CJ: I’ve always used stories to makes sense of the world around me—it’s my coping mechanism for dealing with chaos. But I never really thought of writing as a career until after I sold my second novel–that’s second novel sold. I’d written my first novel in high school followed by two SF/F novels in medical school. I think I had five or six full novels and several half-started ones finished by the time I sold my first book.
Did you write prior to becoming a medical professional?
CJ: The first story I wrote was in nursery school (I’ve been a storyteller all my life, leading to a lot of time spent in time out as a child!) and was a convoluted soap opera involving finger puppets made from empty toilet paper rolls. My first published story was when I was in third grade and featured a blind girl and her horse making their way through rural Pennsylvania during the Civil War.
Are your books mostly based on real events and situations you have encountered?
CJ: I never use real life people—or patients!—in any of my stories, but I try to always use real life situations such as medical diseases, criminal cases, or emotions drawn from my own experiences.
Broken is based in part upon a very important member of your family, how is Abby coping with having Long QT Syndrome?
CJ: Abby’s great, thanks for asking! She’s totally opposite of Scarlet, fiercely independent and refuses to let her heart condition hold her back from anything she wants. She rides horses, raises Rottweilers, is a straight A student, and a budding fashionista.
You can see for yourself in this video my publisher produced: http://youtu.be/_Jk7ojHyd_o
Abby has never allowed her heart condition to define her life. I think a large part of the credit for that goes to her parents—they were always open and up front with Abby about her Long QT. By the age of three she could explain what Long QT was (including a short summary of the genetics!) to anyone who asked about her MedAlert bracelet.
Since then, she’s grown into a smart, independent young woman who is the first to jump in to defend a friend (or tell them they’re making a mistake), confront a bully, or lead a cause she’s passionate about.
If I sound like a proud aunt, it’s because I am!
How do you feel when fans tell you how your books have affected them?
CJ: It’s hard to describe. Discovering that I had the power to connect with people I’d never met, to inspire as well as entertain–that felt almost as good as saving lives in the ER! Only now, instead of touching one life at a time, I could reach out to thousands!
BROKEN is my twentieth book and I treasure each fan letter as much as the first. There have been people facing the pain of chronic illnesses who have been able to make it through the night because of my books. Fellow medical personnel, EMS, firefighters, and police officers have written, thanking me for the way I “tell it like it really is.” And readers who simply needed an escape from their lives have found refuge in my words.
Honestly, no matter how much money or which bestseller lists I hit, I can’t imagine any feeling as wonderful as the feeling I get when I hear from readers who have fallen in love with my books.
Any hints about what we may expect from your pen in the future?
CJ: I just turned in my second YA Thriller and this one was so hard to write! It deals with two kids, Jesse and Miranda, being black mailed by a cyber-predator using capping (screen capture images) and how they find the courage to stand up to him (with the help of their parents). They go through hell and some of the things that happen to them were so painful to write that I was weeping as I typed—but then I was crying again when I wrote the ending as they rose above it all and triumphed.
I thought it would be a stand alone, but after I finished it (the working title is DAMAGED, but I’m not sure if we’ll be keeping it) I realized there aren’t many books out there that tell you the rest of the story, the price to be paid for defeating the bad guys, so I’d love to tackle another book with Jesse and Miranda and show how their courage, strength, and relationship continue to evolve.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-one novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.
Winner of the International Thriller Writers’ coveted Thriller Award, CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday).
Learn more about CJ’s Thrillers with Heart at www.CJLyons.net