104.7 THE FISH radio station set up at the store letting people know they could meet the author of THE SHACK.This was the FIRST time for Paul Young to speak at my book clubs. It was an exciting day for the book club ladies and myself.
This is Dodie, a very special friend of mine who was my helper for the book club meeting that night at Hebron Baptist Church's Libray. It was the first time she had ever gone to a book club meeting. She loved it.
104.7 THE FISH setting up and giving away goodies to those who stopped by.
Paul Young signing books at the christian book Store before our book club meeting.
Thanks to Hebron Baptist Church for allowing us to hold our meeting at their library. They have a really nice book store called the Oasis. I came in handy that night when people wanted William to sign more books for them. Dodie keeping watch after I dropped my book club supplies off and went to park the car.
Paul said these things that night but this came from an on line interview. I wanted to use Paul's words exactly.
WPY says: We went through a six month period where my 18 year old brother was killed, my mother-in-law suddenly died of a massive coronary at age 59, and my 5 year old niece was killed the day after her 5th birthday. Having 4 boys and 2 girls myself, this is a situation that moves to the heart of theodicy as an issue. It is not about politics and cannot be easily put aside - it is about pain and suffering and injustice. I didn’t choose it for graphic reasons (as it is not very graphic at all), but because it captures our focus.

WPY: Remember, I wrote this story for my children (not to be published), so I took some liberties I might not have otherwise. In the first draft, I even had Mackenzie Allen Phillips as the author and me as the ghost writer, but after the book got away from me and a couple people almost flew to Oregon to meet Mack, we changed it, while keeping the idea of Willie ghost-writing for Mack. Beyond that the pain, the conversations, the process and the character of God are all real, so the line gets fairly blurred at times.
Paul Young was engaging as he told his testmony of what the Lord has done in his life and that of the book "The Shack". His wife and some friends were in the audience that night. We had 30 people.This was my first book meeting with men and women together.

WPY says: The Shack was a story written for my six children, with no thought or intention to publish. It is as much a surprise to me as to anyone else that I am now an ‘author’. Overall, I am a very simple guy; I have one wife, six kids, two daughter-in-laws and two grandkids on the way. I work as a general manager, janitor and inside sales guy for a friend who owns a small manufacturers rep company in Milwaukie, Oregon, and I live in a small rented house in Gresham, Oregon, that Kim has made into a marvelous home. My time is spent loving the people that are a part of my life. I am not connected, or a part, or a member of, or involved inside any sort of organization or movement anywhere. The truth is that I doubt anyone would want me. From my perspective that is a very positive thing … for both of us. I have lots of incredible friends, and now you are one of those.
(This is from Paul's website - August 17, 2007 - It is what he told us that night. I wanted to use his exact words that is why I copied and pasted it in my blog).
Is the story of THE SHACK Mack a "real" person?
William P. Young speaking:
Okay, now you have to try and understand how weird this is. I am sitting in Eagle Creek, in a rented house, writing a story for my kids. I am not writing a story that I intend or expect will be published. Actually the thought never even entered my mind. I was going to write this thing as a gift, then go down to Office Depot or Kinkos or somewhere and photoshop a cool cover, put it in a spiral bound book sort of thing, and that would be that.
So, I didn’t have to follow any normal rules about writing something. Actually, I didn’t even really know or care about what the normal rules might be…never thought about it. I wanted my kids to enjoy a story and through the story to understand there own father better and the God that their father is so in love with. I even had this brilliant idea to have Willie (me) ghost-write the story for Mack, and so on my very first Title Page, it said, The Shack, written by Mackenzie Allen Phillips, with William P Young. I thought it was clever and that the kids would get a laugh out of it.

This means that Mack, of course, is not a ‘real’ person. My children would recognize that Mack is mostly me, that Nan is a lot like Kim, my wife, that Missy and Kate and the other characters often resemble our family members and friends. So it was no big deal…until the first version of the loose leaf book sort of ‘got out’ (because people kept passing it to their friends), and I find out that somebody in California and somebody in Canada think seriously about buying plane tickets to come to Oregon to meet and talk to Mack. Now that would have been a little embarrassing, don’t you think? So we removed Mack as the author, but I kept the ghost-writer idea as a story element…which is still causing some problems but not near what could have happened the other way.

Is the story ‘real’? The story is fiction. I made it up. Now, having said that, I will add that the emotional pain with all its intensity and the process that tears into Mack’s heart and soul are very real. I have my ’shack’, the place I had to go through to find healing. I have my Great Sadness…that is all real. And the conversations are very real and true. While Mack experiences some particulars that I have not (the death of my niece the day after her fifth birthday was a horrible accident, but not a murder), there are depths of pain and shame and hopelessness that I have experienced, that Mack did not. And I know people who have suffered exactly what Mack suffers in the story.

