Sunday, April 6, 2014

Character Interview with Don Tillman, PhD from The Rosie Project and INT giveaway of signed copy!

Dear Readers:
I'm very lucky to have Don Tillman, PhD on the blog today. He rarely makes public appearances like this, so savor it while you can! I certainly did :-) I do believe this is now the most memorable character interview I have ever done.

The Rosie Project Goodreads Book Description: An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

About Graeme: 
GRAEME SIMSION is a former information technology and business consultant who decided to re-invent himself as a screenwriter. Somewhere along the way, he became a novelist instead. The Rosie Project is his first book. A sequel, The Rosie Effect, will be published later this year. Graeme lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Interview with Don Tillman
1. Thanks, Don, for stopping by the blog today! We're excited to get to ask you some questions. First, tell us what your perfect day would be like. 
No deviation from schedule.
2. What is the most memorable event from your childhood?
Being unreasonably evicted from religious education class.
3. What is your favorite book and why? Favorite movie?
Book: Gödel Escher Bach by Douglas Hofstadter. It contains some fictional material that is nevertheless interesting and has an interesting discussion of artificial intelligence and recursion. Movie: To Kill a Mockingbird due to the positive effect on Rosie who finds the Atticus Finch character sexually attractive.
4. I hear you learn very fast. What skill set that you don't have would you like to learn most?
You have been misinformed. Probably your impression was based on anecdotal evidence in a limited domain – e.g. cocktail making in which focus and a good memory were critical. I am not surprised by your mistake. Physicians are notorious for overvaluing personal experience and anecdotal evidence. It took me an extremely long time to learn to catch a ball. “Don’t have” is imprecise. I obviously have some skills at reading and remembering faces, but they are well below average, leading to problems in fulfilling cocktail orders when people change positions. Plus some other difficulties.
5. I know you have quite a detailed list for the perfect woman. If you were able to advertise with only 5 words, what 5 words would you use? 
Before meeting Rosie: I require a rational partner.

In the hypothetical situation in which I could apply what I learned from the Rosie Project prior to commencing the Wife Project: Partner required for joint projects.

6. If you could meet one historical figure, who would it be and why? And what would be your most burning question?
This is a tricky question as few historical figures could provide interesting information, as our scientific knowledge has since progressed. I could ask Fermat for the proof he claimed to have found for his “Last Theorem” but I would almost certainly find that he had made an error and in any case we have now solved the problem. Hence I choose Y-Chromosomal Adam, the member of homo sapiens sapiens from whom all living humans are descended from patrilinealy. I choose the male ancestor, as we know more about Mitochondrial (“African”) Eve due to the ability to trace mitochondrial DNA. I presume I would be provided with the capability of conversing in his language. I would gain vast amounts of information just by looking around – at animals, Adam himself, even verifying that the location was indeed Africa. I would ask: What is your daily routine?  

7. Can you tell us a story about your most memorable student? 
No. I am forbidden by the Dean and the University legal department from discussing the Gender Misidentification Disaster.
8. Why genetics? 
Due to studying computer science originally and being stereotyped as a computer geek, which was annoying. Genetics was also interesting, from a mathematical perspective, and provided me with two degrees with strong synergies. I also thought I would avoid the geek label. I was incorrect – whatever profession I had chosen would have been suffixed by ‘geek’.
9. If you were only able to eat one meal for the rest of your life-- what would it be and why? 
The same meal every day? Incredible idea. Do you ask all interviewees this question? As a physician you should surely be aware that it would be difficult to provide correct nutrition with invariant meals. My solution would be to choose a large, multi-course meal with excess amounts of each course so that I could provide dietary balance and variation by varying the relative amounts consumed of each course. Since the question is hypothetical and my answer unlikely to be of practical value, I consider it wasteful to spend significant time on it. The following answer is indicative and only principal components are shown. All dishes are assumed to be accompanied by variety of nutritious grains and vegetables.

New Zealand Bluff oysters
Miso soup
Tuna sashimi
Lobster salad
Barbequed Kangaroo Fillet
Cheese including Roquefort, Gorgonzola and truffled Brie

Your question has motivated me to make a real margarita to accompany my virtual meal.

I hope you guys enjoyed this interview as much as I did! I can say with certainty that I have never and never will again interview someone quite like Don.

Now enter the awesome giveaway to win a signed copy of The Rosie Project! It's INT!

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  1. That interview was killing me, LOL. I've had this book forever, but haven't managed to read it yet. MUST and soon! Great post, Christina!

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

  2. He is hilarious. I've had students similar to him and it was such a pain to get certain concepts to gel in their minds (I taught various classes in sociology). It was a great experience for me, though. I became a MUCH better teacher as a result. I have wanted to read this book for what seems to be FOREVER now. I really, really want to win a copy.

  3. This is the most awesome thing ever.

    No. I am forbidden by the Dean and the University legal department from discussing the Gender Misidentification Disaster.


  4. What a funny interview! The meal he's prepared sounds delicious though. :D

  5. How fun! Thanks for sharing! This certainly makes me want to give this book a try.

  6. This is such a fun interview and he have an awesome personality. It is so kind of him to give a few moments from his time. :)