By Kayla J. Marsh
EATONTOWN – From aspiring actress to best-selling author, New Jersey’s own Stephanie Evanovich will soon hit the road to discuss her latest novel and talk about her career thus far and how it has been something she “never expected.”
“I actually wanted to be an actor and tried to be an actor for 30 years while raising my sons,” the Ocean Township native said in a Feb. 26 interview.
“I did a lot of community theater, always trying to make the break, and being with how close I am to Asbury it was amazing finding out there were so many things that were filmed in Asbury between videos and movies, The Sopranos.”
As her youngest son started getting into his final year in high school, Evanovich realized “that the acting dream probably wasn’t going to happen,” but time spent doing community theater opened up another creative avenue.
“Doing community theater you get a lot of time where you are just sitting around waiting to say your lines in act two and a lot of the time what was going on behind the curtain was way more interesting than the play,” she said. “So I would get creative and would sort of write stories just to keep creative juices flowing and I kind of found out that I had a knack for it.”
In the summer of 2013, Evanovich published her first book, “Big Girl Panties” and followed it up a year later with “The Sweet Spot.”
“I thought if nothing else I could keep making the pizza money and trying, and little did I realize it was going to be the beginning of a really fun career,” she said.
“It is funny the way things turn out if you’re willing to be flexible in our dreams.”
Evanovich’s tour to promote her new book, “The Total Package,” begins on March 15 at 7 p.m. when she comes to the Barnes and Noble at the Monmouth Mall, 180 Route 35.
“Readers are just so nice to me,” she said. “I never expected to make so many friends and meet so many interesting people through doing this [and] that is probably the best part of doing [tours] is all the people I’ve gotten to meet who by and large are just wonderful.”
In “The Total Package,” Evanovich introduces readers to Tyson Palmer, the star quarterback and first-round draft pick who had it all, until an addiction to painkillers and partying got him kicked off the team.
When the owner of his team refuses to let Palmer’s talent go to waste, he gets clean and once again becomes a hero in the eyes of the public. But sports commentator Dani Carr isn’t going to let anyone forget about his transgressions.
“The Total Package is a redemption story on multiple levels,” Evanovich said. “It is basically the story of a football player who couldn’t handle his rise to fame and makes a few wrong turns and gets a chance at redemption and it works, with the exception of one person, who doesn’t want to cut him any slack [and who] probably needs a little redeeming of her own.”
So what is it like to attend a Stephanie Evanovich reading?
“My appearances are more like me getting a chance to do standup,” she said. “I am so honored and still can’t believe that a person would take time out of their day to come and see me that it is my job to entertain you and that is my mission.
“I am not reading from the book but am engaging and wanting to talk and laugh and have a good time because when you read something, your own voice kicks in and … it’s the imagination of the reader that helps bring characters to life and I don’t want to squelch that and want readers to be able to get whatever they want out of it.”
So what advice would Evanovich give to aspiring writers?
“There is a lot of solitude that comes from writing just by its nature,” she said.
“What I have learned is that every writer’s experience is different. Every time I hear and talk to another writer their story is different from their process to how they got published to what they do now and it’s really fascinating.
“Don’t let anybody tell you you are doing it wrong because as long as the words are coming out of you … and as long as you follow your heart, that is the joy of writing. Writing is something you do because you love it. No else can tell your story but you and I try to encourage writers to fearlessly do that.”