Janet Evanovich (born Janet Schneider, April 22, 1943, in South River, New Jersey) is an American writer. She began her career writing short contemporary romance novels under the pen name Steffie Hall, but gained fame authoring a series of contemporary mysteries featuring Stephanie Plum, a lingerie buyer from Trenton, New Jersey, who becomes a bounty hunter to make ends meet after losing her job. The sixteen novels in this series consistently top the New York Times Best Seller list.
Janet Evanovich is a second-generation American. She was born and raised in New Jersey to a machinist and housewife. After graduating from high school, Evanovich became the first in her family to attend college when she enrolled at Douglass College, part of Rutgers University, to study art.
When Evanovich had children, she chose to become a housewife like her mother. In her thirties, she began writing novels. To learn the art of writing dialog, Evanovich took lessons in improv acting. For ten years she attempted to write the Great American Novel, finishing three manuscripts which she was unable to sell. After someone suggested she try writing romance novels, Evanovich read several romances and discovered that she enjoyed the genre. She wrote two romances and submitted them for publishing. Still unable to find a publisher, Evanovich stopped writing and signed with a temporary employment agency. Several months after beginning work for them, she received an offer to buy her second romance manuscript for $2000, which she considered an "astounding sum."
That novel, Hero at Large, was published in 1987 in the Second Chance Love category line under the pseudonym Steffie Hall. The following year she began writing for Bantam Loveswept under her own name. For the next five years she continued to write category romances for Loveswept. Her work within the romance novel genre helped her learn to create likable characters and attractive leading men. In this time, Evanovich also became known for the humor that filled her novels. She believes that "it's very important to take a comic approach. If we can laugh at something, we can face it."
After finishing her twelfth romance, however, Evanovich realized that she was more interested in writing the action sequences in her novels rather than the sex scenes. Her editors were not interested in her change of heart, so Evanovich took the next eighteen months to formulate a plan for what she actually wanted to write.
She quickly decided that she wanted to write romantic adventure novels. Unlike the style of romance novels, her books would be told in first person narrative. Her new type of writing should contain heroes and heroines, as well as "a sense of family and community." In that vein, she intended her new style of writing to be based on the TV sitcom model. Like Seinfeld, her new books would have a central character that the rest of the cast of characters revolves around.
Inspired by the Robert De Niro movie Midnight Run, Evanovich decided that her heroine would be a bounty hunter. This occupation provided more freedom for Evanovich as a writer, as bounty hunters do not have a set work schedule and are not forced to wear a uniform. The profession is also "romanticised to some extent." To become acquainted with the demands of the career, Evanovich spent a great deal of time shadowing bond enforcement agents. She also researched more about the city of Trenton, where she wanted her books to be set.
In 1994, her initial romantic adventure, One for the Money, was published to good reviews. This was the first of a light-hearted series of mysteries starring barely-competent bounty hunter Stephanie Plum. One for the Money was named a New York Times notable book, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 1994 and a USAToday Best Bet. Shortly before the book was released, Evanovich sold the movie rights to Columbia Tristar for $1 million; as of 2009 no movie has been made. As of Feb. 2010, Katherine Heigl has agreed to play Stephanie Plum; after initial interest, Reese Witherspoon had decided to decline the role. As of Apr. 29, 2010, Lionsgate had acquired distribution rights, and will co-produce with Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Lakeshore Entertainment(which had acquired the rights from Columbia); Julie Ann Robinson (The Last Song) will direct, and production is scheduled to begin July 12, 2010.
Evanovich has continued to write romantic adventures starring Stephanie Plum. The sixth book in the series, Hot Six, was the first of her novels to reach Number 1 on the New York Times Best Seller List. Her subsequent Plum novels have each debuted at Number 1. All About Romance has described her as the "rare breed of romance author who has left the genre and yet not alienated her many romance fans."
The Plum novels have taken many attributes from Evanovich's own life. Evanovich shares many commonalities with her character Stephanie Plum. Both are from New Jersey, both devour Cheetos, both had owned a hamster, and both have shared "similar embarrassing experiences." The character Grandma Mazur is loosely based on Evanovich's "Grandma Fanny" and "Aunt Lena." Evanovich claims the spirited elderly lady is "who I want to be when I grow up."
Evanovich began a collaborative effort with Charlotte Hughes because she wanted to see some of her other ideas on paper but did not have the time to write them. This resulted in the "Full" series.
In 2004, she launched another series with Metro Girl. This book debuted at Number 2 on the New York Times Best Seller List.
She collaborated with Stephen J. Cannell on a book entitled No Chance, which was to be the first book in a new series. It was supposed to be released in October 2007. However, as of July 2007, the book seems to have been canceled.
During the week, Evanovich works eight hours per day. On weekends she generally works for an additional four hours each day. She generally creates a brief outline before beginning a new book, with one or two sentences about what will happen in each chapter. Upon the release of a new book, Evanovich regularly goes on book tours. Her 2006 book signings attracted 2000-3000 people each. After book 3, all of the titles have been chosen from fan submissions.
Evanovich lives in New Hampshire and Florida with her husband, Pete, whom she married in 1964. Members of Evanovich's family are employed by her company, Evanovich Inc, including her husband Pete, son Peter, daughter Alexandra and son-in-law P.J. Heller.