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. http://www.shermanlive.com/2007/12/04/the-shack-williampyoung-interview/
WPY: Remember, I wrote this story for my children (not to be published), so I took some liberties I might not have otherwise.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.
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.
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?
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: 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.