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The Dead Circle

by Keith Varney

Genre: Thriller

Publication Date: October 31, 2015


Something is terribly wrong in Detroit.
When Chris and Sarah bought an abandoned library to renovate and live in, they expected to be on the ground floor of the revival of Detroit. But unbeknownst to them, the city is about to fall. The devastation begins with a single woman who mysteriously tears off her clothing and starts walking the perimeter of an empty lot. Within minutes, hundreds of disparate people inexplicably form a giant human circle that slowly revolves like a hurricane of flesh. They twitch and spasm, contorting their naked bodies in a primordial death dance. They’re oblivious to everything, even the unfortunate souls who fall beneath their feet.
Bewildered citizens and authorities are desperate to know what’s causing the bizarre event… at least until it starts to rain.
Chris and Sarah abruptly find themselves trapped in a forsaken city. To survive, they must evade the horrifying illness, find food and shelter in a suddenly primitive world… and have a battle plan for when the circle stops spinning…
Interview with the Author
1) Can you tell us a bit about your background?
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.
2) Where and when did your writing journey begin?
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.
3) Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
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.
4) What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
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.

I had a dream that pretty much included the image of thousands of naked people marching/dancing in a giant circle in the middle of a city. How I describe it in the book is pretty much what I dreamt including the weird primitive movements, the rain, and the shadows thrown on the side of the buildings. That gave me the iconic image of the book and the main mystery: why is the entire population of a city naked and writhing around and around in an empty lot?

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.

8) Which scenes in your book did you have the most fun writing?
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.
9) What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your book?
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.
10) What are your hopes for this novel?
I hope people enjoy it! If I sell enough copies to pay for Chinese takeout once a week, I’d be absolutely thrilled.
11) What do you have in store next for your readers?
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:
Originally from small town Vermont, Keith Varney is an award-winning musical theater writer and actor. He has written Book, Music and Lyrics in various combinations for I GOT FIRED (Best American Musical – DIMF), ELWAY: THE MUSICAL, THE OTHER SEX, JOSHUA: THE MUSICAL, PIE EATER & SCOOBY DOOSICAL. He has also written songs for Submissions Only, Hot Mess in Manhattan, See You Lighter, My Mother is a Sex Therapist & Dystopia Gardens. As an actor he has performed professionally in musicals including Les Miserables, The Producers, The Full Monty, Titanic and I Got Fired (Best Actor in a Musical – DIMF). He has a degree in classical voice from the Eastman School of Music. He now lives in Astoria NY with his wife Jillian, who is a Broadway actress. “The Dead Circle” is his debut novel. For more information, please visit
Keith Varney
$50 Amazon Gift Card
10 ebook copies of The Dead Circle
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Ends Dec. 2nd
Prizing is provided by the author, hosts are not responsible. Must be 13 or older to enter and have parental permission if under 17. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to win.

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