Please Welcome…Jerry B. Jenkins
(*Originally posted October 2006)
This month we have bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins as our interview guest. Personally, I feel that the work Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye did on the Left Behind series is the reason most Christian novelists are able to get paid to write their stories.
That series opened so many doors for us. Suddenly publishers wanted Christian fiction. Companies began to publish fiction even if they’d never done so before. Editors got hired, fiction cover design became important, and many, many Christian novelists found publishers astonishingly open to what, not long before, publishers hadn’t wanted to even sniff.
Not only did these books open doors for Christian writers, it opened doors for the gospel to be spread to millions, resulting in an untold number of redeemed souls and rescued families. Praise God for the witness Jerry Jenkins has had as a result of this fiction
I credit the success of the Left Behind series for widening the portal that Frank Peretti’s books had begun to open.
And once again, the books that made things happen for Christian fiction were speculative. (I love it.)
Mr. Jenkins was gracious enough to participate in this interview, and I am deeply grateful for his time.
But Mr. Jenkins’ generosity didn’t stop there. When he heard what WhereTheMapEnds was going to be, he asked if I’d like to run a little-known speculative short story of his, too. I said, “Are you kidding? Yes!” You can read Mr. Jenkins’ gift to us right here.
And now the interview.
WhereTheMapEnds: Catch us up with you. What have you been up to lately?
Jerry B. Jenkins: More than you need is at www.jerryjenkins.com, but I like to emphasize my latest book, Writing for the Soul (Writer’s Digest Books). Stephen King says: “I loved it. So full of anecdote and humor.”
WhereTheMapEnds: What is your favorite speculative novel of all time (Christian or secular) and why is that your favorite?
WhereTheMapEnds: What made you want to write Christian speculative fiction?
Jerry B. Jenkins: I just love to tell stories and try to write stuff I would want to read. Then I hope there are lots of other readers like me. I make no apologies for writing to the masses. I am one of them.
WhereTheMapEnds: How was your first idea for a Christian speculative novel received (by anyone: spouse, friends, parents, agent, publisher, readers, reviewers, etc.)?
Jerry B. Jenkins: I’d have to say Tyndale’s initial enthusiasm for Left Behind was prescient.
[Editor’s note: “prescient” means “perceiving the significance of events before they occur.”]
WhereTheMapEnds: What is your favorite speculative genre to read? To write? If they’re different, talk about that.
Jerry B. Jenkins: I love what I call realistic fantasy. My ‘Twas the Night Before was an allegory of faith, postulating that Santa Clause is real. One who believed in him without seeing him benefited, while one who had to encounter him had to see to believe. The fun is trying to realistically portray characters’ reactions to the unexplainable.
WhereTheMapEnds: Very cool. So, how would you characterize the current state of Christian speculative fiction writing and/or publishing?
Jerry B. Jenkins: I can see it coming on as a much more popular genre, probably due to increased attention to Lord of the Rings and Narnia. Mr. Chris Fabry and I are working on a Lewis-style series for kids, and we feel we really have something special.
WhereTheMapEnds: What encourages you about Christian speculative writing and/or publishing?
Jerry B. Jenkins: More young people ask about it and want to write it, and they will not be denied.
WhereTheMapEnds: What have you seen that discourages or frustrates you about Christian speculative fiction writing and/or publishing?
Jerry B. Jenkins: Regardless of genre, we need writers who recognize that they must always grow and improve. Just because a genre becomes popular doesn’t mean everything written will be or should be accepted. The writing itself must be top shelf.
WhereTheMapEnds: What would you like to see changed regarding Christian speculative fiction writing and/or publishing?
Jerry B. Jenkins: Publishers need to awaken to the market for it; editors need to educate themselves in the genre; and writers need to settle for nothing less than their best.
WhereTheMapEnds: Amen. Preach it, brother! Okay, can you be “prescient” a moment and tell us what you think Christian speculative fiction writing and/or publishing will look like in three years? Five years? Ten years?
Jerry B. Jenkins: It would be exciting to see it become a viable genre within the Christian fiction category. So much can be communicated and taught through this kind of writing.
WhereTheMapEnds: What advice would you give to someone who aspires to write and publish Christian speculative fiction?
Jerry B. Jenkins: Believe in yourself and don’t be denied. Learn and grow and develop a thick skin, then write so well that editors can’t ignore your work, even if they are not yet up to speed on the genre.
WhereTheMapEnds: What’s the best book or seminar on fiction writing you know?
Jerry B. Jenkins: Sol Stein’s Fiction Workshop.
[Editor’s note: click here to go to Sol Stein’s Web page.]
WhereTheMapEnds: What’s the best part about writing and publishing Christian speculative fiction?
Jerry B. Jenkins: Hearing from readers that your work has connected with them
WhereTheMapEnds: What writing project(s) are you working on now?
Jerry B. Jenkins: The Jesus Chronicles (first of four novels with Tim LaHaye, John’s Story/The Last Eyewitness), to release from Putnam in November.
Kingdom Come (the final Left Behind sequel), to release from Tyndale in the spring of 2007.
And Since Frankfurt (working title), international spy thriller, to release from Tyndale in 2007.
WhereTheMapEnds: What’s the best speculative story (Christian or secular, book or otherwise) you’ve encountered lately?
Jerry B. Jenkins: The Lake House.
[Editor’s note: this is a 2006 speculative-themed film starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock.]
WhereTheMapEnds: What else would you like to say to the readers of WhereTheMapEnds.com?
Jerry B. Jenkins: Keep reading. And try writing.
That’s All for This Time
What a wonderful interview! Thanks again to Mr. Jenkins. Be sure to visit him at his home on the Web: www.jerrykenkins.com.
And don’t forget to read the speculative short story by Jerry Jenkins.