The third installment of the “Celebrations Book Club by Cheryl’s Cookies” will take place Thursday, Jan. 27, and feature New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich. We recently sat down with Evanovich to talk about her career, her daily routine, and her love of desserts.
Janet Evanovich does her best to eat healthy. She really does. But she’s found, over her decades-long writing career, that vegetables just don’t get the creative juices flowing quite like wine and chips.
Maybe it’s not the most nutritious routine, but it’s a recipe that works exceedingly well for her.
We recently sat down with Evanovich, 78, the New York Times bestselling author (many times over) and guest author for this month’s Celebrations Book Club by Cheryl’s Cookies. During the course of our conversation, she talked about what a typical day is like for her, whether she would ever consider writing non-fiction, and why she has trouble saying no to a certain neon orange snack.
What inspired you to be a guest author for the Celebrations Book Club by Cheryl’s Cookies?
The cookies! When I received the invitation, I was like, ‘Well, yeah, of course I will…and are they going to send me cookies? Yes. I’m there.’ I get offers all the time, but when something wonderful like this book club comes along, I’m happy to say yes.
We need to know: What’s your favorite cookie?
I like all cookies. I’m of Danish descent. You put a dessert in front of me, and I’m a happy person.
Cheryl’s cookies were outstanding. In fact, when the first package arrived, it was a fall package with pumpkin flavors and spice. We wanted to save them so we could take pictures, but instead we ended up eating them all, so we had to order more!
I read that you love birthday cake. Do you like to bake?
I love the kinds of cake you get in the supermarket. I used to like to bake when my kids were younger and I was a stay-at-home mom. I was an earth mother who used to make my own bread, cookies, and cakes. Then, when I stopped being an earth mother and started being a writer, that changed. My daughter is the one in the family who still bakes. I have an 11-year-old grandson, and the two of them like to bake together.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Ollie, my 13-year-old Havanese, is usually by my side while I write. I’m a morning person and, because I go to bed with a steno pad and take notes on what I wrote during the day and what I want to do the next day, I wake up with my head full of ideas. I’m at my computer by 6 a.m. and write all morning, as that is always the most creative time for me. I’ll take a break for lunch, and I prefer to go back to writing in the afternoon, but it’s often slower going — it’s more thinking than writing. I’ll eke out a couple more paragraphs and then my day gets taken up with business, whether it’s interviews, or talking to my agent or my team.
I read there’s a specific snack you reach for when you’re deep into a chapter. What is that?
For years, it was Cheez Doodles, and it still would be, but it was problematic because my keyboard would get gunked up with noodle dust. I would have to replace my keyboard, my hands were orange, and there was noodle dust under my fingernails. Also, I spent so much time sitting in the chair that my butt got bigger and bigger — the Cheez Doodles weren’t helping!
Do you try to eat more healthfully now?
I try, but eating carrot sticks and celery sticks doesn’t give me any ideas at all. The salty crunchy stuff makes all the synapsis go together. Put it this way: I eat healthy for the first 200 pages of a book. Then I look at my deadline and know I won’t make it. That’s when I say ‘Forget this’ and start drinking wine and eating chips or anything salty and crunchy. I still love Cheez Doodles, by the way, but I try to be careful because they’re so addicting.
Who would you say is the typical Janet Evanovich fan?
A female, maybe age 30 to 70. I think I have the same background as a lot of my readers: I’m third-generation American, the first to graduate college, I went to a state school, married my high school sweetheart, and family is important to me. I think I write for that person.
I eat healthy for the first 200 pages of a book. Then I look at my deadline and know I won’t make it. That’s when I say ‘Forget this’ and start drinking wine and eating chips or anything salty and crunchy.
You started out as a romance writer, but now you’re in hybrid genres: crime, humor, and adventure. Would you ever consider writing non-fiction?
I read non-fiction because it doesn’t interfere with my process, but I wouldn’t want to write non-fiction. For example, I love cookbooks. I read them, but I don’t cook. Actually, I have a chef who cooks for me because it’s not cost effective for me to cook. This guy has been with me for 10 years — he makes a killer mac and cheese!
Do you ever reflect on how many books you’ve written? By our count, you’re up to 70.
It’s shocking. I go on my website and look at all the books up there and think ‘Oh my God, how did I do it?’ You start writing and take one step at a time and, before you know it, you have all these books you’ve written.
Do you miss in-person book events/signings?
That’s the only time you get to have one-on-one contact with your readers and see what they look like. I miss seeing my readers, but I don’t miss the travel part of it. Another thing I don’t miss is that I used to have 2,000 to 3,000 people attend a signing, and this would go on for four to five nights. That sounds great, and it’s a big ego boost, but the reality is it’s hard to make that a good fan experience. We would bring out food and wristbands. We would entertain them, and I would start signing at 5:30 p.m. and wouldn’t stop until 2 a.m. I had my hand in a brace, and I would take Advil to keep the inflammation down. Still, I would be the last one out because I would never walk away from a line of people. If you make an effort to come out and see me, I will be there for you.
What’s your biggest indulgence? I read that once upon a time you spent a fair amount of time in the shoe department at Saks?
True! You don’t have to take your clothes off to try them on so I love shoes and jewelry and hats. It’s like Cheez Doodles — I have to control myself.