Rock Bottom by Erin Brockovich and CJ Lyons

by Julie Kramer

Consumer advocate Erin Brockovich and pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons have both lived the lives they write about. Now they team up to pen a series of science thrillers. Their debut, ROCK BOTTOM, features heroine Angela Joy Palladino, an environmental activist returning to her West Virginia hometown to work for a lawyer fighting to stop mountain top removal mining. He ends up murdered and she ends up facing a troubled past and a dangerous future.

ROCK BOTTOM has been  praised by several New York Times bestselling authors for its storytelling. Steve Barry called it “ brilliant and feisty,” Lee Child lauded it with “action packed, authentic, and intense,” and Jeffrey Deaver gave it a “compelling” thumbs up.

How did Erin and CJ fare at working together as writing partners?  Let’s get each of their take on their adventure.

Erin, following the Julia Roberts movie, the name Erin Brockovich became a household word. How much of your protagonist is you?

I was certainly a catalyst in developing the protagonist, Angela, but I think we all are. We are each our main character since this issue is all around us. I think most readers will be able to identify with Angela in one way or another.

CJ, how did you and Erin end up as writing partners?
Her publisher contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in partnering with Erin–after a fan girl squee of delight, I of course said “yes!” We then talked on the phone and it turns out Erin liked my books and how I write strong yet flawed women heroes.
Erin, how did you decide to use CJ as a co-author rather than a ghost writer, or simply going it alone?
I had a story to tell which meant finding someone to help organize the thoughts. I have been in the trenches, I have the experience and I have lived this life but I wanted to team with someone to help turn the story into a great book.  We had time to talk and were on the same page. I knew that she “got it.” I also found a lot of comfort in her background, especially her medical background. She knows what people go through and she has compassion.

CJ, did you or Erin ever disagree on vision?
No, in fact it is amazing how in synch we are! Our first conversation we began to talk about our personal life-views and philosophies and I mentioned how the entire reason I write what I call “Thrillers with Heart” is because of my belief that we are each our own hero. And Erin finished my sentence for me–because she shares the same viewpoint!

Of course we gave our main character, AJ Palladino, that life philosophy as well. Only for AJ it gets her into a lot of trouble along the way!
Erin, you wrote an acclaimed memoir, TAKE IT FROM ME, which is harder – fiction or nonfiction?
The fiction process was a lot less emotionally draining. Non-fiction can hit very close to home and when you go back and reread and reflect on what you’re written it can be almost like therapy. With a work of fiction you’re able to let loose a bit and create your own reality.

CJ, you’ve written a series of medical suspense thrillers, what was it like to be a co-author?
It was a great experience even though I was totally out of my comfort zone. The books Erin and I write have no medicine in them, so I have to do my research from scratch (which is cool, I’ve learn so much!) and ROCK BOTTOM was also my first time ever writing in first person. But every book I’ve written has had its own challenges and been different from the others.

Hot Water, the second book in the series, centers on a South Carolina nuclear plant. It will be released in October.

To learn more about Erin Brockovich, go to www.brockovich.com/index.html

To learn more about CJ Lyons, go to cjlyons.net/

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