|Had she followed her original career path, Jennifer Crusie would now be working in academia rather than regularly seeing her name on the bestseller lists. The romance author was born Jennifer Smith in Wapakoneta, Ohio. (After she began to write, she adopted Crusie, her grandmother's maiden name, as her pen name.) She was a bookish child who knew from an early age that she wanted to become a teacher. For a doctoral degree in feminist criticism and 19th-century literature at Ohio State University, she chose as her thesis topic the impact of gender on narrative style. In the interest of research, she decided to read 100 romance novels written by women and 100 action-adventure books written by men. Relatively unfamiliar with the romance genre, she quickly found herself hooked. "I was just amazed by how powerful and feminist they were, even the ones that weren't well-written," she told an interviewer. "There is something at the base of the romance story that is a kind of anti-toxin to the garbage that the world throws at women every day." She subsequently abandoned her thesis plans in order to write her own romance. Although her first effort was rejected by publishers, her second, SIZZLE, was purchased by Silhouette in 1992. Crusie started selling series romances on a regular basis, and in 1995 she began to write single-title novels for St. Martin's Press. She now sometimes collaborates with other authors, and under the name Jennifer Smith, she has written a book of literary criticism about the work of novelist Anne Rice. Her novels vary widely in setting and sub-genre, and in addition to conventional romances, she has penned romantic paranormals and action-adventures. Despite that variety, the books all display the humor and intelligence that have become Crusie's hallmark.