I’m CJ Lyons,pediatric ER doc turned suspense/thriller author. My agent wants me to change that to “award-winning, critically-acclaimed, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author”, but I’m not that kind of girl, especially not when we’re just getting to know each other.
(but, if you want the official bio–especially if you’re a reporter, feel free to read it HERE, it includes all those awards and adventures and accolades and makes it sound like I’m a really important person and you should absolutely give me a shout about doing a feature or asking me to speak at your conference or getting together for an interview…)
I grew up in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, the heart of the rust belt, and lived there until I left home at 17 to go to college in North Carolina. Then it was on to Florida for med school and back to Pennsylvania for my pediatric residency at Childrens’ Hospital of Pittsburgh.
That’s when everything changed.
You see, I’ve always been a story-teller. When I was young it made for a lot of time spent in time-outs because I had a hard time telling the difference between fiction and reality. It meant I was one of those kids in school–the ones who were constantly dreaming or drifting down the hall with their nose in a book, out of touch with what “regular” kids were doing.
(no, I don’t still have my 20-sided D&D dice, but I do have the Elf-warrior figurine my first boyfriend hand-painted for me)
Writing stories was my way of dealing with the “real” world. It was just who I was, I never thought about maybe someday publishing my stories or making a career out of it.
Until my internship year in Pittsburgh. The year everything changed.
As interns we worked and lived a life out of sync with the “normal” world. We were just kids but entrusted with life and death decisions–decisions that impacted children and their families, that had the power to change their worlds.
But then one of us was killed. Murdered in a horrific fashion.
The stuff of nightmares. But this wasn’t fiction. It was real.
As always, I turned to writing to help me fight through my shock and grief. I put aside the science fiction and fantasy novels I’d written in college and med school and wrote my first piece of crime fiction.
(you can read it, if you want, it’s called BORROWED TIME and it hit the USA Today Bestseller list)
After residency, I went on to specialize and train in Pediatric Emergency Medicine. Saw some pretty gruesome stuff, met and worked with some fantastically awesome people who I feel privileged to call my heroes, and even saved some lives.
And I kept on writing. Honestly, it’s an addiction. I’d need a 12 Step program to stop…maybe not even then.
Eventually I met some other writers, published, award-winning bestsellers, who told me I was ready to be published myself.
I freaked. Me, who has faced down gangbangers, drunks twice my size, walked away from not one but two hard landings in the helicopter (don’t tell my mom, she doesn’t know about those, and no, they aren’t crashes if you walk away, at least that’s what the pilots told me)…I was scared of sending my writing to the outside world.
Then I realized two things. One, that stories have power. As much power as medicine. The power to teach, the power to heal, the power to inspire.
And two, that the reason I became a pediatric ER doc was the same reason I write: I want to change the world.
(yeah, I’m a hopeless idealist–call me a cynical idealist, I know changing the world is never really gonna happen, but still I have to try. It’s the reason why I began my Buy a Book, Make a Difference program.)
I entered a national writing contest. And I was a finalist. While we were waiting to hear which of us finalists won, I sent the first chapter of my novel around….and then I got a call from a NYC editor.
Holy crap, batman! I was suddenly an author with real money on the table for my stories!!!
Given the upheavals in medicine, I made the leap of faith and quit my practice to become a full-time writer.
If this was a story, that would be the happy ever after…but it’s not a story. Besides, in any of my stories the good guys always have to pay their dues before they earn any hope of a happy ending!
Here’s what happened in real life: A few weeks before my first book, my dream debut, was to be published it was pulled for reasons beyond my control. Pfft! No more dream.
(if you’re interested, I got my rights back and it’s now published, titled as NERVES OF STEEL)
But then I got a call from another NYC publisher and, working with them, I created the Angels of Mercy series (oh yeah, my agent says to be sure to remind you that’s the award-winning, critically acclaimed, bestselling Angels of Mercy series) and since then I’ve worked with three more NYC publishers and I’ve continued to publish my own books, including one, BLIND FAITH, which debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list! Talk about dreams come true!
Moral of the story?
You tell me….I’m too busy keeping up with my deadlines to stop and philosophize–besides, it’s what you DO that counts, not what everyone else thinks about it, right?
(did I mention that my one and only rule for writing is the same as when I practiced medicine? No Rules! I just make it up as I go…)
Sit back, relax, browse around. Drop me a line if you have any questions or suggestions (I do answer all my fan mail, even if it does take me awhile).
If you’ve read one of my books, please leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, or mention it to your favorite bookseller or librarian.