Why Do Readers Like Ebenezer Scrooge and Tom Shepherd?
My newly released Christmas novel, A Shepherd’s Song, was inspired by the Tickle Me Elmo craze that took place back in the 1990s. If you may remember, that toy retailed for $28.99, but when the collective mindset deemed it to be the hottest toy of that Christmas shopping season, the frenzy to acquire one of the coveted toys drove the prices up to $1,500 a piece. My six-month-old niece received one that year, and many people urged my sister to sell the toy for a greatly inflated sum. She didn’t, but the whole phenomenon of people going mad for a certain toy fascinated me, and I began to wonder what type of person would “scalp” toys? And why would a person be willing to spend so much for one toy? Thus A Shepherd’s Song was born.
Tom Shepherd is the hero of our story, and I use the term hero loosely. In the beginning of the book, he is anything but a hero. He is cynical, cowardly, and a bit scruffy. But I knew if I created him to be too unappealing, readers would not embrace him. Since this is a Christmas story, I examined one of the most famous characters in all of fiction, not just Christmas fiction—Ebenezer Scrooge. Miserly and miserable, Scrooge, like Tom Shepherd, is not likeable when we first meet him, but Charles Dickens masterfully gives us a window into Scrooge’s soul by taking him on a trip through his past. There we see that he is a deeply wounded man. Likewise, I knew that I had to give Tom a past like Ebenezer’s. I will not spoil the story for you, but Tom’s soul is scarred too, and your heart can’t help but ache for this young man and what he’s gone through.
When we learn the reasons why our protagonists are the way they are, we begin to identify and sympathize with them because we all bear bruises. No one’s past is pristine or perfect. But more importantly, we begin to root for Ebenezer and Tom, that they overcome their past, that they find happiness and love, and that they become the person they were truly meant to be.
Scrooge’s and Tom’s story is our story, and that is why we love them because we all hope to overcome and triumph.
I invite you read A Shepherd’s Song this Christmas. God bless us, every one!
Tom Shepherd is anything but a hero. A senior physics major at Three Rivers University in Pittsburgh, he just wants to make some easy cash for a spring break vacation. On the last Sunday in November, he arrives to sell the Christmas season’s hottest toy, So Big Sammy, for three times its retail price to a buyer, but a snafu lands him in the middle of a bone marrow drive benefiting four-year-old Christo Davidson, who has leukemia. When everyone there—including the media covering the event--assumes that Tom has come to give the toy to the sick boy, Tom has no choice but to give it away.
Lauded by the media as a hero and bestowed with the nickname “The Good Shepherd,” Tom finds himself an overnight celebrity. As a toy scalper and liar, he knows he’s unworthy of the honor, but when Gloria Davidson, a fellow student and Christo’s relative, seeks out Tom to thank him for being kind so kind to her little cousin, Tom, bewitched by her beauty, embellishes his character and lies to further impress Gloria. Tom asks Gloria out, beginning a relationship that will lead him to examine everything he believes. On Christmas Eve, Tom finds himself facing choices that will affect not only himself but also Gloria and Christo. Tom must choose between sacrifice and honor, love and loneliness, life and death.
A Christmas romance with the charm of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and the spirit of It’s a Wonderful Life, A Shepherd’s Song, will make you believe in the magic of Christmas.
Where To Find A Shepherd's Song
About The Author
Janice Lane Palko
Janice Lane Palko is the author of the romantic comedy St. Anne’s Day and the Christmas romance, A Shepherd’s Song. A writer for more than 15 years, she is currently the executive editor of Northern Connection and Pittsburgh 55+ magazines, where she also pens a column and contributes regularly to the magazines’ content.
Her work has also appeared in publications such as The Reader’s Digest, Guideposts for Teens, Woman’s World, The Christian Science Monitor, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In addition, her articles have been featured in the books A Cup of Comfort for Inspiration, A Cup of Comfort for Expectant Mothers, and Chicken Soup for the Single’s Soul.
Janice has won several awards for her writing including the prestigious Amy Foundation Award of Merit, and she has a bachelor’s degree in Writing & Literature from Union Institute& University.
Her third novel, a romantic suspense entitled Cape Cursed, will be released in the spring 2013.