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Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' Almost Didn't Happen

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) --  For 32 years Professor Les Standiford has been the director of the creative writing program at Florida International University.

In 2008 he published a non-fiction book called "The Man Who Invented Christmas."

It's the story of a struggling Charles Dickens who pens "A Christmas Carol" in the last ditch effort to save his career.

It's based on information Standiford learned about the world famous author.

"Someone sent me an email asking did I know that Charles Dickens had to self-publish what's become the most popular novel of all time and a bunch of other questions," said Standiford. "He asked did I know Dickens was broke, depressed and ready to quit writing. Did I know that Christmas had been a second-tier holiday and barely celebrated in the world? The answer in my case was no, I had no idea."

Standiford became fascinated by the then handsome young author and his struggle to get his book out there.

"I thought it would be fascinating to know 'A Christmas Carol' very nearly didn't happen. If it hadn't been for Charles Dickens believing in his own work it wouldn't have happened and he went to his publisher and explained the story and they said lie down until it passes," said Standiford. "They said no one will be interested in a ghost story about Christmas. Imagine that."

The book caught the eye of Books & Books owner Mitchell Kaplan and his business partner who pitched it to be made into a movie.

It worked and is being released in theaters nationwide this week.

Standiford was a consultant on the Dublin set.

Downton Abby's Dan Steven plays Charles Dickens and actor Christopher Plummer plays Scrooge.

"People say whose the best Scrooge, some say George C. Scott. There's a new Scrooge on the horizon. Plummer is amazing. He's 88 years old and all he has to do is raise his eyebrows and the whole room goes quiet," the author explained.

The dedicated professor couldn't be more excited about the film's premiere.

"That someone is about to take your book and make it into a movie that millions of people will see, what a thrill," said Standiford.

CBS4's Lisa Petrillo asked him if he's going to quit teaching and start writing movies.

"I'm not going to quit my day job," he said laughing.

"That's good," said Petrillo. "We need more good teachers!"

'The Man Who Invented Christmas' is out in theaters on November 22nd.

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