“No one expected this; least of all, me” the accidental best-selling author and international speaker, Paul Young (Author of The Shack and Cross Roads) told me in our phone interview on Wednesday, February 13, 2013. I had been to hear Paul speak about his book The Shack when it first went big in 2008 with a friend of mine. I had the pleasure of being introduced to him prior to hearing him speak and he was witty and down to earth. I still have my signed copy of The Shack from that event, along with an original quote from his creative mind scrawled within.Most news is about the horrible goings on in this world, but there are so many bright lights in the darkness; so many who genuinely strive to make life better. Paul Young is one of them.
He recently came back from a speaking engagement with an organization called Parachute in New Zealand, he explained. When I asked him about what he had spoken, his explanation made me smile.
“I never plan; so it’s just whatever comes out at the time… I know I spoke about Psalm 22, The Shack, Restoration of the Soul… I don’t know. My new book Cross Roads. I covered a lot of things.”
His travels have taken him all over the world, so I naturally wanted to know what his favorite place was that he’d visited and why. His answer:
“It depends on the day and it depends on who I’m thinking about. It’s always linked to people, not the physical space. I mean, in terms of other things, I could say New Zealand for beauty and comfort; the Canadian Rockies for its grandeur. People everywhere are amazing, though. So much more profoundly and intricately fashioned than any of us have any idea. People are stunning; just amazing.
He has done several interviews since his book The Shack became popular in 2008 (“three to four thousand interviews I’ve done, I think…”).
Who has done his favorite author interview so far?
“That depends a lot, too. However, George Stroumboulopoulos (TV talk show host in Canada), was a lot of fun. He’s a great guy. Great interviewer. Most of my interviews have been done with secular folks. I’ve had… five interview requests today” which made me extremely thankful to be speaking with him.
In terms of how many changes his life has undergone since he became an “accidental success,” he said there haven’t been many. Although he went from owning a home, to renting, to owning his current home in Happy Valley, OR (purchased since The Shack); he still lives in the general area he began in, and is a pretty “regular guy.” He explained that nothing of any real importance has changed. He is still the same person because his success was born of his discoveries he’d already made in his life.
“If you don’t already know who you are, [the success] will blow you up. But I’m not working three jobs to put food on the table, which is nice.”
He is a student of life itself and believes we are always learning; however, “one of the greatest gifts that has come out of this is the platform it’s created for me to hear other people’s stories. It’s like getting to hang around the burning bush all day.”
I asked Paul if he’d ever seen the Wikipedia page about him and what that was like. He revealed he’s never even seen it.
“I actually don’t read much of that stuff. There’s a lot weird things about all this. Very surreal, even still. The book is classified in the Top 100 books of All Time. Number 60 something, I think. But I think that stuff is only as serious as you take it, and I don’t take any of it seriously, at all.
Paul also gave me a tidbit of wisdom: “When people are upset, they’re telling you about themselves, not about you. If you’re willing to listen, you’ll hear it.” Words to think on, for sure. He is very laid back and kind. Grace is one word he obviously lives by.
The one major downside to being a published author is that “success has a way of bringing stuff out of people who failure never would. So, some of that. Criticism never bothered me, except when people decided that my children were easier targets. It’s always the ‘Christians’ and ‘Religious people.’”
Wrapping up the interview, I had to know if there were any upcoming books in the works and his response was definite.
“I’ve always been a writer. I just didn’t think anyone but my family and friends would care, ya know? I’ve been writing since I was small, and I’ve always got half a dozen things kickin’ around, but it’s all about timing. It’s not my timing, though, it’s His.”
Right now, he has The Shack (published 2008) and Cross Roads (published 2012) available. To learn more about (Wm.) Paul Young, his speaking events, and his writing, please check out: