Monday, January 4, 2010

A man, a snake, and a path not taken....

What's your favorite scene that your editor asked you to cut?

When I first began my Angels of Mercy series, I was envisioning a Suzanne Brockmann type of multi-character, multi-story, multi-book series, combining romantic relationships, medical drama, and thriller/suspense plots.

My editor asked me to revise that idea and create a medical suspense series told only from the point of view of the women of Angels of Mercy’s ER. She wanted a series that would be mainstream suspense/thriller but with a fresh, new feminine voice.

So it shouldn’t have been a surprise when she asked me to cut one of the scenes that I had the most fun writing! This scene was originally designed for Book #2 and would have been the launch of a new romance for Gina. Although I have many readers who love the romantic elements and sexual tension in the series, my editor wanted this book to be a more traditional mystery and Gina’s character arc changed (for the rest of the series, in fact, which is why her story in the upcoming Book #4, ISOLATION, is so much fun—it’s totally different than how I had originally envisioned it!)

Here is Gina’s path not taken—involving a rather large snake and a scantily clad man….


Great, more steps. Gina trudged up them and pushed open the door at the top.

And entered the Garden of Eden. Complete with an almost naked man wrestling with a very large, very black, very deadly looking python.

Ken Rosen stared at her with the slightest hint of a smirk as he stroked his snake. The thought made Gina flush with sweat. Stroked a snake, she firmly corrected herself, trying hard not to allow her gaze to linger on Ken's chiseled muscles.

Which left her looking at his face. Calm, placid features, his Zen monk demeanor rankled her. No one could be that content, complacent. At least no one in Gina's world. She burned with a sudden urge to shatter his calm, to prove to herself that he was as human and fallible as she.

"Need something for that cough?" he asked, deftly unwinding the snake from his body, starting with its tail.

She glared at him. "You know as well as I do that I was faking."

His grin never faltering, he juggled the python deftly between his thickly muscled forearms and stepped closer to her. "So, if it's not a prescription you came for, then why are you here?"

The large serpent raised its head, beady eyes staring at her with the same bemused expression that Ken's eyes held. This close she could smell the musky odor the snake exuded. It wasn't solid black but rather serpentine shades of brown ranging from oak to mahogany.

The snake lunged forward. Gina jumped back. She became aware of the rest of her surroundings. A rooftop garden, complete with the copse of trees that shaded them. The scent of roses, gardenias and jasmine all mixed together, completing the illusion that they were anywhere except the middle of Pittsburgh's deadliest neighborhood.

"I think I made a mistake," Gina said backpedaling, her hands sweeping behind her, searching for the door to the stairs. She couldn't pull her gaze away from Ken and the snake although she wasn't entirely sure which creature unnerved her more.

"No," Ken said and she froze. "You were right to come here. I should have searched you out myself, but well…" he trailed off. She was surprised to see his cheeks flush. "I guess I got distracted." He shrugged and the snake shifted in response to the movement, sweeping down and around his torso in a hypnotic motion.

"Yeah, well, the snake who ate Manhattan could distract anyone."

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, October, 2009. Contact her at


Sophie Littlefield said...

oh my gracious. well, that's *one* way to kick start a week, CJ! Stroked his snake, indeed! :)

CJ Lyons said...

LOL! I know--I had so much fun writing it that I admit, I got carried away. Thank goodness for editors!

Shane Gericke said...

Is that a ten-gallon snake, or are you just happy to see me? Rim shot!

Kelli Stanley said...

Wow, CJ--hot stuff! But you know what they say ... it's not the size of the snake, it's the rattle ... ;)


Joshua Corin said...

It's a good thing that it's 19 degrees outside, because I so so needed a cold shower after reading that scene. Really terrific writing there, CJ.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

A man and his snake...

Sorry that the scene ended up Coilus interruptus (yes, I know Jeannie and Kelli will be correcting me).

Now what can I possibly write tomorrow to compete with THAT?

Shane Gericke said...

If you just italicize it, Becky, it's Latin, and they won't yell at us for being, you know, Notae Latinae Literateae ...

Kelli Stanley said...

Ixnay on the Atinlay--wait--did I just write "lay"?

OK, you guys are officially off the hook. ;)