Friday, July 16, 2010

Interview With Janet Evanovich

I asked a question, not long ago, on authors you would like to see on Over Coffee. One request was Janet Evanovich, author of the Stephanie Plum series. I’m happy to say, despite her very busy schedule, she made time to chat a bit and answer some questions for me.

Janet has written sixteen numbered and four between the numbers books in the Stephanie Plum series, which have consistently, topped the New York Times Bestsellers list. Although we didn’t discuss this, it is well known her contract with St. Martin’s press is up for renewal. Many have heard the news that Janet’s son Peter is negotiating the sale of her next four books, for $50 million—quite a chunk of change. It will be interesting to see if Janet stays with St. Martin’s where she reigns as one of their top authors, or finds another publishing home.

I know many of you love her Stephanie plum books and have favorite characters in those books. I’m sure many are also excited to see the casting of One For The Money, Janet’s first Stephanie Plum book. My understanding is that Katherine Heigl has accepted the role as Stephanie and Sherri Shepherd has been cast as Lula (I LOVE Sherri!). Shooting begins next week in Pittsburgh, PA, according to Variety .

Janet says she “sold the movie rights to One For the Money in 1993, and has no involvement or influence in the making of the movie...casting, directing, the script, editing, etc.”

I have to say I read my first Janet Evanovich when she wrote under the name of Steffie Hall, Hero At Large and Wife For Hire. I enjoyed her Bantam Loveswept Novels. Janet made me laugh with her humorous take on love and I loved her heroes—like Ivan, for instance.

  • You did such a great job with romance why did you change genres?

I wrote series romance for five years, mostly for Bantam Loveswept. It was a rewarding experience, but after twelve romance novels I ran out of sexual positions and decided to move into the mystery/suspense genre.

  • Then you created Stephanie Plum?
I spent two years retooling—drinking beer with law enforcement types, learning to shoot, practicing cussing. At the end of those years I created Stephanie Plum. I wouldn't go so far as to say Stephanie is an autobiographical character, but I will admit to knowing where she lives.

Janet, like many successful, productive authors, puts in eight hours a day writing, researching, dealing with her career, and is a dedicated writer. Plus she takes time to answer pesky questions from people like me.

  • But when asked what her workday is really like, she answers with her trademark sense of humor:

I drag myself out of bed around six, shove myself into the clothes lying on the floor and plod down the road after the dog. I eat a boring breakfast of skim milk, orange juice and healthy cereal because when I wake up I always think I'm Christie Brinkley and it seems like something Christie would do.

Then I shuffle into the office I share with a really rude parrot. The dog follows after me and flops onto his bed to take a nap. (Next time around I want to be my dog.) I stare at the computer screen for about four hours, sometimes actually typing some sentences. I chew gum and drink green tea to keep myself from falling out of my chair in a catatonic stupor.

At noon I'm suddenly filled with energy and rush to the refrigerator, hoping a pineapple upside-down cake with lots of whipped cream has mysteriously appeared. Finding none, I make a tuna or peanut butter and olive sandwich. I go back to my office… I stare at the computer screen some more. When nothing appears on the screen I drive down to the local store and buy a bag of Cheez Doodles.

I eat the Cheez Doodles and manage to actually write several pages. When I'm done with the Doodles and pages I wander out of my office looking for someone to whine at because I just made myself fat. (I'm only Christie Brinkley in the morning. In the afternoon I'm Roseanne.) I alternate typing and whining for the rest of the afternoon until about five when I emerge from my office, once again hoping for the pineapple cake.

In case you didn't know, Cheez Doodles are her not so secret vice. :-) 
  • I know you're publishing three books this year. That's a lot of work, both in terms of writing and promotion. Do you work on them sequentially or simultaneously?

I only ever write one book at a time.

  • What's easiest (or hardest) for you-dialogue, plot, character, or something else?

Plot and transition are probably the hardest. I know the characters so well that dialogue is a bit easier.

  • You have a long running series, how do you keep it fresh this far into a series?

Hard work, birthday cake, and wine.

  • In a series, there's not much of a character arc for the main character, otherwise the series would be over. Yet there seems to be some subtle changes in Stephanie. Do you have a long term "series arc" in mind for her? Are there major changes in store for Stephanie in the next book?
I suppose there are always subtle changes from time to time, but until the final book I really don't envision much in the way of changes for Stephanie. She'll always get into hot water and not be terribly good at her job.

  • Is Joe and Stephanie ever going to have a fight bad enough that she has a real fling with Ranger?
Ah, million dollar question. I'll never tell.

