This Author Was Told His Series Idea Was ‘Too Smart’ for Kids – Now Book 7 Is in Stores

“The Final Spark,” the last installment of the Michael Vey series by “Christmas Box” author Richard Paul Evans, was released Tuesday. The bestselling novelist joined Glenn on radio to talk about the seventh Michael Vey book, his inspiring fans and the strange and wonderful journey to the conclusion of his story about a boy with a mysterious power.

When he first started shopping around the idea for the series, Evans was told by publishers that it was “too smart to be a kid’s book.”

“Don’t ever underestimate the youth,” Glenn remembered telling Evans as he introduced the author on Tuesday’s show. He shared his perspective on the books as a dad who has read each new installment with his son.

“Every summer we read it,” Glenn said. “He’s grown up with this now, and … it’s still as relevant to him now [in his early teens].”

“It’s by far the most complex thing I’ve ever written,” Evans said of the series, explaining how elements in the first book that he at first didn’t understand later became relevant in “The Final Spark.”

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: Twenty-nine-year-old advertising guy sits down, and he writes a book for his two daughters. He makes copies of it, and he gives it to some friends. And it starts to be passed around. And pretty soon, people are calling the bookstore saying, "How can I get a copy of this book?" They don't even know what it is. Because it was just a -- it was -- it was a Xerox copy of something that the guy had written for his daughters.

It wasn't too much longer that there were 8 million copies of that one book in print and a number one television movie of the year. It was called The Christmas Box. The author, the dad, the advertising guy was Richard Paul Evans. He sold more than 17 million books, written 26 novels. Four of his books have been made into television/movies.

In 2011, he called me and he said, "I have this idea for a seven-book series. It's called Michael Vey. And it is a story that I've just been told by publishers is too smart to be a kid's book." And I said, "Don't ever underestimate the youth." He said, "Right!"

He sent me a copy of the first book and Mercury, Inc., said, "We'll help you publish this." It's now been a best-seller. And the seventh novel is out now. It is the last, Michael Vey: The Final Spark. It comes out today. And I have not read this one. If it is like the other six, it is going to be thrilling to the end. And I'm going to be really upset that it is the last one. Richard Paul Evans, welcome.

RICHARD: Good to be here, Glenn. Thank you.

GLENN: So is this really the last one?

RICHARD: I don't know. It is for right now because I've been writing three books a year. And they offered me a million years to write the next one. I said, "I will have to write it from a psych ward." I go, "I am -- I am writing non-stop. I have no life." It's like, "I will snap."

GLENN: Yeah.

RICHARD: I go, "I'm done. I can't." So I need basically a year. I still have other contracts, finish them out. And then maybe come back.

And part of me doesn't want to do that because it's -- I love to keep something special.

GLENN: And this one was -- I mean, when you first talked to me about it, you were really, really clear that this wasn't -- this was almost downloaded to you.

RICHARD: It still is. Someone asked me how the book ends. And I go -- I look at book seven -- and there are things in book one, that if I had not put them there would not have -- book seven would not have been possible. And when I put them in the first book, I thought, "Where is this going? Why am I -- why is he growing in power? That has no point to the book."

There were some things that were happening that became completely relevant. I didn't know it until the last year.

GLENN: Why is this book downloaded like that to you?

RICHARD: Because I think there's a deeper message. I think it's a very spiritual message. It's by far the most complex thing I've ever written, even though --

GLENN: It's unbelievably -- and it's so consistent.

I mean, you've been writing this for eight years? Nine years?

RICHARD: Seven years.

GLENN: Seven years.

And I picked it up. I've only read the first chapter of this one, but it picks up right exactly where it was. I mean, the complexity of this story over seven years and seven books is really difficult.

RICHARD: Right. The French publisher said, "We want an arc for the whole thing." I said, "I have no arc. I don't know where it's going. I don't know how it ends." And it really wasn't until about nine months ago that I thought, "Oh, my goodness, really? That's what happens." I go, "This has actually followed some sacred Scripture all the way through." I go, "This is kind of amazing."

GLENN: Amazing.

RICHARD: You know, I told you at the beginning, like the names were downloaded to me. And then I realized that their initials spelled Mount Zion. That's bizarre. Right. That's just a bizarre coincidence. But I have found more coincidences like that throughout the book.

GLENN: And you think that this book is -- I mean, it is -- my son -- I don't think my son has enjoyed a series -- I don't even think Percy Jackson made it through all of them and liked them through the end. And this has been seven years. And every summer, we read it. And love it every single time. It's a tradition with us.

And I don't think there's another book series that he has made it all the way through that he has liked all the way through. Because he grew -- you know, seven years. That's half his life. And he's grown up with this now. And it's still as relevant to him now -- you know, you think -- you're 13 years old, okay -- it's not. It's not. You know, and he's reading -- he's reading everything.

