"I love reading in front of an audience when I’m on a book tour... being in front of an audience and reading is fun, probably more fun than the writing."
Talking with Janet Evanovich
The Voices of Janet Evanovich: Conversations with Lorelei King and C.J. Critt Janet
Evanovich’s hugely popular Stephanie Plum series and romances have an avid following on audio. AudioFile recently caught up with narrators Lorelei King and C.J. Critt to ask them what it’s like to bring these audiobooks to life. - 2009 Update
Janet Evanovich barely has time to sit down, let alone read. The months between June and November 2002 saw the publication of three new books: HARD EIGHT (the eighth novel in the popular Stephanie Plum series), FULL HOUSE (first in a new series of zany romantic adventures), and VISIONS OF SUGAR PLUMS (a novel-length Christmas story featuring Stephanie Plum). In September Evanovich took the time to chat with AUDIOFILE about reading, listening, and the art of storytelling.
I love reading in front of an audience when I’m on a book tour,” she admits. “Travel sucks. But being in front of an audience and reading is fun, probably more fun than the writing. I love being up there because you have this immediate response to what you’ve done. It’s addictive.”
Evanovich enjoys taking an audiobook with her in the car. “I love listening to the Robert B. Parker books. They translate well to audio.” She points out that some audiobook performers give too much interpretation, overplaying characters and regional accents. “It takes away much of the imagining process that I like my listeners to go through.”
Two of Evanovich’s favorite readers are Lorelei King, who reads the current Stephanie Plum books for Audio Renaissance, and C.J. Critt, who reads the unabridged versions for Recorded Books. “I love both of these women. They both differentiate the characters, so you know when it’s Joe Morelli (a handsome Jersey cop and Plum’s love interest) talking and when it’s Stephanie. But the voice still has a certain—for lack of a better word—generic quality that allows listeners to put some of themselves into it.”
Evanovich sees abridged and unabridged versions of books as entirely different products. “With the abridged versions, a lot of the characterization and humor has to get chipped away in order to maintain the plot. You get more of a tight mystery, because it’s the plot line that remains. I never knew I had a mystery plot until I listened to my books on audio,” she laughingly acknowledges. “Damn! So that’s what I wrote.”
Evanovich has a huge following. When her Web site (www.evanovich.com) offered a contest to name her next Stephanie Plum book, over 20,000 fans responded with suggestions. What accounts for her popularity? “I think I do dialogue well, and I create good characters. As a storyteller, my single most important job is to write for my audience.
“What we need today is good positive entertainment. There’s so much tragedy in the world. We need heroes. And I do wonderful heroes. I do heroes that are heroic in small ways; I do the kind of heroes that you and I would be. When it really comes down to it and they’re in a crunch, they find it within themselves to do the heroic thing. This is what I bring to my audience as a storyteller.”—Steven E. Steinbock