Even after 12 installments, readers can't get enough of Janet Evanovich's best-selling Stephanie Plum novels. Starting with 1994's One for the Money, the series injected a healthy dose of humor into the mystery genre and turned the smart-alecky but tough New Jersey bounty hunter into one of fiction's most memorable characters. Putting her likeable heroine into outrageous situations with hilarious sidekicks (not to mention two sexy love interests) proved to be a winning formula for Evanovich, who is also the author of a NASCAR-themed series set in Miami and three other co-written series. On June 19, Evanovich serves up Lean Mean Thirteen, which finds Stephanie a suspect in the disappearance of her ex-husband, Dickie. We asked Evanovich a few questions about the new book, her work and what really motivates her to write.

Stephanie has bad luck with cars. Have you ever had a car of your own burst into flames? Do any cars bite the big one in the new book?
I've never had a car burst into flames, but my daughter has at one time or another driven most of Stephanie's cars. She doesn't so much destroy them, as they die their own natural death. Of course cars bite the big one in Thirteen! Will

Stephanie ever choose between the two men in her life? And do fans seem to want her with Ranger or Morelli?
The fans run 50/50 in the Morelli versus Ranger debate. Many don't want to choose, and I can't say I blame them. Eventually Stephanie will choose, but not until the end of the series.

Stephanie wouldn't be caught dead: a) with flat bangs b) at the mall without makeup c) eating pizza without beer d) leaving the house unarmed e) all of the above
A, B and C. Stephanie leaves the house unarmed all the time, not counting her can of hairspray.

Like James Patterson, you take a very practical, businesslike approach to your writing you've even referred to your work as carrying the Evanovich brand. Do you get impatient with writers who talk about muses, writer's block and the like?
I have muses. They just come in the form of birthday cake and the occasional tankard of beer.

Though you write the Plum series solo, you work on three other series with co-authors. What's it like writing with someone else?
The co-authored books add variety to my life. I don't look for a co-author who can clone me, but rather someone who can live with the Evanovich promise (easy to read, entertaining, feel good, happy ending).

Do you do any research for your writing?
I do a lot of research when I'm starting a new series. For instance, I had to attend a lot of NASCAR races for the Metro series. Sort of self-serving since I'm a NASCAR addict.

Your tours draw huge crowds. What's the craziest thing that's ever happened to you at a book signing?
That's hard to say. Crazy is pretty much the norm.

How do you unwind?
Unwind? I'm afraid if I ever unwound I wouldn't be able to wind again.

Any plans for a Stephanie Plum perfume or line of lingerie?
A perfume that smells like pineapple upside-down cake. I like that idea!

What books are you taking with you on vacation this year?
Vacation???!!! There's no time for vacationing this year. After Thirteen comes out I have to get ready for the No Chance (co-authored with Stephen Cannell) tour and then my daughter is getting married (hallelujah!) and early next year Plum Lucky (St. Patrick's Day holiday novella) comes out. The year is packed.

 

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