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Janet Evanovich, Mystery With an Attitude
Wednesday, December 20, 2000

Book JacketsThrough half a dozen novels featuring unlikely heroine Stephanie Plum, author Janet Evanovich has counted her way up the bestseller lists with a delightful blend of humor, mystery and action-adventure. From "One for the Money" to "Hot Six" the Stephanie Plum novels always provide the quirky characters, twisted plot developments, and laugh-out-loud dialogue that keep her fans clamoring for more.

EvanovichHaving first established herself as a romance writer, Evanovich says she decided to switch to writing mysteries when "after 12 romance novels, I ran out of sexual positions." In "One for the Money" Evanovich introduced readers to Stephanie Plum, who realizes that career opportunities aren't exactly knocking at her door when she loses her job as a department store lingerie buyer. Luckily, she's got an unregistered .38 and a bail bondsman cousin who needs a bounty hunter. In her six madcap adventures, Stephanie and an ever-increasing cast of eccentric supporting friends and relations have kept the streets of Trenton safe from such life-or-death threats as disastrous new hair colors, waitresses-gone-bad, and nefarious garbage-collection scams.


Moderator: Welcome to Viewpoint with our guest, Janet Evanovich. Janet, we're glad to have you with us today, and let's get started.

Clawson, Michigan: I know that your fans are important to you, but when you write, do you write for yourself or for the fans' expectations?

Janet Evanovich: Hi! Great to be here today. Looking forward to chatting with everyone.

I like the communication and the feeling of being connected when I write and I love to entertain. I get a lot of feedback from my fans because I have such an active Web site and I pay attention to their suggestions and desires, but I pretty much follow my own instincts when I write.

Chesapeake, VA: Janet, you're the best. How did you pick Trenton, NJ as the place for your stories?

Janet Evanovich: I started my career as a romance writer and those romances were set all over the world. When I moved to crime and decided to go with a long-running series I knew I had to go back to my home state of Jersey. I know Trenton well and I feel comfortable there. And I knew the Plum character had to be a Jersey girl.

Aspen, CO: Janet,
I just finished "Hot Six" and I loved it!! What's next? Thank you for doing this.

Janet Evanovich: The next book in the series, SEVEN UP, will be in the stores June 19. I also have a non-fiction book about bounty hunters in the works that we hope to have out for Christmas next year.

DC: Janet,
I read that there is a movie in the works based on "One for the Money" Will it be filming soon and who are playing the main characters? I have my own opinions (The Rock IS Ranger!!!) but who do you see playing Stephanie, et al?

Janet Evanovich: I smell what you're cookin'!! I sold ONE to TriStar six years ago and it's been in preproduction ever since. The producer, Wendy Finerman, so far hasn't gotten a script she's crazy about (and hasn't asked Moi to write one!). Lately there's been talk about taking Steph to series televsion but again that's as far as it's gone. No one has ever been cast in the series. I've always had a hard time deciding who should play Stephanie but I agree with you on The Rock. The Rock is Ranger. Plus Webmaster Alex and I want to learn how to give The People's Elbow.

Dallas, TX: Is "Seven" a Morelli or Ranger book?

Janet Evanovich: Good try. You'll just have to wait until June. :)

Arlington, VA: Do you have a certain number of books planned for this series or will you keep writing until Stephanie runs out of adventures? (never, I hope!)

Janet Evanovich: I don't have any set number of books in mind. I've just signed another three book contract with St. Martins Press and I'm really enjoying writing about Steph and Co. I expect I'll be doing this for a good long time. And the pay ain't bad either.

Fort Collins, Colorado: What was the first piece of writing you were paid for and do you remember what you used the money for?

Janet Evanovich: The first time I made money writing was with my first romance novel, HERO AT LARGE. I sold it for $2,000. I thought I was rich and was going to be instantly famous and so I quit my day job. I didn't sell another book for a year and had to give up drinking orange juice. The money went so fast I don't remember what I spent it on. I do remember how I spent my first big paycheck, though. I got almost a million dollars for the movie rights. I bought a car and a bread machine. I only made two loaves of bread in two years. That's about a hundred dollars a loaf, right?

Columbus, Ohio: Hi Janet! I had the pleasure of meeting with you in Chicago in July and had the time of my life. I wanted to thank you for taking the time.
One question: Do you have plans on having Ranger more romantically involved with Steph in "Seven?"

Janet Evanovich: Ranger will continue to play a complicating role in Steph's life. I really enjoy the romantic tension and the sexual chase that goes on between Steph and Ranger and Step and Joe and intend to keep it going. Writers have to have fun, too.

Washington, DC: Welcome Ms. Evanovich: The promo states that you used to write romances. At Amazon.com they're listed as out-of-print but the titles sound really racy. Did you use an agent for your romances and did you use one to submit "One for the Money?"

Janet Evanovich: I wrote 12 romances in five years. I was represented by Richard Curtis at that time. I changed agents when I changed genres and ONE was sold by Aaron Priest. I'm currently with Robert Gottlieb of Trident Media Group and think he's the bomb, the shit, the best.

