Issue 3  |  July 19, 2002

The Inside Story on Authors of MOVING FICTION

Interview by Diane Eble

I remember writing up the feature story on the first Left Behind book by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, some seven years ago, for PageTurner's Journal (the original print edition). I remember it well because I was in the hospital, trying to stave off early labor with my second child, and I had a deadline. In that hot summer of 1995, neither Jerry, Tim nor I had any idea what lay ahead for this series.

PageTurner's Journal wanted to catch up with Jerry Jenkins, who of course is the one who writes the novels based on Tim LaHaye's outline of end-times events.

PTJ: You have just published the 10th book in the phenomenal Left Behind series. Looking back, had you any idea it would turn into this? What are your thoughts about how things have turned out?

JJ: The success of the Left Behind series (ten books so far, with The Remnant that just came out) is an author's dream. But though I had a feeling we had something special when I was writing, I had no idea what that would mean.

I was not prepared for the outpouring of emotional stories from readers every day, stories that are humbling. It seems every book has its own network of friends and neighbors and loved ones, and each of those readers has a story too.

The scope of the books' impact hits me on a different level than just the personal satisfaction a writer feels about a book's success. When Tim LaHaye first asked me to write novels to fit his view of the end times, I was moved by his deep longing to win souls. He also dreamed of inspiring believers to live in the light of the imminent return of Christ. To hear people say that they or someone they gave a book to has come to Christ far outweighs any sales or compliments. You quickly realize you've been allowed on God's turf, and what a privilege that is. You can only marvel at what God has done and feel grateful to be involved.

PTJ: You've written many, many other books besides the Left Behind series. Is there anything different about writing these books?

JJ: I felt from the first an inadequacy to do justice to the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the Second Coming. That trepidation forced me to rely on God as never before in the writing process.

I've also encountered more spiritual warfare than with any other books. Weird things happen whenever I go to write a Left Behind book. Computer glitches. Illness. One time, three of the subcontractors working on my office building got in car wrecks. That seems too excessive to be mere coincidence. I always feel tremendous mental and physical pressure when I'm writing this series. It feels like frontlines work, spiritually speaking. To counteract the oppression, I ask a few close friends and family members to pray for me during these writing periods.

PTJ: Do you think the fact that you use fiction to convey the biblical perspective on the end times has much to do with the series' popularity?

JJ: Yes, I do. Fiction has a unique role in conveying Truth. In fact, only fiction that is Truth with a capital T is worthwhile.

Ironically, in today's marketplace successful nonfiction has to be unbelievable, while successful fiction must be believable. Left Behind takes what to some people may be unbelievable predictions from the Bible and shows how they might play out. It makes the events of biblical prophecy understandable and thus believable.

Good fiction must be entertaining, but what makes fiction special—and True—is that the realness of a novel allows it to carry a larger message. Our goal for Left Behind was to make the most cataclysmic events that will ever happen-the Rapture of the Church, the Great Tribulation, the Second Coming of Christ-come to life for the reader. As long as we don't violate the reader's proverbial "willing suspension of disbelief," we have captivated a mind with Truth.

PTJ: Talk about the ministry value you've seen from the series. Do you have any memorable examples?

JJ: Tim and I have heard from at least 3,000 people who have said they have committed their lives to Christ as a result of this series. One of the saddest and most moving concerns a teenager who was away from God and the church and was running with a bad crowd. He read Left Behind and told his parents they didn't need to worry about him any more. He said he was saving his money to buy a box of the books to give them to his friends. Before he could do that, he was killed in a car accident, so his parents bought the books and gave them to his friends at his funeral. Several of them became believers through that.

PTJ: Are you getting tired of the series?

JJ: Not at all! There are always new characters to invent, new surprises to encounter as I write. I don't know what will happen to the characters until I start writing. Once the story is set in motion, characters and plot take on a life of their own. Discovering what happens is as much fun for me as it is for readers. I don't kill my characters off; I find them dead.

Besides, the books are moving toward a great climax. Tim LaHaye has been studying prophecy his whole life, and he's more excited about it than ever. It's probably because, though this is fiction, it's going to happen to somebody someday. It's Truth with a capital T.


While taking care of some odds and ends the other night, a word I haven't used in ages popped into my head: juxtapose. I don't know if this happens to you but for some unknown reason this is a common occurrence with me. I'll be walking along minding my own business and a word or phrase will take the liberty of jumping into my head without any invitation; catchy music tunes I can understand, but words? Who gets words stuck in their brain? So while other people are walking down the street whistling or humming a tune, I'm walking around muttering a word to myself over and over again and thinking of different ways to use it causing me to receive amused (and sometimes alarmed) stares from passersby ... but I digress.

To juxtapose. Isn't that what seminal literature is all about, taking layers of make believe and truth and combining them, using them to either compliment or highlight differences, the end product a work that influences lives in both subliminal and explicit ways? This is what keeps us reading; it is this juxtaposition of truth and fiction that sometimes leaves us deep in thought, restless, troubled or happy, after we've finished a great piece of literature.

Melody Carlson's book, (Looking for Cassandra Jane) is a great example of how truth and fiction can intertwine to show us that God's redeeming grace and strength is for everybody. As you read this book and others this summer take the time to think about how fiction and reality juxtapose with each other. Godspeed.

(post your thoughts on the message board)

- Weykyoi Victor Kore


The Remnant makes the New York Times Bestseller list

Christian Booksellers Association

The Christy Awards - the Best in Christian Fiction


Great site for Christian writers

Publishers Weekly religion section


The USA Today Book Section

The Remnant makes the New York Times Bestseller list

Christian Booksellers Association


"A novel is the chance to try on a different life for size."
- Marion C. Garretty

"Outside of a dog, a book is probably man's best friend; inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
- Groucho Marx

"Literature shows us not something that has happened, but the kind of thing that might happen."
- Aristotle

Melody Carlson

Written in first-person, memoir style, this is the heart-touching story of Cass Maxwell, a girl struggling to find her identity during the turbulent sixties and seventies. Forced to make her own way from childhood, Cass's strength of spirit lifts her above her circumstances as God calls her to a life of hope and freedom.

"Cassandra Jane is unforgettable!"
- Robin Lee Hatcher




The role of today's writer of Inspirational fiction is to bring your reader to the point of seeing God's hand in everything. He is in control, even in those situations that we find it hard to accept, as in the Palestinian Issue.... by doris


return to: Jerry B. Jekins' Revealed Left Behind Agenda: They Want You to Believe it is "Truth With a Capital T"

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Liberty To The Captives Established in June 2001