Charleston Daily Mail, 6/23/09 Excerpts: "Joy is related to the presence of God," [William Paul Young, author of The Shack] said. "God is about relationship. There is a God who loves us. There is a God involved in details we don't see."
These comments were sprinkled throughout the presentation Young offered at the Clay Center Monday for a fundraiser for the Christian ministry organization called Young Life. Young also was to speak Monday evening at Morris Memorial United Methodist Church.
Young talked about his bestseller The Shack, a work of fiction filled with genuine pain he experienced throughout life. The miraculous success of the book can only be attributed to God being involved in the details of life, he said.
Young never set out to write a bestseller and had no idea how to market a book. Young is a Canadian native who now lives in Happy Valley, Ore. "I've never considered myself a writer," he said. "My wife, Kim, wanted me to write something for the kids. She said, 'Would you put in one place how you think--because it is so outside the box?'"
He began that process in 2005 on the commuter train...as he scribbled thoughts on napkins, receipts and legal pads...eventually...compiled into a book for his six children, now ages 16 to 28...telling them how he dealt with hurdles in life that caused him so much pain, shame and grief...from sexual abuse as a child and an affair that threatened his marriage to devastating family deaths. He was working three jobs and struggling to make ends meet when he turned his notes into a work of fiction flecked with emotional baggage....He found peace and healing in the letting go of secrets. When the manuscript was done, he headed to a local Office Depot...to print 15 copies for family and friends.
Then something amazing happened. Friends loaned the book to their friends and more copies were requested. "I was soon getting emails from people I didn't know," he said. Many of the notes were filled with personal details about people's lives. Eventually, friends with some writing and movie knowledge decided to check into publishing the manuscript. It was turned down by 26 publishers before the group of friends pooled cash and credit cards to publish it themselves. In May 2007, they ordered 10,000 copies.
The book has since sold more than 7 million copies and made the New York Times bestseller list. "It wasn't anything we did," said Young, 54. "When the book touches people, they buy multiple copies. We can't claim how brilliant we are." He said the book is a result of the power of prayer. He asked God, "Let me hang around something you are blessing. The book is just something God decided to bless."
"The book has opened relationships and opportunities," he said. "I can watch people's lives because of a little story I wrote. How cool is that?" He even sees the controversy it has created as a positive way of encouraging dialogue among a variety of people. The book has attracted readers of virtually every religion.
"I trust the Holy Spirit is present in my life and the right things will be drawn out," he said. Plans are in the works to turn his current book into a movie within the next couple of years.
[TBC: "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to (God's) word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah:8:20).]