Published: February 16, 2014
New York Times best-selling author and Colorado resident Jerry B. Jenkins is celebrated for several literary works.
But his first love was baseball, and he dreamed of playing in the big leagues while attending high school in the 1960s. An injury changed his focus slightly as he turned toward sports writing in an attempt to stay close to the game he cherished.
"I became a stringer for a local paper before I was old enough to drive," Jenkins said. "So my parents had to drive me to the games and to the newspaper office."
Because he was paid a dollar an inch for what appeared in the paper, he is quick to point out that he's "been a professional writer for 50 years now."
Over time, Jenkins expanded his writing beyond sports to include mysteries, suspense, history and more.
"The only two genres that never appealed to me were romance and sci-fi," he said.
Ultimately, Jenkins settled on biblical fiction. He has written more than 175 books, including the popular Left Behind series.
"I got my feet wet with biblical fiction with the 'Jesus Chronicles,' writing novels based on each of the four gospels," he said.
Jenkins' latest novel, "I, Saul," is told from the point of view of the disciple Luke, the Apostle Paul and a modern day scholar, "Augie." Similar to "Indiana Jones" or "The Da Vinci Code," the book is a thriller. Released in August by Worthy Publishing, "I, Saul" is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
"The next natural biblical character to flesh out after Matthew, Mark, Luke and John was the Apostle Paul, who was also known as Saul," Jenkins said. "He had the most dramatic conversion story in history, was the first missionary and evangelist, and suffered more for his faith than anyone ever. Plus, so many dramatic stories about him are only hinted at in Scripture, which is a novelist's dream. In a novel, I have license to speculate on what those incidents might have looked like."
Jenkins' beliefs provide plenty of motivation to keep writing. The former editor of Moody Magazine is now chairman of the board of trustees for the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.
"I feel called to share my faith, so it's more a matter of obedience than a strive for success," he said. "The success of my writing has just been icing on the cake."
Some of Jenkins' nonfiction works include as-told-to autobiographies, including profiles of professional athletes Hank Aaron, Orel Hershiser, Walter Payton, Nolan Ryan and Mike Singletary, coach Joe Gibbs and entertainers Bill Gaither and Meadowlark Lemon,
Jenkins spent 13 months assisting the Rev. Billy Graham with his memoir, "Just As I Am."