Friday, October 23, 2009


Thanks, KJ and the rest of the Banditas for inviting me back!

Have you ever come face to face with evil? I have.

I'm CJ Lyons and I practiced pediatric emergency medicine and community pediatrics for seventeen years. During that time, I faced rapists, child abusers, gang-bangers who would kill over a pair of shoes, sociopaths, psychotics, narcissists, and even one killer our prosecutor classified as a serial killer.

You know the scary thing about evil? It looks just like you and me.

When I left medicine to fulfill my life-long dream of becoming an author, I knew that I wanted to explore the various faces of evil. Because I've faced it in real-life, I knew how different it was from most of the "bad-guys" portrayed in fiction.

Evil doesn't spend its days plotting dastardly deeds of cunning or intricate, diabolical plots involving red herrings and webs of intrigue.

Rather, the evil I've seen is driven by one simple desire: they know what they want, they want it now, and they don't care what they have to do to get it.

The boy-friend baby-sitting while mom's at work who brutally beat and raped a three year old because she wouldn't go to bed when he told her the first time. He's currently on death row.

The woman who shook her baby so hard the baby hemorrhaged into his brain….because the baby wouldn't stop crying during her favorite TV show.

The gangbanger who shot a kid because he said "hi" to the wrong girl on the wrong street corner while wearing the wrong color of hat.

These are just a few of the faces of evil I've seen.

Is it any wonder that in my medical suspense novels I focus on what makes evil so compelling to so many readers: the fact that it hides among us, so very hard to see, hiding in plain sight.

In Gavin deBecker's book the Gift of Fear, he speaks about how easily evil walks among us. And that women are especially vulnerable because we've been trained to ignore our "sixth sense" that alerts us to danger and instead follow societies norms of politeness.

Like offering to help a strange man with his arm in cast…..just like Ted Bundy.

We all have something in common with evil. No matter who we are, we are all driven by the same universal needs and wants: love, security, recognition.

In real life, there was frustratingly little I could do when faced with evil. I could care for the victims, help the police and prosecutors to the best of my ability, but it always felt as if there should be a way to stop the senseless deaths and violence.

As rewarding as my medical career has been, I'm finding that my new career as an author has its own rewards. Especially when it gives me the chance to not only put a face to evil but to give its victims the justice they deserve.

That's why writing my latest in the Angels of Mercy series, URGENT CARE, has been so fulfilling. Not only does Nora, the ER charge nurse, come face to face with her greatest fear—a fear every woman can understand and share—but she finds the courage to defeat both her fear and the man behind it.

How? By making a stand and refusing to allow it to control her life.

I think this is the best way to fight evil--bring it into the light where everyone can see it for what it truly is.

So you tell me—have you ever come face to face with evil? I'll bet you have.

The boyfriend who came close to stalking you, the sociopath next door who lies about everything—for no reason than the sheer joy of getting away with it, the school kid setting fires and torturing animals…..they're all out there, closer than you think.

Thanks for reading!


PS: In honor of URGENT CARE's upcoming release (it hits the stores on Tuesday!), I'm hosting a contest. One lucky winner will have their query package critiqued by my agent, Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Agency.

Check here for more details:

Feel free to spread the word to all your writer friends!

About CJ:

As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a National Bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller." The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, was released January, 2009 and the third, URGENT CARE, is due out October 27, 2009. Contact her at


Helen said...

Is he coming to visit me ?

have Fun

Helen said...

Hi CJ welcome back and these books do sound fantastic, it must have been hard working in emergency with all of those children that had been hurt, my heart goes out to these kids.

We had a neighbour once who was renting the house next door and he was always causing trouble by telling lies to other neighbours and at one time attacked his wife with a knife very evil man and I was very glad when he moved.

Congrats on the new release CJ

The GR will have lots to do today I am babysitting Corey tonight and Bec Lex and Jake have come for dinner so he will have plenty to do to keep the kids amused.

