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William Paul Young: A Look Inside The Shack

Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, had been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his great sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment, he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.           

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant, The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack receives will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him.


William Paul Young (goes by Paul) did not consider himself an author. Once a business writer, Paul would write poems, songs, and newsletters mainly for his friends and family, usually used as gifts or on special occasions. His book, The Shack was birthed from “conversations” and notes he would occasionally write during his 45 minute commutes to work on a commuter train, or from deep thought. 

“I had a number of those rather ugly yellow pads full of bits of conversations. Sometimes, I would wake up in the middle of the night in the middle of a conversation and grab a notepad to try and remember,” he says.

Paul's wife, Kim, wanted him to write something for their six children because she wanted them to experience the way he thought about things, as well as his writing.

“I wrote the book out of obedience to my wife actually,” he says. “I've never written anything for publication, but she had been after me for years to sort of write something for the kids, sort of a legacy.”

Most importantly, Paul wanted his kids to enjoy a story, and through the story, to understand their own father better and the God that their father is in love with.

"The Shack will tell you much more about me than a few facts ever could,” he says. “In some ways, my life is partly revealed in the characters.”            

Paul says that 'the shack' is a metaphor, and the story is like a parable.

“It's a metaphor for that place where we get stuck or damaged, or where we've made really bad choices, or where we've piled up a lot of stuff in our lives that we don't want to go back to and deal with,” he says.

For Paul, it took him 38 years to get back to 'the shack,' and then it took him 11 years to go through its process.

“My life crashed and burned when I was 38-years-old, and I had to go back and deal with some stuff from being a child on the mission field along with other stuff in my life,” he says.

People often ask Paul why he wrote something so hard.

“I wanted to deal with the hardest things possible so that it would speak to anybody in any situation. This book will answer the question, where is God?”


It only took Paul four months to write the first draft of The Shack, but after 16 months of collaborative re-writing, he and his partners couldn't find anyone to publish the book. Christian publishers thought it was too controversial and secular publishers shied away because of its Christian content. Windblown Media is a company a book began – The Shack. It is a publishing company committed to providing inspirational reading for people on a serious spiritual journey.  


Paul is the oldest of four children, born May 11th, 1955. He was born in Alberta Canada, but the majority of his first decade of life was spent with his missionary parents in the highlands of Netherlands New Guinea (West Papua), among the Dani, a technologically stone age tribal people. The Dani became Paul's family, and he was granted unusual access to their culture and community as the first white child and outsider to ever speak their language.           

After the age of 10, his family moved back to Canada. Paul paid his way through Bible College working as a radio disc jockey, lifeguard, and even a stint in the oil fields in northern Canada. Paul completed his undergraduate degree in Religion and graduated summa cum laude from Warner Pacific College in Portland, Oregon. The following year, he met and married his wife, Kim.

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