On radio Tuesday, Glenn shared the story of how he first partnered with bestselling author Richard Paul Evans to publish the now wildly popular Michael Vey series. About five years ago, Glenn said he was looking for a way to reach the youth and at the same time, Evans was trying to find a publisher that didn't insist on "dumbing down" the story of Michael Vey.
"It's intriguing that a lot of your listeners will say, 'well, that's the guy who wrote The Christmas Box. He writes adult novels and romantic stories.' And the most complex thing I write is actually Michael Vey by far," Evans said.
Glenn said one of the things he finds amazing about the young adult series is that it subtly weaves in messages without the reader knowing it.
"My son, he loves to read," Glenn said. "And there's not a lot that he reads that is young fiction or ones that have a message to them, you know what I mean? He doesn't like message books at all. And this is one that he waits on every year."
Listen to the interview or read the full transcript below.
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
GLENN: Richard Paul Evans is a dear friend of mine, and he's sold more books -- I mean, I think God has sold more books than Richard, but it might be close. And now he has started five books ago, the Michael Vey series, which is a young adult series that is absolutely fantastic. Really, truly fantastic. If you don't know the story, let me just tell you real quickly. This is six years ago, five years ago. We are just starting to get our own imprint at Mercury, Inc. from Simon & Schuster.
And Michael calls my head guy and he says -- or, not Michael. Richard calls and says, "I've written something. And all the publishers are saying that we need to dumb it down." And I was just in a meeting saying, "We need to reach the youth. Somehow or another, we need to start reaching the youth. And we need to not dumb things down." And he said, "Would you guys read it?" And we read it, and I absolutely love it. And now it has become a summer event. This is the first year that I haven't had the advance to be able to read it in advance with my son. And I just got it a couple of weeks ago. And we're in the midst of finishing another book. So I start probably tomorrow or the next day on Michael Vey, "Storm of Lightning." This has really caught storm all around the country and the world, this series.
RICHARD: Yeah, the world. The world. Sometimes I see these books, I don't know what language they're in. What is this, Hungarian? You know, Polish? I have one fan in Poland who is incredible. He almost stalks me. His life is Michael Vey. And I heard from a woman in Paris who said, "It's the only books my son will read. Please write faster."
GLENN: Oh, I know. They're great. My son, he loves to read. And there's not a lot that he reads that is young fiction or ones that have a message to them, you know what I mean? He doesn't like message books at all. And this is one that he waits on every year. And I just -- I got it a couple weeks ago and I said, "Look what just came in." And he was thrilled. Pat feels the same way.
PAT: Oh, jeez. Yeah. I like to wait awhile to read them. Because then I get so pissed off that I have to wait until next summer for the next one to come out. Because you get so excited for the next release. So, yes, please write them faster.
GLENN: Tell me about this one.
RICHARD: This one takes off where number four left. They think their families have all been killed. So they're headed back to a ranch. And it was fun because, spoiler alert, the ranch actually was in Mexico. So I always travel to where the book takes place. So I went down there. That's actually where my ancestors came from, they came from these families that went down as immigrants who were kicked out by Pancho Villa. So I followed them back. And I got to follow my own family's footsteps in it, so it was really cool.
GLENN: So they -- the -- I hate to say this because it's very subtle, but you're learning lessons all the way through it. And this one in particular tries to teach the lesson without being a lesson book, about how kings hold on to their power.
RICHARD: Yeah, it's very -- there's some interesting political overtures. It's intriguing that a lot of your listeners will say, "Well, that's the guy who wrote the Christmas box. He writes adult novels and romantic stories." And the most complex thing I write is actually Michael Vey by far.
And there's a part in here where Dr. Hatch, who is the villain, he's teaching one of his kids -- one of this youth that he's raised in his way, how to be a king. So he gives him a small country, the Tuvalu, to be a king of and to be a king over. And he said, "Well, this is how you keep them from usurping power. You keep them at odds with each other." And he tells him how to do it. How to teach entitlement. How to teach that they're all victims. He goes, "But what if they're not victims?"
"Oh, everyone is a victim, if you look back far enough."
And so he teaches him how to make sure everyone is a victim so they can't work together and he can control them.
GLENN: The last one -- was it the last one when they were in China?
RICHARD: Yes. Taiwan.
GLENN: Taiwan. You go over and you write them while you're there?
RICHARD: Yes. You have to be in the place because how else can you describe swamp eel soup?
GLENN: Yes. All I know is I will never eat that. After reading it, we were --
RICHARD: I kind of threw up in my mouth just even -- I still get sick thinking about it. It was the worst thing that ever crossed my lips.
