New York Times Best Selling Novelist and Biographer, Jerry B. Jenkins is in the House!
Name: Jerry Bruce Jenkins
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Featured Book: The Valley of the Dry Bones
Birthday: September 23, 1949 (Jerry shares a b’day with Bruce Springsteen – that’s one reason why I sometimes call Jerry “The Boss”)
Place of Birth: Kalamazoo, MI
Fondest Childhood Memory: Being on the Michigan State Championship Little League team at age 12.
Writer’s Associations: Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild / Board of Trustees, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago
Marital Status: Married / Dianna 1/23/71
Children: 3 Sons / Dallas, Chad, Mike
Grandchildren: 8 total / 3 adopted
Pets: Bronco the cat
Fav Something and Why: My ring. (Watch Jerry’s interview to see the ring and learn its significance.)
Every Writer’s Journey
Your perfect writing environment: The cave is 85 miles from home and office, and has 360-degree mountain view. No music or distractions and a jar filled with sharpened pencils. I have to have everyone of them sharpened before I can start writing. And who uses pencils to write anymore?
Do you enjoy reading? Writers are readers; good writers are good readers; great writers are great readers.
Who? Greatest living writer, in my opinion, is Rick Bragg, and I recommend his memoir, All Over but the Shoutin’, to every writer.
Estimate how many books you read per year: About one per week.
How much do you read your Bible? Every other year I read it cover to cover.
The ONE book you always wanted to write and have published. Did you do it? Oh, yes. Riven.
In The Valley of the Dry Bones, the main character Ezekiel Thorppe has a specific morning routine. What’s your morning routine? When not on deadline: breakfast watching the first 15 minutes of The Today Show. Then work on laptop in the house until my assistants arrive at the office at 8 a.m. Then to the office, which I call The Writing Stable, 40 steps across the driveway, where I do everything but write… When on deadline, at the cave, same preliminaries, but go immediately to my desk at 8:15.
Other Book Titles: There are 189 of them. (Click to view Jerry’s Book List – it’s awesome! AND Watch the interview to hear a funny story about reading on an airplane.)
Several years ago, I met Jerry B. Jenkins through his Christian Writers Guild and Writing For The Soul Conference. He was one of my writing mentors. Little did I know then, the stature of the writer that was easily one of the most honest and gracious of mentors. Jerry actually critiqued a sample of my writing once–he helped thicken my skin. Ouch! But in a good way. I’m a better writer today, for that honest ouch.
Jerry’s books have sold over 70 million copies to date, and I know he plans to add to the total of 189 books he’s written thus far. You might have read his Left Behind series with Tim LaHaye, or his book with Billy Graham – Just As I Am. The first book I read by Jerry, before I knew him, wasOrel Hershiser – Out of the Blue. I helped make this book his first New York Times Best Seller. His most recent non-fiction offering, The Matheny Manifesto, has been on the New York Times Best Seller List for over a year. In our video interview (coming July 27th), he reveals the one novel he always wanted to write. I read that one too! Jerry has been writing since he was a kid, and still maintains passion for his profession. Because he too had great mentors, he has as a personal mission to pass on what he has learned to others. “We want to resupply the pool of good Christian writers, because none of us will be around forever.”
I don’t know how I got so fortunate to have Jerry B. Jenkins visit my little corner of the world, but I’m confident you’ll enjoy getting to know Jerry through his Author Essentials page, and through the video interview where we talk about his latest book, The Valley of the Dry Bones. We also talk about the writer’s life and he reveals some of the method he uses for writing non-fiction – super helpful. You will engage with Jerry’s great storytelling ability, his approachable demeanor, his knowledge of the writing world and his fun, dry sense of humor.
Watch for Jerry’s interview coming July 27th: And many thanks to Matt Lempert of First Image Management – I appreciate your help in making this happen with your technical contribution.
REVIEW: The Valley of the Dry Bones
Jerry B. Jenkins’ newest novel had me at hello! Or rather, at KATASHI AKI trying to maneuver a “beastly sanitation truck through the same gate of the same parking lot of the same building of the same industrial park” toward the garbage bins while shooing kids away “who even now were scrambling over the chain link fence to climb the truck.” The emotional inciting incident that follows, sets the stage for this some-time-in-the-future, dystopian California, that due to 17 years of drought, wildfires and devastating earthquakes has been deemed an uninhabitable disaster area by the US Government, and evacuated of 99% of her citizens. Being a former California resident, and having heard all the doomsday predictions, culminating with the entire state falling into the ocean, I thought the idea of an abandoned California was a novel one. Yeah, pun intended.
For me, this book did not read like an end times story, but rather an ‘our times’ story where ordinary people choose to live and serve others while at great cost to themselves, enduring very difficult circumstances. If I were to pitch this story to a movie producer, I’d say it’s like Mad Max meets End of the Spear.
The Valley of the Dry Bones has a diverse group of characters (the HOLDOUTS), gun-toting missionaries who live underground, in the middle of a wasteland, their survival threatened by (MONGERS)—marauders who take whatever they can get and never ask permission. Hence the Holdouts live guarded and hidden lives. Food is scarce. Water is the most valuable commodity and the dubious (WATDOC) is the lead hydro-capitalist, making his living by peddling water at exorbitant prices to those who cannot afford it, but cannot afford to live without it. His character transformation is my favorite. The Holdouts live within reach of the “easy” life—normal civilization with all its luxuries. They are criticized for their extreme acts of faith even by their closest family members. However, the Holdouts choose to ignore criticism and endure in order to follow God’s call.
(EZEKIEL “ZEKE” THORPPE) isn’t proud of the fact that he was forced to kill a Monger who drew-down on him. He also doesn’t understand why now, God has singled him out for a specific mission, and has begun preparing him by speaking audibly, and proving HIS words are true. The extraordinary thing is, Zeke obeys God, and therefore learns God can be trusted to do what He says He will do. When I read the initial conversation, the way Jerry wrote and formatted the dialogue, it surprised me. I experienced with Zeke the discovery that it was God’s voice he was hearing and not that of an intruder or his own hallucination.
The Holdouts are a microcosm for the church with all its diversity, fervor, flaws, failings and varying degrees of faith. I found Jerry’s extensive use of scripture to be refreshing to my soul. This is not a thump-you-over-the-head-with-my-Bible book, rather the words and actions were in keeping with the characters, and demonstrated a gracious degree of religious tolerance. This book delivers the gospel message in a unique and surprising way. I think everyone, believer or non-believer, will find it interesting; and the story as a whole engaging.
Jerry’s book shows the beauty of forgiveness, the benefits of fidelity, and the rewards of faith. There were moments of great sadness, I cried several times, moments of insight and moments where I chuckled—particularly enjoyed WatDoc. In the midst of grief, loss, illness, obnoxious ambition, danger, injustice, uncertainty and possible death, Jerry allows the better angels of our nature to triumph and the godly values we want to see upheld in life to prevail. The book ends with hope. It was an entertaining read that was also educating and encouraging. Perfect for me.
In a day when violence is more apt to be the response for injury than sacrificial love, Jerry reminds us, no matter our circumstances, as we pass through this valley of dry bones, we must be willing and able to offer the water of the word of God to those who are hurting, and/or in need of refreshment. I saw myself in many of the characters (mostly in their flaws and weaknesses) and found wisdom, instruction and solutions for my own failings in their actions. Well done, Jerry. A good escape read, and a great read to give someone who needs encouragement.