Wil also composed and performed three possible pieces of incidental music for the Gemini audiobook. All three have been posted below. The first is the one that was ultimately chosen.
“The squeamish may want to avoid the second entry in Mara’s disaster series (after 2010’s Wave), a foray into the deadly-virus subgenre…. The body count grows geometrically as the disease spreads through the populace until most of the country is infected. A subplot involving terrorism helps build suspense, but the virus itself and the deadly possibility that it could appear in the real world is quite enough to keep you turning pages to see who will live, who will die, and how the invader will be vanquished.”
“It seems like medical thrillers have gone by the wayside. Robin Cook and Michael Palmer are still at it, thankfully, but I don't see quite as many of these sorts of releases as I seem to recall in past years. Wil Mara definitely hits it out of the park with his latest, though. Technically part of his disaster series—along with Wave—The Gemini Virus is a chilling and horrific outbreak story (and a stand alone in terms of the read). Even scarier is Mara's claim that all the science is sound and that realistically an epidemic like The Gemini Virus could conceivably happen. Yikes!”
”This is one of those books that you look up and realize you’ve read 50 pages without noticing that any time has gone by….
”The best part, in my opinion, was Mara’s imagining of how the epidemic would play out on the social level. What would the press say? What would President Obama do? How would other countries react, and how would the disease impact international diplomacy? He even considers the economic impact, on tourism in Hawaii for instance, or on local grocery stores.
”Mara also chooses one family, the Jensens, who live near the disease’s ground zero, to follow throughout the outbreak of the epidemic. At first they try to maintain normalcy for their children, but when all hell breaks lose they decide to head to their vacation cabin with piles of canned food in hopes of riding it out alone. Their experiences provide an individual perspective on the social issues and remind us that, for the victims in an epidemic, disease is personal.
“With all of the possible disaster scenarios, the point is not what’s going to happen. The point is, how did it happen, how did people react, and what could be done to prevent it? And for the macabre-minded, let’s not forget, what are the gruesome symptoms? It is in these areas a disaster story can set itself apart. And Wil Mara manages to set The Gemini Virus far apart from others in the genre.
“The primary POV characters are two epidemiologists trying to track down and cure the virus, and a regular guy trying to keep his family safe. All three characters have strengths and weaknesses, well-developed pasts, and even moments of heroism. They make decisions, they have regrets. They wonder what they could have done differently, if and how they will be judged for what they did, and how they’re going to make it through to the other side of the virus. They make you wonder how you would react in the same situation, and what choices you would make, which is arguably the point of all literature.
“The fictional representation of actual people and places felt true, as did the conversations between epidemiologists. Some explanations were very scientific…but they were short, they fit the scenario, and they did not negatively impact the flow of the story.
”This is one of those novels that tends to give me the chills, as it deals with the possibility of a pandemic virus sweeping through our world and the chaos that erupts as a result. Having studied the Spanish Influenza of 1918-1920, I definitely understand how possible something like this could be and how devastating this would be in our world today.”
”You’ll find you’re holding your breath as you turn the pages, as much from the suspense as from the chilling realization that this could actually happen. An excellent page turner to add to your fall reading—but only if you can deal with the sleepless nights.”
”It’s the beginning of cold and flu season in most of the nation, so it’s the perfect time to read the chilling new disaster novel by Wil Mara, The Gemini Virus. This engaging thriller follows a mysterious, wildly contagious virus that kills within four days and seems to have no cure.”
“The premise is very simple on the surface—people get sick. People realize there’s an epidemic. People try to appear calm. Loved ones show symptoms. You get the idea…. It’s the execution that drew me in and kept me glued to the pages. I seriously couldn’t stop reading this one, and when I did, it was to research whether or not this could actually happen. (It can—everything in the book is based on scientific fact.) The characters are relatable, the plot tightly woven, and the medical jargon isn’t so heavy that it weighs down the pace.
