published Sunday, June 29th, 2014

5 questions with Janet Evanovich: Author is excited about prospects for her Jersey girl bounty hunter

Atlanta fans of author Janet Evanovich's bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum, might be tuning in instead of turning pages to keep up with the character's hilarious misadventures in bond enforcement.

During an appearance in Atlanta to promote the 21st book in her Plum series, "Top Secret Twenty-One," Evanovich revealed that she is in development with Sony for a TV series based on her Jersey girl. She also broke the news that she is partnering with Phoef Sutton, one of the Emmy Award-winning writers of the television comedy "Cheers," to co-author a new series.

During an hour-long talk with more than 500 fans, Evanovich gave some insight into her writing style and Stephanie's evolution through 20 books. Her team, she says, is her family. Her son is her agent and finance officer, her daughter handles her social media and is one of her editors.

She added that she and her husband will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in August. Her secret to marital bliss: "We stopped talking to each other 12 years ago -- that, and separate bathrooms."

Just as funny as her writing style and quick-witted as her character, Evanovich says she lives vicariously through Stephanie and thinks of herself as "an entertainer."

"I want to give (my readers) some fun in their day," she explained.

Following are five questions asked the author by fans during her book stop at the Atlanta History Center.

1. How many books do you plan in the Stephanie Plum series?

"When I wrote 'One for the Money,' I hoped for an ongoing series, but I would have been happy with three. I'm still having fun with it, so I have no intention of stopping anytime soon."

2. Will there be more Stephanie Plum movies?

"I really liked the first movie, 'One for the Money.' I sold the rights to make the movie for $1 million. With that money, I paid off all my kids' college loans, paid off all my credit cards and put a new roof on my house.

"I didn't have anything to do with production of the movie. It got terrible reviews, which I believe was mostly because Katherine Heigl was not liked by West Coast press. I couldn't see her as Stephanie at first, but once she put that wig on I thought she was great. I went out and did publicity with her and she was very nice. Sony has the project now and is trying to take it to television."

3. How closely does Stephanie's life resemble your life growing up in New Jersey?

"I gave her a blue-collar background because that's my background. Most of the people in the book are people I'm related to -- Stephanie's grandmother is a combination of my grandmother and an aunt. I grew up in a small town that had no entertainment, but had two really great funeral parlors. All the old ladies would come over in the afternoon to go over the obits to see who they'd visit at the funeral homes that night (a frequent pastime of her character Grandma Mazur.)

"People think I make this stuff up, but it's all true. Lula (Stephanie's sidekick) is the one character that is pretty much made up. She is Stephanie on steroids. Lula is not about color or body size, she's about attitude."

4. In every book, a car blows up. What's your beef with automobiles?

"I love exploding cars! I never knew this about myself before the first book. I did it in the first book (wrote an exploding car scene) because I wanted the book to be a movie, and I knew it had to have action. Now it's gotten to be a contest -- like, how many cars can I blow up in each book?"

5. How are you influenced by other authors? Who do you read?

"When I was a kid, I read Donald Duck comic books -- the wonderful stories about Donald and his nephews -- and I think that gave me my sense of adventure. For the most part I read nonfiction.

"I don't think I am influenced by other authors, but Robert B. Parker was somewhat of an influence in that he was such as wordsmith. I like the characters he created." (The late American crime author created the Spenser series, on which the Robert Urich TV show, "Spenser for Hire," was based, and he wrote the series featuring small-town sheriff Jesse Stone, played by Tom Selleck.)

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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