William Paul Young, author of the bestselling The Shack (Windblown Media, 2011), is preparing to release his highly-anticipated third book Eve (Howard, Sept.) and we spoke to the book’s editor Ami McConnell to get the scoop.
“Devastated” to have missed out on Eve while previously working at HarperCollins, McConnell became attached to the project in January after joining Howard, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, where she is now the vice president and editor-in-chief.
Eve explores the beginnings of humankind and opens a conversation about gender equality. How do you think the book could impact our society?
Let me start with this: I’m a person of faith, a single mom of five kids, and four of them are daughters, so this story is foundational for me. Working on Eve has just really made me hopeful about the future for them. It is the kind of reset that our society craves right now and needs.
What are you particularly proud of when it comes to Eve?
I think the thing that I am most proud of is that it’s the product of decades of thought and perhaps even pain on Paul’s part, and it’s a very rich experience. Every read that I’ve done has brought out new levels of awareness and understanding. This is a story that has never been told before. I have been working on just novels - no non-fiction - for a decade, and so I know the tropes. I know what notes you have to hit with certain kinds of stories, and I’m faithful to make sure that authors hit those notes. This is a story I have never read before. It’s a new approach to a story as old as our culture.
How has working on Eve stood out from previous projects?
Because I’m a person of faith, I told Paul, I feel like I have to take off my shoes every time I work on this book. Not because Paul is holy, but because this is serious stuff - I’m not taking it lightly. I also knew that the impact would and could be profound on my family, my children, and myself. So I think I felt uniquely prepared for it in some ways - professionally prepared, and at the same time, completely humbled.
What important changes do you see happening in writing today?
I have a strong feeling about this. I think never before in my career has there been such a need and desire in the reader for there to be a connection with the author, and so I really look as an editor to bring out or help manifest the vulnerability in the writing - just sort of a transparency and a communion with the reader. Where boundaries exist between author and reader or any sort of façade, it has to fall away for a book to be successful in the current marketplace. Perhaps it’s because of the increasing sense of isolation from one another. Even in an urban setting, it’s still very isolated and connected in very superficial ways, like social media. Communion may be too religious of a word, but it’s what I feel. When [the author] reveals that vulnerability [and] intimacy, that’s when I go, ‘Thank you, this is true and real and something I’m glad to pay 25 dollars for and glad to share.’ And as an acquisitions editor, it’s something I look for.