Stephanie Evanovich was always a late bloomer. She continued this trend by publishing her first novel at age 49, last summer's surprise hit, Big Girl Panties. So it's no surprise that Evanovich is doing things a little differently with her sophomore novel, The Sweet Spot (just published by William Morrow). It focuses on two characters from her debut novel, going back in time to trace the origins of the relationship between baseball star Chase Walker and sassy businesswoman Amanda Cole. But Chase's squeaky-clean image takes a hit when a naughty secret is revealed, testing his and Amanda's love. Jersey Girl Evanovich sat down with us to discuss her smart, steamy new novel that's sure to be a home run.
The Sweet Spot is a prequel to last summer's Big Girl Panties. What made you decide go all Phantom Menace instead of doing a sequel?
It was actually a decision based on the response to the supporting characters of Chase and Amanda Walker from Big Girl Panties. They started getting a following of their own. A prequel is very challenging so I decided to give it a shot.
The Sweet Spot is a baseball term and your main character, Chase Walker, is a famous baseball player. Are you a fan?
Absolutely. I'm a big big baseball fan. The New York Yankees are my team. Actually, Chase was a combination of several players who morphed into one perfect hero.
In the book, you've taken the somewhat taboo topic of spanking and mainstreamed it into a beach read.
Is that what I did?
Yes. What made you want to explore this topic?
I was watching the playoffs one year and there was an overabundance of butt slapping going on with the players. And I was like, there's no way these dudes don't take this home to their wives. It was hard and aggressive and I just started formulating the story from there. At the time my favorite team was full of cute little hunks that I couldn't stop looking at anyway.
In The Sweet Spot, Chase insists that in their relationship "he has complete physical control but Amanda has total control over him, mentally." How did you research the dynamics of such a relationship?
It's pretty easy given access to the web. When I first started researching it, it was 10 years ago. And now there's so much out there on spanking you could still research brand-new stuff... although I don't know what stone I may have left unturned.
Could such a relationship work in real life? Is there really a "slappily ever after?"
I think that relationships like that have worked throughout history and continue to do so in very healthy ways. With the added benefit of not being looked at as being so taboo as it may have been a few decades ago. All of a sudden women are letting their inner naughty girls loose... with pride.
Amanda is not your usual heroine. Much is made of her fantastic curves and voluptuous figure, which are met with nothing but praise and adoration from Chase. By creating this character, did you intentionally set out to change the perception of fuller-figured women as a desirable sex goddess?
No question--of course! Beauty has always come in all sizes and I felt that way for a long time. And some of the most beautiful women I've ever personally seen were size 14s or 16s. A man that attracts me has crazy swagger--swagger is a confidence that attracts anyone, and Amanda has that, too. I wanted her to be different from Holly (the heroine of Big Girl Panties). Amanda is healthy. Amanda has never thought there was anything wrong with her body. I love the first time when Chase and Amanda make love and he addresses her size. After that it's a non-issue. And that's exactly how I wanted it.
What is your advice to new writers starting out in this business?
My advice to authors just starting out is--stay positive, keep an open mind and never let a rejection daunt you from continuing to practice your craft. Not everyone is going to love your work and that's okay. At the end of the day, you write for you.
Where is your favorite place to write?
My favorite place to write is my dining room table. But more important to me is when I write, which is very early in the morning, right before dawn. It's quiet and peaceful with the occasional bird chirping. I find I have the best focus between 5 and 9 a.m. I'm not a very good "public-place" writer. I think that might be because I get easily distracted and I love talking to people. Great for inspiration... rotten for the word count.
What can readers expect from you next?
I'm currently starting the first draft of my next book, about a naturally gifted football player who is need of some serious redemption. --Natalie Papailiou, author of blog MILF: Mother I'd Like to Friend