News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Features

August 11, 2007

John Jakes' journey to New York Times bestseller list included boyhood years in Terre Haute

TERRE HAUTE — The last thing John Jakes felt like was a future literary icon.

He’d worked into his 40s in advertising as a copywriter and creative director. On nights and weekends, Jakes practiced his passion, writing fiction, to earn extra money for his kids’ college education. He wrote nearly 200 short stories and more than 60 books — science fiction, Westerns, mysteries, even novellas for the Man From U.N.C.L.E. magazines — “at blinding speed.”

Heavier writing projects eluded him. “I was about ready to quit,” he recalled.

Then fate intervened. His advertising career jolted to a stop when the firm lost a lucrative account.

“We lost the account, so what are you going to do?” Jakes explained of his decision to pursue writing full time. “So I thought I would do it, and a couple of years later, the Kent books came along, and the rest is history.”

Jakes was referring to the “Kent Family Chronicles,” an eight-volume series published from 1974 to ’79. Those books detailed the lives of a fictional family enduring the Revolutionary War era. With America celebrating its bicentennial during the 1970s, each installment of Jakes’ “Kent Family Chronicles” sold at least 3.5-million copies. In 1975, Jakes became the first author to have three books on the New York Times bestseller list simultaneously with the Kent volumes two, three and four.

Thirty years later, more than 55 million copies of the “Kent Family Chronicles” remain in print. So are 10 million copies of Jakes’ 1980s Civil War book trilogy “North and South,” which inspired an ABC television miniseries — the seventh-highest rated miniseries in TV history. Since the first Kent volume, “The Bastard,” Jakes has put 16 consecutive books on the Times’ bestseller list, including last November’s “The Gods of Newport.”

He’s been labeled “the godfather of historical fiction.”

All of those milestones and praise are “something one just shakes his head at,” Jakes said in a telephone interview earlier this month.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix Mother of 2 Makes NFL Cheerleading Squad at 40 Judge OKs Record-setting $2B Sale of Clipper Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. Trial Begins Over OKC Bombing Video Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Suspect Dead, Marshals and Cop Wounded in NYC 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now!
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity