James Sismanes, a final year student of 2008, is the latest in a long line of Old Paradians to have turned his hand to book writing.
James’ self-published tome – The Art of Being Jonny – is set for release on March 27, and in essence deals with the thorny subject of moral dilemna.
“Originally I started writing a different book entirely,” James conceded, in an interview at a café in nearby University Hill recently.
“I completed about 150 pages about a guy who developed this business in Florida, got in with the wrong crowd and ended up being chased by law enforcement . . . but the story was too generic and I didn’t like where it was going.
“Some time later I was at my fiancé’s house watching an episode of A Current Affair. The episode featured a small story about a bloke from regional Victoria who found a loophole in the ATM system, which meant he could withdraw unlimited funds without it being recorded then splurge all the money around Melbourne whilst believing he’d done nothing wrong.
“Anyway, I thought about it and found that tiny idea fascinating – that a normal, unobtrusive, naïve guy going about his business could accidentally find himself in this situation.”
Thought firmly planted in his mind, James duly set to work on his manuscript, a process which took him the best part of three years to complete. Attention to detail was paramount, to ensure that the people and the places of which he wrote were authentic - and Google Earth helped his cause in respect of the latter given that the story is set in the town made famous by Billy Joel’s musical homage to the unemployed steelworkers, Allentown.
Accordingly, James has penned a story which he likens to “Breaking Bad meets The Wolf of Wall Street” – a story which poses the question “How much are you willing to sacrifice in order to get ahead and when you get there will it have been worth it?”.
And the answer?
“Well you’re going to have to read the book. I had two general resolutions in mind when I first started writing, but ultimately I stuck with one of them all the way through,” said James.
“That was because the way the story ends makes sense for the character and makes sense for the reader who understands that no matter how hopeless the situation there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
A dedicated Walt Disney fan, James revealed that his next tome - an historical fiction - would revolve around mob-exploitation of a Hollywood-based animation studio of the early 1920s.
The Art of Being Jonny is available from March 27 through Amazon, Angus & Robertson BookWorld, Booktopia and Barnes & Noble