“I have found that the apocalyptic thriller subgenre has been poorly attended over the years, especially in the U.S. Thanks to the contribution of Wil Mara, beginning with his Wave (still unpublished in Italy), who specializes in ‘disaster fiction, ‘ Gargoyle Publishing, in its well-intentioned effort to diversify the supply of such genres, has chosen Mara here with The Gemini Virus, his latest novel and his first book in Italian.”
“The end of the story, partly bitter, does not spare us an effective twist, which keeps the reader alert to the very last page. It is clear that Mara wanted to propose a plausible plot for effective entertainment that also made the choice to leave ample room for elements of realism, even with attention given to the scientific aspects. The realistic nature of this so-called ‘disaster fiction’ even went beyond Mara’s stylistic choices—the novel was released in Italy for the first time in November 2012, just after Barack Obama was re-elected to the presidency of the United States. With Obama as a minor character in the book, such events make the book seem less fantastic…and, if anything, more futuristic.
“This is fiction that’s suitable for all—as long as you don’t mind the adjectives ‘disturbing’ and ‘likely.’”
”What initially seemed to be a common flu is revealed instead to be a deadly infection that can spread like wildfire, in a few hours, with devastating results—empty streets and parks, schools, homes, offices, abandoned military bases, and bodies left to rot in every corner. The effect of The Gemini Virus is mass hysteria, agony, and death. And it is all inevitable.
”The protagonists of the novel are Dr. Beck and Dr. Porter—two epidemiologists who have been tasked to track down and eradicate the virus—and Mr. and Mrs. Jensen—who, in contrast, will do anything to protect their family to escape the effects of the deadly contagion. And it is this choice of the double perspective makes the novel even more compelling. The reader can relate to Mr. Jensen through his own fears and doubts, while at the same time feel involved in the scientific conversations and reflections of the professionals. The novel Mara has created is, in short, incredibly realistic, not only for the precision with which he deals with the technical issues, but also for its social, economic, and political impact. President Obama, for example, becomes suspicious of Iran's possible involvement now that the nation is led by Ahmadinejad's successor. And the alarmism spread by the press, and further set in motion by the machinery of world diplomacy, brings to mind the climate of terrorism and continuous high tension that has characterized international relations throughout the last decade.
”At a time like the present, where the danger of a collective psychosis (whether it be the mad cow disease, a terrorist attack, or some natural weather-induced disaster) is always lurking, Wil Mara has given us a novel that is all at once exciting, disturbing, and so tragically likely to be understood by the public.”
“Art, as Georges Braque said, is meant to disturb. Wil Mara's The Gemini Virus is a thriller about a virus that spreads as fast as the reader turns pages. Every once in a while you find a book that hooks you so hard you're yanked through its pages so fast that when you finally breathe and look at the little numbers up in the corner you're bonafide SHOCKED at how far into the book you already are. And at a lean less-than-300 pages, that makes The Gemini Virus burn as hot as the fevered characters who endure the wrath of this most horrid of new bugs. This one's almost Ebola meets smallpox on steroids.
“Mara manages a multi-layered story in the relatively short page count and juggles a complex plot and equally complex ensemble cast of characters…. Among the subplots/character arcs are: (A) Beck, of the Center for Disease Control, and Porter, a viral scientist, race to find the origins of and cure for, respectively, the ‘Gemini Virus’; (B) the political intrigue, tension mounting between countries as the possibility of terrorist involvement is pondered; (C) the story of an everyday family—they even have a pooch—on the run from the virus. There's lots afoot but those are the three main storylines—other than the general mayhem caused by an uber-deadly virus snuffing lives with a quickness. That last subplot that got on my nerves just a little, but that's just me. While I felt it was unnecessary—the political storylines served as sufficient breathers between scenes of Beck and Porter, etc.—many readers might connect with the all-American family caught in a horrid ordeal bigger than them and beyond their ability to control. Besides, their tale connects with the overall sweep of events in a most interesting twist.
