About six years ago, Michael Fedele couldn’t shake the image of a grungy and battered Santa Claus from his mind. The character appeared to him every single day for no apparent reason.
But finally, while driving home from work one day, the fictional Santa’s entire story came to him.
Mr. Fedele pulled over immediately and began dictating the narrative to a voice recorder he always carries. He later shared the tale with his friend Virginia Nolan.
Last month, “One Day at Christmas” finally hit bookshelves.
During the years that passed between developing his idea and publishing the 114-page book, Mr. Fedele — a custodian in the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District — and Ms. Nolan, a retired Mount Sinai High School English teacher, worked to bring the main character’s story to life.
“You can’t help but love him,” Mr. Fedele, who lives in New Suffolk, said of their version of Santa Claus. “He’s a combination of Rocky Balboa and George Bailey. He’s a burly bundle of mush.”
In the story, Jack La Falla is the superintendent of a low-income housing apartment building in the Bronx who hopes to give his tenants a true Christmas. To do so, however, he might need to steal money.
“The children get things they need, not things they want,” Mr. Fedele said. “Jack thinks the kids deserve better, but he doesn’t have the means to do so.”
Ms. Nolan, who splits her time between Riverhead and Arizona, grew up in the Bronx and based the apartment complex in “One Day at Christmas” off one in her childhood neighborhood. She said one of the most important parts of the story is a bullying scene that she hopes speaks to a growing problem in society.
“It’s very prevalent,” she said. “There’s so much of it in today’s world.”
The friends spent a year writing the story and met numerous times a month to discuss the process. Mr. Fedele came up with the majority of the ideas for the book, while Ms. Nolan did most of the writing. She also worked with Amazon’s CreateSpace to get their work published. It’s now available on Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble.
The two met years ago when Ms. Nolan was looking for someone to act in an instructional video that would accompany her book, “Listening Tune-ups for the Classroom.” A mutual friend suggested Mr. Fedele, a former actor, for the job.
Mr. Fedele has already begun looking toward the future for “One Day at Christmas,” enlisting Debra Markowitz, director of the Nassau County Film Advisory Board and vice president of the Long Island Film/TV Foundation, to create a screenplay. They hope to market it as a made-for-TV movie and pitch it to networks known for holiday movie marathons, such as Lifetime and Hallmark.
Both authors agree the story is a heartwarming tale about the true meaning of Christmas — and they hope it touches everyone who reads it.
“When I got to the last chapter, I cried,” said Ms. Nolan’s husband, Frank. “And someone said in the reviews that they cried too.”
Photo: Victoria Nolan and Michael Fedele read a copy of their novel, ‘One Day at Christmas,’ which is available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Mr. Fedele said the story is in the process of becoming a screenplay. (Credit: Nicole Smith)