1. When did you first begin writing?
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.
2. When you start a story, do you plan it all out with an outline or notecards? Or do you just know what is going to happen kind of, and write it as you go?
CJ: I’m deathly allergic to outlines, notecards, highlighters, and any form of organization! I’m a seats of the pants writer—usually I start with a character and an idea about how to make their life miserable and I go from there.
3. Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
CJ: Anywhere and everywhere. News stories are a great source. I love watching people and observing how they react in situations. I also tend to ask a lot of questions about what could go wrong—like when I was in my bank the other day and started asking about ways people might get into the safety deposit boxes. Thankfully, they know me (I keep them well supplied with free books!) so they didn’t call the cops.
4. How do you feel your career in the medical field helps or contributes to your writing?
CJ: Being a storyteller helped me to be a better doctor—always looking for the “rest” of a patient’s story. And being a doctor allowed me to witness firsthand acts of extraordinary courage by “ordinary” people as well as knowledge of a field that is natural fodder for thrillers.
5. Have you ever gotten stuck (writer's block) and how did you overcome it?
CJ: I’ve never had writer’s block—don’t really believe in it. Every time I get stuck, it means I’ve messed up—usually twenty to thirty pages back. So I’ll live with the story, listen to the characters, make sure I truly understand what they want and why they want it and get back on track. I don’t worry about it, it’s all part of the process of digging deeper into a story than what it might first reveal on the surface.
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
Thank you C.J. for answering my questions! I must say your answer to number 2 makes me feel better about how I always seem to go about trying to write, I don't really ever write an outline, but I've always wondered if that's why I get stuck, so maybe no!
Here is my review of Broken. Now, when I began reading, I actually kind of wondered why did I pick this book again? It seemed like it was going to end up being a pretty contemporary fiction, reminding me in a way of the John Green story, The Fault in Our Stars. But I remembered that there was supposed to be something weird about the school that the main character, Scarlett was now attending. Actually this was the first time Scarlett had ever really attended school, since she was very young, she always been sick, a genetic heart defect. It was only recently that she'd decided she wanted to live what life she had, since she knew it wouldn't be that much longer that she had. She wanted to experience what healthy kids her age did, school. Up until this point she'd been homeschooled, as she'd mostly been living in hospitals or at home. Her dad traveled a lot for work. But her step mom, as her biological mother died in childbirth I believe, has been the one taking care of her. She has been around as long as Scarlett can remember, and to Scarlett she is her mother. She's been the one taking care of her, holding her hand, cleaning up after her being sick, fighting at the hospitals and with the doctors to make sure her daughter got the best care. Although she wasn't happy about Scarlett going to school, she's given her one week to try it. If it doesn't work during that week, then this experiment will be over, and life will go back to how it's always been. But from the first day, Scarlett is on edge, right away a bully begins to pick on her. Scarlett must take a defibrillator with her to school every day, and that gets her noticed right away. The first bright moment in her day is the peer mentoring group. The cute guy who is her locker partner, Jordan, is in the group. When she first met Jordan at their locker, and he touched her, just a quick friendly pat, she was unsure if her heart racing was her defect, or her heart finally feeling the hormones that other teens felt. The peer group was great, she had new friends now, Nessa and Celina. Nessa's sister had committed suicide, and had been friends with Jordan. Celina also had issues, an autistic sister, as well as a mother dying of cancer. Their teacher advisor, didn't seem like that great of a guy to any of them, but that was that. Oh, and did I mention that Scarlett's stepmother is the nurse at this school? So really, Scarlett doesn't even get a chance to get away from her and live on her own. This book takes place over this one week. One week. In this one week Scarlett also makes another friend, a boy, who might be a boyfriend. And she learns things, things that change her whole life, as well as what life she may have next. But where the book went? While I had a few inklings of this being the actual plot early on, I dismissed them due to how the whole dynamic of the characters played out. Until one of the things Scarlett found out on her science research project.
This was a book I could barely put down. I had to know what was going to happen, and even when I found out that my earlier hunch was true, I still had to continue to read on to find out how it would all play out, and who all had been actually involved. This book comes out on Tuesday, November 5th, and one really awesome opportunity is that you can get the e-book for $4.99, but only if you pre-order before the 5th, that's half price of what the e-book will be after that date. It is available for this sale price for Nook, Kindle, all e-book formats as far as I can tell.
Make sure you check this one out!