So is the story true? The pain, the loss, the grief, the process, the conversations, the questions, the anger, the longing, the secrets, the lies, the forgiveness…all real, all true. The story in particular… fiction… but…. Then there is God who emerges so very real and true, unexpected and yet not unexpected, but surprising and…
So… is all this real? Is all this true? I suppose each of us has to decide for ourselves, don’t we?
August 15, 2007
Continued from Background #1 (May Archive)
So…I am riding the Max for 40 minutes each way from Gresham, OR to downtown Portland where I was working. This is during Feb - April 2005, and I start taking yellow legal pads and joting down ‘conversations’. Remember, I am thinking about writing this for my kids, so I am searching for a good vehicle to communicate through. I figure a good story would be great…but I didn’t have one. So I started with what I did have…conversations. So, off and on, for about three months I wrote down conversations; conversations that I was having with God mostly, but which often included friends or family.

You gotta understand something…I had not plan here. In fact, when I first even thought about this project, all I could think about was doing a sort of dictionary of rambling opinions…you know, ‘A’ for Astronomy, and Art, and Aristotle, and Anarchy, and Adultery, and Absolutes, and Anti-nomianism…anything that I had an opinion about…don’t laugh. Actually, it is quite funny…looking back. But I was pretty serious about trying to do something systematic and organized…make my kids proud.

But as soon as I got into these ‘conversations’ all that systematic stuff fell away. I became enamored with these unrelated and intriguing conversations. At one point I was going to call this little book for my kids, ‘Conversations with God’, but then I found out somebody had already written that book and even turned it into a movie. For me these conversations were alive and I found myself waking up in the middle of the night and writing down scraps of dialogue. More often than not, when I looked at those bits and pieces in the morning I couldn’t make heads or tails of what I had written down and it usually made no sense at all…but I remembered vaguely that it had been soooo cool!

So, in May, 2005 I had a few yellow pads pretty much filled up and a whole bunch of scraps of paper; edges of newspapers, parts of napkins (serviettes for you cultured folk), backs of grocery store receipts etc. I was a little concerned that a good wind could blow it all away and so I decided that I needed to input my notes into the computer.

The first Saturday I started working on inputting was the first time I decided that a ’story’ would be the right vehicle for these conversations. I didn’t have one (a story), but I thought it was a great idea. So I began to create characters in situations that would allow my conversations to occur. These conversations were very ‘real’ to me, buried in the experiences and processes of my life…mostly over the last fifteen years.
WPY Said: Writing the book was an amazing and emotionally wrenching experience. At times it felt like stepping into a river that simply swept me away and deposited me downstream. Many of the concepts that are in the book were present in my own experience, but some of it was tentative. It was like standing at the edge of the high dive for the first time. The Shack simply came up from behind and pushed me in. The two biggest transitions from me were learning to live in the present(ce) of God, within only the single day’s grace allotted to me, and second, to have Papa’s affection for me a settled reality.
Question: So what led to your decision to self-publish?
WPY Said: The decision was made for us…nobody would give us the time of day. Religious publishers said they liked it, but it was too edgy. Secular publishers told us they like it personally, but there was too much ‘Jesus’ in it. So Wayne and Brad created a publishing company and did it ourselves. It is all about our relationships with each other. There are no contracts, no letters of intent, no signed anything.
(He also mentioned that one of his partners had been praying that a publisher wouldn't pick them up because he wanted to start a publishing company but didn't let Paul know this. He just prayed).

(Nora and Dodie posing for pictures after Paul Young spoke)
WPY: Other book(s)…probably. I tend to gestate a while before actually writing…so I am working on a something right now…we will see. I don’t feel any pressure to produce, and I am grateful for that. I have a few projects sitting on the shelf that need some re-visiting also. Vague enough? As of today, I still have my 8-5, M-F job, some part time consulting work and a home full of family and friends, and our first two grandbabies. Papa will have to free some time up if there is more writing to come.

( Me with two of my really good friends Dodie and Martha.)
Paul went on to say that night that the Lord was teaching Him and his partners to "WALK" and not run. They had a few movie producers approach him to have THE SHACK made into a movie. They all agreed that this would be running and not walking. Jesus never ran places. We walked. That way he met the people along the road like man waiting for Jesus in the tree and the woman with the issue of blood. He could have run and saved his friend Lazarus but he walked instead.
The only time Jesus ran in the bible was to embrace someone in love. Paul and his partners want to meet all the people that the Lord wants. Paul said we as a people keep eye on the prize. He is learning to walk and not run ahead of God. If the Lord says that he has accomplished all that He intended to with the book there is no need to make the movie. So be it. I will stop at that. This is His work and I'm humbled and amazed he has chosen me to be his servant. This book is so not about me. I have watched the message of this book change peoples lives. I can't do that only He can.
I was honored that both of my good friends could make it to book club. It was one very special night.
Paul took his time and talked and ministered to each person. He gave everyone a hug that night. It was neat to see him interact with everyone.


  1. I would love to interview you about your book club! If interested, please email me at: booksplurge (at) gmail (dot) com with book club interview in the subject line.

  2. One of these days I'm going on a road trip so I can come to one of your events.

  3. Kelly;
    I would LOVE that!!! Keep checking back to see what else is happening. We are taking a field trip to the Swan House in Buckhead. That would be lots of fun!! Come on down!!

  4. I still need to read this book.