  • Is there a real Joe Morelli and Ranger?
  • I wish!

  • How did you come up with the idea for the Hobbits in Sizzling Sixteen?
Hobbits and Mooner seemed as natural together as breathing.

  • What's coming out next for you? Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

Troublemaker, a graphic novel based on the characters from Metro Girl and Motor Mouth, that I wrote with my daughter, Alex, is coming out on July 20.

After that the first book in the new Diesel series, Wicked Appetite, comes out on September 14, 2010.

Then part two of Troublemaker will be in stores in November.

A very busy year for you. I’m looking forward to Wicked Appetite. Again, thank you for taking the time out your busy schedule to visit with us a bit.

  • Readers: What’s your favorite character in Janet’s Stephanie Plum series and why? Which is your favorite of Janet’s books?
~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Sizzling Sixteen

Trenton, New Jersey, bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has inherited a “lucky” bottle from her Uncle Pip. Problem is, Uncle Pip didn’t specify if the bottle brought good luck or bad luck....

Vinnie, of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds, has run up a gambling debt of $786,000 with mobster Bobby Sunflower and is being held until the cash can be produced. Nobody else will pay to get Vinnie back, leaving it up to Stephanie, office manager Connie, and file clerk Lula to raise the money if they want to save their jobs.


Being in the business of tracking down people, Stephanie, Lula, and Connie have an advantage in finding Vinnie. If they can rescue him, it will buy them some time to raise the cash.


Finding a safe place to hide Vinnie turns out to be harder than raising $786,000. Vinnie’s messing up local stoner Walter “Moon Man” Dunphy's vibe and making Stephanie question genetics.


Between a bonds office yard sale that has the entire Burg turning out, a plan that makes Mooner’s Hobbit-Con look sane, and Uncle Pip’s mysterious bottle, they just might raise enough money to save Vinnie and the business from ruin.


Saving Vincent Plum Bail Bonds means Stephanie can keep being a bounty hunter. In Trenton, this involves hunting down a man wanted for polygamy, a Turnpike toilet paper bandit, and a drug dealer with a pet alligator named Mr. Jingles.


The job of bounty hunter comes with perks in the guise of Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, and the dark and dangerous, Ranger. With any luck at all, Uncle Pip’s lucky bottle will have Stephanie getting lucky---the only question is . . . with whom?
Purchase:  Available in Hardcover Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble   

JANET EVANOVICH is the #1 bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum novels, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author. She lives in New Hampshire and Florida along with her St. Bernard granddog Barnaby.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome to Over Coffee, Janet. Thank you for taking time to answer some of my questions.

tonya kappes said...

SHE'S AMAZING!! I love all of Janet's books. They are great from beginning to end. It seems she's as funny in person as Stephanie is in the books. Keep 'em comin'!

Elle J Rossi said...

My sister Beth turned me on to this series years ago. And I've recommended them over and over again. Her style is one of a kind and her cast of characters...well, let's just say I'd like to be a star amongst them! How cool would that be?

My favorite? Grandma Mazur. She gets me every time with her funeral home antics, her hair color issues and her just being her. She makes me laugh out loud when no one else is around. She makes me laugh so hard tears pour out of my eyes! I want to be her. I really do!

Jill Lynn said...

Thanks, Sia, for bringing us closer to Janet. Wonderful interview.

Oh, wow. Should I be this nervous that Janet might read something I typed?

Yes, yes, I should.

I don't know that I'd point to one character as my favorite. It's the way all the characters work together that make each so entertaining. For instance, it's already funny when Grandma Mazur acts up at the dinner table, but it's even funnier when Stephanie's dad emits one of his grieved sighs. I swear, that man says more with a roll of his eyes than most characters say in ten pages of dialogue. So, again, it's the ensemble I enjoy most.

Oh, but then there's Rex. Must.single.out. Rex. Love!

Janet, thanks for sharing some of your time with us. I'm now going to sit back and enjoy the other comments as they roll in. Um, could you pass the Cheez Doodles?

VA said...

I am a self-admitted late comer to the joys of Janet E. About a month ago several friends were chatting about Plum and I'm like hhhmmm...

I read quick so no book is a long term commitment. Started reading at the beginning, I know I don't have to, but I feel better following the breadcrumbs. Of course, I threw out the rules with the in-between books and just read them like a Jenny Craig devotee on a bender at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Love the humor, laugh out loud. In fact the laughs are distinctive enough that the child just walks past with that look, "Mom's reading one of her books again". She's just jealous 'cause she has no time for fun reading with AP class hell.

