Ten Interview Questions for “The Next Big Thing”:
What is the working title of your book?
The Shack Bible
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I actually had the idea a couple years before I’d ever heard of “The Shack.” I’ve spent the last decade being spiritually revolutionized by some of the ancient theologians (Athanasius, Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa) plus some newer ones (Barth, Torrance, Kruger, Moltmann). My studies were giving me a new (non-Augustinian) lens through which to hear Scripture, and I loved what I heard! I started writing down what I was hearing the Bible say, and friends kept asking me to write more, so I did.
Then the day came when a friend bullied me into reading this silly pop-spirituality novel called The Shack. I was blown-away to discover that this guy, who was just novelizing his personal thoughts about God, was expressing the ancient vision of God I had spent so long studying! Not only that, but he was doing it in a way that was twanging the spiritual nerves of the whole world. As I got to know other fans of the book, I discovered a whole new world of spiritual-but-not-religious people who had little interest in God, Christianity, or the Bible, but resonated deeply with Papa, Jesus & Sarayu. And they all seemed quite certain that, if they wanted to deepen their relationship with that wonderful Trinity, the Bible would be useless for that task. The God of the Bible, it seemed, had little if anything to do with the God of The Shack. Many evangelicals would agree with that, but I did not. So I started modifying my own little paraphrase with the God-language of The Shack. I changed “God” and “Father” to “Papa,” changed “Holy Spirit” to “Sarayu,” and the pronouns for both became feminine.
What genre does your book fall under?
Is “Highly Idiosyncratic Bible Paraphrase” a genre? A proper paraphrase would be something more like The Message, the gold standard of Bible paraphrases, IMO. The Shack Bible is more like an “Interpretive Reading.” It might fit best in the traditional Jewish genre of “Targum.”
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
From my first reading of the book, Papa has always been Gloria Foster—The Oracle from The Matrix. She is no longer technically alive, but my image of Papa is now unchangeable. Jesus has to be noticeably Middle Eastern, and my images there always turn to Naveen Andrews—Sayiid from Lost. Sarayu is harder. My best idea so for is Michelle Yeoh; she has such great emotional depth.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Papa, Jesus & Sarayu have included the whole world in their wondrous dynamic life-together; evil and death have no future.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
If it ever gets mass-printed on paper, it will be through a publisher. I don’t want a pile of these things in my garage.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Still working on that; I’ll let you know.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Um… The Message is the closest, I guess, but it’s a comparison that stretches the genre a LOT.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Something that’s piqued MY interest is the way the Bible addresses various topics that don’t come up in The Shack—like Eschatology, for example, which is a big deal because Jesus talks about it so much in the gospels. It’s illuminating to approach such topics through a lens that tries to be consistent with The Shack without being limited by it.
I tag 5 other bloggers who have meant a lot to me, and have books published or in the works:
This has been a fun exercise; my thanks to Michael Bobo for inviting me!