Over the years there have been many different versions of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. From the original tale to films, cartoons even the Muppets have told the story of Ebenezer Scrooge being visited by the three ghosts of Christmas. But whatever happened to Scrooge after that night? Author Roy Weber explores that story in his first novel, Unscrooged.
“Everyone does A Christmas Carol. With so many different versions out there I thought ‘no on has done a sequel.’ Something happens to Scrooge after the original story ends, and this is the story that follows afterwards,” said Weber at a book signing held Nov. 26 at the Elmira library.
The story, which picks up a short time after the original events take place, sees Scrooge once again visited by Jacob Marley, who has been given an opportunity to have a transformation much like Scrooge’s in the original.
Jacob is saddled with the ability to see all the misery in the world but is unable to do anything about it or intervene. But he will gain the new power to intervene in the lives of others if Scrooge is able to find someone and transform their heart before midnight.
“The whole story is about Scrooge going out into the world and changing a heart,” said Weber, an Elmira resident.
Using characters developed by Dickens was easy for Weber who has been a huge fan of the 19th century author ever since he travelled through England to visit Dickens’ homestead in London and researched his career, reading some of his newspaper and magazine work.
“I was mindful and reflecting on how he wrote and why he wrote,” said Weber. “Dickens was examining social morals and it was a great writing on the state of society in those days, which was the foundation for the story. This story is also a tale about redemption, forgiveness and transformation of someone’s heart and mind.”
Keeping with the timeframe established by Dickens, Weber did a lot of research to keep the story true to the era, adding a few historical elements, including an encounter with then prime minister of Britain, Earl Grey, who is a business associate with Scrooge.
“The tea Earl Grey was named after him and I have in the story that their business relationship is Scrooge establishing a tea trading company,” said Weber. “Grey was involved with initiating legislation for the abolition of the slave trade, and I mention that as well in the book. Where the fiction comes in is Scrooge asks him to take on the task of abolishing child labour, which was very prevalent in the industrial age and that is one of the subplots in the story.”
Weber hopes the historical references keep the reader interested with the new tale.
Although this is his first novel it is not the first time Weber has written. He has written two stage plays and is a regular columnist for the Cambridge Times and Waterloo Chronicle, writing on small business topics.
Thinking ahead, Weber hopes to write a trilogy following the characters from his book as they go out into the world.
“I feel there will be another sequel to the sequel following the young man, Tobias, who is a street kid that Scrooge focuses on in this book – I can see another story involving that character.”
In the spirit of A Christmas Carol, proceeds will go to a children’s charity, A Strong Start Literacy Program. The charity focuses on grade one and two students that are falling behind and gives students a solid foundation in reading.
“I will never gain financially from this book. This is a project for the charity and all the proceeds from the sales will always go to the charity,” said Weber, adding it was always intended even before he wrote the novel that it would be a fundraiser for charity.
The books are available at independent booksellers across the region, including Riverworks Books in St. Jacobs.