STU: Well, can you explain it just a little bit?
RICHARD: It's like getting -- well, first of all, these are things that are in the swamp. So it's like a rat -- it's like a swimming rat that looks like a belt. And he brought it out. And he said -- he brought it out. I'm trying not to -- I'm pretty tolerant. But it's like, "Oh, I don't know if I can do that." And then he brings out mine, he goes, "I put some extra special yellow mucous on top of it." Like, oh, no. And my daughter looks at me, and she's like, "You're not going to really eat that, are you?" It's like, well, we have to be gracious, right? My stomach was only so gracious.
GLENN: You really are swallowing now like you're going to vomit.
RICHARD: I'm getting sick just thinking about it. It's the best diet. You lose weight. Yes, I just think about swamp eel, and I just don't want to eat.
PAT: So whenever you write about these places, like South America they've been there. Taiwan. So that's where you go and you write the --
RICHARD: Right. Because that's the only way to really feel where the kids are. I want to get the sense of -- these kids are being hunted. So cool thing, I crossed the Mexican border. We didn't have enough passports. My wife didn't bring hers. And I described the Michael Vey series, and they let us through. It was kind of cool.
PAT: So you're literally walking through jungles and mapping --
RICHARD: Literally. Absolutely.
RICHARD: And, in fact, there's a haunted hotel called the Gadsden Hotel, which in its day it was the Waldorf Astoria. It is so beautiful. There's a million-dollar Tiffany mural, and this place, there's nowhere there. No one goes through Douglas, Arizona, anymore. And there's this beautiful hotel. Has big marble columns with gold on it. But it's haunted. And so I was like, "Well, I'll put the kids in a haunted room. How fun is that?" We stayed in this one room. And people have etched "666" on the door, and people then put crosses on it and cross it out. It's this really amazing room. I said, "I want to go like in that room and spend the night, where people are seeing these disembodied spirits." Because that would be really cool for the book. We didn't see anything. But it gives you ideas.
GLENN: I think I say no to the soup. And I say no to the door -- I think I just wing that part of the book.
PAT: I do too.
RICHARD: But that way you get into the feel and everything. Because Austin, who is so funny. And you're in there, and you think, you know what Austin would do if he was here? It's like, well, that's what he does.
GLENN: So when you were writing this, you told me at the very beginning, you said, you've never -- it's as if your fingers are doing the writing, not your head. Is it still like that?
RICHARD: It is. It is. People say, you know how the series does ends. Right? Because it's seven books. I said, "I'm getting glimpses -- I'm getting glimpses of how it ends." I get just enough to put the stuff --
GLENN: How do you know there's seven books?
RICHARD: I don't know. I just knew. I just knew there were seven books.
GLENN: You just knew.
RICHARD: I mean, weird things happen with this book. Like I told you, I'm looking at the kids' name. There's Michael, Taylor, Zeus, Ian, Austin, Michelle. I'm looking at this -- wait. Their initials spell Mt. Zion. It's like Mt. Zion. They publish peace, right? These things are happening in the book. And these kids that are being put away because they won't -- they won't support Dr. Hatch. And so they're put in a place called Purgatory. And one of them has powers that he can see everything. One, Abigail can take away pain. The other can create light and heat. And I thought, well, that's like God. And then I look at their initials, I am. Ian, Abigail, McCants. I am. It gave me chills. I didn't do that on purpose. You know, there's something coming through these books. So I'm intrigued, just as the readers are, to see where this goes and where it ends. And so it's --
GLENN: So hang on just a second. So you like -- like the next book, you have to -- you're writing now, right?
RICHARD: Yes, right.
GLENN: Do you know how that one ends?
RICHARD: No. But I have a glimpse.
RICHARD: I really don't.
PAT: So they could all wind up dead.
RICHARD: Yeah, they could.
RICHARD: But I had a glimpse of something that happens to Michael. I'm starting to understand something. And the big question around the world is, who is the voice? Who is the voice? And most people think it's Michael's dad, right? He's not really dead. And they want his dead to be alive. It's like, it's not. There. You heard it here first. It's not Michael's dad.
PAT: Oh, it's not Michael's dad.
RICHARD: That's going to shake up everyone.
PAT: Do you know who the voice is?
RICHARD: I do know who the voice was.
GLENN: When did you find out who the voice was?
RICHARD: Last year.
PAT: So you didn't even know when you started writing the book.
RICHARD: I didn't know the voice.
PAT: I was so convinced the voice was his dad.
