|Jerry 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.
His writing has appeared in publications as varied as Time magazine, Reader’s Digest, Parade, Guideposts, and dozens of other periodicals. Jenkins’s biographies include books with Billy Graham, Hank Aaron, Bill Gaither, Luis Palau, Walter Payton, Orel Hershiser, and Nolan Ryan, among many others. His books appear regularly on the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists. He holds two honorary doctorates, one from Bethel College and one from Trinity International University. 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 Exclusive Interview with Jerry Jenkins
What is your favorite Bible verse?
Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven."
What inspired the concept for Riven?
Ironically, a crucifix. I was raised in the Protestant tradition but happened to be at a retreat in a Catholic facility and really studied a crucifix for the first time. It spawned an idea for a novel that stayed with me for decades.
Is any part of Riven factual?
No. The police procedure, the prison details, and even church politics are as real as I could make them, but the plot itself is entirely a creation.
How closely is Riven based on your life experiences?
I feel as if I know these characters, as they are based on real life people (composites, of course), but the story is beyond my personal experience.
How long did Riven take you to complete?
The characters and the plot have been with me for decades, and it is the longest book I have ever written. The actual writing took the better part of a year.
What is the symbolism for the title Riven?
Those familiar with the lyrics of Rock of Ages will recognize the archaic word referring to Christ’s "riven" side. It means torn or ripped, in His case by the spear of a Roman soldier after His death on the cross. In my story it refers to everything torn asunder by sin and crime – people, relationships, the status quo.
Do you have a favorite character in Riven? Why?
I am partial to both the chaplain, Thomas Carey, and main character Brady Darby’s Aunt Lois. Both of these are salt-of-the-earth church-going saints of the type I grew up with.
Why is this particular book so special to you?
I judge the value of a fiction idea by how long it stays with me and how often I am tempted to bounce the story off my inner circle. This idea has been with me longer than any other ever, and my enthusiasm for telling the story never flagged.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Like most others, I battle procrastination, busy-ness, and distractions. There is still enough media attention on Left Behind that my schedule is rarely my own. But I believe we find time to do what we really want to do, and telling this story fell into that category.
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
Writing is the hardest thing I do. Having written is the most fun.
What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants? Or somewhere in between?)
I find that about half of novelists are outliners and the others work without a safety net. I definitely fit into the latter category. Stephen King describes it as putting interesting characters into difficult situations and writing to find out what happens. I call it writing as a process of discovery. If it is serendipitous and surprising to me, it should be the same to the reader.
Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?
Absolutely. They say what they want to say and do what they want to do. Often I find myself thinking, Really? Where is this leading? And then I enjoy finding out.
Is this book the beginning of a series?
What other new projects do you have on the horizon?
Dr. LaHaye and I are in the middle of the Jesus Chronicles series, fiction based on the gospels. John’s Story released in 2006; Mark’s Story was published in 2007; Luke’s Story is scheduled for a March 2008 release; and we will finish with Matthew’s Story.
How many books will be in the Jesus Chronicles series?
Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?
My mother was a lover of words and a bit of a linguist. And one of my early mentors was Stanley C. Baldwin, who was my boss at Scripture Press in the early 1970s and really taught me to self-edit.
What message would you like your readers to take from Riven?
That there is forgiveness for even the most heinous sin, and that Jesus endured the ultimate in physical suffering for us.
What is your greatest achievement?
Having a happy wife and three grown sons who love God.
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
What do you do to get away from it all?
I love to read, watch movies, and visit my kids and grandkids.