The Last OperativeThe Last Operative
Jerry B. Jenkins
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Jordan Kirkwood wants to go quietly into the sunset. His career as an NSA intelligence officer has taken a significant toll. His two adult children are little more than distant acquaintances. His wife has been patient and supportive, but he knows she has deserved better. That was part of the reason they were going to London. He wanted her to see Europe like a tourist. But that was before he was given intelligence information during the recent mission to Germany. The threat is grave-bigger than 9/11. And the risk is compounded by the fact that someone inside the NSA is involved. The most hidden place in Kirkwood's past will have to be unmasked in order to meet the challenges of this mission.
     

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Jerry JenkinsJerry B. Jenkins is the writer of the Left Behind series. He owns the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, an organization dedicated to mentoring aspiring authors, as well as Jenkins Entertainment, a filmmaking company. Former vice president of publishing for the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, he also served many years as editor of Moody magazine and is now Moody’s writer-at-large. Jerry and his wife, Dianna, live in Colorado and have three grown sons and four grandchildren.

Favorite Verse: Matthrew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven."


 

 Our Interview with Jerry B. Jenkins


 

Jerry B. Jenkins [sorry, but there’s a Jerry Jenkins who writes books about using human fertilizer in third world countries; some critics have referred to my work as human fertilizer, but alas, he’s not me so I use the “B”. ]

What inspired the concept for the The Last Operative?

I recall just wanting to do an escapist type story. I usually write on huge themes with big concepts. And now the time seems right to resurrect that idea, what with the economy and all our other distractions.

How did you choose the settings?

Many of them were places I have visited. If not, they are places I have carefully researched. There’s nothing worse than pretending to evoke an exotic locale and find out you have your hero driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

How long did the The Last Operative take you to complete?
 
The original took about four months. The re-write about the same.

Did you do a complete rewrite of the original story to incorporate the concept to eliminate the “he said,” “she said” in The Last Operative?

No, that actually existed in the original, and not one person noticed. I considered that a huge success.

How closely was the The Last Operative related to your own life? Do you have any NSA training in your background?

No, I’m a true Walter Mitty. I live through my characters. In real life I’m largely invisible.

(Editor's note: Hardly! If you've ever met Jerry B. Jenkins, he's a wonderful man with a magnetic personality that can't be missed even if he wants to be invisible!)

How did you choose the composition of the characters?

I mix and match. My hero might have one person’s eyes, another’s mouth, another’s gender, another’s height, another’s personality, another’s manner of speech. My late mother said she could see me in every character, but I’m guessing she’s the only one who could.

 

Do you have a favorite character in the The Last Operative?  Why?

I like Jordan’s Uncle. Seems like a cool old guy.

How much research did the The Last Operative take?

Quite a bit. I had to do a lot of reading to get the NSA stuff right. It’s not like they offer tours. 

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing the The Last Operative?

The layers of bureaucracy astounded me. It’s amazing that such a cumbersome agency gets anything done, and yet they do.

What new projects do you have on the horizon?

I’m writing a cop trilogy set in Chicago. I come from a law enforcement family. My dad was a career police chief and my two older brothers were lifetime cops. The first, The Brotherhood / A Precinct 11 Novel, will release in February.


Please tell us a bit about how you founded the Christian Writers Guild and why.

Actually I didn’t found it; I bought it from my old friend and mentor Norman Rohrer, who had founded it in the 1960’s and handled all the instruction by snail mail. I had the courses rewritten, reproduced Norm 40+ times with hand-picked mentors, hired seven full-time staffers, did some heavy advertising and switched the format to all e-mail. My goal is to give back and to restock the pool of Christian writers.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
 
Time is an issue, as I own CWG and Jenkins Entertainment, and the media demands are great because of the visibility of the Left Behind series. But I’m not complaining. I wouldn’t trade this life.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

Having written. The writing itself is hard and grueling, and more so all the time. I’m working on my 176th book, and my standards and demands on myself increase with each one. There’s nothing like being done, and then meeting readers personally.

 

What is your writing style?   (Do you outline?  Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants?  (Or somewhere in between?)

Definitely the latter. I try to put interesting characters in difficult situations and then write to find out what happens. It’s intuitive for me, and while it often feels as if I’m a trapeze artist without a net, it seems to work. I’m often as surprised or disappointed as the reader, and I think that serendipity helps. If I don’t know what’s coming, the reader shouldn’t either.

When someone asks why I killed off their favorite character, I say, “I didn’t kill him off; I found him dead.”

How does your writing style differ from writing alone to writing with a partner?

I always write alone. In the case of the Left Behind series, Dr. LaHaye generated the idea and served as the theologian/scholar/prophecy expert/cheerleader, but I got the fun part. I did all the writing.

Did your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?

I hope so. That’s the goal. When readers tell me they caught themselves praying for fictitious people, I know I succeeded. 

Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?

I’m a big devotee of The Elements of Style (Strunk and White), especially the rule that follows its own advice: Omit Needless Words. I’m a minimalist, trying to inspire readers to use the theater of their own minds.

What message would you like your readers to take from the The Last Operative?

What should set apart the Christian novelist from the secular is a worldview that includes hope. I’m so tired of gritty, realistic, depressing, life’s-awful-and-then-you-die fiction. How about gritty, realistic, life’s-awful-but-because-of-God-there’s-hope fiction?

What is your greatest achievement?

Never missing one of my three sons’ important events – games, plays, performances, etc., etc., despite averaging five books a year for more than 30 years. Kids hear what you say (“You’re my top priority”), but they believe what you do (maintaining a policy of never writing when they were at home and awake). They are now grown and gone and we’re still very close.
And I’m looking forward to Dianna’s and my 40th anniversary in January. Once I met her, no other woman has even turned my head.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

To use fiction to tell truth with a capital T and to never bore.

What do you do to get away from it all?

I love seeing the grandkids, movies, reading, traveling. Dianna and I will visit Beijing for the first time to celebrate our 40th.

 


 

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