Born: September 17, 1949
Ohio connection: Birth
Novelist, essayist, editor, and educator Jennifer Crusie is an award-winning author of romance novels, short stories, and literary criticism. The author of more than 20 books, her work has been published in more than 15 countries and has earned a place on many bestseller lists including the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal.
Born Jennifer Jo Smith on September 17, 1949, in Wapakoneta, Ohio, she is the daughter of Jack and JoAnn Smith. Crusie uses her maternal grandmother’s maiden name as a pseudonym (initially to satisfy a requirement by Harlequin). Crusie graduated from Wapakoneta High School and went on to study art education at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. She married in 1971 and received her Bachelor of Arts degree two years later in 1973. For a brief time Crusie and her husband lived in Wichita Falls, Texas until his job with the U.S. Air Force transferred the couple to Dayton, Ohio. Crusie taught pre-school until her daughter was born; when she returned to work, Crusie taught art and English in the Beavercreek, Ohio public school system while earning a Master of Arts degree in Professional Writing and Women’s Literature from Wright State University in Dayton.
In 1986, Crusie took a leave of absence from her teaching job to work on her Ph.D. In the summer of 1991, while doing research for her dissertation that involved reading 100 romance novels, Crusie discovered her passion for the genre and decided to write a romance novel instead of finishing her Ph.D. In August 1992 Crusie, who started writing at age 41, sold her first book, a novella titled Sizzle (it was published by Silhouette in 1994). After selling her first novel, Crusie continued writing novels and had more books published including: Manhunting (1993); Getting Rid of Bradley (1994); Strange Bedpersons (1994); What the Lady Wants (1995); Charlie All Night (1996); Anyone But You (1996); Trust Me on This (1997). During this time, Crusie put her Ph.D. coursework on hold to pursue a master’s degree and in 1997 she earned a Masters in Fine Arts in Fiction from The Ohio State University in Columbus. More books followed including Welcome to Temptation (2000); Fast Women (2001); Faking It (2002); Bet Me (2004). Crusie’s collaborations with popular contemporary romance and mystery writers include Bob Mayer (Don’t Look Down, 2006); Lori Foster and Carly Phillips (Santa Baby, 2006); Eileen Dreyer and Anne Stewart (The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes, 2007). In 2010, Crusie returned to solo writing with Maybe This Time, Cru homage to Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw.
Crusie has completed coursework at OSU toward a Ph.D. in feminist criticism and 19th century British and American literature. She has contributed numerous essays on popular culture, the romance genre, and the writing life to magazines and anthologies. Crusie has edited collections that include: (with Glenn Yeffeth) Flirting with Pride & Prejudice: Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-lit Masterpiece, 2005; (with Leah Wilson) Totally Charmed: Demons, Whitelighters and the Power of Three, 2005; (with Leah Wilson) Coffee at Luke’s: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest, 2007. Crusie also authored (as Jennifer Smith) a work of literary criticism titled Anne Rice: A Critical Companion (Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers series). As an educator, Crusie has been a faculty member at Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio; Wright State University, and The Ohio State University.
Rita Award, Romance Writers of America, 1995, for Getting Rid of Bradley; Top-Five Romance award, Library Journal, 1996 for Anyone but You; Career Achievement Award in romantic comedy, Romantic Times, 1996; Brooksellers Award for best category romance, Romantic Times, 1997, for Trust Me on This; Top-ten Romance awards, Romance Writers of America, 1998, for Tell Me Lies, 2000, for Welcome to Temptation, and 2001, for Fast Women; Reviewer’s Choice Award for best contemporary single title, Romantic Times, 1999, for Crazy for You; Romance Writers of America 2005 RITA in the Best Contemporary Single Title Category for Bet Me.