Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Janet Evanovich

Today’s WOD is bestselling author Janet Evanovich born (4-22- 1943) and raised in South River, New Jersey. Her dad was a machinist and her mom a homemaker. Janet got married in 1964 and started raising her family, she needed to make some money to contribute to the family finances so she began to write. She began writing novels in her thirties while she was busy being a housewife and mother. To help her learn the art of dialogue, she took improvisational acting lessons. After ten years of trying to write the Great American Novel, she shifted her focus to romance. She found that she enjoyed the genre. Her first book, “Hero at Large” was published under the pseudonym Steffie Hall. In 1987, Janet had just started a temp job when she got the call that her first book was going to be published for a whopping $2,000.00. She thought that was a windfall! After twelve romance novels, she turned her attention to writing romantic adventure novels and wrote “One for the Money”, the first Stephanie Plum mystery novel.

Her writing is not groundbreaking, not awe inspiring and will not win any literary awards but Janet simply has a talent to entertain with her writing. Her books are not literature by any means, however they are some of the funniest laugh out loud books I have ever read. They can help you escape from your everyday life and get lost in the adventures of her main character Stephanie Plum. Stephanie is a girl in her 20’s born and raised in “the Burg” near Trenton, NJ. The first book in the series starts with her losing her job as a lingerie salesgirl and her car got repossessed. In an act of desperation she goes to her cousin Vinnie’s bail bonds business and begs for work. She becomes an unlikely bounty hunter. (interesting fact: She was inspired by Robert DeNiro’s character in “Midnight Run” – one of my all-time favorite flicks!). Janet wanted her books to revolve around a main character that went on adventures and she felt that a female bounty hunter would give her the freedom to create hi-jinx. Also involving Stephanie’s crazy family and friends adds an element of hilarity that will make you laugh out loud as you are reading. [For example, I was sitting in the parking lot of my kid’s theatre camp one summer just waiting for them to be done reading the second book in the series when I started laughing out loud. When the mom next to me heard me laughing she saw that I was reading (she couldn’t see the book in the car) the first thing she said to me was “Janet Evanovitch?” I said “Of Course!”]

Janet’s Stephanie Plum novels have been wildly successful, she had to date written no less than 18 of the numbered books along with some in-between the numbers books. After the 5th book, she has had her fans decide on the names of all the future Stephanie Plum books.

One of the reasons I love reading her books is the fact that she references places and things that I know because I was born and raised in the tri-state area. Since Janet grew up in Jersey she references places at the Jersey Shore, the Philadelphia area and many places in Trenton. She also makes references that are unique to our area such as Tastykakes, which are delicious by the way. I am not sure how her books go over in the rest of the country but she is a rock star in South Jersey. For example; when she came to Cherry Hill for a book signing, my friends and my two oldest children went with me to meet her. There were so many people there for the signing that they had an all day festival in front of Barnes and Noble. We waited for over six hours and had the best time with fellow Janet groupies. Her fan base is predominately middle age women so the fact that my teenage son and daughter were there and were excited to meet her because they had both read all the books in the series was unusual to say the least. But they both made an impression on Janet, so much so she gave them a cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory left over from the street party. Now this in itself does not make her an Awesome Woman however, she has the gift of humor and making people laugh is a noble profession. Laughter has a way of lighting us up from the inside, it can heal and it can help you escape from reality. So she may not be groundbreaking, outstanding or overachieving but in my book she is an Awesome Woman, I do hope you agree!

“Romance novels are birthday cake and life is often peanut butter and jelly. I think everyone should have lots of delicious romance novels lying around for those times when the peanut butter of life gets stuck to the roof of your mouth.”
― Janet Evanovich

Janet’s Books, please check them out:

Single Romance Novels
(originally written under the name Steffie Hall)
Hero at Large (1987)
Foul Play (1989)
The Grand Finale (1988)
Thanksgiving (1988)
Manhunt (1988)
Ivan Takes a Wife (1988)
Naughty Neighbor (1992)
Love Overboard (2005)

Elsie Hawkins Series
Back to the Bedroom (1989)
Smitten (1990)
Wife for Hire (1990)
Rocky Road to Romance (1991)
Stephanie Plum Series
One for the Money (1994)
Two for the Dough (1996)
Three to Get Deadly (1997)
The Last Peep (A Stephanie Plum Short story included in Mary Higgins Clark presents The Plot Thickens) (1997)
Four to Score (1998)
High Five (1999)
Hot Six (2000)
Seven Up (2001)
Hard Eight (2002)
Visions of Sugar Plums (2002), Holiday novella
To the Nines (2003)
Ten Big Ones (2004)
Eleven on Top (2005)
Twelve Sharp (2006)
Plum Lovin' (2007), Holiday novella
Lean Mean Thirteen (2007)
Plum Lucky (2008), Holiday novella
Fearless Fourteen (2008)
Plum Spooky (January 6, 2009), Holiday novel
Finger Lickin' Fifteen (June 23, 2009)
Sizzling Sixteen (June 22, 2010)
Smokin' Seventeen (June 21, 2011)
Explosive Eighteen (November 22, 2011)

Diesel Series
(Spin-off from the Stephanie Plum Series)
Wicked Appetite (September 14, 2010)

The Barnaby Series
Metro Girl (November 2004)
Motor Mouth (October 2006)
Trouble Maker (2010-Graphic novel, published by Dark Horse Comics)

Full (Max Holt) Series with Charlotte Hughes
Full House (1989) (Originally as Steffie Hall, Re-released in expanded form in 2002)
Full Tilt (2003)
Full Speed (2003)
Full Blast (2004)
Full Bloom (2005)
Full Scoop (2006)

Hot (Cate Madigan) Series with Leanne Banks
Hot Stuff (2007)

How I Write (2006)