Thanks to Joyce and everyone here at Working Stiffs for inviting me back! You guys know how much I love it here!
(so much so that I'll be coming back to Pittsburgh in May for the PennWriters conference and giving my Master Class on Character Driven Plotting, so be sure to sign up, spots are going fast!)
Joyce asked me to talk about my new project with Erin Brockovich. Of course, I couldn't refuse since our first book together, ROCK BOTTOM, comes out March 1st.
ROCK BOTTOM is set in Scotia, West Virginia, a fictional town near the New River Gorge based on a town I spent a lot of time in when I was young.
I remember those days spent in my "Scotia" as fondly as I do my days spent in Pittsburgh or growing up in central PA. Warm sunshine, the cool shade of trees, pine needles underfoot, wide, wild mountain vistas that made you suck in your breath and realize that Someone Up There was a heck of a lot smarter and more creative than any mere mortal could ever be.
Then, one day when I was flying to Toronto to teach a Master Class, I flew over those same mountains…..only they had vanished. Replaced by dark ugly raw scars where trees were wrenched from the earth and the tops of mountains literally bulldozed onto what had been verdant valleys and riverbeds.
The sight was so disturbing that I wept. Yes, tough as nails ER doctor me, weeping as I stared out the plane's window.
I felt sick. As if we'd been catapulted through some space-time warp into another universe where nothing made sense. Because who in their right mind would do something like this? It was psychotic, disturbing on a deep, primal level.
A few weeks later, Erin's publisher called to invite me to join with her in creating a new suspense series focused on environmental themes. Erin liked the strong women characters I'd populated my Angels of Mercy medical suspense series with--especially how those women weren't superheroes but rather human and flawed even as they found the courage to change the world.
After a loud fan-girl squee of delight that you guys probably heard up here, I said yes. When Erin and I brainstormed story ideas I told her about that flight that had left me in tears.
And she said, "CJ, we need to tell that story."
That was the birth of ROCK BOTTOM.
The good news? The EPA just a few months ago placed a moratorium on all mountain top removal mining….not sure if Erin and I had anything to do with it, but we sure were happy about that!
So tell me, what was your favorite childhood "almost heaven" place to escape to? How has it fared over the years?
Thanks for reading!
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about. In addition to being an award-winning medical suspense author, CJ is a nationally known presenter and keynote speaker.
Her first novel, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), received praise as a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller" from Publishers Weekly, was reviewed favorably by the Baltimore Sun and Newsday, named a Top Pick by Romantic Times Book Review Magazine, and became a National Bestseller.
Her award-winning, critically acclaimed Angels of Mercy series (LIFELINES, WARNING SIGNS, URGENT CARE and CRITICAL CONDITION) is available now. Her newest project is as co-author of a new suspense series with Erin Brockovich. You can learn more at http://www.cjlyons.net and for free reads, "Like" her at http://www.facebook.com/CJLyonsBestsellingThrillerAuthor