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.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Creative Passion-- "the magical place between reality and imagination"

It's my pleasure to welcome back romance author, Joanne Kennedy. Not only does Joanne write about sexy cowboys but she's a bit of a philosopher.

I really enjoyed Joanne's thoughts on talent being a gift we can't squander without consequences to our psyche and how for some, deep happiness only comes when we find an outlet for our creative passion. And how important it is to take time to express that creativity, whether it's through hobbies or creative pursuits such as writing, painting, or music. Whatever our passion is; we need to take the time to express it.

I thought I'd share her thoughts with you.

The Declaration of Independence declares, among other declarative things, that we all have a right to "the pursuit of happiness." For some of us, that run is harder than it is for others, but we all enter the race. Some of us rush headlong toward bliss; others hang back, helping those who aren't as fast. And some of us trip and fall right out of the starting gate, sprain our ankles, and have to crawl the rest of the way.

Being the first to cross the finish line doesn't matter in this race. It's a long run, so what matters is finding out what kind of runner you are so you can enjoy the trip. Are you a speed racer who won't be happy unless you're whipping past the competition? Or are you a helper, who finds his or her victory in making sure everyone has a fair chance? Or are you like me, standing in the middle of the track, watching the runners flow around you while you figure out how to immortalize the moment in a painting or story?

Chances are, you won't win that way. But it's the way you're made, and you can't do a thing about it. No matter how hard you try to be a rabbit, you're a dreamy, slowpoke turtle.

But if you stop trying to win the race on the rabbit's terms, chances are you'll be a happy turtle. And happiness is, after all, what we're chasing.

For creative people, finding deep happiness means finding an outlet for the creative impulse that pokes at our subconscious all day long and keeps us up at night. I ignored that urge for years, doing my best to bolt for everyone else's concept of the finish line. Sure, I drew a little, painted a little, wrote a little, but mostly my dabblings didn't seem practical, so I set my foot against the starting block and shoved off for a career in management. I was successful enough, and I earned all the rewards I thought I wanted, but I couldn't help feeling like I was missing something. I interpreted that dissatisfaction as ambition, and pursued promotion and success with more fervor. I didn't realize I was getting further and further away from what I was supposed to do.

But I had to make a living. We all do. And making a living from your creative passion isn't easy to do. I know so many people - artists, musicians, writers - who are trapped in everyday life when all they want to do is spend time in that magical place between reality and imagination where they can lose themselves in the lilt of a song or the sweep of a paintbrush or the magic of a fictional world.

When you're working for a living, taking time to nurture your creativity sometimes feels like self-indulgence. After all, your family needs you. Your work isn't finished. And you've got to get up in the morning and go to your day job. You don't have time to play around with paint or strum your guitar or write stories.

And it's not like those things are your only source of happiness, right? There are magical moments in every life: pushing a child on a swing, wading through a field of wildflowers, laughing with someone you love, or even just curling up on the sofa with a good book. Scattering these moments of simple happiness through your life will keep the crazies at bay. But unless you find that deep, core happiness that satisfies your heart and soul, you'll feel an elusive sense of dissatisfaction that keeps your joy from being quite complete.

Listen to your heart and do what you were meant to do. Talent is a gift, and squandering it has consequences. If you can create things that make others happy - a song that makes them tap their feet, a book that makes them laugh, a painting that lights up a room - it's something you have to do. If your gift is great enough to help people see what matters in the world, it's your duty to do it.

So whether you're just starting the race or standing three feet from the finish line, take some time to express yourself. Write. Quilt. Plant gardens. Paint. Your family needs you, but they need you happy. Your children need your time, but they also need to see how important it is to follow their dreams. And your day-to-day work, whatever it is, will be better and infinitely more satisfying if you use it to earn time to enjoy the race in the way that's best for you.

What's your creative passion and how do you express it?
 ~ * ~ * ~

Excerpt (this is on the publisher's website, scroll down below the book cover and select excerpt tab in the box.)
Cowboy Trouble Back Cover

Atlanta journalist Libby Brown’s transition to rural living isn’t going exactly as planned. Her Wyoming ranch and its picturesque outbuildings are falling to pieces all around her. So is her resolution to live a self-sufficient, independent life–thanks to the irresistible allure of her neighbor’s fringed leather chaps and the town sheriff’s shiny badge. When the town’s only unsolved mystery falls in her lap, Libby can’t resist partnering up with the hunky sheriff to search for a missing teenager–but her neighbor, rancher Luke Rawlins, has other ideas.

Luke is a genuine Wyoming cowboy who looks like Elvis, talks like John Wayne, cooks like Martha Stewart, and is almost impossible to resist. While Libby adjusts to a life where high fashion means wearing your Wranglers in “slim fit” instead of “cowboy cut,” her small-town beat leads her deep into the heart of her new hometown, where she discovers that everyone has their secrets, and some of them are as dangerous as they are surprising.

