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West Hartford's Kevin Dowd Produces Rollicking Debut Novel

The publisher, Roundabout Press, is a new West Hartford enterprise from author Dan Pope.

It's 1974. It's the Connecticut shoreline. You can taste and smell the sand, the salt and the Scotch that seems to be in every hand.

You can also watch charismatic ne'er-do-well Jack Smith's descent into a chaotic collision with all the characters who either want him or want him dead.

That's the essence of Kevin Dowd's comic debut novel, "The Fourth of July," which is also the debut for West Hartford-based Roundabout Press.

Dowd, who has made his living in the tech business and has published two books about computing, said he was looking for a new challenge when he decided to write a novel.

"This was something to do, someplace to go," he said in an interview.

Though the book is not autobiographical, Dowd spent summers in Niantic and still visits often as a member of the Niantic Bay Yacht Club.

"Some elements are drawn from my past," he said. "The house, the setting. The drunken philanderer part is just for fun."

Dowd was in the process of putting the novel together "in slow motion" when he learned that his good friend Dan Pope — author of "In the Cherry Tree" and the forthcoming "Housebreaking" — was launching a small press in West Hartford.

Those involved with the press "universally liked" Dowd's novel, which is a sprightly 149 pages, and he began writing at a faster pace and working through the editing process.

Roundabout Press financed the printing of the novel through Kickstarter, asking for about $4,000, Dowd said.

"The really valuable thing is that the printing is all paid for," he said.

Dowd is looking forward to talking about the book and welcomes invitations from book clubs, which may appreciate that "The Fourth of July" is a quick and entertaining read.

"I'm going to have a good time," he said in reference to his appearances. "I'm going to try to do a standup routine."

If word of mouth helps the book take off, Dowd said, he may consider writing a prequel or sequel. His philosophy, even when writing technical work, is that "everything should read like a vacation brochure."

For more information about Kevin Dowd, visit his website.

For more information about Roundabout Press, visit the press website.

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