Have Fun

Donna MacMeans said...

Hey Helen - Congrats on the rooster nabbing!

Hi CJ - welcome back to the lair. I tried hard to think of someone who I could really call evil but I must be very lucky in my life. Or I've always obeyed that sixth sense that says - don't talk to that person, don't make eye contact with this one. So knock on wood, my good luck trend continues.

Margay said...

Hi, CJ! I've always wanted to try out your books, but after reading this, I know I have to. Even though they're not my usual stule, you have me intrigued.

Nancy said...

Helen, have fun with the rooster!

Welcome back, CJ! You've put your finger squarely on the reason I stick mostly to the "genre" books when I read fiction. I need to see good triumph. I love the book To Kill a Mockingbird, and I'd have to say I think the character of Bob Ewell is evil. I don't think I'd feel so strongly about the book if justice didn't triumph in the end, even though it certainly isn't an HEA story.

I haven't dealt with evil the way you have. I encountered a few people to whom I'd apply that label but not many.

Virginia said...

Congrats Helen on nabbing that rooster today! WTG have fun with him! Don't work him to hard.

Congrat CJ on your new release! I am not sure I would be cut out to work in emergency but I do love watching medical shows on TV. I am really hooked on Grey Anatomy, the new show Trauma, and Mercy. I think I would really enjoy your books. Thanks for sharing them with us today!

Nancy said...

Donna, I hope your good luck trend does continue!

A friend of mine once had a guy approach her in a parking lot and ask for a ride to see his wife in the hospital (four blocks away). And his arm was in a sling, just like CJ mentioned with Bundy. She got a creepy feeling, partly because the hospital was only four blocks away, and went back into the store. Better safe than sorry.

Nancy said...

Hi, Virginia. I could never work in medicine, seeing as how that would involve blood. And various injured body parts. But I do enjoy medical dramas and books featuring doctors.

I read Jonathan Kellerman's series about psychiatrist Alex Delaware for several years, but they seemed to be getting very dark (and they'd been dark to start with), and I finally gave them up.

Nancy said...

Hi, Margay--Nice to see you.

Margay said...

Hi, Nancy! it's good to see you, too.

Anna Sugden said...

Hi CJ and welcome back to the Lair - the Amazon pigeon is winging Urgent Care to me as we speak!

I haven't had quite the dealings with evil that you have. Though when I was teaching, I faced some children who I would not be surprised to find were evil. Really - you hear these tales about how people never expected serial killer/rapist XX to be evil - ask their teachers. I bet there was a hint or clue even then.

And, I don't mean children who were naughty - I mean the children with the shark eyes and the cruel streak. And the little blonde girl who looked like sugar and spice but was a vindictive little b*tch!

On the other hand, there were a few who I know were going to be gay stars like Graham Norton or Julian Clary or Carson from Queer Eye. Seriously, you can tell that from a fairly young age too!

Kim Howe said...

Hi Helen,

Congrats on nabbing the GR!! Have fun with him today.

Kim Howe said...

CJ is teaching in New Mexico today, so she'll be checking in soon.

Kim Howe said...


Hope you had the best birthday certainly know how to celebrate. I'm happy you haven't had to face evil. Hope you never do.

Kim Howe said...

Margay, I can highly recommend all of CJ's books. I'm very lucky that I get to read them before they go to press!

Kim Howe said...

Nancy, great to see you! I'm so relieved your friend's spidey sense made her say no. Sounds like that man was very dangerous.

Kim Howe said...

Anna, fascinating tales from school--my mom was a teacher and I would agree with you that there are kids out there who are very scary, even at a young age.

Beth said...

Welcome back to the lair, CJ! Urgent Care sounds like another fantastic read *g*

Susan Sey said...

Good morning, CJ!

I have to say, I try not to think too much about the evil that walks among us. Between the newspapers, TV & the internet, I think it's easy to live in a constant state of near-panic, & the temptation to never let my children leave the house overwhelms me.