Joanne Facebook, Casablanca Author's Blog
Joanne Kennedy lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming with two dogs and a retired fighter pilot. The dogs are relatively well-behaved.

Joanne  has worked in bookstores all her life, in positions ranging from bookseller to buyer. In 2004, she stepped down from managing a Barnes & Noble and wrote a book. Five years and three manuscripts later, her first book, Cowboy Trouble, was released by Sourcebooks Casablanca.

A member of Romance Writers of America and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Joanne Kennedy won first place in the Colorado Gold Writing Contest and second in the Heart of the Rockies contest in 2007. Her first novel, Cowboy Trouble, was released by Sourcebooks Casablanca in March 2010, and will be followed by One Fine Cowboy in September 2010. 
When brilliant, beautiful graduate student Charlie Banks comes to Wyoming for a conference on horse communication, the last thing she expects to get is a lesson in love from sexy horse trainer Nate Shawcross. While Nate's always had a way with horses, it's the women in his life who have left him with romantic scars. But when Nate enlists Charlie to help him rehabilitate an abused stallion, she can't help but be wooed by his soft touch and gentle voice. And though he's been burned in the past, Nate is finding it harder and harder to hide his heart from the sexy greenhorn.
Available for preorder.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Delights?

My apologies to all. We've having spotty to NON-existent internet due to a series of thunderstorms that have hit us the past few days. I had no internet access until this evening.

Delight isn’t the first word that comes to mind, but it certainly was…exciting. My heartbeat was definitely elevated. Tornadoes have a way of doing that to a person, as do severe thunderstorms and an ear tuned to our battery operated radio. We were without electricity too.

I will admit I had another form of delight in mind. While I was napping my muse provided me with the solution to a problem I had been having in a scene. You know, one of those you can see clearly but can’t get it right with words. So I was eager to get to work, once I had my freshly brewed coffee. Regardless of the time of day, that first sip of coffee is always wonderful and I tend to savor it. I’m looking outside but not really focusing on what I saw since my mind was already playing leapfrog with ideas. It was about that time the computer weatherbug started chirping which told me something was up.

There were three warnings in a space of three minutes. On went the radio and we hear about golf ball sized hail, tornadoes sited and moving our way, flash flood warning due to the heavy output of the storms. Yikes. So began the mad scramble to batten down the hatches, put my car in the garage and fasten the storm latches, and bring in some of the animals.

My husband remarked, as my son and I came back into the house, “I have feeling this one going to knock out power.” We always have about 70 gallons of water in storage, but we like to put up ten additional gallons of fresh drinking water. He no more than got that done and out went the electricity. We’re always prepared with lighting as we have probably eight lanterns filled and ready at any given time along with dozens of fat plumber candles. We also have a propane cook stove. It was only a little before 4 so there was no need to light anything and the electricity was only out for forty-five minutes. Phone and internet, however, still isn't up.

It was eerie, but beautiful, sitting outside and seeing the trees reacting to rotation winds high above us and hearing the distinctive sound of tornado winds off to the northwest and sure enough one was sighted 4 miles away but coming in our direction. It chose pop over or go around our little valley. We weren’t being brainless by sitting outside as the basement door is only a few feet away. But you could hear it above in the clouds a few minutes later. It was at that point when I gave a to the basement warning.

The topography of where we live isn’t flat. We have tall hills filled with forests all around us. Last year, two tornadoes happened to find the one opening to our valley and roared through, but it’s rare, thankfully.

The aftermath was gorgeous though. About 5 the sun came out in the west behind us and bathed the trees and fields in golden light. The rim of the valley to the east and to the south lightning still flashed against dark blue gray skies. But what a sight to see how very green and gold the trees were in the east against stormy skies and the sun shining behind us. The rain was still falling  softly overhead; the rich smell of rain-drenched earth was a feast for the senses (in the picture above the haze is actually rainfall). The birds came out of hiding, singing and chattering away as they took baths in the mud puddles. They were oblivious to the four cats and two humans sitting ten feet away and watching.

I happened to look up watched a rainbow form. So vivid and stunning. A few minutes later, another rainbow formed. We had fully formed double arches over us and it looked like a faint third was trying to form. I can’t remember the last time that happened. It was beyond words and they stayed in place at least twenty minutes—long enough for me to get my camera and snap pictures. My mind tries to store sights and sounds. You never know when you can use them later in your writing.

I was just fascinated by the variety of light and shadow in this shot of the double rainbows.

I didn’t get much writing done, but I do believe the afternoon was filled with delights after all.

Some upcoming guests: Wednesday is the fabulous Joanne Kennedy. I'll also be interviewing Pamela Palmer this month and Janet Evanovich. Other guests, Loucinda McGary, and Mary Wine to name a few on the list.