Interviewer: Thanks for being here with us, Mr. Pendragon.
Steven Allister Pendragon: Please, call me Steve. That’s Steve with a V.
I: Steve with a V? I…what? How else would you—why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself?
SAP: You know, whenever someone asks me that, I never really know how to answer. What does “tell me about yourself” really even mean? If you want to get existential, then you can look at it like, “tell me about your Self,” with a capital S, then I can get all Eckhart Tolle or Deepak Chopra on you. Both great guys, by the way. I mean, I can say my Self is this beautifully constructed entity, floating around in the ultra-consciousness of space, where we’re all interconnected with each other forming this sort of spiritual hive-minded unit motivated by love and some grander meaning of the universe. Or you could simply be asking me what I like for breakfast…and that’s oatmeal…or what I do for a living, which really opens up another Pandora’s Box of even bigger questions, because what IS a living? It’s a maddening question.
I: Okay… That’s not what… Never mind. Moving on. It seems throughout the book that you have this sort of fascination with the Post Office. Why is that?
SAP: Why wouldn’t I be? It’s such an amazing, intricate system that we all take for granted. We lick a stamp, drop a letter in a box, and then forget about it. We simply trust in the fact that this humongous machine of ingenuity will get our letter where it needs to go. Didn’t you ever stop to think about how it gets to where it’s going, all these pieces that need to function in unison to get your one single little envelope thousands of miles away? And that’s one letter! One! If you’re not totally blown away by the fact that the United States Postal Service processes one hundred and sixty billion pieces of mail annually, then I can’t help you.
I: Interesting. I never looked at it that way.
SAP: Nobody does. Not anymore. It’s a shame, really.
I: So how did Mr. Lindsey choose you and your life as the subject for this novel?
SAP: Who wouldn’t choose me? I’m kidding. We had a lot of coffee together and talked it over and I guess he ultimately decided that my story was one worth telling.
I: And what’s your story?
SAP: Here we go again. You mean my story, or the capital S story?
I: Look, I’m not Matt Lauer here. Just tell the audience what happens in the book, Steve.
SAP: Oh, right, that story. Plot probably would’ve been a better word to use if you want to get technical or literal.
I: *sigh* What’s the plot of HARMLESS?
SAP: Here’s the thing…the story—wink wink, nudge nudge—it’s really a love story disguised as a murder-mystery. It may not seem like it on the surface, but ultimately HARMLESS is about one man’s search for love and acceptance. My journey, basically. If you really want to delve deeper—
I: I’m not sure I do…
SAP: If you really want to delve deeper, we Pendragons are an elevated bunch, but we’re also sort of misunderstood. It’s hard operating on this plane of existence that so few people ever get to—
I: The plot?
SAP: Oh, right. The short version goes like this: someone murders my next-door neighbor, Kerry Parker, and it may or may not be me. There’s always that little question hanging over your head, you know? The first line of the novel is, “Here’s how it happened, and most of this is true,” or something like that. The whole time, Mr. Lindsey really plays around with that fine line that exists between perception and reality. What’s real and what we think is real. Your reality and my reality aren’t the same just because of the way we perceive things.
I: Thanks for keeping it short. Let’s move on. Now I’m really going to get Matt Lauer on you here. In the beginning of the novel, you’re really portrayed as this sort of creepy jerk. How’d you feel about that?
SAP: I am?
I: Haven’t you read it yet?
SAP: Read it? I lived it—really, he called me creepy?
I: Not in so many words.
SAP: Look, I know I may come across as a little—what’s the word—forward, but I’m not creepy. I’m kind and caring. Maybe a little too concerned about what people do but I’m only trying to help, you know? If I showed you my report card from first grade, I remember this exactly, it said, “Plays well with others, but might be somewhat overzealous.” Man, Mrs. Wallace. I used to have such a crush on her. I think that’s the first time I ever really felt what love might be like outside of the usual family-type love. I didn’t know what it was, really, but I knew there was something there. Of course she mistook my being concerned for the well-being of others for overzealousness, but I’d rather be overzealous than a creep, any day. I think Mr. Lindsey and I will be having a discussion once the interview is over. I have an image to protect here.
I: An image? Steve…you’re a fictional character.
SAP: That doesn’t mean I’m not a real person with real feelings.
I: Um…that’s exactly what it means.
SAP: Next question, please.
I: Did you murder Kerry Parker?
SAP: What kind of sick, twisted question is that? That’s outrageous—you better believe Brian Williams will be hearing about this.
I: Answer the question. Did you murder Kerry Parker?
SAP: No. No, okay? I’m—I’m harmless.
::Removes microphone, storms out of the room::
Interviewer: Well, then. Stay tuned for HARMLESS! Coming up after the break, a team of dancing monkeys. You won’t want to miss this one, folks.