Jennifer Crusie Biography & Facts
Jennifer Crusie (born 1949) is a pseudonym for Jennifer Smith, an author of contemporary romance novels. She has written more than twenty novels, which have been published in 20 countries.
Crusie was born as Jennifer Smith in Wapakoneta, Ohio to Jack and JoAnn Smith. She chose to honor her maternal grandmother by writing under her grandmother's maiden name, Crusie. Crusie has spent much of her life living and working in Ohio. She now resides in New Jersey.
Crusie was graduated from Wapakoneta High School, and then earned a bachelor's degree in Art Education from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. She has a Master's degree from Wright State University in Professional Writing and Women's Literature, her master's thesis, "A Spirit More Capable Of Looking Up To Him," was on the role of women in mystery fiction from 1840 to 1920. Her second master's degree is an MFA in Fiction from Ohio State University. She has also completed all the coursework towards a Ph.D. at Ohio State University.
Family and career
Crusie married in 1971, and followed her Air Force husband to Wichita Falls, Texas. He was soon transferred to Dayton, Ohio and they have since divorced. They have one daughter, Mollie, who manages her mother's business dealings through Crusie's Argh Ink LLC.
Crusie's first career was a teacher, beginning with pre-school, then elementary and junior high art, high school English, and undergraduate college English courses, including 15 years in the Beavercreek, Ohio public school system. Her teaching subjects included art, literature, mythology, the Bible in literature, college composition, creative writing, and British and American literature, as well as time spent directing the sets and costumes crews for the high school's drama department. She has also taught at Antioch University, Wright State University, Ohio State, and McDaniel College, where she helped design the curriculum for the graduate level Romance Writing Program.
Writing was an accidental career. Crusie's MFA dissertation focused on the impact of gender on narrative strategies. To research the differences in the way men and women tell stories, Crusie read one hundred romance novels written by women, planning on following that by reading one hundred adventure novels written by men. The romance novels were so compelling that Crusie changed her dissertation to focus on romantic fiction and decided to try her hand at writing a romance novel. She quit her job in the summer of 1991 to devote herself full-time to writing. Crusie completed her first manuscript, called Keeping Kate, in 1991, but was unable to sell it. She entered a Silhouette-sponsored novella contest in the winter of 1991 and won one of twelve places with a novel called Sizzle. Shortly after that, Harlequin bought Keeping Kate and changed the name to Manhunting, which was Crusie's first published novel, appearing in February 1993.
For the first three years of Crusie's career, her books were published as category romances under the Silhouette, Harlequin, and Bantam Loveswept lines. In 1995, Crusie signed with St. Martin's Press, and began writing single title novels, beginning with Tell Me Lies. The switch to longer, non-category novels was easy for Crusie, who says that "I was never conscious of writing category or single title or paperback or hardcover. You just have to tell the truest story you know." Her long partnership with her editor, Jennifer Enderlin, has made it possible for her to explore many different aspects of storytelling, and Crusie explained the depth of her relationship with her editor in an explanation of why she wasn't self-publishing: "SMP still excels at the one thing I'd have to work full time to do half as well as they do: Tell people my book is out there. But okay, let's say I could market my own book riding on the coattails of everything my publisher has already established for me. SMP still holds one trump card: Jennifer Enderlin. I don't want to write a book without Jen. She makes me a better writer."
Her books are known for their humor, although Crusie says she has never "deliberately written to be funny. ... I think my characters just have a particular kind of sense of humor. They use it the way a lot of people do, to cope with the absurdities of life." Crusie usually envisions her characters before the plots, and she crafts them as real people, complete with flaws. Her heroines are usually off-beat and the heroes are clever and charming. Many of her characters collect things because she believes that a person's possessions tell a lot about that person. She has won the Romance Writers of America Rita award twice, once for category fiction with Getting Rid of Bradley and once for single title romance for Bet Me.
In September 2004, Crusie met adventure novelist Bob Mayer at the Maui Writers Conference. By the end of the conference, they had become friends and begun the outline for a novel. Within a year, they had finished the manuscript, collaborating primarily via email. In the novel, title Don't Look Down, Crusie wrote the scenes and dialogue for the female protagonist, while Mayer wrote the scenes and dialogue for the male protagonist. Crusie's longtime editor, Jennifer Enderlin, also edited this book, and had to ask Crusie who had written each section as she couldn't tell them apart. The novel was given an initial printing of 300,000 copies, Crusie's highest initial printing to date. In August 2007, their second collaborative novel, Agnes and the Hitman, was released and made the New York Times best seller list. They again partnered up for March 2010's release of Wild Ride. Because she learned so much from the collaboration with Mayer, in 2007, she collaborated with Eileen Dreyer and Anne Stuart on The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes, and then in 2009, she collaborated again on Dogs and Goddesses this time with Anne Stuart and Lani Diane Rich.
In 2010, after 20 crowd pleasers and award winners including five collaborations, Crusie published her first solo in six years, Maybe This Time. Maybe This Time is Crusie's version of Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, a classic she loves and has taught many times. In Crusie's version the governess is not young and inexperienced, the children are not perfectly behaved, they are not isolated because house guests keep turning up and moving in, and the faraway guardian turns up and becomes part of the story.
She also continues her interest in the academic side of fiction. Early in her academic career, she published a book of literary criticism on Anne Rice under the name Jennifer Smith; and she's been active in pop culture criticism, both on her blog Argh Ink and for Benbella Press, editing three essay collections and contributing to others.
As for future ventures, she's working on a four-book mystery series called the Liz Danger mysteries (Lavender's Blue, Rest in Pink, Peaches and Screams, and Yellow Brick Roadkill).... Discover the Jennifer Crusie popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Jennifer Crusie books.