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Janet Evanovich: Five facts about the romantic adventure writer

Adrienne Rivera from Books Tell You Why profiles the author of the bestselling Stephanie Plum series.

Janet Evanovich, born in South River, New Jersey in 1943, became a household name thanks to her much beloved adventure series featuring bounty hunter Stephanie Plum. A prolific writer, she has published more than 60 novels, many of which have topped the New York Times Best Sellers list. Her novels are published all over the world and have been translated into more than 40 languages. In celebration of this writer's amazing career, here are five things you might not know about one of America's most loved adventure novelists.

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Facts about author Janet Evanovich

Evanovich started out writing romance

Wife for Hire by Janet Evanovich
Janet Evanovich started by writing pure romance novels such as Wife for Hire.
Image: Books Tell You Why

While today Evanovich is known for her romantic adventure novels, her first published works were squarely rooted in the romance genre. Her first novel, Hero at Large, was published in 1982 by the now defunct publishing house Second Chance Love, under the name Steffie Hall.

She continued to publish under that pseudonym and her own name for years. She eventually made the switch to adventure novels, joking that after a while she simply ran out of sexual positions to describe. Though her romance novels were not as well received as her adventure stories, a number of them have been re-released due to interest from fans.

Success didn't come easy

For years, Evanovich struggled to become a writer. Her goal was to write the Great American Novel, and she labored away at books she hoped would be just that for nearly 10 years. But in the end, none of those novels worked out.

Four to Score by Janet Evanovich
Four to Score is the fourth book in the Stephanie Plum series.
Image: Books Tell You Why

She eventually shelved that dream and focused instead on writing other genres. Her disappointment in these early failures was so strong that she literally piled her rejections and manuscripts into a suitcase and burned them.

While she saw this as a setback at the time, Evanovich has since said that the reason these books didn't work for publishers and didn't work for her was because she was not embracing the humor her readers love. Evanovich, like her character Stephanie Plum, is an optimist.

She found success when she turned instead toward work that embraced this optimism and fed into her belief that more can be learned from good experiences than bad ones, and that good people like to read about good things happening to good people.

The Stephanie Plum series contains 25 books and counting

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Image: Books Tell You Why

Evanovich has been publishing successfully for years ,with numerous books reaching the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list. While she continues to write about a large variety of characters that make up numerous series of books, her most loved character, and the character on whom the majority of her books are based, is Stephanie Plum.

The irreverent and optimistic bounty hunter stars in her most popular series, as well as a secondary series comprised of holiday novellas with supernatural themes. The Stephanie Plum novels have also been collected in omnibus editions.

The first book in the series, One for the Money, was adapted into a film in 2012 and stars Katherine Heigel in the role of Stephanie Plum. The Stephanie Plum series reached a major milestone in 2018 when Evanovich published Look Alive, Twenty-Five, the 25th book in the series. The Plum series is so well-loved that 17 of these 25 books debuted in the No.1 spot on the New York Times Best Sellers list

Evanovich once studied painting

Evanovich earned a degree in art from Rutgers University. However, she was not satisfied by painting, stating that this type of artistic expression didn't allow her to reach the amount of people she wanted. Exercising her trademark humor, Evanovich also claimed that the pigments in the paint gave her a rash. Evanovich also took improv classes, though this did not lead to any jobs. Eventually she ended up at a temp agency, where she was working when her first novel was accepted for publication.

Stephanie Plum is based on Evanovich

While Evanovich says that Plum is not a carbon copy of her own personality, the root of the character definitely lives in her. Like Evanovich, Plum is irreverent and does not take herself too seriously. Most importantly, she is a good person and an optimist, two traits Evanovich prizes and says she strives for in her own life. Not to mention that both the character and the author share an obsession for cheese puffs.

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Adrienne Rivera received her MFA in fiction from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She currently lives in southern Indiana. This article appears courtesy of Books Tell You Why and was originally published on their blog.


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