The title of local author Robert Jeschonek's breakout novel is a little misleading.
In the novel, called "My Favorite Band Does Not Exist," the main character's favorite band actually does exist - just in a parallel reality.
Jeschonek's set out to write this young adult fantasy as a flip stream novel, or a type of science fiction that throws out the rules of reality without much explanation. It features a 16-year-old genius named Idea who creates a fake band as an Internet hoax. But little does he know the band actually does exist, and that he and the lead singer must meet in a third reality to resolve their issues.
Despite having written 45 e-books, “My?Favorite Band Does Not Exist” is Robert Jeschonek’s first venture into traditional publishing.
Though the novel about parallel realities and colliding worlds is as "ambitious" for the reader as it was for him to write, it is also a fast-paced and interesting read for both kids and adults.
"It's kind of a wild ride," said Jeschonek, 46, who moved from Altoona to Johnstown in 1995. "It's different from what's out there for that age group. There are a lot of books for young adults out there, but they're more supernatural. For that reason, I think it's appealing to that segment of the audience that's had enough vampire books for a while."
By providing young adults with more thematic substance than the supernatural event and emotion-based nature of popular books like the "Twilight" series, Jeschonek has caught the eyes of critics, calling "My Favorite Band Does Not Exist" a "cult favorite."
But the themes of the book are also still relevant to children and teens today, Jeschonek said, including the way the Internet has changed the nature of music and storytelling.
"I wanted to touch on the way music and stories and experience are all coming together as a result of the online revolution, and suggest where that might take us in the future," Jeschonek said.
Dr. Dave Ward, an assistant professor of English at University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown who's followed Jeschonek's career since he taught him in college, said he thinks any young man or woman that picks up "My Favorite Band Does Not Exist" will find it "satisfying."
"I think it speaks to their issues and gives some insight into the life that they're leading," Ward said. "It reflects the world of American teens today, at least as much as I understand it."
The book also offers a lot to an adult audience, Jeschonek said. He would compare it to the cross-generational appeal of a Pixar movie.
"Kids can enjoy the crazy stuff happening and the colorful story," he said. "Yet there's always other layers for adults to enjoy with adult-buoyanted humor and themes."
"My Favorite Band Does Not Exist" is Jeschonek's debut into traditional publishing, he said. Before the book's July release, he acquired success through self-publishing e-books on Amazon and other sites to be read through e-reader devices such as the Kindle, Nook and iPad. He has published 45 to date, and said this method of publishing has "opened up a whole new world for writers."
"Now, we just have to think, 'What do I have to write? We can write anything under the sun," Jeschonek said.
All of Jeschonek's work has been influenced by living in the local area, he said, including one being set in a town similar to Johnstown and another based in part on a real event that happened in Lilly.
"I love the area, and I love the fact that it's a low-stress place with a lot of interesting people and history," he said. "Those people and that history have informed my work."
And for one of the best students he's had in almost 40 years of teaching, Ward is happy that Jeschonek is finally getting the recognition for his work that he deserves.
"He always had a unique take on everything," Ward said. "He is an original thinker."
To buy the book or for more information on any of the writer's other books, visit Jeschonek's web site at www.thefictioneer.com.
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.