Don't we all wish Diesel, Ranger, and Joe were real. Yes, we're all desperate to know when and if Plum will fall off the wagon.

My favorite Plum quirk: demolished vehicles! I look forward to how she will destroy it in each book.

So I guess my question: Is Janet equally vehicularly challenged?

VA said...

Rex is awesome. There have been times I've looked at the child and thought something along the lines of "wouldn't it be great if...".

And the Tasty Pastry. Somehow SoCal and the binge on triple fat foods isn't nearly as satisfying, but when I lived in Jersey City, Dunkin' Donuts was the place to go. Some munchkins and a giant coffee - life was good. Of course, now I've discovered Wawa. Amazing!

Anonymous said...

Oh gee, I know, but can't think of his name...he's the one he has all the cars, his own business, also does skips and is around whenever you need know him, right Sia?

Glenda A Bixler

Anonymous said...

I'm sharing on my facebook wall, have so many friends that LOVE that series, thanks Sia!!

Kelley Flanagan Fulford

James Rafferty said...

Sia, thanks for providing the interview with Stephanie. I like her allusions to Christie Brinkley and others; we all need our bits of inspiration, however far-fetched they may seem. I've got one of Janet's books on my "to read" shelf and look forward to it.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I personally love stories that incorporate pets with idiosyncrasies and quirky people. the world is full of them if you look.

What I like about any of Janet's books I've read is her fabulous sense of humor.

Other Lisa said...

OMG, this interview is so funny that I'm going to have to read the books!

Janet, if you are reading this, whatever you do....

Do NOT try the Trader Joe's Cheese Puffs. Do not.

Stephen Tremp said...

Wow! An interview with Janet Evanovich. Very cool. I haven't read any of your books but I see them every time I walk into a book store or a grocery store. They're everywhere. Best wishes for your continued success. Have a great weekend.

Stephen Tremp

Helen Ginger said...

Love the Plum books. They're always fun and fast-paced.

Janet, hope your son closes the deal!

Great interview, Sia.

Straight From Hel

~Sia McKye~ said...

Thank you Helen. There are a lot of Plum fans out there.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Lisa, I'm afraid to ask, what up with Trader Joe's Cheese Puff? Are you saying they're addictive or are they're bad?

Stephen, thank you for stopping by. Janet seems to have an equal amount of male fans who love her books too! :-)

Other Lisa said...

They are the crack of cheese puffs.

Dana Fredsti said...

So hard to pick a favorite character... I really enjoy living vicariously through Lulu's eating habits - stuff I can't eat without exploding (and I SO don't do spandex these days), but it's soooo good... And yeah, I like cheese doodles. Trader Joe's crunchy cheese doodles.

Thanks so much for doing this interview, Janet, on one of my favorite blogs with one of my favorite people (that's you, Sia!)

readwriteandedit said...

Lula is a hoot. But you gotta love Ranger--he treats Stephanie so well. To have two such different but great guys hot and bothered over you? Yeah, Stephanie's got it good.

I also love the little touches--reading Stephanie's take on her childhood encounter with Joe, how she and Joyce relate, Connie's character vs. Lula. The series is great.

I look forward to reading Diesel's series.

Janet, thanks for taking the time out for visiting with us. Sia, thanks as always for a great interview.

Kat Sheridan said...

I know how to cuss! I've fired a gun! I love birthday cake (you can have the wine; I'm a bourbon girl). I'm also a Ranger girl all the way. Big, long, sigh.

I've enjoyed the "between" books (the Christmas ones). And I love reading your early work--so great to see the prototype of Grandma G.

Very much looking forward to more Stephanie (and Lulu-- LOVE her!), and the Diesel series.

Hubs is leaning over my shoulder and wants me to tell you how much he loves Stephanie, too. But he secretly adores Grandma G.

Olivia Cunning said...

I love Janet's sense of humor. Lulu and Grandma Mazur crack me up. And I love to laugh!

Mason Canyon said...

Sia, great interview. I enjoy the Stephanie Plum books. I am curious about the peanut butter and olive sandwich. That's a new one.

Thoughts in Progress

aries18 said...

Sia, thank you for bringing Janet to us!

Janet, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool fan of your Stephanie Plum series! I can't have a fave character cause I would feel guilty for slighting the others. I love them all. I can't think of any good questions so I just wanted to gush all over you like a fangirl! Can't wait for the Diesel books to come out. You're one of my Writin' Heros. See, I told you I'd gush!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Mason, if you go to her website (just click on her name in the opening paragraph) you'll see a picture of it.

Wanda, you gush very nicely, lol!