Idol Chatter

When you hear the name Jerry Jenkins, the first thing you think of probably is not “emotional love story.” But the king (or co-king, with Tim LaHaye) of Christian apocalyptic storytelling is much more than just “The Left Behind” series. In fact, he’s authored a whopping 160 books, covering any number of topics, fictional and nonfictional. For the first time, one of his solo novels, “Though None Go With Me,” has been made into a film–starring former Charlie’s Angel Cheryl Ladd, no less–which will debut on the Hallmark Channel on Sat (9 p.m./8 Central time).

I spoke with Jenkins about the project on what happened to be the day after he saw the finished product for the first time. He proclaimed himself pleased–no surprise there–though he did say, “It’s not quote-unquote a ‘Christian movie,’ maybe not the movie I would have made from the book… As an evangelical author, I probably would have been more overt about the themes.” Lest you think from that quote that “Though None Go With Me” has been stripped of its spirituality, consider its plot: A young woman decides, in Jenkins’s words, to “investigate the true cost of a lifetime commitment to Christ,” and pledges to follow Jesus’ teachings, no matter what the cost. She suffers great loses–becoming a sort of “female Job,” Jenkins says–but her faith remains strong, despite the trials she’s put through.

Jenkins is well aware that sweet love stories like “Though None Go With Me” are not what’s made his reputation. “A lot of people have asked me, ‘Have you written anything else?'” he says, adding that most of his work is more like “Though None Go With Me” than “Left Behind.” “Ironically, the idea of prophetic apocalyptic fiction is not what gets me up in the morning,” he says. “I’ve written 160 books and all the rest of them put together haven’t sold what ‘Left Behind’ has sold.”

Jenkins can look forward to retiring the “Left Behind” franchise. A final prequel is coming out in June, and a final sequel next year, the final title in the series. The production company he started with his son in 2001, Jenkins Entertainment, is currently producing a film of a short story by Jenkins, “Midnight Clear,” but don’t expect Jenkins to go all Hollywood on us. “As a novelist, I find the movie-making business almost way too collegial for me,” he says. “You need to have everybody else involved. A novelist, you go off in what I call a cave and write until you’re finished.”

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