Monday, February 9, 2009
Needless to say, I'm thrilled! And I couldn't have done it without the support of all my friends and readers.
I'd like to also thank the organizers of Love is Murder for inviting me to Chicago and putting on such an outstanding conference! You guys rock!
Sunday, February 1, 2009
For those of you who don't subscribe to The Big Thrill, I thought I'd share my interview--if you want to read more about thriller authors like David Morrell, Sandra Brown, James Patterson, and many, many more, sign up here for The Big Thrill.
Warning Signs by CJ Lyons
CJ Lyons is swapping her M.D. title for that of national bestselling author with the release of her new novel, WARNING SIGNS, this month. Both occupations involve blood, sweat and tears, but at least in fiction, her patients don't really die. By writing what she knows, Lyons launched a series that combines the pace of E.R. with the sizzle of Grey's Anatomy.
She's been there in the medical trenches of trauma centers, on the Navajo Reservation, even as a flight doctor. Her clinical views have aided police and prosecutors in cases of rape, child abuse, and murder. In writing suspense, Lyons knows more about life and death than most of us will ever face. So we'll begin with the question on everyone's mind.
In real life, do doctors and nurses have sex in the hospital?
Only with George Clooney and Patrick Dempsey, lol! Seriously, working 36 hour shifts in the same pair of sweaty scrubs and having no privacy anywhere aren't as conducive to fun and games as you'd think.
Compared to struggling writers, doctors have a enviably secure paycheck. How did you have the guts to trade your stethoscope for a keyboard? And don't tell us it worked for Tess Gerritson and Michael Critchton, so you knew everything would be fine.
Well, first of all, I've always been a dreamer. If I hadn't been, I would never have made it to college, much less been able to put myself through medical school. And second of all, I'm half Irish and half Italian, which makes me all stubborn.
But it did take courage. Talk about your leap of faith--even though I wasn't making a lot of money as a pediatrician (kids don't vote, so pediatricians are at the bottom of the pay scale) it was plenty for me. And to leave that to live a life of uncertainty, no secure paycheck, no plan B--well, let's just say that several of my partners suggested a psych eval would make more sense than my following my dream of writing.
All I can say is that I knew what I wanted, was confident in my abilities, and yes, I did prepare a financial emergency fund--just in case. Those first few months were scary--first time I'd been unemployed since I was 15! But luckily since then I've been making a living with my writing, paying the bills, and having a heck of a lot of fun doing it!
How does your national bestselling debut, LIFELINES, differ from your sequel, WARNING SIGNS?
LIFELINES was definitely more of a thriller. It was the classic stranger comes to town story (I love old westerns) and the pacing is rapid-fire, the stakes raised until the entire city is at risk.
WARNING SIGNS, however, is more of a mystery, focusing on the whodunnit and howdunnit of a mysterious illness. It's a coming of age story for a medical student who isn't sure if she's really sick or just has a bad case of medical studentitis--a form of hypochondriasis that every doctor suffers at some point in their career. It's still fast paced, but more about the medical student coming to her own as a healer.
The third book, URGENT CARE, is back to the world of thrillerdom--it's darker and edgier than either of the first books. More emotionally complex and the plot is also more complicated.
Your books feature four strong, diverse women facing life and death at Angles of Mercy Medical Center in Pittsburgh. Will each get to star in her own story?
Hopefully! I just turned in book 3, Nora's story--it was the most complex novel I've written, a bit darker and edgier than the first two. We'll have to see what my publisher says about future books. I have plenty of ideas for stories that go beyond the original four main characters.
You like to describe your books as Thrillers with Heart. Can you explain what you mean?
Thrillers are at heart about an adrenalin rush and increasing stakes. For Thrillers with Heart, these stakes revolve around the main character's relationships rather than more remote stakes (like saving the world from a spy satellite run amok). Think Tom Clancy's Patriot Games which is all about family or the movie The Terminator, which is basically a love story. One of the first thrillers ever, Homer's Odyssey, would be a Thriller with Heart--it's about one man's love driving him home to his wife despite all odds.
Any regrets about leaving the practice of medicine?
