Author Janet Evanovich: Plum Page to Screen

Our Q&A with Janet Evanovich focuses on how her inaugural Stephanie Plum novel made it into movie theaters...albeit 17 years after publication.

Courtesy of public relations.

Janet Evanovich’s inaugural Stephanie Plum novel, One for the Money, makes its way into movie theaters on January 27—some 17 years after publication. The book—part adventure, part crime mystery, part modern romance—began a powerhouse publishing franchise that routinely places its titles on best-seller lists. Evanovich’s latest book in the numbered series, Explosive Eighteen, debuted in November. A New Jersey native, Evanovich’s Plum novels are firmly anchored in the Garden State—although the author now resides in New Hampshire. The Plum character lives near her kooky extended family in the Chambersburg section of Trenton. In the upcoming film, she’s played by Katherine Heigl, who heads a cast that includes Jason O’Mara (as police sergeant Joe Morelli), Daniel Sunjata (as a bounty hunter known as Ranger) and screen legend Debbie Reynolds (as Plum’s cockeyed grandmother). Evanovich hopes more movies follow.

One for the Money was optioned years ago. So what took Hollywood so long to believe in Stephanie Plum?

They tell me they had a hard time getting a script they liked.

While you no longer live in New Jersey, all your characters do. How does being a native Jersey girl influence your writing?

My characters swear a lot and eat Tastykakes and Taylor Pork Roll.

Why Trenton as the setting for the series?

Trenton has a lot of good crime and a river for dumping bodies.

The movie was shot in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, not New Jersey. How’d that work?

They tell me parts of Pittsburgh look like Jersey.  Hell, what do I know?

What made Chambersburg the right setting for Stephanie Plum’s quirky family?

I really write about Chambersburg 60 years ago when it was a nice Catholic Italian neighborhood and very small town.

Are Ranger and Morelli based on real Jersey guys?

Aren’t all Jersey guys like Ranger and Morelli?

What do you think of their casting?

I’ll tell you after I see the movie.

Did you have control or input over casting or script? 

None.

Stephanie Plum is a klutzy, curly-haired brunette and on the small side. Katherine Heigl is none of those. How’d she become Stephanie?

Stephanie is actually 5 foot 7.  Heigl is 5 foot 9.  And Heigl dyed her hair.

Will there be more movies if this one, based on your first Stephanie Plum book, succeeds?

Probably.

Have you seen a finished version of the movie? If so, what’s your reaction?

Haven’t seen it.  I declined a preview.  I’m waiting to see it with everyone else.

When you write about New Jersey locations, do you write from a map or from memory?

Both.  And I make stuff up—mostly for legal purposes.

Do you ever return to New Jersey just to replenish your Jersey attitude?

I return to Jersey because I love Jersey…especially the Shore.  No matter how hard I try I can’t get rid of my Jersey attitude.  Only kidding—I’m proud of my Jersey attitude.

Do you write crime stories with lots of romance elements or romances with lots of crime action?

I write adventure stories with some sex, some pizza and lots of laughs.

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