Go to Homepage   Janet Evanovich: Delivering a Plum Good Read

Janet Evanovich (photo by Jean Marie Ward)

Janet Evanovich's best-selling, award-winning novels about Trenton bounty hunter Stephanie Plum should not be read on a bus, at your desk, late night in bed -- or anyplace else where you could embarrass yourself by laughing out loud. Because you know you will. And if the people next to you don't call for the nice gentlemen in the white coats, they'll try to steal your book.

In November, Evanovich will introduce a new sleuth, Alexandra "Alex" Barnaby, a Baltimore-born blonde investigating her brother's disappearance from a Miami Beach pier -- driving somebody else's boat. In a recent interview with Crescent Blues, Evanovich talked about her new series, her old romances and Plums old and new.

Crescent Blues: What was the inspiration for Stephanie's Grandma Masur? Is she based on someone you know?

Janet Evanovich: Grandma Mazur is loosely based on my Aunt Lena and my Grandma Fanny. She's who I want to be when I grow up.

Crescent Blues: Ten Big Ones, the latest Stephanie Plum novel, touches on the issue of gang violence and the "nationalization" of gang culture. What prompted you to focus on this type of crime (and criminal) in this particular book?

Janet Evanovich: I keep in touch with the Trenton Police Department. Over the last few years Bloods and Crypts have come into the Trenton area, and it's caused serious problems. I thought it was a good subject to touch upon.

Crescent Blues: Do you anticipate the gang-related issues in this book will be revisited in future books in the Stephanie Plum series or in your upcoming Metro Girl series?

Janet Evanovich: No plans at the moment, but I don't usually think more than one book ahead.

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Crescent Blues: What first attracted you to the series mystery format?

Janet Evanovich: I'm not really sure the Plum books are mysteries. I think of them more as mis-adventures.

Because my books are mostly character driven, I think the series works well for me. People get to know the characters and identify with them. They don't want the friendship to end.

Crescent Blues: How do you think the Stephanie Plum series has benefited from your experience as a romance writer?

Janet Evanovich: It helped to create likable characters and leading men that are hotties. Both Joe and Ranger come right out of my romance writing days. They are your typical bad-boy heroes.

The stakes are higher. The sex is sexier. The nights are hotter.

Crescent Blues: How did the Stephanie/Joe Morelli/Ranger triangle come about? Was it planned from the start of the series?

Janet Evanovich: It wasn't something I planned from the start. I think the triangle started to come together around Four to Score. I thought Stephanie and Joe need a little more excitement and tension.

Crescent Blues: Do you have specific physical types -- for example, actors -- in mind when you describe your characters?

Janet Evanovich: The character's physical descriptions come out of my head. I don't usually think of other people when I create them.

Crescent Blues: Has your vision of the characters' physical attributes shifted over time in the Stephanie Plum series, or has it remained pretty constant?

Janet Evanovich: Some of the characters have shifted, others have stayed the same. Somewhere along the line Ranger has grown in my head.

Crescent Blues: How do you build one of Stephanie's adventures? For example, are you an "outliner" or a "go with the flow" writer?

Janet Evanovich: I create a brief outline. Maybe one or two sentences about what will happen in each chapter.

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Crescent Blues: Literature professors claim that comic writing requires a great deal of authorial control. How much do you feel your way of putting a story together is determined by the comic nature of your material?

Janet Evanovich: The humor comes naturally to me. I don't actually think about it. The writing process, however, is very controlled. Making sure the book is easy to read and flows quickly takes work.

Crescent Blues: What prompted your recent collaborations with Charlotte Hughes?

Janet Evanovich: I had a lot of ideas in my head that I just didn't have time to put on paper. Plus I wanted to give something back to the romance community. I had started writing romance novels at the same time Charlotte did. She's a great writer with her own distinct sense of humor. I thought she was the perfect person to help me start a new romance series.

Crescent Blues: What is the best thing about revisiting your earlier novels?

Janet Evanovich: I realized they were pretty good. While I think I have definitely improved as a writer it's nice to know that my first novels weren't terrible.

Crescent Blues: The worst?

Janet Evanovich: Some of the horrible 1980s romance language. Most of it has been edited for the re-releases. It was pretty embarrassing. Alex, my webmaster/daughter, has posted some of the edited parts on the site as "bloopers."

Crescent Blues: Getting back to your new series, Metro Girl, would you like to give our readers a plot teaser or two?

Get out there and do it! Don't let rejection stop you. I received rejection letters for ten years, and look at me now.

Janet Evanovich: Metro Girl is the big sister to the Stephanie Plum series. The stakes are higher. The sex is sexier. The nights are hotter.

The action takes place in Miami. Alexandra Barnaby is looking for her missing brother and she's finding dead bodies, sunken treasure, a whole bunch of bad guys -- and one very good, very sexy NASCAR driver who's along for the ride.

Crescent Blues: Was the research for Metro Girl as extensive as the work you did in preparation for the Stephanie Plum series?

Janet Evanovich: Yes, but it wasn't quite as hands on. For the Plum series I had a lot of lunches with bounty hunters, I fired a gun for the first time in my life and I drove around with the Trenton PD. Metro Girl was mostly books, Internet and some interviews.

Crescent Blues: What was your favorite part of the research for the new series?

Janet Evanovich: My favorite part was researching South Beach in Miami. That was tough, but somebody had to do it.

Crescent Blues: Can your fans expect to see any cross-overs between the Stephanie Plum and Metro Girl series?

Janet Evanovich: I don't have any plans to do so at the moment.

Crescent Blues: What about another "Christmas present" a la Visions of Sugar Plums?

Janet Evanovich: Look for it in 2005.

Crescent Blues: Since Stephanie Plum hit the bestseller list, you've become a family corporation. How did this come about, and how does it work?

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Janet Evanovich: Actually we were a corporation before that. If it wasn't for the help and support of my family I would probably still be struggling my way up the list.

Crescent Blues: Any words of wisdom to aspiring writers?

Janet Evanovich: Get out there and do it! Don't let rejection stop you. I received rejection letters for ten years, and look at me now.

Click here to learn more about Janet Evanovich.

Jean Marie Ward