Thursday, December 16, 2010

CJ Lyons

Good morning! I am pleased to introduce today's Get Lost in a Story interview, the incomparable CJ Lyons. I may not be a medical professional, but I feel it is my duty to put a cautionary label on CJ's books.

WARNING: Picking up a CJ Lyons novel may result in severe disorientation, e.g. you will get lost--truly. Reading is not recommended when one has to pick up kids, has something in the oven, or has an appointment to keep. With that, Dear Reader, pick one up at your own risk.

Please join the GET LOST crew as they welcome CJ Lyons:

Donnell: Which of your characters would you most/least to invite to dinner, and why?
CJ Lyons: That's a tough one. Amanda is the only one who can actually cook but Gina has excellent taste in ordering take out from exclusive restaurants, Nora is the best hostess for putting everyone at ease, and Lydia has the most interesting stories to tell (but you'd have to get her drunk first, she's pretty shy)…I think I'd invite Trey. Not only is he an interesting (and cute!) guy, but all the women would pitch in and help out, so you'd get the best of everything.
Donnell: Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?
CJ Lyons: I read reviews when they come to me in my google alert (I don't go looking for all the online reader reviews on Amazon, etc) but they don't influence me much. So far they've been uniformly positive, so the main reason I read them is they provide nice quotes for my website.
The feedback that does influence my writing comes from the fanmail readers send. I do make sure I answer all the questions they want answered (and they think of some I never dreamed of and so had to figure out the answers to!) and work hard to give them the elements of story that they want the most: rich, strong but flawed characters and interesting situations to challenge them.
Donnell: Have you ever written a character who wasn’t meant to be a hero/heroine but he/she wouldn’t go away?
CJ Lyons: Lucky, the sidekick of my romantic thriller CHASING SHADOWS….he stuck around and kept bugging me until I gave him his own book in LOST IN SHADOWS (both available as ebooks)
Donnell: What is your favorite cheese?
CJ Lyons: Asiago
Donnell: Tea or coffee?
CJ Lyons: Neither, hot cocoa for me, please
Donnell: What name have you been dying to use as a lead character, but haven’t found the right fit yet?
CJ Lyons: Nicholas Shade….but I think I will be using him in my new project, so don't steal him!
Donnell: What’s in your refrigerator right now?
CJ Lyons: Tangerines, skim milk, asiago cheese, cat food, Ghiradelli dark chocolate, humus, feta cheese, spinach, red peppers, olives
Donnell: (yum on the refrigerator answer ;) Is Elvis really dead?
CJ Lyons: Yep, but then he was cloned…
Donnell: What is your favorite tradition from your childhood, that you would love to pass on or did pass on to your children?
CJ Lyons: We have a 250 year old family recipe for the ugliest (but yummiest!!) Christmas cookies on the planet…going strong with the next gen already!
Donnell: (that's an old tradition!) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
CJ Lyons: I don't write in order. In fact, because CRITICAL CONDITION (the finale of my Angels of Mercy series that just hit the stores) was so tightly paced and took place in less than four hours AND I had four main characters' story lines to juggle, I wrote it backwards.
Literally. Knew who was alive at the end of the book and wrote it scene by scene backwards from there….sounds crazy but it was great fun!
Donnell: What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing/researching a book?
CJ Lyons: That elevator hatches are locked from the OUTSIDE (yeah, how many movies does that ruin???)
Donnell: (I know. That messed me up too ;) What is your favorite kid joke?
CJ Lyons: How do you make a Kleenex dance? Just blow some boogie into it!
Donnell: Which is your favorite language other than your native language?
CJ Lyons: Navajo
Donnell: (difficult language!) What would you do if you had a time machine?
CJ Lyons: Hook up with Dr. Who (the David Tennant incarnation, if you please!)
Donnell: How much money does it take to be happy?
CJ Lyons: None
Donnell: (hence why you became a writer? ;) If you couldn’t be a writer anymore, what profession would you take up?
CJ Lyons: I always wanted to be a film editor—pulling all those images into a cohesive story visually and narratively
Donnell: What’s the first thing you do when you finish a book?
CJ Lyons: Start the next…
Well, there you have it. Some insights into what makes CJ tick. Thanks for sharing about the Elvis clones. All this time I thought they were impersonators.
Today, CJ is giving away WARNING SIGNS, one of her Angels of Mercy series novels and the Mainstream genre winner in the published division of The 2010 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, in which CJ was a double-finalist.
About CJ:
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. She has assisted police and prosecutors with cases involving child abuse, rape, homicide and Munchausen by Proxy and has worked in numerous trauma centers, as a crisis counselor, victim advocate, as well as a flight physician for Life Flight. CJ credits her patients and their families for teaching her the art of medicine and giving her the courage to pursue her dream of becoming a novelist.
Her first novel, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), received praise as a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller" from Publishers Weekly, was reviewed favorably by the Baltimore Sun and Newsday, named a Top Pick by Romantic Times Book Review Magazine, and became a National Bestseller. LIFELINES also won a Readers' Choice Award for Best First Novel.
Her award-winning, critically acclaimed Angels of Mercy series (LIFELINES, WARNING SIGNS, URGENT CARE and CRITICAL CONDITION) is available now. Her newest project as co-author of a new suspense series with Erin Brockovich, starts with the release of ROCK BOTTOM in March 2011. To learn more about CJ and her work, go to

