Russell Smith, "Raccoons"

It's December 21. Russell Smith, author of Confidence and Girl Crazy, putzes around his garage in search of nothing in particular.

How would you describe your story?

RUSSELL SMITH: An unhappily married man fends off an attack of raccoons on his house while fielding threatening phone calls from an unhinged ex-lover.

When did you write it, and how did the writing process compare to your other work?

RS: I never understand process questions. The process is always the same: I get an idea for a story and then I sit in front of the computer and I write it down. Is there ever another answer?

What, for you, are the essential elements of a good short story? 

RS: A story must show a change taking place.

Did this story require any research?

RS: Most of my stories are inspired by anecdotes—things that have happened to me and my friends. I did have a serious raccoon infestation in my house once, and I did once have to placate a furious ex-girlfriend who wanted our sex tapes back. But the two did not coincide in real life.

Where can people go to learn more about you and your work?

RS: I have recent news and reviews up on my website,, and I have a Wikipedia entry with a bio. And you can read me every Thursday in the Globe and Mail.

What's on your Christmas list this year?

RS: For Christmas I want peace in my troubled family.

Michael Hingston