Author Geaeme Simsion . Shrewd moves ... Simsion's book, The Rosie Project , was produced as a means to getting his script noticed and interest has snowballed. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

About this time last year, Graeme Simsion had a script he'd been plugging away at as part of a screenwriting course at Melbourne's RMIT University. It was going well - he had won an Australian Writers' Guild award for the best romantic comedy script and sent it to a New York agent, with no joy, but a local producer, Roslyn Walker, had taken out an option. Things were looking pretty good.
Today things are looking even better. We are sitting in his Fitzroy home talking not about that script but rather his novel, which will be published in Australia next week and over the coming months around the world - at this stage publishing rights have been sold to 32 countries for about $1.8 million.
Simsion wrote the novel for one reason: ''It was a question of how do you get a script noticed and one of the ideas that gets kicked around in screenwriting circles is get it published as a novel first.''
The Rosie Project tells the story of Professor Don Tillman, geneticist, probable Asperger's sufferer, socially awkward and a disaster with women. First dates are invariably catastrophic - if he can get that far. But Don wants a partner and with the help of his best friend Gene, whose own project is to have sex with a woman from every country in the world, devises a questionnaire: ''A purpose-built, scientifically valid instrument incorporating current best practice to filter out the time-wasters, the disorganised, the ice-cream discriminators, the visual-harassment complainers, the crystal gazers, the horoscope readers, the fashion obsessives, the religious fanatics, the vegans, the sports watchers, the creationists, the smokers, the scientifically illiterate, the homeopaths, leaving, ideally, the perfect partner, or, realistically, a manageable shortlist of candidates.''
Don is utterly idiosyncratic in his habits. He eats the same meal on particular days, plans his activities by the minute and hates to deviate from his timetable. He wears clothes built for comfort and ease of washing rather than any feeling for style.
He christens his questionnaire the ''Wife Project'', but things go awry when he meets Rosie, a completely unsuitable student from the project point of view but whom he agrees to help identify her biological father after the death of her mother. All that is known is that on her graduation night and before she married, Rosie's mother had a one-night stand with someone in the same class. The two decide to test the DNA of all those in a photo taken that night to solve the mystery.
Simsion admits the events of the past year seem extraordinary, like ''living the dream''.