Arlington, VA: You've created some very memorable characters, Lula and Grandma Mazur are just two of them. How do you come up with them?

Janet Evanovich: Most of my characters are composites. Grandma Mazur has a lot of my Aunt Lena in her. Aunt Lena lived in South River, NJ (as did I) and used to go to funeral viewings as recreation. She also had a real joy for living. Lula is more of a fictional creation. Lula is in many ways Stephanie on steroids.

Gadsden, AL: How many copies of "Hero at Large" were printed?

Janet Evanovich: I'm not sure exactly what the printing was on HERO. Usually at that time the series romances were shipping in the ball park of a hundred thousand give or take fifty thousand. SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE was winding down when I was published and their printings were falling off so I'm not sure about the numbers. They're buried away in my files somewhere in all the dead royalty statements.

Zwolle, LA.: Is it possible that your romances may one day be reprinted? They are terrific! I love your Steph series, also.

Janet Evanovich: I'd love to have my romances reprinted. We haven't done it so far because I'm trying to get control over the process. I want to make sure the consumer is informed that these are vintage Evanovich and are reprints of romances. The lawyers are at work!

Columbus, OH: What you made you choose writing as a career?

Janet Evanovich: When I was a kid I was always the kid who could draw. When I went to college I majored in studio art and was a painter. I got married and started a family shortly after college. I was a stay-at-home mom and while I was at home I realized that I just liked to make things. This was a very liberating thing to discover because it meant I wasn't thinking just in terms of being a painter. I also was realizing that I loved audience. And that I wanted a larger and more diverse audience than I was seeing as a painter. I tried journalism and was awful. I tried writing children's books and couldn't sell anything. And then on a whim I sat down and attempted a novel and fell in love. It took me 10 years to get published as a novelist but the more I wrote, the more I loved writing and stuck with it. And here I am now, an overnight success.

London, U.K.: How much of yourself do you see in Stephanie?

Janet Evanovich: I see a lot of myself in Stephanie and I see a lot of my daughter Alex in Stephanie. Stephanie has some of my history. And Stephanie often reacts in the same way I'd react. Bringing some of myself into Stephanie is a way of keeping Stephanie honest and consistent. Of course, it's not an autobiographical series. Stephanie is her own person and I'm my own person. My Webmaster daughter Alex keeps me in the right generation. She makes sure Stephanie wears the right shoes and listens to the right music. (Alex is a metal head!) And of course, Alex makes sure Steph is a NY Rangers fan and watches WWF wrestling. Go Rock.

Fond du Lac, WI: Janet, I saw you on your "High Five" tour in Madison, WI. I have to know if you plan to sell your "big blue" book display cars at your online store. Would you consider being a guest speaker at a small community college sometime in the future? We're always on the lookout for someone to inspire our students! You've already inspired the staff.

Janet Evanovich: Unfortunately there aren't any big blue display cars to sell. They were promo items created by my publisher and are all gone. We're going to be selling t-shirts, mugs, beanie babies and keytags in the online store. We had the store up and running with the t-shirts but instantly sold out. We had no idea there'd be such demand! We just put in a large order and hope to have things going in January.

I love guest speaking but have had to curtail my speaking schedule. Currently I'm only doing speaking events that are part of my publisher-sponsored tours. Just not enough hours in the day, days in the week to do everything. Glad to know I'm inspiring. :)

Alexandria, VA: One of the many things I love about your Stephanie Plum books is that about one-third of the way through they become utterly compelling. I can't sleep until I finish them! How do you do that?

Janet Evanovich: I'm not sure how I create the page-turners but I think it has to do with large quantities of Cheese Doodles and some beer.

Moderator: Janet,
How closely do the voices of C. J. Critt, the narrator of the unabridged versions of your books, match the voices you imagine your characters having?

Janet Evanovich: I love C.J. Critt. I think she does a fabulous job. I always enjoy her readings. Her voice doesn't match my voice of course ...because it's MY voice. Maybe that makes it even more fun for me to hear her tapes.

Chicago, Illinois : Janet. You're the bomb. A friend who usually turns me on to some pretty complicated, yet enjoyable, works of literature turned me on to Stephanie Plum. I had trouble believing her when she told me that she pretended she was sick one whole weekend just so she could continue reading Steph's adventures - this from a professional woman, with a "real" job and family responsibilites. I thought she was crazy. Well, needless to say, I'm addicted and I've been sharing my addiction with others. Strangers stop me and ask what I'm reading but I often gasp and laugh out loud. Thanks for creating characters that are fun, human, real and sexy. I love the fact that Steph, like most of us, suffers from the functional dysfunctional family syndrome. Can't wait til June.

Janet Evanovich: Thanks. Good to know I'm disrupting the work force. My feeling is that a functional family is more dysfunctional than a dysfunctional family.

Virginia: Hi, Janet. First, I want to thank you for giving us two major babe guys for Steph in one series - usually a reader only gets one! Are Joe and Ranger based on anyone in particular?

