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Several years ago, Maine author Paul Doiron took an unusual book on a flight, withstood a few odd glances from his fellow travelers, and then socked away the information he’d learned for use in a future book or story.
Doiron never really found a use for that knowledge in a novel, but he did use it as the basis for “Rabid,” a short story that was released as an e-book by MacMillan Publishers. The story was a hit, and has been nominated for an Edgar Award.
“There was a section devoted to [rabies] in humans which is always fatal and kills more people than you’d think each year, mostly in the developing world,” Doiron explained in an email interview on Friday. “I knew I needed to do something with that idea, but it didn’t seem to have a place in any of the novels I ended up writing. Finally, I decided, ‘To heck with it. I am just going to write a short story about a man who gets bitten by a bat.’”
In “Rabid,” that bat-bite victim doesn’t fare so well, Doiron said.
“He refuses to get tested and then begins to grow increasingly more erratic and violent,” Doiron wrote. “And it’s left to the reader to wonder if he’s rabid or not.”
Doiron said he hasn’t written many short stories — “The Bear Trap,” based loosely on the story of the North Pond Hermit was the only one he’s published — though he hopes to someday have enough good short tales to release in a collection.
Doiron earned his first Edgar Award nomination for his first novel, 2010’s “The Poacher’s Son.” That book was also the first in the Mike Bowditch series. The title character is a Maine game warden.
That book was nominated in the “Best First Novel” category. “Rabid” is competing in the “Best Short Story” group.
“Honestly, I think I have taken more pleasure in this nomination than in the one I received for ‘The Poacher’s Son,’” Doiron wrote. “There are a bunch of reasons. First, because “Rabid” was something that I did for myself with no certainty readers would ever see it. Secondly, because it’s one of five finalists in a category — best short story — that received more than 500 entries. And lastly because so many great authors never receive a single Edgar nomination, let alone two, in their career. I have been an Edgars judge and know what it means to be chosen. I literally lost my breath when I read the list of finalists and saw my name. I just never expected it.”
Due to its length, “Rabid” wasn’t the kind of story a publisher would traditionally produce the old-fashioned way, Doiron said. Thanks to advancements in technology, that’s no longer a burden.
“One of the great things about the revolution in digital publishing is that it’s made it possible to bring out works that, for one reason or another, wouldn’t have been candidates for conventional printing,” Doiron explained. “At only 10,000 words, ‘Rabid’ is somewhere between a long short story and a short novella — the term of art for it is a ‘novelette.’ It’s not financially feasible to print and distribute something so short. So my publisher, Minotaur Books, released ‘Rabid’ as an eShort in the run-up to the publication of my most recent novel, ‘STAY HIDDEN.’”
Minotaur later decided to also do an audio version of “Rabid,” Doiron said.
Doiron said readers can expect “Almost Midnight,” the 10th book in the Mike Bowditch series, to be released on July 2. And since he completed that work, he has remained busy.
“I wrote a couple more short stories that are currently with my agent. Maybe they will end up in magazines, or maybe I will go the eShort route again,” Doiron wrote. “At the moment, I am just looking forward to the Edgar Awards banquet in New York this spring. I haven’t had an occasion to put on my tux for a while.”