Jennifer Crusie (born 1949) is a pseudonym for Jennifer Smith, a bestselling and award winning author of contemporary romance novels. She has written over 15 novels, which have been published in 20 countries.
Crusie was born as Jennifer Smith in Wapakoneta, Ohio to Jack and JoAnn Smith. "Jenny," as she is called, chose to honor her maternal grandmother by writing under her grandmother's maiden name, Crusie. Crusie has spent much of her life and currently resides in Ohio.
Crusie was graduated from Wapakoneta High School, and then earned a bachelor's degree in Art Education from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. She has two Master's degrees. For her first, from Wright State University in Professional Writing and Women's Literature, Crusie wrote a thesis on the role of women in mystery fiction. Her second master's degree is an MFA in Fiction from Ohio State University. She has also completed work towards a Ph.D. in feminist criticism and nineteenth century British and American literature at Ohio State University.
Family and career
Crusie married in 1971, and followed her Air Force husband to Wichita Falls, Texas. He was soon transferred to Dayton, Ohio and they have since divorced. They have one daughter, Mollie, who now runs all of the Crusie Web sites.
Crusie had long planned to be a teacher. She has taught all age levels, from pre-school through college, including 15 years in the Beavercreek, Ohio public school system. Her junior and senior high school courses included art, Literature (touching on mythology, the Bible in literature, college composition, and British and American literature), as well as time spent directing the sets and costumes crews for the high school's drama department. She has also taught courses at Antioch University, Wright State University, and Ohio State.
Writing was an accidental career. Crusie's Ph.D. dissertation was to focus on the impact of gender on narrative strategies. To research the differences in the way men and women tell stories, Crusie vowed to read one hundred romance novels and one hundred men's adventure novels. The romance novels were so compelling that Crusie changed her dissertation to focus on romantic fiction and decided to try her hand at writing some. She quit her job in the summer of 1991 to devote herself full-time to writing. Crusie completed her first manuscript, called Bet Me, in 1992, but was unable to sell it.
Crusie sold her first novella, Sizzle, in August 1992. For the first three years of her career, her books were presented as category romances under the Silhouette, Harlequin, and Bantam Loveswept lines. In 1995, Crusie developed a partnership with St. Martin's Press, and began writing single title novels, beginning with Tell Me Lies. The switch to single-title novels was easy for Crusie, who says that "I was never conscious of writing category or single title or paperback or hardcover. You just have to tell the truest story you know."
Her books are known for their humor, although Crusie says she has never "deliberately written to be funny. ... I think my characters just have a particular kind of sense of humor. They use it the way a lot of people do, to cope with the absurdities of life." Crusie usually envisions her characters before the plots, and she crafts them as real people, complete with flaws. Her heroines are usually off-beat and the heroes are clever and charming. Many of her characters have collections because she believes that a person's possessions tell a lot about that person.
She rewrote her first manuscript in 2002, and it was released as Bet Me in 2004. In 2005 she won a Romance Writers of America RITA Award for Best Contemporary Single Title for the novel Bet Me. The novel also became her first New York Times bestseller. In a 2004 interview, Crusie said that Bet Me might be her last classic romance, and that her future novels would combine the traditional love story with other genres. This is partly because she considered Bet Me to be "the best romance novel, straight classic romance, that I'll ever write. ... Time to move on to something I don't know how to do."
In September 2004, Crusie met adventure novelist Bob Mayer at the Maui Writers Conference. By the end of the conference, they had become friends and begun the outline for a novel. Within a year, they had finished the manuscript, collaborating primarily via email. In the novel, title Don't Look Down, Crusie wrote the scenes and dialogue for the female protagonist, while Mayer wrote the scenes and dialogue for the male protagonist. Crusie's longtime editor, Jennifer Enderlin, also edited this book, and had to ask Crusie who had written each section as she couldn't tell them apart. The novel was given an initial printing of 300,000 copies, Crusie's highest initial printing to date. In August of 2007, their second collaborative novel, Agnes and the Hitman, was released and made the New York Times best seller list. They again partnered up for March 2010's release of Wild Ride.
