William P. Young

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William Paul Young
Born William Paul Young
(1955-05-11) 11 May 1955 (age 63)
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Occupation Novelist
Nationality Canadian
Notable works The Shack (novel)

William Paul Young is a Canadian author, best known for The Shack, a novel.


Young was the eldest of four, born May 11, 1955, in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada, but the majority of his first decade was lived with his missionary parents in the highlands of Netherlands New Guinea (West Papua), among the Dani, a technologically stone age tribal people. These became his family and as the first white child and outsider who ever spoke their language, he was granted unusual access into their culture and community. By the time he was six, he was flown away to a boarding school.

Writing career

Young had written primarily as a way to create unique gifts for his friends, until his wife repeatedly urged him to write something for their six children in order to put down in one place his perspectives on God and on the inner healing Young had experienced as an adult. The resulting manuscript, that later became The Shack, was intended only for his six kids and for a handful of close friends.[1]

Young initially printed just 15 copies of his book. Two of his close friends encouraged him to have it published and assisted with some editing and rewriting in order to prepare the manuscript for publication. Rejected by 26 publishers, Young and his friends published the book under the name of their newly created publishing company, Windblown Media in 2007. The company spent only $200 in advertising;[2] word-of-mouth referrals eventually drove the book to number one on the New York Times trade paperback fiction best-seller list in June 2008.[3][4] "The Shack" was the top-selling fiction and audio book of 2008 in America through November 30.[5]

Young considers himself a longtime devotee of C.S. Lewis. Young credits C.S. Lewis for his interest in the themes of characters exploring tough questions that often keep them from faith in God.[6]


Young currently resides in Happy Valley, Oregon with his wife. Young has six children ages 17–30, two daughters-in-law and three grandchildren.

In an interview with World Magazine's Susan Olasky, Young, who is no longer a member of a church, said "(The institutional church) doesn't work for those of us who are hurt and those of us who are damaged. . . . If God is a loving God and there's grace in this world and it doesn't work for those of us who didn't get dealt a very good hand in the deck, then why are we doing this? . . . Legalism within Christian or religious circles doesn't work very well for people who are good at it. And I wasn't very good at it."[7]

An article in Maclean's magazine in August 2008 indicated that Young, is a "Canadian raised from birth by his missionary parents in Dutch New Guinea, Young was sexually abused by some of the people his parents preached to, as he was again back home, at a Christian boarding school. Young drifted through life as an adult, buoyed a little by his faith and a lot by his wife, Kim, keeping his secrets and building his shack: 'the place we make to hide all our crap,' he calls it. Until, at 38, he found himself at the nadir. 'I had a three-month affair with one of my wife's best friends. That was it, that just blew my careful little religious world apart. I either had to get on my knees and deal with my wife's pain and anger or kill myself."[8]


  1. ^ Author William Paul Young Interview: Nourish The Dream Podcast
  2. ^ http://www.theshackbook.com/
  3. ^ Rich, Motoko (2008-06-24). "Christian Novel Is Surprise Best Seller". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-24.
  4. ^ Aim at 'spiritually interested' sparks 'The Shack' sales USA Today, 2008-04-30
  5. ^ Nielsen.com Top selling books 2008
  6. ^ The Chronicles of C.S. Lewis Stepson of "Narnia" creator teams up with The Shack author for once-in-a-lifetime event at Northland, A Church Distributed
  7. ^ Olasky, Susan (2008-06-28). "Commuter-driven Bestseller". World Magazine. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
  8. ^ "A God Who Looks Like Aunt Jemima". Macleans. 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2009-05-14.

External links