GLENN: Everything that I write I start at the end. I know what the ending is, you know what I mean? And then I write backwards. I would get so lost if I didn't know where I was headed. There are just a few times. In fact, just a speech I gave last week or the week before, I didn't write. And I had no idea where I was going. I just sat down and I just wrote. And it was a surprise to me. Wow, wow, that's really good. Wow, that's really good. But I've never said, "And, by the way, there are seven books, and they're coming out one a year." I mean, has there been any fear at all that you're like, "I don't know if I have --
RICHARD: It's all fear. It's complete fear. Because with one of my novels, I start from the end. Just like you said, I know how it ends.
GLENN: You do the same thing.
RICHARD: I do the same thing. That's how we get them there. You outline. This one, I'm not, if I may say it, allowed to do that. This one is pure faith. But Glenn has been that way from the very beginning. I didn't have a publisher. Simon Schuster didn't want -- they weren't that interested. They offered me a really low advance that we actually earned out -- that we would have earned out the first hour. And it's like, my agent came to me. She goes, "I don't understand it. Disney just rejected. I don't get it." And I said, "Laura, we've been here before. Remember? The book was called the Christmas box, and it sold 8 million copies. It's finding itself."
And then out of nowhere, I get a call from Glenn Beck studios, and they're asking about a business book I had talked about. I said, "I have something else completely different that no one wants. It's a young adults series."
GLENN: And it's exactly what we were looking for.
RICHARD: And now we're looking -- it's like -- we've had movie offers. We've had things coming in. Not the right thing. And all of a sudden -- is it okay to --
GLENN: It's fine with me if it's okay with you.
RICHARD: Yeah. It's like, all of a sudden, a guy shows up a month ago and says, "Why hasn't this been produced?" He's a British producer. He goes, "Why hasn't this been produced. It's better than anything out there." He goes, "I want to do a TV series. I'll give you two and a half million dollars next week to do a pilot." He goes, "Obviously, it's going to cost a lot more. But fortunately, book one -- he had read the books. He goes, "My kids are rabid Veyniacs." And he goes, "You know, book one takes place -- it doesn't take place in Taiwan or Peru, thankfully. So we can actually produce it. Put the money in special effects, where it needs to be." And he goes, "I'll give you the money. Let's get this thing produced because this is going to be huge." And then he came to our launch party on Friday, and he goes, "This is nuts. There are 3,000 kids at your book signing. 3,000 kids. Does the world know this?" And he goes, "They're not just here. They're insane. They know everything about the characters."
GLENN: I know everything about the characters. What's nuts is, Pat is reading it the same way. I'm reading it with my son. I love it as much as he loves it. And we know everything about the characters. This is one of those books like Harry Potter. You can read this, if you have kids or you don't have kids, it doesn't matter, you're going to love this series. You're going to love this series. I recommend -- do you think people can start here?
RICHARD: No, no, no, start with book one. Prisoner of Cell 25. I don't know if you remember. We actually kind of had a problem. We started -- there were all adults reading the books. And they were giving it to their kids, and the kids didn't want to read it because their parents liked it. So my first year and a half at book signings, there were mostly adults.
GLENN: I didn't remember that.
RICHARD: Yes. Then it started to turn. And it was book four, all of a sudden, we would go, and I'm sitting on this stage, and I asked my daughter, "Do you think anyone will come?" She goes, "Dad, there are kids coming, like crazy. The whole school is surrounded." And we had more than 2,000 kids came to that book signing. All of a sudden, it's like -- it got to the kids. But it took a while. The books won more awards than the rest of my books combined. We've won 11 awards now. It's being picked as the best book in state after state, and it keeps going. And yet, it's kind of flying beneath their radar. The New York Times never written about it. The magazines have never written about it. It's really amazing that it's all grassroots.
GLENN: It's really amazing. It is. And I said this to you. I mean, you've sold many more books than me. I've had, what, 13 number one bestsellers. This is the most successful thing that we've ever been -- if it's not now, it will be. I know that this -- I know this series has a very long life. There's something about this book. I don't know why it hasn't become Harry Potter yet, but it will. When it catches fire, it will. It is just fantastic.
So it is book five. It is called "The Storm of Lightning." Michael Vey. If you've been writing for it, grab it now. If you haven't started the Michael Vey series, start it. You will love this series with your family. Thank you so much.
RICHARD: My pleasure.
GLENN: Appreciate it.
Michael Vey. "Storm of Lightning," available now. Amazon. GlennBeck.com. Or wherever books are sold. It's out today.