Today I’m bringing you my interview with NYT Bestselling author CJ Lyons who is making her YA debut with BROKEN a YA Thriller due to release on November 5th! Please check back at 7pm EST for my review!
I’m CJ Lyons, former Pediatric ER doc turned New York Times bestselling thriller author. BROKEN is my very first YA thriller and features a heroine who knows everything about dying but nothing about living. Scarlet has spent her entire life shuttled from doctor to doctor and hospital to hospital only to be diagnosed with a lethal cardiac disease, leaving her literally dying of a broken heart.
Because of her sheltered upbringing, Scarlet is very naïve and all she wants is to live like a normal teenager, so she convinces her parents to allow her to attend high school for a week…a week that gives Scarlet her first ever friends, first kiss (maybe the worst first kiss in recorded history, but she’ll take what she can get!), and a new outlook on her life, her disease, and her family as she unearths secrets she never suspected existed.
Scarlet’s character is loosely based on my own experiences as a pediatrician. I diagnosed my niece, Abby, with the same congenital heart condition, Long QT, when Abby was only twenty minutes old and BROKEN is dedicated to her.
Thanks for that introduction. What is the first story you remember writing?
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
Now that sounds like an interesting read! When did you first consider yourself a writer?
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.
What is the best piece of constructive criticism you ever received?
CJ: Jeffery Deaver told me to always remember the reader is god. I’ve taken that to heart and built my entire business model and writing routine around this philosophy—if I expect people to spend their time and money on my books, then I’d better be providing value. I still write the first draft of any book selfishly for me, me, me—that’s where the fun and excitement of writing lies in discovering each story. But then once I decide to publish a story I go back and look at it with fresh eyes from the point of view of reader, slicing and dicing to re-vision the story until it becomes something I feel confident will delight and entertain my audience while also, hopefully, inspiring and empowering them.
That’s some really great advice, and your dedication to the reader really shows in BROKEN 🙂 Are you a full time writer?
CJ: Seven years ago I took a huge leap of faith and left my medical practice to write full time.
Coffee or tea?
CJ: I’ve never acquired the taste for coffee, so it’s usually either hot cocoa (love Ghiradelli) or Good Earth Original tea drunk from my Dr. Who vanishing TARDIS mug.
Haha, great choices! What’s a fun fact about yourself most people don’t know?
CJ: I’ve had two hard landings in helicopters—they don’t call them crashes when you walk away…oh, and I’ve been face to face with a serial killer.
Yikes (that was scarier than I expected)! Do you have a favorite movie?
CJ: I love, love, love movies so it’s always tough to pick one. But just about anything Frank Capra did will leave me sobbing and laughing—I especially love his lesser-known works such as Meet John Doe, Mr. Lucky, and You Can’t Take it With You, but my favorite of his is Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
What is your favorite childhood book and/or author?
CJ: Ray Bradbury. I love the way he infused poetry into his settings and still delivered vicarious thrills and action while making his characters feel so very fallible and human. I’ve read Something Wicked This Way Comes over twenty times—usually on Halloween, just to make things extra-scary.
What is the next book you want to write?
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.
Wow, sounds right up my alley. I’ll definitely be snagging that one when it comes out. Thanks CJ so much for a wonderful interview. The review will be up later today!
Trust me when I say you’re going to want this one!