Don Tillman organizes his schedule perfectly, approaches situations in the most practical way and lives life by very strict rules. Thus, each scenario he encounters in life is methodically planned, prepared for and absolutely predictable.
Even his pursuit of a wife.
He quickly filters women who don't fit his requirements, until he meets Rosie. Though she defies every aspect of Tillman's systematic survey, a romantic relationship ensues, and Tillman learns much about an area where his expertise only takes him so far.
The framework for Simsion's book is that of a typical romantic comedy movie.
"A universal story, if you like," Simsion said. "Man meets women, they don't get on at first, their relationship grows, etc."
Simsion said his goal with character development is not to make people likeable, but to make them relatable.
His inspiration for the protagonist was based on a friend who is much like Tillman: a socially awkward technical geek who struggled to find love for a long time. He eventually married, but his wife become very ill. His personality, however, was perfect for their relationship. The man was rigidly dedicated to his wife.
Tillman's social awkwardness might be the most endearing part of this book because the reader sympathizes and feels for scenarios the man encounters.
"Don is a man with a goal many of us share: to find love," Simsion said. "Most of us can relate to that and the awkwardness to how we go about it and the failure you feel when you get it wrong."
Simsion said throughout the book, which has recently been released in paperback, people feel for Tillman, therefore he is a strong character and someone with whom readers can identify: "I don't want to be Don Tillman, but I'm right there rooting for him," Simsion said.
Simsion said his success is surprising and gratifying, though selling millions of copies of his book and watching it become a movie was always a hope he had.
He said after he won a small prize for the unpublished manuscript in the book's early days, his expectations grew and he didn't think an eventual movie was out of the picture.
"It opened a door just a crack, and I thought, 'Wow. It's all possible now,'" Simsion said.
Now nearly 1 million copies of the book have sold in more than 40 countries. Sony has even purchased rights to the movie with Simsion attached as the screenwriter.
He said his success is most surprising in regions where the book is doing extremely well, in places like Israel, where the book has been on the bestseller list for more than a year, according to Simsion. Canada sits in second place.
The sequel for "The Rosie Project" is in the works with corrections for proofs submitted and a release in the United States set for sometime next year. In it, Don and Rosie will have a baby. It's set to be released in Australia this September.
The book has strong language and references to sex and infidelity.
Simsion will return to the King's English Bookshop on Saturday, June 21 in Salt Lake City.
If you go ...
What: Graeme Simsion book signing
When: Saturday, June 21, 11 a.m.-noon
Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City
Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured book from The King's English.