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Janet Evanovich Previews Her First Graphic Novel, ‘Troublemaker’ [Exclusive]

Best-selling novelist Janet Evanovich might not be a familiar name in the world of comics — yet — but in the world of book publishing, she’s nothing less than a superstar. Evanovich has hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list no less than 14 times, and has sold over 90 million books worldwide — the kind of numbers that comics publishers only dream about.

But Evanovich, who grew up reading comics, says that she’s always wanted to work in the medium, and this summer, she’ll be making her comics debut at Dark Horse Comics with “Troublemaker,” a graphic novel set in the same world as her best-selling mystery novels “Metro Girl” and “Motor Mouth.”

Like the novels, “Troublemaker” stars Alex Barnaby, an attractive young female NASCAR mechanic, and her on-again-off-again love interest Sam Hooker, a roguish star NASCAR driver. In “Troublemaker,” the two are teaming up again and heading for the heart of Miami to unravel a mystery involving explosions, a deadly swamp chase, and gift-wrapped body parts.

Co-written by Janet Evanovich and her daughter Alex Evanovich with art by Joelle Jones, the first “Troublemaker” graphic novel hits stores on July 20th, with more installments expected to follow. ComicsAlliance spoke to Evanovich about the experience of bringing her characters to life the comics page, and we’ve also the got the exclusive first look at the comic book version of Sam Hooker in our 9-page preview of “Troublemaker” after the jump!

ComicsAlliance: What first got you interested in the idea of creating a story for the graphic novel format?

Janet Evanovich: I’ve read comics all my life and have wanted to write a comic for as long as I can remember. Alex Barnaby and Sam Hooker seemed like the perfect team to make the move into the graphic medium. Who wouldn’t want to see the bright, exotic location of Miami, a St. Bernard and car chases in glorious, full-color pictures?CA: How was the experience of writing for a graphic novel different than your usual writing process? Are there things you felt like you could do in comics that you couldn’t do in your novels?

JE: Writing a graphic novel is HARD. It feels closer to a screen play than to a novel. “Troublemaker” is not an adaptation of “Metro Girl” or “Motor Mouth.” It is an original story. The hardest part was probably trying to keep the sound true to the novels. I always write in first person, and it was important to us that the readers of “Metro” and “Motor” be comfortable with the change over to a graphic novel. Like “Metro” and “Motor,” “Troublemaker” is written in first person. The only narration that happens is Barney speaking to the reader/thinking in her head. First person was a big challenge in the graphic novel because we want both men and women of all ages to enjoy “Troublemaker.” Barnaby and Hooker really are a team, and it was essential that even though we are never in Hooker’s head he is 50% of the story.

CA: Comic books tend to have a predominantly male readership, while the readership of your books is predominantly women. Are you hoping to bring more women into comic book shops, or to get more guys interested in your stories?

JE: What?! Predominately male readership? That’s so yesterday. Bookstores and comic book shops are full of shojo mangas. Women love comics, too! That being said I think the comic book industry did abandon women for a while. My daughter grew up on G.I.Joe, Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman, etc. Whereas I grew up on Little Lulu, Katy Keene and Donald Duck.

CA: How accessible — or inaccessible — do you the comic book medium is for new readers at first glance?

JE: At first glance, not that accessible. I think the fabulous animated films should help the comic industry, and probably innovative leaders like Dark Horse will find ways to bring comics up to the front of the store.

CA: Have you read any of the comics from novelists like Laurell K. Hamilton, Orson Scott Card, or Stephen King who have also adapted their work into the comics medium? Where do you think all this interest in comic from bestselling prose authors is coming from?

JE: Haven’t read any novel adaptations. I mostly read “Uncle Scrooge” and “Buffy” and the occasional “Betty and Veronica” while in the supermarket checkout lane. And of course I read “Fruits Basket.” My daughter, Alex, whom I co-authored with on “Troublemaker” reads a lot of manga and comics. She’s the one who introduced me to “Fruits Basket.” I have no clue why other authors are turning to comics but I imagine it’s for the same reason I’m doing “Troublemaker”… It’s a very compelling genre; it’s a different type of writing project and it’s a LOT of fun.

CA: Do you have any plans to do more work in comics in the future?

JE: How much space do we have here? I hope we can keep the Barnaby and Hooker graphic novel going for a long time. And who knows… maybe Alex and I will come up with a whole new series, just for the comic industry. It’s been an amazing and incredibly rewarding experience… “Troublemaker” has been a long time in the making, and I’m excited about having had the opportunity to create a graphic novel that hopefully even non-comic books readers can enjoy. After all, if it hadn’t been for Carl Barks sending Scrooge McDuck and his family off on treasure hunts, I probably would never have gotten hooked on adventure stories. I’m even more excited to be able to share the very first glimpses of Barnaby, Hooker and Beans, the St. Bernard, with you on AOL. It has been an incredible, rewarding experience to see a written story take on a whole new life, and I hope you will enjoy the new experience ofTroublemaker” as much as I did.


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