“Speaking of such, The Gemini Virus packs enough of those and pulls some clever, exciting and surprising denouements out of Wil Mara's hat of writing tricks. It's King's The Stand (minus the supernatural) filtered through the streamlining effects of Michael Crichton, with a bit of Koontz's humanity—and love for dogs.
“Lest I leave you thinking this is a warm and fuzzy virus thriller, I'll note that this is among the gorier virus on a rampage novels I've consumed. Mara, though, while delivering grue slick as snot and blood, isn't lurid about it. His move-along writing delivers vivid imagery without over-the-top graphic prose. The Gemini Virus is a must-read for any fan of infectious books.”
—Mike Lipkin, The Noir Journal
“I have managed to wriggle myself out of romantic comedies and start a chain of apocalyptic-virus stories that kill 90% of humanity. Frankly I was hoping not to like The Gemini Virus as much, but man this book is awesome. The moment patient zero, Bob ‘germaphobe’ Easton died, I knew I had to get to the bottom of his death. I mean, the guy had a serious issue with cleanliness, so how can he be the first person to go?! Oh, the irony! The next thing I knew I was reading all the gory stuff on how the virus spread, what it does to you, and how it felt so real that I was scared it might really happen to us. I was paranoid for two days, had the overwhelming urge to stock up on hand sanitizer, and join the Doomday Prepper wagon. I had a lot of guesses on who was responsible for this virus, too—the government was number one, then maybe some stupid sceintist made a mistake or went crazy, then a terrorist attack, or Mother Nature felt like ending us and leave a vague open-ending kind of thing. But you’ll have to find out for yourself—go buy the book now.”
—Pat Carter, Peace, Love, and Reviews
“To write a noteworthy apocalyptic novel takes great skill and courage. The first danger, of course, is to avoid the systematic use of cliché, which is so common in the horror subgenre. Secondly, the ‘spectacle of death’ that the writer calls on stage can easily degenerate into boring splatter effects.
“In The Gemini Virus, Wil Mara wins these challenges by anchoring his dystopian nightmare to real, everyday lives. The exceptional nature of the event—a deadly virus that spreads among the American population claiming victims by the thousands—is a narrative built around two groups of ordinary characters—the Jensen family, and a handful of doctors led by the brilliant Michael Beck. Thus, the spread of the virus and the consequent panic is viewed from the perspective of a normal family on the run while being monitored by a team of experts at the center of events.
“The scientific knowledge and epidemiological details necessary for this type narrative are accurate without becoming academic…. The writing is most successful, however, when relating to the Jensens—father, mother, son and daughter—an ordinary family forced into an abnormal environment. So many of today’s fears are generated by countless modern prophecies, but Wil Mara instead favors a more concrete form of evil—a viral killer visible only under a microscope. Thus, The Gemini Virus tweaks some very sensitive and realistic strings. Who does not remember the hesitation to consume green leafy vegetables in the aftermath of Chernobyl, or the phobia for anthrax after September 11? The theme of the plot is present, but remains unsettlingly in the background without acquire centrality. Instead, at the center is always man, real and believable, with his fears and weaknesses.
“Wil Mara eschews epic fantasy tones that distinguish The Stand by Stephen King and the now unobtainable Darkness by Robert McCammon. Whereas these novels foreshadow the possibility of a reconstruction of new society, The Gemini Virus posits a return to the old rules and the established order as the best possible Utopia in the face of a world devastated by the chaos. In turn, Mara has produced a remarkably powerful story.”
—Mark Marangon, Infinite Stories (Italy)
“Barack Obama is at the helm of the United States when a terrible and deadly virus breaks out on the East Coast, not far from New York City. Mistaken at first for a simple flu, its spread is so rapid and fatal that all American cities are virtually transformed into lifeless wastelands. Michael Beck and Cara Porter are CDC epidemiologists searching desperately for way to defeat the epidemic and save millions of lives. Meanwhile, Dennis and Andi Jensen must find a place of safety at all costs in order to save their young family from being infected.
