Janet Evanovich, the pen name for Janet Schneider, 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 former lingerie buyer from Trenton, New Jersey, who becomes a bounty hunter to make ends meet after losing her job. The novels in this series have been on The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Amazon bestseller lists. Evanovich has had her last seventeen Plums debut at #1 on the NY Times Best Sellers list and eleven of them have hit #1 on USA Today Best-Selling Books list. She has over two hundred million books in print worldwide and is translated into over 40 languages.
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 that 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 $2,000, which she considered an “astounding sum.”
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. These new books would have a central character that the rest of the cast of characters revolve 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 “romanticized” 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 Stephanie Plum. One for the Money was named a New York Times notable book, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 1994 and a USA Today Best Bet.
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 lives in Florida with her husband, Pete, whom she married in 1964. Pete is of Serbian ancestry. Members of Evanovich’s family are employed by her company, Evanovich Inc., including her husband, Pete, son, Peter, and daughter Alexandra.