Sunday, October 31, 2010

Brian Sherwin interview with author Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich is a New York Times best-selling author. Evanovich began her career by writing short contemporary romance novels under the pen name Steffie Hall. However, she is best known for authoring a series of contemporary mysteries featuring the character Stephanie Plum-- a woman who becomes a bounty hunter after losing her job as a lingerie buyer.

The Stephanie Plum series has been on-going since 1994. The Plum series, which are a mix of romance, mystery, adventure and humor have become widely popular in recent years. A film adaptation of Evanovich’s first book in the Stephanie Plum series, titled One for the Money, is currently in production.
(The following interview with Janet Evanovich was conducted with the assistance of Tonya Hoots.)

Brian Sherwin: Janet, I understand that when you attended college you majored in find arts-- further research revealed that your focus was on painting. Do you still paint? Also, would you say that your studies in art helped to set your direction as a writer-- in the sense that creating visual art can be considered a form of story-telling unto itself?

Janet Evanovich: I'm so busy writing and editing two books a year that I don't have time for painting anymore. The truth is that when I was painting, I was painting stories I was telling myself. When I look back at it, moving to writing was a very natural progression for me.

Tonya Hoots: During your early years as an author you received rejection notice after rejection notice. If my sources are correct you almost gave up on becoming a published author. Can you discuss that time in your life? What kept you going?

JE: I received rejection letters for ten years (one on a napkin, written in crayon.) I had all my rejection notices stored in a box. When the box was finally full I took it to the curb and set it on fire. The next day I went out and got a temp job. Luckily four months later I got a call from a publisher saying that my manuscript had been accepted. I quit my temp job immediately and went back to writing full time.

BS: Is it difficult to keep things fresh when writing a series that is as long-running as the Stephanie Plum series of books? Did you intend for the series to be as on-going as it has been? Is there an end in sight?

JE: Yes it is hard to keep things fresh, but I still enjoy it and have no plans to end the series at this time.

TH: You have long worked at the side of your daughter Alex. In fact, a graphic novel titled Troublemaker 2 will be released soon-- this is the second graphic novel that you have worked on with your daughter. Can you discuss that professional family connection and the work you have done together?

JE: Working together on the graphic novel story was really great. My whole family is involved with my career -- it's really a family business. Alex started as my webmaster and now is on top of all the ongoing electronic outreach like the website, Facebook and Twitter. My son Peter is my agent and my husband Pete is in charge of the finances for the company.

BS: You recently started a new series involving the character Diesel from the Plum books. I understand that there will be a new title in the series each fall to go along with the Stephanie Plum numbered books each spring. Why did you decide to take this direction with your characters? Furthermore, is it difficult switching from the mind of Diesel to the mind of Stephanie-- so to speak-- when writing?

JE: I really liked writing the books with the Diesel character, but I never really intended him to be a part of the Plum world. Originally he was a one time, special holiday kind of guy. He was so popular (and fun to write about) that he came back for a couple other holidays, and has now moved into his own spot. I don't really write from Diesel's point of view. Since I write in first person and have no idea what goes on in men's heads, I chose to write the Diesel series from the point of view of Lizzy Tucker, Diesel's reluctant ally.

BS: Readers are obviously drawn to your books for humor and mystery-- have you ever had a difficult time balancing the two? I assume that some readers are drawn to one aspect of your writing style more than the other-- do you agree?

JE: I really wouldn't classify the books as mysteries. I prefer to say that they're adventures. And no, writing them with my tongue in my cheek is very natural. My readers run the gamut of ages across both genders. I like to think there's something for everyone -- some sex, some adventure, and a lot of pizza.

TH: It is common for authors to mesh their political agenda within the pages of their books-- I understand that is something you have strived to avoid in your writing directly. Why did you decide not to use your popular books as a vehicle to bring awareness to issues that you are involved with personally?

JE: I write to entertain. When people read one of my books I want them to finish with a smile on their faces, feeling a little bit better about themselves and the people in their lives.

BS: Finally, do you have any advice for authors who are having difficulty getting published? Furthermore, do you have any advice for developing characters that readers will associate with?

JE: Read as much as you can in the genre you want to write to learn how others do it. Then, sit your butt in the chair and write. In order to see a book through to the end, you have to have discipline, so carve out time every day -- no excuses. When you get ready to write your novel, outline it first. There's nothing worse than getting halfway through and realizing you've painted yourself in a plot corner. Make sure your main characters are likeable. They can be flawed, but your readers need to be able to root for them.

You can learn more about Janet Evanovich and her novels by visiting her personal website at

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

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