Jennifer Crusie was born Jennifer Smith in Wapakoneta, Ohio. "Jenny," as she is called, chose the Crusie surname for her writing to honor her maternal grandmother (who was born a Crusie). Crusie has spent much of her life in and currently resides in Ohio.
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 in Professional Writing and Women's Literature from Wright State University, and an MFA in Fiction from Ohio State University. She has also completed work towards a Ph.D. in feminist criticism and nineteenth century British and American literature at Ohio State University.
Career before writing
Crusie has taught all age levels, from pre-school through college, including 15 years in the Beavercreek (Ohio) public school system. Her junior and senior high school courses included art, Literature (touching on mythology, the Bible in literature, college composition, 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 courses at Antioch University, Wright State University, and Ohio State.
Writing was an accidental career. Jennifer Crusie's career as a romance author began when she read over 100 romance novels as part of her research for her Ph.D. dissertation on the impact of gender on narrative strategies. This encouraged her to write romance herself, and eventually she put the Ph.D. on hold in order to earn an MFA in fiction from Ohio State University.
Crusie sold her first novella, Sizzle, in August 1992. For the first three years of her career, her books were presented as category romances under the Silhouette, Harlequin, and Bantam Books Loveswept lines. As an author for Bantam's Loveswept line, Jennifer Crusie wrote two romances. She wrote five novels for the Harlequin Temptation line. In 1995, Crusie developed a partnership with St. Martin's Press, and began writing single title novels. Her books are known for their humor, and for the interesting scenarios her heroines are placed in.
Crusie also collaborates with author Bob Mayer on romantic adventure novels, and collaborates with two other authors on a book due in 2007. She has also continued her interest in the academic side of fiction. She published a book of literary criticism on Anne Rice under the name Jennifer Smith.
Although she remains ABD on her Ph.D. in Feminist Criticism from Ohio State University, she has written a a book of literary criticism on Anne Rice (see below) and contributed to the growing body of academic work studying romance fiction. She is known throughout the industry as a generous mentor, while her readers are attracted to her smart, funny style.
- Agnes And The Hitman - August 2007, co-written with Bob Mayer (St. Martin's Press)
- Anyone But You - 1996 (Love And Laughter), 2006, hardcover by HQN
- Bet Me - 2004 (St. Martin's Press)
- Charlie All Night - January 1996 (Harlequin Temptation #570), reissued MIRA 2004
- Cinderella Deal, The - October 1996 (Loveswept #807)
- Crazy For You - 1999 (St. Martin's Press)
- Dogs & Goddesses - Feb 2009, co-written with Lani Diane Rich and Anne Stuart
- Don't Look Down - 2006, co-written with Bob Mayer (St. Martin's Press), paperback 2007
- Faking It - 2002 (St. Martin's Press)
- Fast Women - 2001 (St. Martin's Press)
- Getting Rid Of Bradley - February 1994 (Harlequin Temptation #480); Reissued MIRA 2001
- Manhunting - October 1993 (Harlequin Temptation #463); reissued MIRA 2000
- Strange Bedpersons - December 1994 (Harlequin Temptation #520); reissued MIRA 2003
- Tell Me Lies - 1998 (St. Martin's Press)
- Trust Me On This - July 1997 (Loveswept #843)
- Unfortunate Miss Fortunes, The - June 2007, co-written with Eileen Dreyer and Anne Stuart
- Welcome To Temptation - 2000 (St. Martin's Press)
- What The Lady Wants - June 1995 (Harlequin Temptation #544); reissued MIRA 2002
- Anne Rice: A Critical Companion - 1996; Greenwood Press; Published under Jennifer Smith
- Coffee at Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest - 2007; Benbella Books; Jennifer Crusie, Editor: essays about the Gilmore Girls television show
- Flirting with Pride and Prejudice : Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece - 2005; Benbella Books; Jennifer Crusie, Editor
- Totally Charmed: Demons, Whitelighters and the Power of Three - 2005; Benbella Books; Jennifer Crusie, Editor
- Sizzle - a novella, 1994
- "Hot Toy", novella part of the Santa Baby anthology - 2006; St. Martin's Press paperback
- 2005 RITA® in the Best Contemporary Single Title category for Bet Me.
- 1995 RITA® in the Short Contemporary category for Getting Rid Of Bradley
- 1995 Career Achievement Award Winner - Romantic Times Magazine - Series Romance Love & Laughter
- 1996 RRA Awards Winner - Best Series/Category Romance Author
- 1995 RRA Awards Winner - Best Series/Category Author
- 1994 RRA Awards Nominee - Best Series/Category Author
Like many authors, Jennifer Crusie taps certain elements and themes from story-to-story. She recombines these in new and different ways while continuing to explore her signature themes.
Jennifer Crusie novels often feature dogs as characters. Her ability to make canines come alive on the page has often lead to readers to refer to Anyone But You as "Fred's book". The depressed half-basset hound, half-beagle steals every scene he's in.
A stray dog also plays a key role in Crusie's breakout classic Welcome To Temptation. Other Crusie books featuring dogs in major roles include Charlie All Night, Crazy For You -- the dog leads to a break-up.
Her depiction of dogs draws on her experiences with her own dogs. Cats also feature in a number of her books, in Strange Bedpersons, The Cinderella Deal and Bet Me, and again she acknowledges that she's been influenced by her pets.
A key aspect of Jennifer Crusie's work is family ties. Her heroines tend to come from slightly eccentric yet strongly bonded families. The concept of family extends to close friendships.
Crusie's heroines tend to have strong friendships with other women. These friendships are integral to the story.