For those of you who may not have listened to our podcast earlier this week, I briefly discussed a book I was reading that I found for a great price on the Amazon Kindle Store called Blind Faith, by CJ Lyons. After we published our podcast, I had the very pleasant opportunity to interview Ms. Lyons about her career as a writer and her book, Blind Faith, that is currently ranked #3 on the Top 100 Best Sellers List on the Amazon Kindle Store, and listed as #12 at the time of this writing on the USA Today list.
Jameson Harrigan: Tell me a little bit about your professional experiences as a writer. How long have you been writing? When did you know writing was your calling?
CJ Lyons: I’ve been a storyteller all my life– something that left me in “time-out” quite a lot as a child (of course, that only led to more time to make up more stories). I wrote my first novel in high school, even wrote two novels during medical school, but I didn’t find my true calling and begin writing suspense/thrillers until I was a pediatric resident.
Jameson Harrigan: On your website, www.cjlyons.net, you mentioned that you are a former Pediatric ER doctor. How has that experience influenced your work as a writer?
CJ Lyons: Being a pediatric ER doc has influenced my work in EVERY way! I’ve been privileged to witness extreme acts of courage and heroism by my patients and their families, not to mention being able to help protect victims both in the ER and in the courtroom and the sheer adrenalin rush of being able to step up and do the right thing, saving lives, when the time comes. My hope is that my books will communicate that same sense of empowerment to readers, inspiring them to embrace the hero within them.
Jameson Harrigan: Which of your books is your favorite? I know this is akin to asking which of your children is your favorite, but I imagine there are aspects of some that you like more than others.
CJ Lyons: The one I am working on at any given moment is always the one that feels like my best ever, but my favorite is Critical Condition. It was so much fun writing it–I literally wrote it backwards, scene by scene because the entire book takes place in less than five hours. It’s basically Die Hard in a hospital, so it was tons of fun thinking up new and clever ways to use medical equipment to blow things up, sabotage the bad guys, and help the good guys escape.
Jameson Harrigan: What was your inspiration for Blind Faith?
CJ Lyons: I read a newspaper article about a woman whose ex-husband had abducted their two children, taking them on a road trip down I-80. He was finally caught. Alone. With blood in his car and on his body. He killed himself before telling police where the children were.
This woman refused to give up. Instead she began walking the length of I-80, retracing their route, searching for the graves of her children.
Blind Faith starts with another woman who has lost everything: her husband and son were murdered, their bodies never recovered. She sits in a stifling cement block room in Huntsville, TX, watching the execution of the serial killer who confessed to their murders but refused to divulge the location of their bodies. For Sarah Durandt, that is just the beginning of her journey to Hell… and back.
Blind Faith is a story of betrayals. In every scene there is a betrayal. Characters betray each other, betray their loved ones, betray themselves and everything they believe in.
It’s also a romance. A story of how forgiveness and love can overcome betrayal. And through the love she finds, Sarah makes her way back out of her Hell.
Jameson Harrigan: Without giving too much away, what is your favorite part of Blind Faith?
CJ Lyons: The opening scene. It still gives me chills every time I read it–that connection between the killer about to be executed and Sarah, both yearning for something beyond their reach.
Jameson Harrigan: What are you working on now and when do you project it will be available?
CJ Lyons: I’m actually working on two books right now. The sequel to Snake Skin, my Lucy Guardino FBI thriller, titled Blood Stained. And also the third in the Hart and Drake medical suspense series, Face to Face. I’m hoping that they’ll both be out by the end of the year since readers have been clamoring for them.
Jameson Harrigan: Tell me about your experiences with the Kindle Store and working with Amazon.com.
CJ Lyons: The Amazon folks have been fantastic to work with! Very responsive to any questions, supportive, and they make everything so easy for writers. I think that’s why so many authors are attracted to indy e-pubbing combined with traditional print publishing. With the e-books you can respond to readers by updating a book, changing price, giving it a new cover art–all within a few minutes instead of the months to years it might take with traditional publishing. It puts a lot of control back in the hands of the writer, which is awesome.
Jameson Harrigan: As a writer, what are your views on the increasing demand for digitally distributed media as opposed to printed media?
CJ Lyons: I love books. I’m as addicted to reading as I am to writing. So I’m a firm believer that there is room for both. I foresee the printed book becoming more of an event or souvenir–in fact, that’s the reason why most of my e-books are now available as trade paperbacks. I was inundated with requests from readers who’d read the e-book but also wanted to buy a “real” book to keep on their bookshelves.
Anything that lowers the barriers between readers and books is a good thing. Because of the price flexibility of e-books I think more readers will have access to more books than ever before.
Jameson Harrigan: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
CJ Lyons: The best advice I ever received came from Jeffery Deaver who told me to never forget that the “reader IS God!” He meant that this business isn’t about me but rather about finding my readers and keeping them happy. I try to keep that in mind with every revision: how can I make this a more exciting, more evocative experience for my readers?
In my books, it’s not about plot twists or technology like in many thrillers. Instead the focus is on the characters and their relationships, which is why I call my books “Thrillers with Heart.” So I’m always working hard to connect with readers on a very heartfelt level, hoping that by the end of the book they’ll feel empowered and inspired by my characters.
As for advice I would give to writers it’s to have a clear vision of what you want along with the passion and commitment to see it fulfilled. I truly think those are the three keys to success in any endeavor: Vision, Passion, Commitment. Two out of the three and you might do okay. But if you have all three, you’re unstoppable.
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge thrillers. In addition to being a USA Today Bestseller, CJ is a nationally known presenter and keynote speaker.
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).
Her newest project is as co-author of a new suspense series with Erin Brockovich. You can learn more about her writing at www.CJLyons.net and find the tools you need to help you finish your novel and find your audience at www.NoRulesJustWRITE.com.
Once again, having this opportunity to communicate with CJ about her work has been a very rewarding experience and I encourage all of you to explore some of her work; you may like what you find. Look for my review of Blind Faith next week.