Today I am delighted to welcome author CJ Lyons!
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a National Bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a “breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller.” The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, is due out tomorrow!
She graciously agreed to answer a few questions…
Welcome to the blog. Can you please tell us about your books?
Thanks for having me, Jennifer! I write very cross genre novels, shelved in the general fiction and literature section of the bookstore (near Moby Dick, lol!), that are probably best described as medical suspense.
They combine real life medical details (both from my career as a pediatric ER doctor and from my colleagues), the pacing of a thriller, are told from the point of view of the women of Pittsburgh’s Angels of Mercy’s ER, have some romantic elements, and lots of suspense.
The first book, LIFELINES (Berkley, 2008 ) became a National Bestseller and has been praised as “the best of ER and Grey’s Anatomy” while Publishers’ Weekly called it a “breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller.”
The second, WARNING SIGNS, was just released January 27th, and has a lot more elements of a traditional mystery–perhaps, in a way, more like House, without the drug addicted curmudgeon, of course.
What inspired the story of WARNING SIGNS?
WARNING SIGNS is essentially a coming of age story combined with a medical mystery as it follows a medical student’s investigation into mysterious symptoms that are killing patients.
I drew from several real life stories, including the recent heparin and melamine contaminations, to create a fictional medical mystery for Amanda to solve. As always, I kept the medicine as real as it can be and still be entertaining.
Can you tell us more about the entire series?
My debut, 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.
Should the books be read in order?
They don’t have to be read in order, but you’ll definitely appreciate more of the character growth reading them in order. Each main story stands alone, but several of the subplots carry over from one book to the next.
What kind of research did you do for your medical suspenses? Has your medical background helped?
In 17 years of practicing medicine, I’ve seen so much that it will take a dozen books before I scratch the surface!
But, yes, I still do research. Medicine changes so very quickly that even when I include the most up-to-date medical facts in my copy edits (the final changes in a book before it goes to the printer) things can still be out of date by the time the book reaches a reader.
That’s why I do my best to keep the books interesting and entertaining–they’re not meant to be a medical textbook, after all.
Which of your characters is most like you?
Wow, that’s so hard to answer! I enjoy writing Lydia, the main character in LIFELINES, because she’s who I want to be when I grow up <g>
But I also love writing Gina, the emergency medicine resident, because I share so many of her insecurities and I love working through her issues and watching her grow and change. She’s going to go through hell before she gets her happy-ever-after, but it will be well deserved!
What is your favorite part of writing?
I love that thrill of anticipation when you’re just starting a project and everything is fresh and new, possibilities abounding.
And I really love writing those final action scenes where everything from all of the multiple story threads comes together in a final, smash-bang, breathtaking climax.
What do you like to read?
I read almost everything from literary fiction to thrillers to women’s fiction and suspense. As long as a writer can transport me, engage me, and I’m hooked, I’ll read it.
What is next for you?
The third book in the series, URGENT CARE, will be out in November, 2009. It was a challenge because it’s darker and edgier than the first two, and in a way, much more honest emotionally.
It was also difficult because the characters have grown so much since the first book–in both good ways and bad. In URGENT CARE you see the results of past mistakes and glimpse the consequences to be paid in the future.
Is there anything you’d like to ask my blog readers?
I’d love to hear about what attracts them to pick up a book by a new author. Is it cover art? Hearing about it from friends? Reading an interview from the author?
How can I, as a new author, help readers find my books?
Thanks in advance!
Thanks so much CJ!
Readers, you can learn more about CJ and her books at http://cjlyons.net/
Look for my review of her first book, LIFELINES, this weekend.
In the meantime, go ahead and answer her questions…