Twas the Night Before: A Love Story

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December 1998

Jerry Jenkins has written more than 120 books and is best known for his Left Behind series, which includes Left Behind, Tribulation, Nicolae, and Soul Harvest. With his most recent book, 'Twas the Night Before, the talented storyteller has written a Dickensian tale that will touch the heart and rekindle faith in love.

Noella and Tom are engaged to be married. Noella, a journalism professor at ...

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December 1998

Jerry Jenkins has written more than 120 books and is best known for his Left Behind series, which includes Left Behind, Tribulation, Nicolae, and Soul Harvest. With his most recent book, 'Twas the Night Before, the talented storyteller has written a Dickensian tale that will touch the heart and rekindle faith in love.

Noella and Tom are engaged to be married. Noella, a journalism professor at Northwestern University, and Tom, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, both think they have found something special following several failed relationships. However, as Christmas approaches, they discover differences in their personalities -- Noella is the eternal optimist, Tom a thoroughgoing pessimist. When Noella insists that a silver medallion she received as a child was actually given to her by Santa Claus, Tom begins to wonder how someone who has a Ph.D. in journalism can continue to believe in a childhood fantasy.

Unfortunately, Noella and Tom can't get past this and other disagreements, and they begin to realize they are just too dissimilar to get married. Heartbroken, Tom heads to the Black Forest in Germany to write a story for the Tribune about Father Christmas. What he sees changes his life and restores his faith in more than Santa.

With books that have topped the religious-fiction bestseller lists, Jerry Jenkins is far from a one-dimensional writer. His work ranges from children's books to biographies (he assisted Billy Graham with his bestseller Just As I Am) to stories and articles in periodicals such as The Reader's Digest.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
It's a mismatch made in Heaven. Tom Douten is the eternal cynic, his fiancee Noella Wright the always-joyful optimist. But when he bah-humbugs Noella's belief in Santa Claus, she breaks off their engagement, and Tom flies to Germany to research the Santa myth. What he discovers there opens his heart and mind to the spirit of Christmas.
Kirkus Reviews
Charming Christmas novel for cynics. Tom Douten (that is, Doubting Thomas) writes a column for the Chicago Tribune, usually a hard-hitting, often sad story about the poor and needy. He decides to attend an advanced journalism class at Northwestern led by Professor Noella Wright. The two are opposites in temperament: Noella's an optimist, while Tom tends to seek the tragic. And she's got a necklace with a platinum disc on where her birthday is inscribed as December 24th. She tells Tom that Santa gave her the necklace but made a mistake on that date. A doubting Tom decides he wants to research Santa, and gets his editor to finance a trip to the Black Forest (home of Kris Kringle) for an in-depth Christmas piece for the paper. When his small plane goes down over the Black Forest, killing the pilot and another passenger, injured Tom crawls through the forest until he passes out. After he awakens, he's being cared for by Kris Kringle and his wife and helpers, the elves. Kris explains to Tom part of the mix-up about the necklace, then shows Tom how he makes the necklaces. Noella, meanwhile, thinks Tom is dead in the plane crash. Needless to say, things work out, and the reader may even come to believe in KK along the way.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140280920
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/8/1999
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.66 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Interviews & Essays

On Friday, December 11th, welcomed Jerry B. Jenkins to discuss 'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE.

Moderator: Welcome, Jerry Jenkins! Thank you for taking the time to join us online this afternoon. How are you doing today?

Jerry B Jenkins: Hi. We're here.

Travis from Nashville, TN: What to you are the most important elements of a good story?

Jerry B Jenkins: Real, believable people, large life issues, and a goal that keeps readers turning the pages.

Louisse Arnold from Lincoln, Nebraska: Mr. Jenkins, do you prefer writing fiction or nonfiction? Also, I want to tell you how much I enjoyed your book with Billy Graham.

Jerry B Jenkins: Fiction, hands down. It's much more personally fulfilling to have the fun of creating a world and characters and a story. Thanks for your comment about Dr. Graham. Working with him was the privilege of a lifetime. from xx: Good afternoon, Mr. Jenkins. I am a real big fan of your Left Behind series. Do you enjoy writing solo more than in a collaborative effort?

Jerry B Jenkins: Thanks. Actually, even the Left Behind series is a solo effort as it relates to plotting, creating, and writing. I don't believe you can actually collaborate on the writing of fiction. Dr. LaHaye came up with the idea and serves as scholar, prophecy expert, and theologian. He's also my biggest cheerleader.

