Being Santa Claus


About the Authors

Sal Lizard

Born in 1955, Sal grew up in Indianapolis during the turbulent years of the 1960s and early 1970s. In his teens and early twenties, Sal embraced the carefree life and culture of the hippie generation, hitchhiking his way back and forth across America, taking courses at a number of colleges and universities, seeing the sites, meeting new people, and living life to its fullest with pockets that were most of the time empty.

In his mid-twenties, Sal joined the U.S. Navy and saw a great deal of the world, getting to know even more people and experience a wondrous range of cultures and societies. During this time, Sal’s hair and beard began to turn completely white. But it wasn’t until he reached the age of 36 that Sal finally settled down, marrying a woman from Charleston, South Carolina with a four-year-old daughter, and finally turning his life from happy-go-lucky vagabond to responsible father, husband, and businessman. It is at this point in Sal’s life that Being Santa Claus begins.


For the past three decades, Sal has played Santa Claus in front of countless children and adults in a wide variety of venues from homes and offices to malls, parades, schools, hospitals, and even in a major Hollywood movie. During this time, Sal and his family have lived in South Carolina, Vermont, New Hampshire, Ohio, Georgia, and now Kentucky, where Sal lives with daughter Ashley and granddaughter Layla nearby. (Sadly, Sal’s wife Linda passed away unexpected from a brain tumor in September of 2022.)


Sal currently spends his non-Santa time acting in and producing small, independent films. When he’s not appearing as Santa Claus in a shopping mall or photo studio, you might be able to catch one of Sal’s personal appearances on stage as a comic or at a number of horror film conventions throughout the U.S each year. Sal has also been making personal appearances as Santa Claus via Skype and Zoom, something he began during the lockdown and continues doing at holiday time.

Jonathan Lane


Born in 1967, Jonathan grew up in New York City and earned a bachelors degree in Psychology from Cornell University. But his life took many different roads from there. He went on to study Graphic Design at Pratt Manhattan and then moved to southern California in 1993 to start a multimedia company with his brother David. One of the pioneers of Internet marketing on the World Wide Web, Jonathan helped design the first-ever online interactive children’s game for Disney’s Toy Storywebsite in 1995. Later, Jonathan went on to be the Creative Director for Nestle’s Willy Wonka Candy Factory website for six years, designing over 40 interactive games, helping to write children’s content and lesson plans, answering Willy Wonka’s e-mail, and even providing the voice of Willy Wonka on the website itself.


Jonathan went on to do some interesting things in recent years. For Christmas of the year 2000, he took a trip to Antarctica (to give Santa Claus more of a challenge). He then started a small business selling his nature photography on greeting cards. For a while, Jonathan became a teacher of first through sixth grades, specializing in computer education.


But Jonathan’s biggest adventure began in September of 2010 when he and his wife Wendy adopted a newborn baby boy and brought him home to Los Angeles. In January of 2012, Sal came to visit southern California for a few weeks on business, and he stayed with Jonathan and his family. Their son Jayden, then 16 months old, had just started talking, and took an immediate liking to their white bearded house guest. Within a few days, Jayden was saying “Santa” even though he hadn’t yet said either “Mama” or “Dada”! True story.


Among Jonathan’s most unusual accomplishments was writing and producing a Star Trek fan film called Interlude using $25,000 in crowd-funded donations from other Trekkies. Paramount allows fans to produce not-for-profit Star Trek fan films under a list of guidelines. Jonathan’s film went on to win awards at a number of independent film festivals. Jonathan also publishes a regular blog called Fan Film Factor spotlighting countless other Star Trek fan films.

How this book happened…

They say that luck is where opportunity and hard work meet, and we definitely had a lot of all three!

Sal and Jonathan met, of all places, at a Star Trek fan club international conference. In 2008, both were serving on the executive committee of STARFLEET, a Star Trek fan organization that’s been around nearly forty years. While Jonathan knew that Sal played Santa Claus during the holiday season (how could he not looking the way he does?), the two had never discussed Sal’s “other life.” But that weekend in North Carolina, Jonathan finally asked Sal about his experiences as Santa Claus. After about a dozen stories, each more interesting and engaging than the last, Jonathan finally said, “Sal, you need to write a book!” Sal said he’d thought about it, but he’d never been much of a writer, and he usually found himself too busy to make any progress.

“Well,” Jonathan said, “Why don’t I write it for you?” The plan was simple, or so they thought. Jonathan would call Sal once or twice a week, ask him to tell his stories, record the phone calls, and then write up what he said. They’d be done in no time!

Two years later, after over 50 hours of recorded conversations and in-depth interviews, first drafts, second drafts, revisions, and re-revisions, Sal and Jonathan finally had a full manuscript of 89,000 words! So now what?

Although a growing number of first-time authors are beginning to self-publish their work as e-books, Sal and Jonathan wanted to at least try to find a professional publisher first. But in order to do that, authors usually need to have a literary agent.

Here’s where a little bit of luck entered the picture. One of Jonathan’s closest friends knew a literary agent in New York City, Scott Waxman, and provided an e-mail introduction. Scott read the manuscript over the Independence Day weekend, and on July 5th, he called to say he wanted to represent Sal and Jonathan and try to sell the book. Two weeks later, Scott found not just one but two major publishers to bid on the manuscript. Not only had we found an agent and a potential publisher, but there was actually a bidding war! We could hardly believe it.

When the smoke cleared, Gotham Publishing, a division of Penguin Books, had bought the rights to our manuscript. After a few months of tweaks and revisions with Gotham’s editor, the manuscript was ready to go, and Santa Sal and his co-writer elf Jonathan became published authors.

Ten years later, with the hardcover and paperback no longer in print, Sal and Jonathan were able to regain the full rights to Being Santa Claus. Soon after, just in time for Christmas of 2022, they released a new EXPANDED version of the book both on Kindle as well as a full-length audio version. Both can be purchased from Amazon.

We really look forward to sharing the wonderful stories of Being Santa Claus with all of you. Thank you for visiting our website.