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Meet the WritersImage of Jerry B. Jenkins & Tim LaHaye
Jerry B. Jenkins & Tim LaHaye
Sometimes, while sitting on airplanes, evangelical preacher Tim LaHaye would ask himself, “What if the Rapture occurred on an airplane?" That germ of an idea grew into the phenomenally successful Left Behind series, which LaHaye coauthors with fiction writer Jerry B. Jenkins. The books combine Biblical prophecy with speculative fiction to produce an action-packed thriller about events between the Rapture, when (according to one Christian tradition) the faithful will ascend to heaven, and the Second Coming.

Before the series began, Jenkins had carved out a career writing other people's autobiographies -- he ghostwrote or co-wrote those of Billy Graham, Orel Herschiser, Hank Aaron, and Nolan Ryan, among others -- as well as writing novels and a few inspirational books on marriage and parenting. Tim LaHaye also wrote books on marriage and faith, served as the pastor for a ministry in California, and co-founded The Pre-Trib Research Center, a Bible scholarship group dedicated to the study of end-times prophecy. LaHaye spent several years searching for a coauthor who could take his vision of the earth's last days -- including that intriguing image of passengers vanishing from an airplane -- and spin it into fiction. Finally, LaHaye and Jenkins were introduced by their mutual literary agent at Alive Communications, and Jenkins began writing the story of airline captain Rayford Steele, whose wife and son vanish along with millions of other true believers. Those "left behind" on Earth have a last chance to choose sides in the ensuing battle between good and evil.

The books became a blockbuster hit. Sales of the Left Behind series soared with each successive volume, and by 2001, ABC News reported, 50 million had been sold. "The formula combines Tom Clancy-like suspense with touches of romance, high-tech flash and Biblical references," The New York Times wrote, explaining how its authors pulled off "an unparalleled achievement for an evangelical novel." LaHaye and Jenkins were stunned by their own success: "I've been writing for 40 years, with 12 million books in print, but I've never seen anything like this," said LaHaye.

The series has spawned a slew of spinoffs: comic books, calendars, a young adults' series, dramatized audio recordings and a movie based on the first book. It has also generated controversy, both within and without the Christian community, for issues ranging from politics (the U.N. figures into the story as a tool of the Antichrist) to Scriptural interpretation (many New Testament scholars reject LaHaye's belief, first popularized by John Nelson Darby in the 1830s, in a seven-year tribulation period following the Rapture).

But LaHaye and Jenkins are convinced that their message is getting through to their readers. They estimate that more than 2,000 people have converted as a result of reading the Left Behind books. "And needless to say, for us that's more important than bestsellers, or money, or anything else," says Jenkins.   (Gloria Mitchell)

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Good to Know
Jerry Jenkins is also the writer of a syndicated comic strip, "Gil Thorp," which runs in 60 newspapers nationwide.

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About the Writer
*Jerry B. Jenkins & Tim LaHaye Home
* Biography
* Good to Know
In Our Other Stores
* Signed, First Editions by Jerry B. Jenkins & Tim LaHaye
*Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days (Left Behind #1), 1995
*Tribulation Force: The Continuing Drama of Those Left Behind (#2), 1997
*Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist (#3), 1998
*The Vanishings (Left Behind: The Kids Series #1), 1998
*Second Chance (The Kids Series #2), 1998
*Through the Flames (Kids Series #3), 1998
*Facing the Future (Kids Series #4), 1998
*Soul Harvest: The World Takes Sides (#4), 1999
*Apollyon: The Destroyer Is Unleashed (#5), 1999
*Assassins: Assignment: Jerusalem, Target: Antichrist (#6), 1999
*Nicolae High (Kids Series #5), 1999
*The Underground (Kids Series #6), 1999
*Indwelling: The Beast Takes Possession (#7), 2000
*Mark: The Beast Rules the World (#8), 2000
*Busted! (Kids Series #7), 2000
*Death Strike (Kids Series #8), 2000
*The Search (Kids Series #9), Vol. 9, 2000
*On the Run (Kids Series #10), 2000
*Into the Storm (Kids Series #11), 2000
*Earthquake! (Kids Series #12), 2000
*Desecration: Antichrist Takes the Throne (#9), 2001
*Left Behind Graphic Novel: Book 1, Vol. 1, 2001
*Left Behind Graphic Novel: Book 1, Vol. 2, 2001
*The Showdown (Kids Series #13), 2001
*Judgement Day (Kids Series #14), 2001
*Battling the Commmander, 2001
*Fire from Heaven (Kids Series #16), 2001
*Terror in the Stadium (Kids Series #17), 2001
*Darkening Skies (Kids Series #18), 2001
*The Attack of Apollyon, 2002
*The Remnant (#10), 2002
*Secrets of New Babylon, 2002
*Escape from New Babylon, 2002
*Armageddon: The Cosmic Battle of the Ages (Left Behind #11), 2003
*Soon: The Beginning of the End, 2003
*Babylon Rising, 2003
*Glorious Appearing: The End of Days (Left Behind Series #12), 2004
*Silenced, 2004
*The Road to War, 2004
*Triumphant Return, 2004
*The Rising, 2005
*Arrived, 2005
*Shadowed, 2005
*The Regime: Before They Were Left Behind, 2005
*The Rapture, 2006
*John's Story: The Last Eyewitness (Jesus Chronicles Series #1), 2006