The Dead Circle
by Keith Varney
Publication Date: October 31, 2015
I grew up on a dirt road in Vermont and dreamed of being an actor on Broadway. After a detour through opera school, I ended up in NYC where I have been trying to make a living writing and performing in musical theater. I’ve written a number of musicals as a composer, lyricist and book writer (in various combinations) and have had them performed in New York and South Korea. I now live in Astoria Queens with my wife who is a Broadway actress. The Dead Circle is my first go at novel writing.
I began writing songs in high school and continued writing in college. I never took my writing that seriously, but somewhere while writing my fourth musical, I realized that I was a writer and wanted to do it for a living.
Well, as someone who wrote a horror novel, I was certainly influenced by Stephen King. I love his writing style that is honest, unpretentious and terribly exciting. As a theater guy, I’m also a huge fan of Stephen Sondheim who is the true master of precision, emotional complexity and form.
I have a day job in Manhattan, so I typically get on the N train from Queens and work from 10-5:30. In the evenings I go see a show or concert my wife is doing, or I’ll stay home and watch a Boston Bruins game. I typically write in the mornings when I first get up, or in the afternoon when things quiet down at work.
5) How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
I’m not sure how to write this answer without cringing. It might be the cheesiest thing of all time, but it actually came out of a dream.
Then there was the second part of the dream that took place on the balcony of a small library. The abandoned library gave me a location for our main characters to live. Also included in the dream was a moment in the finale that I won’t mention because of spoiler issues, but I will say that’s when I woke up scared shitless.
6) What do you think sets your novel apart from others current on the shelves?
I wanted to write a horror novel where the characters don’t act like they’re in a horror novel. My characters have seen “Dawn of the Dead” and “The Walking Dead” and I try to make sure they don’t seem artificially ignorant for the writer’s convenience. They’re much more cautious and practical with their decisions. I always asked myself what would I actually do in each of these situations and tried to avoid cheap or lazy devices to get my characters in peril.
7) Which character in your book is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
Well, the two main characters Chris and Sarah are very similar to myself and my wife in terms of our dynamic and smart-ass sense of humor. But, I have to admit my favorite character is Kevin who is basically me when I was twelve. Something about that age of a character is so much fun to write because there is a simplicity and an urgency to the way an adolescent brain works.
The action sequences are always fun to write because I see them very cinematically and I’m just trying to transcribe it as fast as I can type. But I also really like writing dialogue scenes between Chris and Sarah who have been married for ten years and have a really fun dynamic.
I hope they take away a fun story and characters they care about. When I read survival stories I always love to chew through “what would I do in that situation.” If somebody enjoys imagining themselves in that situation, I’ve succeeded.
I hope people enjoy it! If I sell enough copies to pay for Chinese takeout once a week, I’d be absolutely thrilled.
I’ve already started the sequel! I’m also finishing up my next musical “Pie Eater,” a zany comedy about competitive eating.
About the Author: