Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Shack

The Shack, by William P. Young, is an interesting book. I didn't enjoy it, largely because it centres around the murder of a little girl, and as the mother of three daughters I found that distressing. I also felt that it was essentially the author's unusual and controversial religious views dressed up as a novel. (There has been considerable outcry about the doctrinal content, with one commentator calling it "deeply troubling" and "undiluted heresy".)

But it seems to me that it is unique in fiction, in that it is in fact a sermon turned into a story.

I read the Wikipedia entry for The Shack with interest. Here is it, slightly edited.

The Shack is a Christian novel by Canadian author William P. Young. The novel was self-published. The Shack went largely unnoticed for over a year after its initial publication, but suddenly became a very popular seller when it debuted at number 1 on the New York Times paperback fiction best sellers list. Its success was the result of word of mouth promotion in churches and Christian-themed radio, websites, and blogs. As of May 2010, The Shack had over 10 million copies in print, and had been at number 1 on the New York Times best seller list for 70 weeks.

But maybe The Shack isn't quite so unique. My new book, The Saved Saint, does something very similar. It takes two characters with conflicting (and controversial) religious beliefs and describes how the relationship between them breaks down as a result of their religious differences, jumping between their points of view in alternate chapters to show how each experiences any particular event. Maybe it's not stretching the truth too far to say that it's a sermon (on tolerance) dressed up as a novel.

There are other similarities too. The Saved Saint is also self published because my usual LDS publishers didn't want anything with characters critical of the LDS church, and Christian publishers didn't want anything with characters who were uncritical of the LDS church. And secular publishers don't touch anything to do with religion.

The Saved Saint has also had something of a shaky start, going largely unnoticed to date. Although, in all fairness, it's only been a week since it was published.

So I very much hope the comparisons with The Shack don't end there. While I am sure there will be some people who think of it as "undiluted heresy" (diluted heresy I'll admit to) I dream of the day it makes the New York Times Bestseller list.


  1. I read the Shack because my uncle highly recommended it. I should have known better, this is the same uncle that thought Napolean Dynamite was the funniest movie ever made.

    I didn't just dislike The Shack - I HATED IT! It's not controversial, it's confusing! It starts out dark, and doesn't get any brighter. It's just horrible!

    I hope, for your sake, the comparisons between it and your book end as soon as possible!

  2. Thanks Wendy, actually now that you've come out and said it I'll admit that I hated it too. I really felt that the author just wanted to vent his bizarre doctrines and fooled readers into thinking it was a novel. The plot was thin quite apart from being distressing. And according to Wikipedia, he wrote this book for his children! If they were any younger than 21, he should be locked up for child abuse. "Hey kids, here's a bedtime story about one of you getting tortured and murdered and Daddy having a religious experience in the woods."

  3. Perhaps I'll say that I hope the only similarity with my books is the self-published worked making the NYT bestseller list...

  4. I completely loved The Shack! I think it did a good job of showing that we all need a personal relationship with God. I like when Christian writers use their knowledge of the Bible plus what they feel to come up with an image of God. It's always amazing to me how close they get to what we know as Mormons. I didn't know the book was self published that is awesome!



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