That's no way to live.

But because I'm purposely limiting my exposure to news, I also make a sincere effort to listen to the inner voice that warns me when a situation feels 'off'. I think of it as not outsourcing my panic. :-) If I'm going to panic, I want it to be I feel it's necessary, not because a blow-dried news anchor said I should. :-)

michellewillingham said...

I'm going to second what Anna said. I could tell exactly which children were going to end up in jail. They were the ones who had no concern about the rules, no concern about other people. It was all about what they wanted. Consequences meant nothing, and sadly, there was little you could do to change it.

Kim Howe said...

Beth, I guarantee Urgent Care is fabulous. The authentic medical details really add to the thrilling story...I love learning while reading.

Kim Howe said...

Susan, having kids must make you even more vigilant of evil people. Your kids are lucky to have you watching over them.

Kim Howe said...

Michelle, thanks for seconding Anna's opinion. I wonder if these kids could be rehabilitated if they were identified early? This topic fascinates me. Thanks for stopping by.

CJ Lyons said...

Hi guys!!! Wow, what a fantastic welcome! Sorry I'm late--used to EST but I'm two hours behind myself this weekend (hmmm...wonder if I'll ever find those two hours again somewhen???)

Helen, hugs on the neighbor--so glad he left and nothing happened to you guys!

Donna, you are truly blessed to have a strong inner voice that you listen to--I'll bet that comes out in your writing as well!

CJ Lyons said...

Thanks, Margay and Virginia--hope you enjoy the books!

I have a reader's comments section on my website, feel free to let everyone know what you think!

Thanks for stopping by,

Kirsten said...

Hi CJ! Welcome back! You know, I have a strong aversion to the face of evil. LOL. I tend not to read anything that's truly scary -- and the more realistic it is, the scarier it tends to be, right? Maybe I've just got an overactive imagination.

I don't think I've ever come face to face with evil, and I hope I never will (shudder). I take my hat off to your bravery -- you are one tough cookie!

CJ Lyons said...

I hear you about needing that satisfaction of justice done, good triumphing over evil!!!

I think that's why so many people are drawn to genres--they take what's going on in society that we have NO control over and impose control, giving us something that may be missing from our everyday lives.

Just my theory....

CJ Lyons said...

Anna and Michelle,
I sooooo agree about kids--love the "shark eyes" great description!

There are definitely kids as young as 3-4 that I could tell were going to be sociopaths. And remember, many sociopaths are highly successful members of society: CEO's, politicians, etc.

There's a great book, The Sociopath Next Door that I recommend--it's chilling reading, though!

CJ Lyons said...

I am the same way--I never watch news on TV, it's too immediate, as if the crisis was happening here and now to me....of course that's how they make their ratings.

I prefer reading--even if it's online--my news. That way I can get a better feel for people and put things in perspective.

Thanks for stopping by,

CJ Lyons said...

LOL on the too real! That's actually the only negative things reviewers have said about my books, one even said there was a "gore" factor.

Thing is, there's less blood and guts than any episode of CSI, Bones, or about 99% of the thrillers out there. But I think because I do try hard to make it feel realistic, readers feel it more, maybe because it really could happen....

Guess I should watch that, lol!

CJ Lyons said...

Kim, I'm not sure these kids could be rehabilitated. But I also believe it's a combination of a genetic predisposition and an environment that is toxic (for that child)

It's funny, both myself and my partners were talking about how we were seeing more and more of these kids who seem disconnected from other people, see others as objects.

Not sure if it's because so much commumnication nowadays is not face to face (ie. texting, etc) or because of other factors...

Oh, and thanks for the kind words!!! Can't wait to return the favor once your books are on the shelves!!!!

jo robertson said...

Hi, CJ, welcome back to the Lair. As for those two lost hours, I have it on good authority you'll never find them. It's why God made a 24-hour day LOL.

