November 26, 2013

Interview with CJ Lyons

I'd like to welcome author CJ Lyons back to the blog!  This New York Times bestselling author is making her YA debut with BROKEN, about a young girl with a heart condition beginning to attend high school after years in hospitals.  Stay tuned for my review later today.


1. Hi CJ!  You were the first author I interviewed for my blog, about your first book.  What has changed for you as an author since then?

CJ: I remember, hi again! LIFELINES was such a fun book to chat about. Hmm…what’s changed since that first book? I’ve written over twenty more (in fact, book #21, AFTER SHOCK, is being released January 7th), won a bunch of awards, hit #2 on the NYT Bestseller list, and am having the time of my life!

Perhaps most importantly was finding my YA voice—so much fun! I’m so looking forward to adding YA to my repertoire of Thrillers with Heart.

Broken 2. BROKEN is your first YA novel.  Did you know you were writing for a YA audience when you started writing, in the middle, or after you finished?

CJ: I’ve always loved reading YA and everyone kept telling me that as a pediatrician, I should write it. But honestly, I never found a story that I thought was worthy of my kids—my patients—until BROKEN, so I knew it was YA as soon as I began.

Writing for kids is tons tougher than writing for adults. Most grownups read for entertainment, but kids read for so much more. They want to vicariously experience the world and the choices they’ll be expected to make as adults as well as learn who they are and how they can fit into that larger universe once they’re the ones in charge.

3. Do you think you'll write more YA novels now that you've dipped your toes in the pool?

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.

Despite how difficult that book was to write, I loved it! Unlike my adult thrillers, I actually find that I can go deeper and darker emotionally with YA, which is a lot of fun—just goes to show that you can still have the thriller pacing and adrenalin rush without it all being car chases and explosions.

4. You have personal experience with Scarlet's rare disease, Long QT, through your niece.  Was it more difficult to write about a tough subject you're so close to?

CJ: Not the medical aspects, no. But waiting for my niece’s seal of approval before sending it to my editor—that was murder! Thankfully, she loved the book and really felt I’d nailed that whole first week of a new school vibe. Of course, she made me promise to tell everyone that she’s nothing like Scarlet, the main character of BROKEN. Scarlet is very sheltered and naïve, while the best adjectives to describe my niece are “fiercely independent.”

5. Now that you have a number of books available, do you have a favorite?

CJ: Actually, it’s DAMAGED, the second YA I mentioned above.  It’s honestly the best book I’ve ever written and as a pediatrician, the one I’m most proud of as I think it might actually save lives.

I thought it would be a stand alone, but after I finished 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.

About CJ:
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


I don't know about ya'll, but I'm already excited about DAMAGED and its sequel!  I love books that explore consequences.


  1. I do want to read Broken! I think it sounds great. And Damaged also sounds fascinating. I like a good thriller these days.

  2. It was interesting to read your review of BROKEN along with the author interview. The author's personal experience and professional knowledge would make me more inclined to read the novel. Too often heart disease is used superficially in fiction as a metaphor for love and rejection or to get rid of characters. How much fun to re-interview an author 20 something books later!

    1. It's definitely not a metaphor for love in this case! And it is wonderful to get to interview an author again.


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