YALLFest Interview with CJ Lyons

YALLFest is coming! YALLFest is coming! On November 9th, 2013, fifty YA authors will descend on Charleston, SC, for an amazing day of free panels, presentations, and book signings. Visit the YALLFest website for more details and follow them on twitter @yallfest. In the weeks leading up to the big event, I’m hosting interviews with the talented YALLFest authors several times a week, so keep stopping by to learn more about these fabulous folks. 
YALLFest
We’re kicking off the interviews this week with author CJ Lyons, a girl from Pennsylvania who grew up to be a pediatric ER doctor. But CJ had always been a storyteller, so after seventeen years of saving lives, she took the leap and became a full-time writer – a gamble that paid off since she's now a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many books for adults that she classifies as ‘thrillers with heart.’ On November 5th, CJ is debuting her first YA novel, called Broken, about a teen with a rare and untreatable heart condition who discovers something sinister happening at her high school.
 Broken
And now for the Q&A with CJ:
 
Describe your book in 5 words:
Girl dying of broken heart (literally)
 
What is the hardest line to write - the first or the last?
The first. I’ll often return to it over and over again until I’ve sliced and diced and fine-honed it to that perfect combination of intrigue, visceral reaction, and emotional connection with the reader.
 
What one young adult novel do you wish you had when you were a teen? Why?
Code Name Verity because it is so emotionally honest and inspiring, empowering, not to mention gut-wrenching. Really brings the era to life as well as the sacrifices made in the name of freedom.
 
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
When I was a kid I worked summer stock theatre and was actually a theatre major undergrad before switching to pre-med. I’ve had two hard landings in helicopters while working as a flight doc. I survived rampaging Cape Horn Buffalo and a pack of wild baboons, not to mention a leopard (he’s already eaten) while hiking in Hells Gate Park in Kenya. I’m a Capricorn. I diagnosed my niece with the heart condition that’s at the center of my YA thriller, BROKEN.
 
What are you working on now?
DAMAGED, my next YA thriller, due out in 2014. It deals with the really tough topic of abuse and coercion and is the most difficult book I’ve ever tackled—there have been times while writing when I was literally in tears as I typed.
 
What is your favorite genre to write in? To Read?
I created my own genre of Thrillers with Heart—I love writing fast paced stories with raising stakes but centered on the emotional heart of an evolving relationship. As for reading, I read almost every genre but especially love YA, magical realism, and thrillers. As long as a story grabs me by the throat and won’t let me go because I’m too worried about what the characters are going through, I’ll read it and love it.
 
You can learn more about CJ at her website, on facebook, and on twitter.
 
Are you planning to attend YALLFest? Have you read any of CJ’s books? Which one(s) are your favorite(s)?
 
You can read about the first two YALLFests here and here.
 
Previous interviews: