Some years ago, I was asked to contribute a short story to a collection. I agreed and set about to do as asked. The short story however grew into something more, the more being a short novel titled The Christmas Rat.
I am, in many respects, a sentimental person. Christmas and A Christmas Carol brings it out in me. I read Dickens’ classic every year. When I wrote The Christmas Rat, I very much wanted to compose a tale of Christmas, but in a different way. The result is a somewhat eerie, maybe even a little creepy, story which nonetheless evokes Christmas.
It is based on a man I once met, an insect and vermin exterminator. I asked him how he got into his line of work. He explained that he had been a soldier in Vietnam, and had, so he said, been so conditioned to kill, that he feared what he would do when he stopped being a soldier, “unless I found a legal way to keep killing.” If that seems like an unlikely inspiration for a Christmas story, I am willing to agree, but there it is.
I’m told The Christmas Rat works well, particularly for those upper middle class kids who run from sentimentality—but who, all the same, love a tale of Christmas.