Lilo from Bradenton, Florida: Hello. Why do you have your main character go to the Black Forest in Germany? I've visited there quite a bit, and it is truly a magical place.

Jerry B Jenkins: You answered your own question. I almost set it in the Black Forest of Colorado Springs, where my wife and I will be moving soon.

Cornelius from Ft. Collins, CO: Do you see any Jerry Jenkins in Tom? Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write such a novel?

Jerry B Jenkins: I would like to think my personality is reflected in Noella, but Tom's journalistic background is actually my own, almost to the last detail. Of course, I did not become a columnist for the Chicago Tribune -- but I would have enjoyed that.

Jim from Aurora, CO: So Jerry, have we as a society lost the meaning behind the holidays?

Jerry B Jenkins: Yes. Truthfully, I hope not. I still see enough people buying gifts as a reflection of God's ultimate gift to us, so I'm still optimistic overall. No question, we have become a secularized society, but that should be no surprise to true believers.

Montgomary from Lexington, KY: Mr. Jenkins, I would love to hear your thoughts on the current state of organized religion here in the United States. Do you think we are heading in the right direction?

Jerry B Jenkins: I'm frankly a little concerned by the fact that much of the media and secular society lump all Christians, assuming we are all ultra-right-wing hate-mongers, intolerant, and unloving. There are wide diversions on the spectrum of evangelical Christians, just as there are in any large group. I'd like to think the majority of Evangelicals are characterized by their love for one another as well as for those they seek to reach with God's message.

Dorothy from Denver: Hello, Jerry Jenkins. I read the front-page article in The New York Times about your Left Behind series and am sort of shocked that you should be on the Times bestseller list, because the Times doesn't count religious bookstores. I know, since I work in a general bookstore, that your book sells other places as well! Anyway, I'm just wondering if you could comment on the Times list's oversight.

Jerry B Jenkins: Until that list draws from a more representative sampling of where books are sold, it's unlikely that overtly Christian books (other than those about people like Billy Graham or famous athletes) will appear. Christian bookstores are still considered specialty stores to The New York Times. It is gratifying to see how popular the Left Behind series has become in secular outlets. Perhaps as it grows in exposure, The New York Times list will have to recognize it. The titles in the four-book series have been averaging sales of tens of thousands per month for more than a year, which would be the envy of all but the very top bestsellers in secular fiction. Tyndale House plans to release 700,000 hardback copies of the fifth book in February, and if they sell out during the first month or two, you just might see APOLLYON recognized even by The New York Times.

Nora from Sudbury, MA: Do you have a favorite Christmas classic?

Jerry B Jenkins: "It's a Wonderful Life." Our family watches it every Christmas Eve and often mouths the dialogue throughout.

Kelly from St. Louis: Did you have a set audience in mind while writing this book?

Jerry B Jenkins: Yes, every English-speaking person on the planet. Seriously, I try to write fiction that I myself would enjoy. If it excites me, I assume the reader will be excited. If it bores me, I assume the reader will be bored. I simply hope there are plenty of normal people like me out there in the book-buying public.

Tonya from Chicago: So you went to Northwestern! Yahoo! Do you have any regrets that you never became a newspaper journalist?

Jerry B Jenkins: Where did you get the idea that I went to Northwestern or that I never became a newspaper journalist? Tom's story is my story. He is not a college graduate. I worked for five newspapers and three magazines before getting into the book-publishing world.

Korbie from Denver, CO: Do you believe in Santa?

Jerry B Jenkins: It depends on what the definition of the word "in" is. Sorry, couldn't resist. I was too old when I learned the truth about Santa. I think I was 19. Just kidding. Actually, I was very disappointed to learn what most adults think about Santa, so 'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE is therapeutic for me. I got to create a world and a story in which Santa is real after all.

Niki from Did you base any of these characters on anybody in particular? Do you ever base characters on real people in your life?

Jerry B Jenkins: Yes and yes. Tom Douten was actually based on New York Times columnist Rick Bragg, with many liberties taken, of course. I have had the privilege of meeting him and telling him that. Only Tom's best traits reflect Rick, of course.

Morgan from Oak Park, IL: Who do you list as your literary influences?

