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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Interview With Author Gary Jones

A Jerk, a Jihad, and a Virus

1. What inspired you to write your book? I wrote the book because I saw how an old rumor about mistakes made with a deadly pathogen and new information on the origin of the HIV-1 virus could be combined and adapted into a story of a fictional mutant of the SARS virus. I entered graduate school at the age of 42, so my experiences in grad school at the U. of Minnesota were still relatively fresh in my mind and I could use them to begin the story.

2. What is it about? The story is set in 2004, shortly after the SARS virus ravaged China and caused 13 deaths in Canada. Veterinary virologist Jason Mitchell can’t keep his mouth shut, can’t lie convincingly, and can’t follow orders. He’s an unlikely candidate to help the CIA locate and destroy a deadly hybrid SARS virus stolen from his lab at the University of Minnesota, but he is the only scientist who has worked with the virus. From Washington to Djibouti, from Minneapolis to Yemen, Marines cringe, Senators turn livid, and CIA agents shudder as Jason flounders to prevent the virus from becoming a biological weapon in the hands of jihadists.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting  thoughts for readers who finish your book? The story stresses that science is a cooperative enterprise, that graduate students in American universities work their butts off, that there are rewards for treating your fellow man decently, and that life will be funny--at time hilarious--as long as there are people.

4. What advice do you have for writers?  Read. Read widely and often, and write. Write when you're tired, write when you're stuck, and write when the story seems to be going no where. Your first draft is a scaffolding. At least for me, it is easier to revise 20 times than to get that first draft on paper.

5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? I don't know. The only constants are that it will change and that whatever my guess is as to what it will be like in the future will be wrong.

6. What challenges did you have in writing your book? Making a humorous story that was scientifically accurate about a pathogen capable of causing a pandemic imposed limits. Writing about countries I hadn't visited required research and talking with people who had been there. I wrote the first five chapters and started over four times with three different viruses before I had my plot well in mind and an idea where in the story should start. I got to the middle of the book and wasn't sure what to do next, so I followed the advice of an instructor and made life hell for my protagonist. It was so much fun, I did the same for my antagonist. I have good friends who are Muslim. They are some of the kindest, gentlest, and best educated people I've worked with, so I took pains to portray characters like them.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours? The story is a fast-paced, witty, and tautly written thriller with an international setting, great detail, and realistic and interesting characters who maneuver for the safety of the Western world. It is funny, scientifically accurate, and instructive.

About Gary Jones: He was raised on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and grew up showing Holsteins and Clydesdales. Jones earned his veterinary degree at Michigan State University and practiced bovine medicine in rural Wisconsin for nineteen years. At the age of 42, Jones uprooted his family and returned to graduate school at the University of Minnesota, where he earned a PhD in microbiology. While at the U of M, Jones developed both a diagnostic test for a disease of swine, and a means of extracting bacterial DNA from swine feces and used the test he’d developed, which was based on PCR, to identify pigs infected with a bacterium that had not been able to grow in the lab. The diagnostic test is now a standard test used worldwide in veterinary diagnostic labs. Jones is also the author of Doc’s Codicil, a finalist for the INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award for 2015.
Learn more and connect with the author at, and on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016


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