Back in 2008 the Chieftain interviewed William Paul Young about his book set in Wallowa County, “The Shack.”
That book has gone on to be a huge bestseller and is now a movie.
Because of it, tourists are coming to Wallowa County to experience the landscape in which the story is set and sometimes in hopes of “meeting God” as the hero of the story did. And so, the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce is suggesting that business owners read the book so as to be prepared to talk about it with tourists.
The book was a surprising hit – even to the writer.
Young was not a seasoned author and didn’t expect to offer his book to publishers. It was his own story of a man dealing with what he called “The Great Sadness” and his search for a way to transcend that sadness.
The Great Sadness experienced by Young’s hero, Mack Phillips, is not based on Young’s own experience. It is the horrific murder of the fictional Phillips’ daughter -- an event that creates the immediacy needed for the story.
As Phillips seeks to understand how God could allow this terrible thing to happen, he visits a shack in Wallowa County that is the site of the murder and there meets God in three forms: God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. And none of these aspects of God are what he thought they would be.
The book struck a chord in the hearts of millions of readers and went on to multiple printings, sold more than 10 million copies, was on the New York Times Best Seller list for 70 weeks and is now a full-length feature film.
The film was released broadly in early March and has grossed more than $49 million worldwide.
The film stars Tim McGraw (as “Willie” in The Shack and providing songs for the soundtrack), Sam Worthington (as “Mack Phillips” in The Shack, and also known for roles in “Avatar,” “Clash of the Titans,” “Terminator Salvation”), Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) and many other stars.
Some people are still unaware that the shack featured in the book is fictitious and will drive out to Dug Bar Road and on into the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area searching for the actual shack.
“There is a tone of authenticity when you use real settings, and it opens up within the fiction,” Young said.
The book can be purchased or ordered at The Bookloft, 107 E Main in Enterprise.