Join us tomorrow as Cat Schield hosts Urban Fantasy Author Skyler White!



  1. Hiya, C.J.! I just started Critical Condition, which was a huge mistake because I don't want to put it down and get anything else done. So if my house isn't decorated for the holidays, it's all your fault! LOL.

    Terrific interview, Donnell!

  2. CJ has that effect on people, Annette. She has a true understanding of human nature. Must be that she was around them 24/7 I don't dare pick her up until after my deadline ;) Thanks for stopping by. Maybe she'll share that 250-year-old recipe with us!

  3. Don't blame me, Annette--blame the badguys with their lousy timing, lol!

    So glad you're finding CRITICAL CONDITION an irresistible read!!! I had such fun writing it!

  4. Thanks for having me, Donnell!

    As for the recipe it's for mincemeat cookies--there are no measurements in it at all except for "glug or two of wine," "enough flour 'til a wooden spoon stands up straight," and "scant palmfull of salt" it's become a rite of passage for each generation to master.

    But as traditions go, this one is pretty yummy!

  5. Hi CJ! Hi Donnell!

    What a fun interview! Thanks for starting my day off with a smile :)

  6. You're very welcome, Rashda!!! Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I have your book Critical Condition on my kindle waiting TBR. What is your writing schedule like? Do you write everyday or do you skip weeks without working on your current project?

  8. Good question, Ruby! I actually have no set schedule--very bad, I know, and not what all the books tell you!

    I write when I want--and if I have a deadline (which is almost always) that often means writing seven days a week, several sessions a day....but if I don't feel like working on the story on any given day or if my brain needs time to ferment the story without my forcing words onto a page, I'm totally cool with taking a day or two off...

    My only rule for writing is: No Rules, Just Write!

    As long as the story gets told, who cares how you do it?

  9. Hi, CJ! *waves from Toronto*

    It's great to have you here. I love the mincemeat cookies recipe. There are a few like that in our family, too... with guidelines like "butter the size of a walnut"

  10. Hi Maureen!!! Hope it's not too cold up there!

    Oh yeah--in fact, the original recipe called for venison...we just use store bought mincemeat nowadays, lol!

  11. CJ, DQing myself from the drawing, darn it. But I would love to know. Have any of your patients ever contacted you and said... is this me? Your background is perfect to write what you do, and it's clear it's one of your passions. Thanks for joining us today.

  12. None of my patients has ever thought they might be in a book--probably because I work very, very hard to totally fictionize any real life cases...the medicine is real, but the people are totally made up.

    However, I did have a nice guy from Texas email me and ask if we'd ever met...his name was Trey Garrison (Lydia's hunky paramedic love interest) and he'd never met anyone else with that name and Trey's description kinda sounded like him, so had our paths crossed???

    Sadly, no....

  13. I can't believe you wrote a book backwards. Still trying to get my head around that...

  14. Hi CJ!!! Great to see you here at GLIAS.

    I found so many things about your interview quite fascinating, but I must say I'd never thought about fans writing and asking questions you hadn't thought of... Drives home the fact that other people really read our work and get involved enough in the stories to want to know things we didn't even think to write...

    Thanks for coming by!

  15. Hi Simone!

    It was great fun writing backwards--and with four main characters and their storylines to juggle it made sure that I didn't kill someone off in one scene and have them alive in the next, lol!

  16. Thanks, Heather! And you're right, it is very cool to think of the voices in my head living on as full-blown people in someone else's!

  17. May I compliment CJ on her amazing skills with query letters and tag lines as well? I took a class of hers once and it was wonderful.

    Congratulations on your new series! Sounds exciting!

  18. Thanks, Gillian! That was probably my Break Free from the Slushpile class--I'm teaching it again in January.