Janet Evanovich: Joe and Ranger come out of my days as a romance writer. They're actually the classic bad boy hero. Sorry I can't attribute the characters to a real life guy. I suspect you wanted phone numbers?

Silver Spring, MD: Why did you make Steph a bounty hunter?

Janet Evanovich: When I decided to move into the crime genre I started searching around for the perfect profession for my heroine. I didn't want to make her a PI because I thought there were a lot of good female PIs out there. I didn't want to make her a cop because I don't know a lot about police procedure. I was watching television and MIDNIGHT RUN came on with Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin and I instantly knew this was it. DeNiro was a bounty hunter and the only skill he seemed to need was the ability to lie. Since I'm pretty good at lying I knew I was home.

Villa Park, IL.: What inspired you to create Lula? She's the
most upbeat overweight character I've ever read!

Janet Evanovich: When you write with a lot of humor you need to occasionally raise the stakes for the reader so the book doesn't become tedious with relentless humor. In the first book Lula was a 'ho and her job was to be placed in jeopardy and raise the stakes for the reader. When I started the second book I kept thinking about Lula and somehow she returned as a file clerk. Lula is now a favorite character and I suspect will always be Steph's sidekick. I like Lula because she's such a strong character. She's a product of the street, she's pulled herself out of a bad childhood and is always positive.

Fort Collins, Colorado: What do you do in your spare (HA!) time?

Janet Evanovich: Yeah, you guessed it. I have no spare time. You know how some people have no life? Well I have too much life. If I had spare time I'd shop. I'm a mallaholic.

Chicago, Illinois: In this day of Sex in the City, I find it refreshing that our heroine practices "safe sex" that isn't always convenient. It's one of the things that makes her seem more real. I find Steph sooo Catholic, I love it! Are you? And has this influenced your portrayal of Steph and her band of renown?

Janet Evanovich: I'm not Catholic but I grew up in a Catholic town. I'm Catholic by proximity. I think Steph's values come from my own childhood which was very Eastern European immigrant. Probably the Burg and the Plum series lives in a more simple time than many of us see today. I think that might be some of the appeal of the series.

Gadsden, Al: Your first three romance novels were written under the name Steffie Hall and the main character in the Plum series is named Stephanie. Is there a special Stephanie in your life?

Janet Evanovich: Mostly I just like the name Stephanie. I like the music and the way it rolls around. There were a bunch of Stephanies in my home town. The only real Stephanie is my niece, Stephanie Gaspich.

Vienna, VA: Hello Janet: No question. I enjoy reading your books.. have read all six of them,and can't wait until the rest! I've passed them along to my sister who enjoys them too!
Keep up the great work. Hope you will find time in your busy schedule to do a book tour in the DC/Northern VA area! Would love to meet you!

Janet Evanovich: I'm looking forward to getting back to the D.C. area on a future tour. I lived in Northern Virginia for 15 years and have lots of friends in the area. I had D.C. on my schedule two years ago. This year I suspect my tour cities will mostly be in the western half of the country. Maybe D.C. will happen in 2002.

E. Stroudsburg, PA: As a former Jersey Girl who use to live south of Trenton, I always get a big kick when you use places and landmarks I recognize. How do you keep up-to-date on this? Do you use local investigators or a really, really good memory?

Janet Evanovich: I go back to Trenton a lot. I live in New Hampshire now but I have friends and relatives in Jersey and go back regularly for my Jersey fix. I work with a map when I'm writing and I make emergency phone calls to friends in the area. I try to have a mix of real streets and landmarks and also fictional ones. I try not to invade anyone's privacy by putting a house where one actually exists. I also have some very good Trenton cop friends who do the bakery/beer and pizza runs with me.

Columbus, Ohio: I, too, had the pleasure of meeting you in Chicago and look forward to seeing you on the "Seven Up" tour. I've read about your new non-fiction title about bounty hunters. I'm looking forward to it, but I am a little worried that it might delay "Seven." I know you have been busy touring, but I'm hoping "Seven" will still be out around June?

Janet Evanovich: June 19. Nothing stops Stephanie!!

Trenton, New Jersey: As you're writing one book, do other books come to mind and you do jot them down for future book ideas? You're the best and I'm so lucky to be a Trenton native. Your books are priceless! Happy Holidays!

Janet Evanovich: I do one book at a time. I have a vague idea about the future of Stephanie and her romantic adventures but I don't think ahead on the crime story line. Trenton rocks.

Yeagster from Folsom, CA: Hi mom!! How are you enjoying the holiday season so far?

Janet Evanovich: Hey Yeagster! Alex and I miss you. Think you should spend Christmas here next year!!

Janet Evanovich: Time is up for me dudes and dudettes. Have to go write a book now. Really enjoyed this and hope to return sometime soon. Hope everyone has an excellent holiday season. Hugs to everyone from me and Alex-the-Webmaster. :)

Moderator: Our thanks to Janet Evanovich, RecordedBooks.com and all who participated.

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