by Michael Hayward

#70, 12 June 2006

An Interview with Janet Evanovich

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Somewhat depressed after ten years of rejection notices, Janet Evanovich had pretty much dumped her dream of becoming an author. Then, something nice finally happened: a telephone call from an editor offering to publish a short category romance novel she had written months earlier under the pseudonym Steffie Hall. The 1987 MMPB, Hero at Large, opened the door to the world of professional writing. She went on to write 11 more category romances both under her pen name and as Janet Evanovich. Then, as she admits, she "ran out of sexual positions and decided to move into the mystery genre."

In the early 1990s, Evanovich took two years off from writing to investigate the world of murder and mayhem, "drinking beer with law enforcement types, learning to shoot, practicing cussing." In 1994, a novel entitled One for the Money introduced the world to Stephanie Plum, a sassy and brassy Trenton, New Jersey ex-lingerie sales person turned bounty hunter. While not quite an overnight sensation, the book was named a New York Times "notable book, a Publishers Weekly "Best Book of 1994," and a USA Today "Best Bet." The Plum novels have since won numerous other literary awards and continue to sit atop the national best-seller lists.

Evanovich denies that Stephanie is an autobiographical character but says "I will admit to knowing where she lives." And, indeed she should; Evanovich grew up in Trenton, and the character of the city plays an important role in all her Plum novels.

In 1995, Evanovich and her husband moved to New Hampshire, "...a good place to write a book," she says, "and would be even better if we just had a decent mall. You can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can't take Jersey out of the girl."

BookThink congratulates the writer on the publication of her twelfth Stephanie Plum novel, Twelve Sharp, from St. Martin's Press, and debuting in bookstores nationwide on June 20. An official "launch" party is scheduled that same day at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

BookThink: Given the success of your mystery novels, we're pretty sure that your upcoming book tour will pretty much be "standing room only." How would this compare with your earliest book tours?

Evanovich: I didn't tour as a romance writer. When I started touring for the Plum series. I was mostly going to independent mystery stores. The people were great, but the crowds were small. Frequently I didn't sell any books. I schlepped around by myself staying in budget hotels, eating candy bars because the schedule didn't include lunch. It was a demoralizing, depressing experience, and I spent a lot of time crying myself to sleep. My signings now run anywhere from 400 to 5,000 people. I travel with my webmaster daughter, Alex, and usually my L.A. escort, Ken Wilson, who works as trouble shooter. Having that many people to a signing carries a whole other set of responsibilities. It requires water, and toilets, and lots of books, and wrist bands so they don't have to stand in line for six hours, and entertainment so they don't get bored. And lots of Advil for me. The human thumb wasn't meant to sign 5,000 books in a single sitting. This book tour we're at Foxwoods with a Tom Jones impersonator. Bring extra panties. Woohoo!

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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