I do miss my patients and my partners, but the way our health care system is imploding, I do not miss dealing with the HMO's and paperwork at all.
Some think publishing is imploding as well. Are you nervous about the future of books?
No. People want to experience stories, to be transported from their routine lives, and they need writers to tell them. We're in a technological transition that may pave the way to alternative forms of storytelling, but it won't abolish the more traditional methods--just as movies and TV didn't.
Books as a vehicle for storytelling have survived a long time for good reason. They may evolve over the next decade, but they won't vanish. And no matter what direction technology takes our society, there will always be a need for storytellers.
At parties, were people more impressed when you told them you were a doctor? Or now when you tell them you're an author?
When people learn I'm published, they're more impressed with that than with my being a doctor. I think a lot of folks associate being published (with "real" books out there!) with being a minor celebrity.
But doctors save lives. Something's wrong here.
I guess that speaks to our nation's healthcare crisis--that doctors have now dropped to the bottom of the food chain, even below lawyers, lol!
Just kidding, some of my best friends are lawyers. But no one has ever asked me to tell them about the lives I've saved. I usually get asked about my "worst" case. Or people target me for a rant about how awful their own doctors are.
Do party guests try to get you to read their unpublished manuscripts just like they used to try to get you to diagnose their sore shoulders?
Yes! Only now they tell me their medical tales of woe, expect a free diagnosis, AND they want me to write up their "fascinating medical experience" in my next book!
Most suspense writers have dark, spooky websites. Yours is white and clean. What does this say about you?
Thank you for noticing--I worked very hard to make my site (http://www.cjlyons.net) that way. I wanted my site to evoke a response that it was fresh, dynamic, and different. That here is a writer who is different than others, willing to take chances, and whose books are also fresh and different. I also think the site conveys a sense of movement, a bit of an edge--perfect for a doctor writing medical thrillers.
WARNING SIGNS is available now. To get your aches and pains glamorized in CJ Lyons' next book, contact her on her website at http://www.cjlyons.net
Contributing editor Julie Kramer's debut, STALKING SUSAN, is a finalist for Best First Mystery in the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards. Her sequel, MISSING MARK, will be released July 14 by Doubleday.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Let me know if you spot it at your favorite bookstore--or better yet, what you think of it after you read it!
And, of course, tell your friends about both LIFELINES and WARNING SIGNS--remember, they'll be in the General Fiction and Literature section of the bookstore, right near Moby Dick, lol!
Thanks for helping to spread the word!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Jove, Feb 2009, $7.99
This exhilarating medical thriller gets the blood pumping as readers will admire and root for courageous Amanda....This is a terrific thriller and fans of Michael Palmer will enjoy this fine tale of a brave but scared medical student in trouble.
—The Mystery Gazette, Dec. 15, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
It was in one of the larger rooms (I'm told there was seating for 75) but we had folks sitting on the floor, standing in the back, it was jam packed and one of the most talked about (and praised!) sessions of the conference....and now it's highlighted in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Writing sex scenes
Meanwhile, behind the doors of a nearby conference workshop, a panel of best-selling authors gave tips on how to write sex scenes - explicit and otherwise. Among their observations:
-- "A sex scene is an action scene," said Toni McGee Causey. Her latest "white-trash romance" is "Bobbie Faye's Very (Very, Very, Very) Bad Day."
-- "Younger romance readers have a higher tolerance for sex," according to editor Matthew Scheer of St. Martin's Press.
-- "It doesn't need to be a how-to guide," said Roxanne St. Claire, author of the Bullet Catchers trilogy. "A sex scene must be emotionally true to character - and it has to make the conflict worse."
Audience questions ran to the technical. This one busted up the room: "Do you practice your love scenes before you write them?" an aspiring author asked.
"Well, I don't recommend the spin cycle," Causey quipped.
Fellow panelist CJ Lyons, who writes medical-suspense, had a quick rejoinder. "I told you!" she said. "It's the dryer, on low."
Yes, probably the first and last time I'll ever get the last word in a conversation with Toni!!!
Read the entire article here and enjoy!