In 2007, Crusie collaborated with Eileen Dreyer and Anne Stuart on The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes, and then in 2009, she collaborated again on Dogs and Goddess this time with Anne Stuart and Lani Diane Rich. She also continues her interest in the academic side of fiction. She published a book of literary criticism on Anne Rice under the name Jennifer Smith.
Now in 2010, after 20 crowd pleasers and award winners including five collaborations, Crusie is back with her first solo in six years, Maybe This Time.
Maybe This Time is Crusie's version of Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, a classic she loves and has taught many times. In Crusie's version the governess is not young and inexperienced, the children are not perfectly behaved, they are not isolated because house guests keep turning up and moving in, and the faraway guardian turns up and becomes part of the story.
As for future ventures, she's working on a four book mystery series called the Liz Danger mysteries. Each book will be a standalone mystery but the four books taken together will make one long romance novel. After that, she plans books about a grown-up Alice from Maybe This Time and Nadine from Faking It. She's also working on a non-fiction guide to writing women's fiction that will expand on the topics covered in many of her earlier essays on writing craft, life and publishing - some of which are available for free on her web site.
Sizzle (1994) -- Silhouette Stolen Moments Novella ISBN 0-373-83271-0
Manhunting (Harlequin Temptation #463 September 1993, reissued Mira Books November 2000, reissued in hardcover February 2007) ISBN 0-373-77251-3
Getting Rid of Bradley (Harlequin Temptation #480 February 1994, reissued Mira Books November 2001) ISBN 1-551-66865-3
Strange Bedpersons (Harlequin Temptation #520 December 1994, reissued Mira Books December 2003) ISBN 1-551-66743-6
What the Lady Wants (Harlequin Temptation #544 June 1995, reissued Mira Books November 2002) ISBN 1-551-66951-X
Charlie All Night (Harlequin Temptation #570 January 1996, reissued Mira Books December 2004) ISBN 0-778-32107-X
Anyone But You (Harlequin Love and Laughter #4 September 1996, reissued Mira Books January 2006, paperback reissue December 2006) ISBN 0-373-77138-X
The Cinderella Deal (Bantam Loveswept #807 October 1996) ISBN 0-553-44557-X
Trust Me on This (Bantam Loveswept #843, July 1997) ISBN 0-553-44558-8
Tell Me Lies (1998) ISBN 0-312-96680-6
Crazy for You (1999) ISBN 0-312-97112-5
Welcome to Temptation (2000) ISBN 0-312-97425-6
Fast Women (2001) ISBN 0-312-98015-9
Faking It (2002) ISBN 0-312-93278-2
Bet Me (2004) ISBN 0-312-98785-4
Don't Look Down (with Bob Mayer) (2006) ISBN 0-312-34812-6
“This first collaboration between best-selling romance writer Crusie and adventure-thriller writer Mayer is a rare delight. Mayer's delectably dry sense of humor perfectly complements Crusie's brand of sharp wit, and together the two have cooked up a sexy, sassy, and smart combination of romance and suspense that is simply irresistible.” --Booklist
Agnes and the Hitman (with Bob Mayer) (2007) ISBN 0-312-363-04-4
"Hot Toy" (2006) -- in the Anthology Santa Baby ISBN 0-312-93976-0
The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes (2007) (with Anne Stuart, Eileen Dreyer) ISBN 031294098X
Dogs and Goddesses (2009) with Anne Stuart and Lani Diane Rich ISBN 0312944373
Wild Ride (with Bob Mayer) (2010) ISBN 0-312-533-77-2
Maybe This Time (2010) ISBN 0-312-303-78-5
Totally Charmed: Demons, Whitelighters and the Power of Three (2005) (Smart Pop series) ISBN 1-932-10060-1 - editor and contributor
Flirting with Pride & Prejudice: Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece (2005) (Smart Pop series) ISBN 1-932-10072-5 - editor and contributor
Anne Rice: A Critical Companion (Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers) (1996) ISBN 0-313-29612-X