I decided to work as a Shopping Centre Santa because I needed something to write about. I had abandoned one novel and started another and I needed a writing project that I could finish quickly.

I did not feel like a writer anymore. I was working in Red Hill digging holes and restumping a house. I made a lot more money doing this than they were paying me to be Santa, but I had already written a story about restumping a house in Red Hill.

I remember being really scared about the Santa job and feeling a great responsibility to do it  properly.

I wrote the story very quickly, over a weekend, from notes I had written in my journal. I really enjoyed writing this story because it just seemed to write itself. I had it finished by the time I went back to work digging holes and when I gave it to my boss to read I saw him laughing.

I imagined that I could get it published in The Age Good Weekend Christmas edition. I sent it to them a few times, but then it was published by The Sleepers Almanac and I was happy with that.

The photo was taken with my camera by the photographer who was bossing me around for the day. It’s quite out of focus so I look more like Santa than I actually did on the day.

Eric Yoshiaki Dando is a Melbourne based writer and has had work published in The Age, Best Australian Stories, the Sleepers Alamanac, Going Down Swinging, Cordite, Undergrowth, Verity La, The Diamond & the Thief, Red Leaves / 紅葉, Torpedo and The Lifted Brow. His latest book Oink, Oink, Oink is available through Readings

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