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Famed “Left Behind” author visits Taylor

Jerry Jenkins gives advice to next generation

By Emily Pawlowski | Echo

On Thursday, Sept. 27, bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins came to Taylor’s campus to pass on his experience to aspiring writers.

Though he is best known for co-authoring the “Left Behind” series, Jenkins has written more than 190 books. He visited Taylor campus to share the lessons he had learned from years of writing articles and books.

“He has a long history with Taylor, he’s known about our Professional Writing department for many years,” Linda Taylor, professor of professional writing said. “He worked with (Dennis) Hensley, that was kind of where the relationship started.”

This summer, after Hensley’s resignation, Donna Downs, associate professor of media communication and co-chair of the communications department, decided to reach out to Jenkins and offer thanks for his years of support.

Jerry Jenkins spoke at several professional writing and journalism classes about his personal experiences as an author.

Jerry Jenkins spoke at several professional writing and journalism classes about his personal experiences as an author.

Jenkins responded with a promise to continue working with the program and its students. Not only that, but he also explained he would be in the area in September and would be willing to talk to students about his career.

“I was just excited to have him come because he has been somebody who has been so supportive of the program,” Taylor said. “He’s very successful, obviously, and it was just wonderful to have him come be an encouragement to our students who are pursuing writing.”

Jenkins spoke to four different groups during his time on campus.

He started the day with breakfast with a group of professional writing majors about to leave for a writing conference. He then spoke to the magazine and feature writing class about his experiences in the publishing world.

That was followed with a talk to the intro to media writing class. He then met with some staff, then finished off his day engaging in discussion with the professional writing majors.

“I was so excited to see someone whom I’d read during my childhood days at campus,” senior Hope Bolinger said. “His talk really challenged me to embrace hard emotions, especially in fiction.”

Jenkins spent some time talking about the importance of emotion. He gave several examples from his own life and challenged students with the question: “Can you still be moved?”

Most of the time, however, Jenkins opened up his time to answer student questions. He has more than 40 years of experience writing everything from newspaper articles to book series, so he could answer writing questions of every kind.

Throughout his talks Jenkins covered the importance of interviewing techniques, proper time management and deadlines.

Jenkins also stressed the importance of not asking too much from the people journalists interview.

“I made it a point to never ask famous athletes for anything but their time,” Jenkins said. “They were getting paid to have this book be done, and so I wasn’t asking them for tickets or pictures or pendants. Everybody in their orbit was asking for that stuff all the time. And they notice that. They appreciate that.”

Campus response to his visit has been overwhelmingly positive. Many appreciated the chance to hear from their childhood hero. Others felt encouraged by the effort Jenkins made to reach out to students.

“Knowing he was coming to see us made me feel like he cared about us,” sophomore professional writing major Clark Murray said. “It is really cool on his part to do that. I don’t believe that most would do that.”

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