Visions of Sugar Plums Stephanie Plum 8. And the weird thing is. Truth is, I kind of like the idea that there are some superheroes out there, trying to save us from ourselves. You want to get him back to Lakewood.

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Originally published in sold out Mystery Scene Issue This season, Evanovich takes her writing and the business behind it to yet another level, upping her output to two books per year with the novella-sized seasonal title Visions of Sugar Plums. What prompted you to add a holiday title to the Stephanie Plum series? Evanovich: First of all, I wanted to do two books a year. Because my books come out in June, the logical timing to do the second book would be November-December, so it just made sense that it would be a holiday book.

Plus I had this idea for a new character that I wanted to bring into this series—Diesel. About Diesel…The Stephanie Plum series occasionally has otherworldly elements—the character of Ranger is certainly out of the ordinary—but the new book steps more explicitly into the fantastic, the fabulous, perhaps even the world of the comic book with Diesel and with Sandy Claws and his elves and with a villain who siphons electricity to blast at the good guys.

What sent your writing in this direction? And how do you think readers will react? The Plum series has always been about heroes, but very special kinds of heroes. These are people like you and me, and just like you and me, sometimes things happen where you just have to put yourself on the line and do the right thing—do something that is maybe a little heroic. So these are the heroes that interest me—ordinary people who are heroic in their own small ways.

I wanted to do a book that had more of this heroic theme to it, but maybe about a guy who, if you met him on the street, looked like you and me but who actually had certain heroic attributes.

I think that the reader is really going to like Diesel, because even though he kind of moves into the superhero, fantastic area, he still is somebody that you know. I think that the real measure of this is that my daughter started reading the book and said she was sort of put off that I had brought a mystical character into the world of Plum.

But by the time she finished, she had bought into the character. You talk about heroes. To a large extent, my humor comes from social commentary.

And everybody knows that New Jersey, besides competing with L. So that was just one of the Jersey things that I threw in as part of the mix. You started out as a romance writer. How did those early experiences impact your approach to your readers, to your writing and to your career? It was a very large influence. Starting in romance gave me a fantastic opportunity to find my voice as a writer. I realized that I like the positive characters.

I loved writing with humor. I found out I did not like writing all the internal narrative that went in a romance—the business about the heroine thinking about her life and her love. What I liked was the adventure of the sexual tension—the chase, the hunt. About two-thirds of the way through that career, I realized that I probably was in the wrong genre, because I wanted more action.

The crime element helped move my story forward, so I decided that I would move over into the crime genre, take with me the things that I loved to do and leave the others behind. How is your career different from that of other writers?

Some of it may have to with things other than writing. I think of myself as a full-service entertainer. I try to be a good writer. I try to have good skills. I have causes that I love and I have things that I want to communicate to the reader. When I was in college, I was an art major—a painter—and what we learned was that you paint for yourself. My kick came from the audience, from communication, and that really changed the way that I wrote dramatically.

I started looking at my audience and loving and respecting my audience and thinking what is it that they need from me that no one else can give them. I started looking for a product that the reader would really enjoy. And I think that that possibly sets me apart from some other writers and from publishing philosophy as well. Also, I spend an enormous amount of my own money on promotion and just on enjoying being a writer.

So I think that I do a lot of things like that that not everyone does. You earn high praise for your writing, your plotting. What role does marketing yourself play in your success? Marketing is critical. As I said before, my kick is the audience, and the bigger the audience, the more fun it is for me.

The publicity departments are overworked and publishing has a certain budget for marketing and so I think that everybody has to be very smart about how they use all of these resources. Why you have your mailing address printed right inside the dustjacket of your books?

And so we decided that year-round we wanted to be accessible, we wanted to entertain, and so we play games and have contests. We try to think of fun things to do on book tour, because if somebody is going to be driving for four or five hours to come see me, we should have something interesting for them to see.

She came out in her little spandex skirt with her bleached blonde hair, and we all had fun. This is what happens when you get a certain amount of success as an author. You have opportunities that you never had before, more money available to you, a little more influence on things.

But give something back to the fans and enjoy it for yourself too. How should they approach their craft and approach the issues of marketing? I wrote four books that never got published.

It took me 10 years to get published from the time I got started seriously trying to write. Do a lot of reading and start making lists.

What do I love about these books? What do I hate about these books? What am I going to incorporate into my own book? Become the very best craftsman that you can. Think about the reader and respect that reader and write a story for them. And as far as learning the business part? Finding an agent, an editor, a publisher? I think that organizations are very helpful.

Romance Writers of America, whether you want to write a romance or not, is a very nurturing organization for establishing peers, for learning skills, for getting market information. Sisters in Crime is another great organization. You want to look at the bestseller lists and see what people are reading and enjoying, and see if you can stay in front of the curve. I came in on top of the wave. Women were flooding onto the crime scene, and they offered readers something different: the female protagonist who was not part of a cozy.

She was a hardboiled female protagonist, she was her own person, and readers really responded to that. I came on right at that time, right behind the crest of the wave—Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky—and I rode that in. Riding the wave, watching the trends…. I think that there is a difference between writing for the reader and writing what the market demands. Writing what the market demands is like what they do on television: one cowboy show works so the next season you have 45 cowboy shows.

What I meant is that you look at who your audience is and try to figure out what these people need and want from you. What is it that you, as a unique person, can bring to them? And it has to be part of you. The Plum series is me. I know Stephanie inside and out. I am not Stephanie, but this comes from my own childhood.

These are people that I know, that I lived with. This is a place that I know—Trenton is a character for me. As a writer, you put an enormous amount of yourself and your experience and your background into this and you do write for yourself to a large extent.

You never want to write what the market demands. You just want to look and see what the reader would enjoy. As a twist on that, which writers have you had a positive influence on? I get letters from ladies who have gone through chemo and have taken my books in with them because they knew they would need something to make them laugh and make them feel good.

But I do think that I have influenced people in small ways… 10 minutes at a time. And 10 minutes can really go a long way.


Visions of Sugar Plums



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