Shrewsbury’s Stephen Galgon was thrilled when his fiction thriller “The Circle” was finally published after years of hard work. The novel, which had transformed from a manuscript in college and had been altered over two decades, was gaining popularity as Galgon was signing up for various speaking events and festival appearances. Then the country shut down.
“I was supposed to attend an authors’ event in Wall, but that was canceled,” he said. “I really had to adapt and get out there on social media. I’m a pretty private person, but I had to use Instagram. I connected with a lot of people on Bookstagram and started reading their work as they read mine. I never watched a single episode of ‘Tiger King,’ but I read more books this summer than I had in my entire life.”
Galgon’s quarantine experience was truly unique. As a seventh grade math teacher in Little Silver, he faced the challenge of working remotely while trying to connect with his students. He was suddenly teaching from home last spring with his three daughters also in the house. He was parenting, working, selling a novel, taking care of himself and worrying about his wife, an operating room nurse who worked on a COVID-19 floor during peak hospitalizations.
“It felt like we were all blindsided,” he said. “[Teachers] were hit with days off to plan, then we were permanently home. I have two kids in school, one in daycare and the neighbors’ kids who all need to get settled with their work. For my wife, everything amped up around her. She would work a 12-hour shift, come home, and it was, ‘Should I keep the girls away? Should I sleep in the basement?’”
Since March, Galgon said teaching from home has “improved tenfold” as he learned different programs to help his students. The kids have all gotten used to the technology, and he is able to get to know them better, albeit through a screen. He said his students are even understanding when he has to pause the lesson because his youngest is yelling to him from another room, “It’s potty time!”
While his wife is still on the frontlines as a hospital worker, he said they have gotten into the routine of disinfecting before saying hello to each other after her shifts. His children have learned to make the best of the at-home experience and keep up with their studies.
“The Wi-Fi is definitely living up to what we paid for with everyone streaming, working, teaching,” he laughed.
Even selling the book has become easier. With so many people reading during quarantine, Galgon said he wanted to make “The Circle” more accessible to those with newfound time on their hands. He began selling it on Kindle for only $0.99 and said he will continue to do so for as long as it takes for society to regain its footing. To date, more than 8,000 copies have been sold or downloaded worldwide, with readers from 11 countries on four continents.
“The Circle” has been the recipient of 11 independent publishing awards, including:
- WINNER – 2020 NYC Big Book Award: Thriller
- GOLD MEDAL – 2020 Global Ebook Awards: Suspense fiction
- SILVER MEDAL – 2020 Global Ebook Awards: Thriller fiction
- NOTABLE INDIE – 2020 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Awards: Best indie book
- HONORABLE MENTION – 2020 Writers Digest: Genre Fiction
- HONORABLE MENTION – 2020 Readers Favorite Awards: General fiction
- FIVE-STAR JUDGES AWARD – 2020 Readers Favorite Awards: General fiction
- FINALIST – 2020 National Indie Excellence Awards: General fiction
- FINALIST – 2020 Feathered Quill Book Awards: Mystery/suspense/thriller
- FINALIST – 2020 Feathered Quill Book Awards: Adult fiction
- SEMI-FINALIST – 2020 Kindle Book Review Awards: Mystery/thriller
Galgon said he has received many encouraging messages from readers and other authors. He is set to release the audiobook for “The Circle” on Audible, a project he said was a rewarding experience.
“I listened to so many auditions, and then I heard Patrick Boylan,” Galgon said. “He is a voice actor and musician from Los Angeles. When he spoke, it was [the main character] Doug’s voice. He has handled all the characters flawlessly, even female characters and the ones with accents. Working with him has been incredible.”
In anticipation of the audiobook’s release, Galgon is also about 85,000 words into his second book, one about two key characters’ paths crossing back in the 1950s. He is also working on a short story set in the same universe as “The Circle.” The short story focuses on a mother and son as the mom slips into dementia. Galgon modeled these characters after himself and his mother, who passed away in 2016.
“There’s pain there but also joy,” he said. The story is written in first person, intended to give readers a better look at the intimate details of the plot. It will be available for free download in the coming months as book two is finalized for print.
To learn more about Galgon and “The Circle,” visit bit.ly/TheCircleBook.