TRAVERSE CITY — Doug Stanton considers Traverse City plum lucky to have landed best-selling author Janet Evanovich for its National Writers Series.
Evanovich, creator of the wildly popular Stephanie Plum mystery books, will star in the series' Monday, July 9, event, a scholarship fundraiser benefitting student writers.
"We could do another two shows with her and still have a waiting list," said Stanton, of the sold-out program presented with the National Cherry Festival.
Evanovich knows what her readers want, and she delivers. Her formula — equal parts mystery, comedy and sexual tension — has made her one of the world's best-selling authors, with more than 75 million copies of her books in print. Her latest, "Wicked Business: A Lizzy and Diesel Novel," is the second in her new Wicked series, which spins off one of the characters in four of the Plum novels.
Like the Plum mysteries, which revolve around a big-haired New Jersey lingerie-buyer-turned bounty hunter, the Wicked books feature a lovable heroine (cupcake baker Lizzy Tucker), a hunky man of mystery (mono-named Diesel), and a supporting cast of quirky characters. But in a new twist, the Wicked mysteries are infused with the supernatural.
Evanovich said she created the series partly to keep her books fresh for both herself and her readers and to try something new and fun.
"I love this new series because it has this added element to it and I set it in Salem, Mass., with its spooky history," said the New Hampshire-based author, who now hopes to turn out one Plum and one Wicked book every year. "It's a lot of fun, and as a creative person I can create an adventure that has a lot at stake.
"It's always risky to create a new series," said Evanovich, known for choosing book titles from fan submissions. "It takes a long time to build your readership to the point of the Plum series, especially in this economy, because people are reluctant to spend money on an unknown product. You just hope people like it."
So far the risk seems to be paying off. "Wicked Business," which centers on a high-stakes search for the Luxuria Stone, an ancient relic thought by some to be infused with the power of lust, was released June 19 and is at the top of most best-seller lists.