While pure evil walks among us, thank goodnes pure goodness does too. Doesn't make as interesting copy though.

I lost my youngest daughter in the mall when she was two. Scariest hour of my life until the mall security guard came walking down the hall, Megan in hand. Bless the decent people.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Helen! The chook goes down under! :> Glad he's visiting with you for the day, you'll set him straight, the rascal.

CJ! Welcome back to the Lair!!

You're so right about evil and where it lurks and hides. One of the wonderful things about writing about it though is to remind people, our readers, that they too can be heroes in their own stories when they DO stand up, DO speak out.

Thanks for coming out to play with us today. I'm going back to the cave now to plot more of the twisty, nasty plot-y type of evil. Grins. It's so fun.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

CJ said: I think that's why so many people are drawn to genres--they take what's going on in society that we have NO control over and impose control, giving us something that may be missing from our everyday lives.

I agree completely, CJ! Oh, and a HUGE agreement that we cannot WAIT to see KJ in Print. Her stories are fab-u-lous!!!

CJ Lyons said...

Thanks, Jeanne! And you're soooo right about KJ's work!

Jo, so glad things turned out well with your daughter--my heart stopped just reading your comment!

Nancy said...

Anna wrote: I mean the children with the shark eyes and the cruel streak.

I know what you mean. Some people look at you with flat eyes. There's nothing showing. They look at other people the same way they'd look at a post. You see that look in criminal courtrooms.

The deputies used to say you could tell by looking at some people that they'd as soon kill a person as look at them, and I think that's what they meant. I'm happy to say I never saw eyes like that in anyone I had to represent, but I only handled criminal matters for a year, or I'm sure I would've.

Anna Sugden said...

Kim - I'm afraid the answer to your question is probably no. The kids I've experienced (and one was started on the road to rehabilitation with seemingly good results - though I'd never turn my back on him) will probably always have that edge to them. I'd never trust them not to flip.

And, that's the scary thing about them. BTW these were all kids under the age of 11, some as young as 6!

Anna Sugden said...

Hey CJ - if you've been tarred with the gore factor, you're in great company - that's what they say about the fabulous Tess!!

catslady said...

One of my favorite sayings is "those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing". In my day everything was always hush hush. You didn't talk about the sex offenders, the wife beaters, the alcoholics etc. That is how so many of them get away with their evil. I think the more you get these things out in the open (such as your books), the braver we all get to listen to that sixth sense.

Pat Cochran said...

When are single mothers going to
learn that the greatest danger to
their children is that boyfriend
they allow into their homes? So
sorry, I just have long felt this
is true, why can't they see the
peril to which they are exposing their little ones!

Pat Cochran

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, he's yours for the day! It's a while since he's been down to Oz.

CJ, welcome back and contratulations on the release of your latest blockbuster!

Actually it's odd about your definition of evil, because I think mine is fairly similar. I think it's that utter selfishness where nobody else matters. It's pretty chilling when you strike it!

PJ said...

Congrats, Helen! Enjoy your day with the GR!

Welcome back, CJ! You hooked me on this series with the very first book. I can't wait to pick up URGENT CARE and find out what happens next!

I've been robbed at gunpoint twice but I honestly don't think I've ever been in the presence of true evil. They were criminals but if they had been evil I wouldn't be here today. There is a lot of evil out there though and all you have to do is watch the news to hear all about it, especially the stories about what people do to children. It sickens me.

Nancy said...

PJ, twice? That's awful. I'm glad you came through it safely. You have such a thoughtful perspective on the experience.

PJ said...

Nancy, one of the "benefits" of a career in banking. Both times were in my early 20s when I still worked in the branches.

PJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CJ Lyons said...

Robbed twice??? Wow! I'll bet that had some impact on how you look at people....good fodder for books, as well.

So glad you came thru safe and sound!!!

CJ Lyons said...

Nancy, I agree--and police officers often have a very good idea who these people are, they have good instincts about it.

