Janet Evanovich was born in South River, New Jersey in 1943. Evanovich has become a household name thanks to her much beloved adventure series featuring bounty hunter Stephanie Plum. A prolific writer, she has published over sixty 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 over 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.
1. 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 ten years. But in the end, none of those novels worked out. 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 really work for her was because she was not embracing the humor her readers love about her work.
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 simply like to read about good things happening to other good people.
2. Evanovich Started Out Writing Romance
While today Evanovich is known for her romantic adventure novels, her first published works were squarely rooted in the romance genre. Her first published novel, Hero at Large (1987), was published in 1982 under the pen 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.
3. The Stephanie Plum Series Contains 25 Books (and Counting!)
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 different series of books, her most loved character and the character on whom the majority of her books focus 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. Her novels have even been collected in omnibus editions. The first book in the series, One for the Money, was adapted in 2012 and stars Katherine Heigel in the role of Stephanie Plum. The Stephanie Plum series recently reached a major milestone: in 2018 Evanovich published Look Alive, Twenty-Five, which is the twenty-fifth book in the series. The Plum series is so well-loved that 17 of these 25 books have debuted in the number one spot on the New York Times Best Sellers list.
4. Evanovich Once Studied Painting
Before Evanovich published her first novel and became a household name for her beloved Stephanie Plum series, she dedicated herself to other artistic pursuits. She enrolled in Rutgers University where she earned a degree in art. She was not completely satisfied by painting, however. She stated that this type of artistic expression didn't allow her to reach the amount of people she wanted to reach. Exercising her trademark humor, Evanovich also claimed that the pigments in the paint gave her a rash.
Besides studying painting, Evanovich took improv classes, though this did not lead to any jobs. Eventually, she ended up at a temp agency which was where she was working when her first novel was accepted for publication.
5. Stephanie Plum is Based on Evanovich
One of the reasons for Evanovich's continued success is the relatability of her most popular character, bounty hunter Stephanie Plum. While Evanovich says that Plum is not a carbon copy of her own personality, the root of the character definitely lives in her. Plum, like Evanovich, 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. And perhaps most significantly, both the character and the author share an obsession for Cheetos.