After Janet Evanovich had written for ten years without selling a single book, she took her collection of rejection letters and burned them in the street. Shortly afterward, a publisher called to buy one of her manuscripts. In 1987, she published her first book, Hero at Large, a romance novel. After publishing twelve romance novels in five years, Evanovich decided to pursue another genre and spent a couple of years doing research. She hired a new agent, began spending time with police officers, and learned how to shoot a gun. One night, while watching Midnight Run (1988), a film about a bounty hunter starring Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin, inspiration struck.
One for the Money, Evanovich’s first Stephanie Plum novel, was published in 1994. Evanovich saw an unfilled need for comedy in mystery and detective fiction. She compares her Stephanie Plum books to the television sitcom Seinfeld (1990-1998). Stephanie Plum, like Jerry Seinfeld, is surrounded by a cast of characters who vie for attention and sometimes almost steal the show. For example, Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur enjoys visiting funeral homes on a regular basis to compare the corpses’ cosmetic makeovers, and her African American coworker Lula is a former prostitute fond of short, tight dresses and blond wigs.
The titles of the novels in the Stephanie Plum series contain numbers in sequence: One for the Money, Two for the Dough (1996), Three to Get Deadly (1997), and upward. Each book has gained a wider audience for Evanovich. High Five (1999) was the first of her novels to reach number one on The New York Times best-seller list. Stephanie’s love life, divided between police officer Joe Morelli and Ranger, a mysterious Cuban bounty hunter, plays an important role in the series. Evanovich’s background in romance writing serves her well as the love triangle plays out through the series.