“Wil Mara, an American author born in 1966, gives life to this story on both social and emotional fronts. Its strength is such that it easily crosses the threshhold between the unthinkable and the likely in the best tradition of Michael Crichton. It is no coincidence that Mara’s writing style is fast, fluent, and easy to read, even in spite of the scientific and technical details he includes (which are reliably accurate). The end result is a story with tremendous impact, able to involve and enthuse, pulling surprised characters into a series of overwhelming events, made all the more so due to its writing quality, and turning a normal book into a living nightmare of the worst fears of man.”
—Gianfranco Broun, Article Three (Italy)
“Wil Mara's The Gemini Virus is a disturbingly plausible account of the outbreak and spread of a horrific new lethal disease in the United States. Those infected die terribly within four days and the disease spreads alarmingly fast through smalltown America, hitting first-responders the hardest…. It is a well developed story, both thought-provoking and frightening.”
—Hilary Williamson, BookLoons
“A contagion that threatens the world lies at the heart of The Gemini Virus, a book that is very much welcome from a versatile and prolific author, and a gem to be added to the necklace at Gargoyle Publishing.
“The apocalyptic, medical-thriller subgenre, which has been very successful on the big screen with films such as Contagion and Outbreak, is enhanced by this superb novel, which, according to many reviewers, possesses a remarkable structure. The Gemini Virus comes to us from the mind of Wil Mara, who has written for both adults and children, and Gemini represents a new type of book for Gargoyle Publishing, who normally offer works of horror and gothic fiction on a great literary level.
“Narrated with stark realism, The Gemini Virus offers a plot centered on the threat of a real pandemic, which has become an obsession in recent times as we recall the terror of ‘mad cow’ disease and the much-trumpeted ‘bird flu.’ In a crescendo of action and tension against the backdrop of a society addicted to the myth of perfection and the fear of old age and death, a battle takes place based on a few fundamental questions—Who will survive when the mortality rate of the disease is 97 to 99%? Can a cure be found? And who is responsible for unleashing it? While two of the CDC’s epidemiologists work frantically to understand what is happening and try to find Patient Zero, the disease spreads at an alarming rate, first within the borders of New Jersey and then around the world.”
—Roberta De Tomi, Urban Fantasy (Italy)
The Gemini Virus Readers’ Companion
If you’re looking for the supplemental publication The Gemini Virus Readers’ Companion, you can find it by clicking here.
On the Dust Jacket
“Wil has created a credible and chilling scenario and placed it in a fast-paced and immensely entertaining story. Thrilling and eerie. Once you open the front cover, you will not be able to put it down.”
—Dr. Martinez J. Hewlett, Professor Emeritus, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Arizona, and the co-author of Basic Virology
“The Gemini Virus is a terrifying tale of a mysterious lethal outbreak that starts in a smalltown community and quickly goes global. It pits the nightmare virus against a talented team from the CDC as well as an assemblage of less-visible scientists and health care professionals. President Obama even puts in a memorable appearance. Thank your lucky stars the scenario is fictional!”
—Dr. Elinor Levy, Immunologist, Associate Professor of Microbiology, Boston University School of Medicine, and author of The New Killer Diseases
“The Gemini Virus rocks its genre, setting a new standard for public fear. Wil took a familiar theme—a deadly pandemic—and crafted it into a tense and very exciting story. I’ve been a sci-fi fan all my life, and this is by far one of the best doomsday books I’ve ever read. A taut thriller that grabbed me from page one.”
—Robbie Dupree, Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter
A dynamite bookmark has been designed for The Gemini Virus—click here to take a look. You are welcome to download it (right click, choose ‘Save Image As…’, etc.) and print it out. At 6” x 2”, it is an ideal bookmark size.
You can get a copy of Gemini through several online retail sites by clicking one of the quick links below. More will be added in the future.
Click here to order from AMAZON.COM.
Click here to order from BARNESANDNOBLE.COM.
It’s a beautiful spring morning on Long Beach Island, one of New Jersey’s most famous and beloved summer destinations. Thousands are beginning their day oblivious to the horror that is about to rise from the sea.
