I admit that I was not all that familiar with Canadian Paul Young or his self-published New York Times’ bestselling book, “The Shack.”
That is, until a co-worker pointed out last week that Young will appear at Messiah College at 7:30 p.m. April 12.
A former office manager and hotel night clerk, initially published “The Shack” as a Christmas gift for his six children only. The title of the book is a metaphor for “the house you build out of your own pain”, as Young has explained. Young endured the tragic deaths of three family members.
The novel tells the story of Mackenzie Philips, a father of five, called “Mack” by his family and friends. Mack faces family tragedy and interacts with Jesus Christ in a dreamlike sequence.
Several friends read the book and urged Young to publish it for the general public. In 2006, Young worked with Wayne Jacobsen, Brad Cummings (both former pastors from Los Angeles) and Bobby Downes (filmmaker) to find a publisher. They had no success with either religious or secular publishers, so they formed Windblown Media.
Cummings spent the maximum credit limit on 12 personal credit cards in order to publish the book.
After initially drawing little attention, “The Shack” took off in the summer 2008. It went on to sell 18 million copies and spend months atop the New York Times’ bestseller list. Young, 58, who had worked three jobs, quit them all.
Sadly, the storybook success of “The Shack” did not have a happy ending for the men who bet on its message.
As reported by the LA Times, Young claimed that he was owed $8 million in royalties, and Jacobsen and Cummings filed a suit against Young. Hachette, the commercial publisher involved, asked the court to determine to whom it should pay royalties from the book. The case was later settled.
Have you read “The Shack?”