The Good Samaritan

What are you writing?

“The book I’m currently writing is called The Good Samaritan.”

Tell me about it.

“His name is Sam Mollusk, and he’s a data entry/data processor-type of guy. Deliberately, he sees the neighborhood Al Qaeda terrorist/Tupperware rep (he’s both) and he doesn’t like him so he runs him over, and he thinks he kills him. Well, he feels bad about that, and spur of the moment decides to go to church about it. He goes to church. And he sees he’s not doing ‘the right thing’: he’s supposed to be killing to help humanity, not just for his own selfish needs. So he’s going to start killing annoying people — people who talk loud on cell phones in restaurants, people who sass waitresses, and so on. He’s going to try to help things a little bit.

Downhill from him is his neighbor Medusa, from Greek mythology. But she’s not divine; she just takes a lot of vitamins. And the snakes are not just garter snakes. She’s fallen in love with him, and eventually they’re going to get together. Meanwhile, the Al Qaeda people are not taking this kindly, but they’ve sort of mutated a bit by their guidance and this Al Qaeda software. So 600 of them got a free Club Med vacation — they’ve lost a little bit of their edge. And I think they’re going to start doing a little more of the Tupperware stuff rather than the terrorist things. Eventually it’s all going to tie together.”

What made you write it?

“If I get irritated about something, I make fun of it. Rather than get really angry or upset about something, I decided to laugh at it instead. You know if you drive anywhere, there’s annoyances and so on. I thought rather than get annoyed, I would have fun with it. I think [Sam] thinks he’s doing humanity a really good thing.”

Do you have a favorite section?

“This one’s just started, but the beginning part when he runs over the Al Qaeda person and the Al Qaeda’s wife comes out and is really upset. And he says, ‘Why should you be upset? He was Al Qaeda.’ And she says, ‘He made me laugh.’ And then he asks her out because she’s a widow now, and she’s available. And then it goes from there.”

Why should someone read this?

“Someone who I think likes a good laugh. I think it’s funny. I think it relates to human occurrences; you know, everybody gets upset about little things, but no one really thinks about murdering people. So I’m doing that for them.”

Tell me about your writing habits.

“I don’t have a set schedule. I know a lot of people do. I don’t think it works as well for humor. I think humor has to be fresh, and I want to be surprised — I want to have some idea where I want to be going, but at least I want to be a little bit surprised myself, make it funny. If you expect something, I don’t think it’s as funny; when it’s more unexpected, I think it’s funnier. Anyway, I try to write when I’m feeling funny, also when I’m not being interrupted as much. So if I’m writing well I can do a chapter in one sitting, or sometimes it might take days to write anything at all. I try to write when I’m in a good mood.”

What’s it like for your family?

“There are some times when I’m not as available because I’m writing when they’re there. But I try to not do it when they need me. My elder son likes when I write; my wife sort of likes it — she doesn’t always understand it all the time. But I think I’m relatively benign.”

Is writing your main line of work?

“I’m an economist, specializing in forecasting. I generally don’t talk about it too much when I’m talking about my writing because people’s eyes glaze over, like they’re doing now.”

Name: Paul De Lancey | Occupation: Economist/Novelist
Neighborhood: Poway | Where interviewed: Denny’s on Poway Road

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