High overhead, aboard a 747 bound for Washington DC, a terrorist’s plot has gone awry. The plane nosedives into the Atlantic, and a smuggled nuclear device detonates, creating a massive undersea landslide. Within minutes, a tsunami of unprecedented force is born, and the waves begin moving toward the Jersey Shore. By the time they make landfall, the largest will reach a height of nearly thirty feet and pack enough power to erase everything in its path. With only one bridge to the mainland and less than three hours to evacuate, what are the odds that all the people of LBI will survive this day?”
Wave was released in May of 2005 and became an instant summer hit—so much so that its publisher, Plexus, had to order a second printing within 90 days. Articles praising the book's fast pace, well-drawn characters, and accurate scientific detail appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. Wil made countless appearances at bookstores, libraries, and discussion groups, including an interview with the incomparable Joan Hamburg, on WOR 710 AM, in late August.
“Wil Mara's new book, Wave (Plexus Publishing), delivers its punch with such force that the tension will be palpable as you quickly turn each page of this thriller. This is a fast-paced, nail-biting treat for the reader, especially those of you who are familiar with the New Jersey vacation spot [where the story is set]. Mara uses real locales as backdrops for his action and sustains the suspense by following specific colorful characters who live in this summer haven. The panic generated by a total evacuation of the island highlights the inadequacies of our alleged "preparedness" for catastrophes of this sort. Wave is an exciting but frightening glimpse of an all-too-plausible scenario. Read it at your own risk.”
—Mara Zukowski, Home News Tribune
”Wave has emerged as a summer hit among the throngs of Jersey shore residents and beach-goers. As buzz continues to grow about this new thriller set on Long Beach Island (L.B.I.), New Jersey, the book is steadily climbing Amazon.com's sales rankings. L.B.I. vacationers and inhabitants in particular are so enthralled with Wave that local booksellers have had difficulty keeping the book in stock. The surprisingly strong demand from booksellers required Plexus to go back on press months earlier than is typical for the small regional publisher.”
”Wave is a thriller that really is too compelling to put down before you finish reading it. The moral conflicts, unlikely heroics, and emergency responses of everyday people are played out against a tsunami disaster that is all too likely. It opens your eyes to disturbing possibilities. Best of all, besides the fact that it is extraordinarily well written, is that the science is believable. That counts a lot for this geology major!”
—Karenne Snow, Barnes and Noble
Winner of the 2005 New Jersey Notable Book Award
Wave was selected as one of twenty "New Jersey Notable Books" (and one of only two novels) by the New Jersey Center for the Book. To qualify, each nominated book had to be published between 1995 and 2005 and had to bear a New Jersey theme, flavoring, subject matter, and so on.
From Wil’s acceptance speech at the Governor’s Mansion, April 2006: "I am stunned by the receipt of this tremendous honor. As I have said many times, New Jersey is a fertile place for the imagination—there are hundreds of novels just waiting to be written here. I am so grateful to the people of the Center for their kindness and consideration in choosing Wave as one of twenty titles to represent the Garden State's literary heritage. As a lifetime Jersey resident, I am very proud of, and equally humbled by, this venerable tribute."
For more information about the New Jersey Center for the Book, and about the other nineteen titles that were selected for this award, click here.
The Stories Behind the Story
The ‘Cult’ of BethAnn Mosley—and Her Original First Name
Winning Awards—Are Authors Always the Last to Know?
Click here to read the first chapter of Wave. Note: This requires Adobe Acrobat 6.0 or later. Chances are your machine already has this program. If not, you can download it for free by clicking here.
The following is a list of questions that have been asked with notable frequency during the promotion of Wave.
The following audio clips (podcasts) have been taken from various media interviews. Clicking on a title below should open the sound file in a new browser window, in which case the file will begin playing immediately. These are .mp3 files and will work on most modern media players, including iPods. To download a podcast, right-click on the title, select "Save Link Target As...," then save the file to your hard drive.