Jerry B Jenkins: Truman Capote (only his writing), Stephen King (I avoid his gory and evil stuff, but I find his general fiction, i.e. THE GREEN MILE, masterpieces), and Rick Bragg (his ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTIN' is so lyrical and haunting that I can only say I wish I'd written it).

Heath from Metaire, LA: Can you tell me a little bit about your writing schedule? Do you write every day?

Jerry B Jenkins: I am motivated by deadlines. I usually write in bursts of concentrated blocks of days wherein whole novels are produced sort of all at once -- at least the first drafts. If it makes you feel any better, I have found that most novelists confess to procrastination. The successful ones learn to overcome it and actually use it to their advantage.

Louisse Arnold from Lincoln: So what was Billy Graham like? Are future writing plans with him?

Jerry B Jenkins: No different in private than in public. Deeply spiritual, humble, kind, loving. No future plans at this point.

Niki from Mr. Jenkins, do you believe in "true love"?

Jerry B Jenkins: I believe in perfect love, which the Bible says casts out all fear. Of course, that is generated by God himself. My wife and I will be married 28 years in January and believe our love is true because it seems to grow every day. It sounds like a cliché, but we find ourselves marveling over the seeming endless capacity to love more than yesterday but less than tomorrow.

Travis from Nashville, TN: I agree with your answer to what makes a good story. How long did it take you before you realized you had the talent to write good stories?

Jerry B Jenkins: At the risk of sounding falsely modest, I remain pleasantly surprised to discover that people enjoy my stories as much as I do. I think maintaining some sense of wonder at one's own creativity is crucial to growing as a writer.

John from Are you online a lot? Do you ever go to the Christian chat rooms?

Jerry B Jenkins: I'm online a lot for research and at the site (my comic strip) and (my own site), but I have never been to a Christian chat room. I'll have to check that out sometime. I do worry about the potential to get addicted to the same and not get my work done.

Richard from Houston: How are you preparing for the year 2000 crisis? I read about you in the Times and was wondering, especially since we're on a computer, what precautions you are taking. Thanks.

Jerry B Jenkins: I am cautiously optimistic. Though one of my good friends is Mike Hyatt (author of THE MILLENNIUM BUG), I want to be safe without being an alarmist. We will probably stockpile a modest supply of necessities and carefully monitor the situation in advance to see if we need to become more aggressive in our preparations come the fall of '99.

H.L. from Hoboken, NJ: I have always thought Santa is a good thing -- because taken in the right light, he embodies what the spirit of giving is about. I think commercialization of the holidays has gotten out of hand, but don't you think that Santa embodies many of the good qualities of Christmas?

Jerry B Jenkins: Exactly. That really is the overarching theme of 'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE. The magic of Christmas is in giving, not getting. At our house, we try to constantly remind one another that giving at Christmas was God's idea.

Pauline from Manhattan: How do you think today's Santa compares to the original St. Nicholas?

Jerry B Jenkins: In my novel, he is, in essence, the same guy. The most commercial view of Santa, who simply gives presents to every good little girl and boy, is a dim reflection of the original, selfless saint.

Tom from Chicago, IL: What are you writing next?

Jerry B Jenkins: The sixth book in the Left Behind for Kids series; the sixth book in the adult Left Behind series (number five, APOLLYON, is finished and will be out in February, and number six, ASSASSINS, is scheduled to be released in August); the first book in the Three Rivers Legacy trilogy (Zondervan), THOUGH NONE GO WITH ME, which should release in late spring.

Moderator: Thank you, Jerry B. Jenkins! Best of luck with 'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE. Do you have any closing comments for the online audience?

Jerry B Jenkins: Thanks for having me. I'll try to write answers to the remaining questions, so they might appear on your web site later. If anyone would like to ask me questions directly, they should contact us through Thanks again.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2002

    What a great book!

    I can't say enough about this book. It was just a wonderful find at Barnes and Noble. Every year during the month of December I go to find a couple of books that revolve around Christmas time and this was on the bargin table. The story is timeless. It is more than a well written love story, it just makes you start to believe in Santa Claus all over again. Read it you won't be sorry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 1999

    Do you believe?

    'Twas the Night Before is a magical book for those of us who still believe (and always will),for the skeptics who aren't sure, and for the Scrooge's. The story will bring a heart transformation, with out having to be visited by the 3 spirits like Ebenezer. Everyone needs to read, enjoy and maybe discover...

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