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May 8, 2010

Janet and Alex Evanovich: They Know What Works for Their Readers

Posted by Anonymous

Janet Evanovich is one of the most successful and prolific authors today, writing at least two books a year. When approached to do a graphic novel adaptation of her popular Barnaby and Hooker series, she wasn’t sure how it would come together. That’s when daughter Alex stepped in, taking the lead on their forthcoming project, TROUBLEMAKER. Below, from left, Alex, Barnaby(the dog, not the character) and Janet picking apples in New Hampshire.

Evanovich.jpgWhat made you decide to write together?

Alex:  It sounded like fun, and that's what our adventure in writing a comic was all  Both my mom and I grew up on comics.  To this day we still have subscriptions to Uncle Scrooge. When Dark Horse approached us with the idea of doing a Barnaby and Hooker graphic novel it was hard to say no.  Since mom's schedule is already super tight, writing two books a year, I stepped in to help.  After all of the years of working together with the website, newsletter and editing, I have a pretty good sense of my mom's writing style and what she promises in a story, like good guys never die.

Can you each share a story about one of the books you wrote together?

Alex:  I can't think of any real anecdotes about writing together.  The truth is, writing is hard and it's work.  It doesn't matter if it's a comic or a printed novel.  The script format of the comic and the small amount of pages (each story is 100 pages long) made it a real challenge.  It's like taking a book, abridging it, abridging it again, and then one more time.  We talked a lot about what to keep, what to get rid of and what the characters should look like.  Come to think of it, figuring out the characters might have been the best part.  Janet and I had a great time scouring the Internet for pictures of hot guys that sort of looked like Sam Hooker.

61294475.JPGJanet:  My favorite memory about writing the comic is that one day they sent us about 20 pages of rough drafts.  Pages usually come in late since Dark Horse is on the West Coast and we are on the East Coast.  Alex and I got together at 7 o'clock at night, and went over the drawings at my dining room table with a glass of wine and wasabi peanuts.

How do you share your writing responsibilities?

Alex:  I would outline the book, and then discuss it with Janet.  When Janet liked the outline I wrote the script.  Janet read the script and had suggestions for additions and changes.  I re-wrote the script.  Our editor would have suggestions.  Janet and I would discuss them, and then I rewrote the script again.

Do you outline, or do you write as the story unfolds?

Alex:  Outline! You have to. Otherwise you have no idea what is going on with your pacing.

Who has final say? Does "Mom always rule," or how do you handle writing conflicts?

Alex:  We never had any writing conflicts. Mom always rules. She's the pro, and I'm just the beginning co-author. I was really lucky to have her expertise and advice, and I'm confident that she knows what's important in telling a story. Especially one that is about her characters and for her audience.

Janet:  Alex and I never had any conflicts when writing TROUBLEMAKER. The great thing about Alex is there's no ego.  She just wants the story to be good, and welcomes any and all advice without a second thought.

What do each of you bring to the table?

Alex:  I suspect we bring the same things to the table. Like mother, like daughter. Although my mother isn't very comfortable with a script format, so I think she was happy I was handling that.

Janet:  Mostly, I bring experience.  Unfortunately that experience isn't specifically for writing comics, but I can help with the dialog, when Alex needs a Hooker-ish line.  And I can help with laying out the plot and when to uncover clues.

What's your favorite snack food/drink when you are writing?

Alex:  I like popcorn while I'm writing. I think it's the salt. But I wouldn't turn down a cupcake.

Janet:  I mostly drink flavored seltzer, and if you give me a Snickers bar, I'm brilliant.

Do you have advice for anyone who would like to write a book with their mother or daughter?

Alex:  Do it!  It's pretty special for me to have a book on my shelf with my name right next to my mom's.  It ranks right up there with shopping for my wedding dress with her.

Janet:  There will never be any greater achievement in your life than your children.  And there is nothing more difficult or rewarding than working with family.  Take advantage of the opportunity to write that book together.  Whether your book is published or not, the experience and time spent together will be worth it.

TROUBLEMAKER will be available July 20th from Dark Horse comics wherever books are sold.