CJ Lyons said...

Thanks, you're so kind to say that, I love Tess!!!

And I totally agree, I don't think these kids can be changed unless you catch them very, very young--but maybe you can redirect them, or try.

CJ Lyons said...

I totally agree! Bringing it out into the open where it can't hide is the best way to deal with evil.

Thanks for dropping by!

CJ Lyons said...

Hey Anna, what can I say, great minds think alike, lol!

Thanks for the kind words!

CJ Lyons said...

I agree--from a child abuse perspective, the perpetrators were often an unrelated male in the household. I wish I had an easy answer for you, but I don't.

Kim Howe said...

Pat, interesting comment about boyfriends. CJ, do you have any documentation about pedophiles using "relationships" with women who have kids as a way of getting close to children? That's chilling!

Kim Howe said...

Thanks for your kind words, CJ and Jeanne. I'm working hard to tell the story of my heart and hope it sells. Needless to say, it's dark! :)

Kim Howe said...

PJ, I'm so glad you're okay. Did you talk your way out of the situations?

Kim Howe said...

Catslady, good point about being open regarding these touchy issues. Parents are much better educated now thanks to those who are reaching out.

Kim Howe said...

Anna S and CJ, thanks for sharing your thoughts on rehabilitation. CJ, love that book THE SOCIOPATH NEXT DOOR. Definitely worth a read for anyone who hasn't tackled it yet.

CJ Lyons said...

Kim, it's not just pedophiles but also physical abuse. A lot of time in shaken baby and other physical abuse cases we'd learn the perpetrator was an unrelated male living in the house...

Physical abuse in children has many contributing factors, but that was one that we saw time and time again.

Louisa Cornell said...

Congrats, Helen! He is definitely qualified to amuse the children!

Hello, CJ ! I loved this post and can't wait to start this series.

My late husband was a prison psychiatrist and sat across the desk from true evil on a couple of occasions. He said anyone who does not believe evil exists and is walking among us simply has not met the right people. He talked about sociopaths as broken machines that no power on earth or in heaven can repair. They get up and decide to kill one day the way we decide what clothes to wear. He did say not all sociopaths become serial killers. Some become lawyers or used car salesmen. I think that was a bit of psychiatrist humor.

As for myself I have had two former students convicted of horrible murders in the last fifteen years. I recognized one of them instantly as a sociopath (aged 14.) He is currently awaiting trial on a charge of beating his parents to death on Thanksgiving night a few years ago because they wouldn't give him more money and their new car. There was no soul behind this boy's eyes. A couple of teachers asked to have him removed from their class. I really didn't have any problems from him per se, but I think just as I knew what he was, he knew that I knew and that I wasn't afraid of him.

The other young man was a quiet polite type who gave me that odd undefined feeling, but other than that he was a good student, polite and never caused any trouble. Until several years after he graduated he raped and murdered his high school aged girlfriend after she dumped him. He then had a friend drive him home and killed himself.

The Romance Dish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PJ said...

PJ, I'm so glad you're okay. Did you talk your way out of the situations?

No, Kim. One of the first things you're taught as a bank employee is to keep your mouth shut and give them what they ask for. The first time, the robber vaulted the teller counter and knocked me out of the way. I was 23 and terrified that he would think I could ID him so I kept my mouth shut and my eyes on the floor the entire time. I was not a good witness. lol

CJ Lyons said...

I think your husband is right--many sociopaths don't go on to lead a life of crime, they get their power trip in business, politics, medicine, etc.

Thanks for sharing!

Michelle said...

hi Miss Lyons! congrats on your new release! your post made me think and it's really scary to thinking about the "face of evil" could be anybody, even an acquaintance. it's the unknown danger that always scares me the most. luckily i don't think i've met anyone i can label as "evil." a few came close though (like that "almost-evil" girl in the 3rd grade that liked to pick on me LOL)...