. “Everyone around us is so nice, especially on our block. There are so many kids, too.”

While juggling parenting, teaching and earning his master’s, Galgon has also found time throughout his adult years to write and self-publish a novel.

In college, he studied film and wrote his own screenplay. Although attached to the characters and storyline, Galgon never produced the film as he originally intended. But in 2007, his plan changed. While reading a novel during his honeymoon, he decided to start writing his own, so in 2007, he began just that. Then came the project of transforming his 120-minute screenplay into a book.

“I’ve gone back to it after years, changed things, added chapters,” he said. “Life would get in the way, and I’d put it off but always knew I’d finish it.”

It wasn’t until after he found an old note to his wife saying he’d be published before he turned 40 that Galgon kicked into overdrive. He wrote 300 pages during just one summer. He got in contact with an editor and began the process of perfecting his novel and reaching out to publishers.

“It was just, ‘No thank you. No thank you. No. No.’ All the rejection that comes with writing a novel when no one asked you to write a novel,’” he said. “So I did it myself.”

2012, 2014 and 2017 saw more drafts until finally Galgon got to a point where he “didn’t want to fix it anymore.” He designed a cover, dedicated his work and published “The Circle” – a week before his 40th birthday. When the hard copy arrived by mail, Galgon said his father opened the box and simply “turned white” after seeing the fruition of his son’s years of work.

“The Circle” follows protagonist Doug Goodwin as he tries to survive and maintain his dignified sense of self in a society that pits people against each other – murder or be murdered.

The book summary on Amazon reads, “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.”

While the plot is wildly fantastic, Galgon said the characters are relatable.

“Anybody in Shrewsbury could be Doug Goodwin,” Galgon said. “The story is based in New York, and he’s just a small town guy trying to make it.”

Perhaps he’ll make it in time for a sequel.

“The Circle” is available for purchase at bit.ly/TheCircleBook.



Three things to know:

  1. He was largely inspired by his grandfather, who read chapter drafts, designed cover options and even wrote a song featured in the novel.
  2. The plot of the novel is loosely based on the game Assassins which people play with water guns, squirting their victim before taking the victim’s target and continuing the hunt until one winner stands.
  3. Galgon and his family are active volunteers for and donors to the National Brain Tumor Society, often representing his mom as part of Team Bernadette at events. To date, they have raised nearly $15,000 for the organization. To donate in her honor, visit bit.ly/FightGBM.