He was reading I.T. for the love of Pete. But he loves it. And he loves the messages in it. And it's pretty remarkable what's happening with the -- the youth that are reading it.

RICHARD: I -- that's absolutely true. I had a young woman -- you remember our first book signing, they were like mostly adults. They looked like my adult book signings with a few kids.

My -- we just did the launch party for Michael Vey. We had between 4 and 5,000 kids come to it. So -- but a few weeks ago, I received a letter from a young women in Paris.

And she said, Mr. Evans, you probably have been wondering where I've been. And I said to my assistant, "Who is this?"

He said, "Oh, she writes about every week." And she says, "I'm not doing well. I'm in the hospital. I tried to kill myself." She said, "I have one friend in this world, and it's Michael Vey. And he gives me the strength to go on. Thank you."

And I said, "Let's get her immediately." And I told her that Michael loves her. I love her. And that just how Michael has to face the Elgen and his Dr. Hatches, you will too. But you're going to do okay. And just hang in there. This is a hard time of life.

And I think that's why I have so many youth who have disabilities, who have struggles. Even at my book signing, one group came. And I just -- I held one young woman. She kept crying. She said, "My father died during the second book." She goes, "Michael Vey has been there with me the whole time through it." She goes, "I don't know what to do now that the seventh book is out." So the book means -- to me, it's a very spiritual book in a sense that -- I mean, it's here to heal and help kids.

GLENN: Tell the story. For anybody who hasn't read it, tell the story.

JEFFY: Michael is a 15-year-old boy with Tourette's Syndrome, who discovers he has electricity in his body. And he can shock people, basically. But he doesn't know what this is about and why he has this power. He learns that he's one of 17 kids who were an accident, who kind of an MRI machine. And that there's a group trying to find them because they realize that they can create a better race than what's on this earth right now. And that's what this is about.

STU: There were a lot more than 17 kids that were accidents in this world. You know that. There were a lot of crazy things that have happened, just to be clear.

(laughter)

GLENN: You -- you have Tourette's. Your son has Tourette's.

RICHARD: Yes.

GLENN: But this is not -- what's interesting about this is I think there's -- every kid is in this book, no matter if you were the outcast or you were the popular one. You were the bully or you were bullied. Every kid is in this book.

And I think that is the secret of this, is they -- everybody -- every kid who reads it, sees themselves. Finds themself in that character. Or you knew that character growing up.

RICHARD: I agree. You know what's been interesting about this, Glenn, is that the publishing world has largely ignored it. Remember we were sitting here and the book was number one on the New York Times. And the Wall Street Journal did a story on the next big YA book, and it didn't even mention Michael Vey. It was not only number one, it was six times higher than the book next to it. Even today, it's like, I had a book signing with 5,000 people --

GLENN: Why is that?

RICHARD: I don't know. I don't know.

I've been attacked by having a male hero, as if it's a bad thing. Boys need heroes right now. It's really bad.

GLENN: Big time. You know what I compare this to is the Flash series that is now on television, where it's -- it's a boy hero. He's -- he's a great role model. Loves his parents. Has all of these great things going for him. And I think it's what people want. But I don't think that's what the media wants. I don't think they -- they don't want that. They don't want something that, you know, a boy who loves his mother and treats his mother with respect and treats others with respect and does the right thing. And, yes, he is the hero of the story. And while there are other girls around that also are heroines in the story, you know, they're separate and distinct. And they all have their own thing. I don't think that's what -- I don't think that's what -- that's what the people want. I don't think that's what culture is saying is acceptable.

RICHARD: That's exactly right. That's true.

We -- we see it -- when they came out with Maze Runner, and it was a young boy series. And it was one of the few YA books that made money in the movies. And it's like, well, big surprise. It's like, well, boys like this. They want to read. And the girls will read -- now, there are some very, very strong girl characters. Taylor is just as strong --

GLENN: Yeah, really strong.

RICHARD: Just as strong as Michael. He takes counsel from her. This isn't a gender war. These are people trying to get along. And like you said, I remember a school teacher saying to me, Michael loves his mother. She was, like, freaked out. Like, he loves his mother. He says so.

It's like, well, yeah, most boys do love their mother. This is reality. So I think Michael Vey has this truth to it that resonates with kids. It's also just -- I hear from -- I hear every single day, multiple letters every day for the last seven years saying, you got my kid to read.

I mean, I hear it every single day. It's like, this is the only book or only series my kid has ever read, especially the reluctant male readers. One school teacher said, in 18 years, it's the first time every student in the class finished the assignment. One boy took his grade from an F to an A-minus because he practically memorized Michael Vey. I said, well, because you have to give them books they like to read. I was a reluctant reader.

GLENN: Yeah, so was I.

RICHARD: I didn't read till I found The Hobbit. The Hobbit changed my world. I realized that reading actually could be fun. And the Hobbit is a very intelligent book, right?

GLENN: Yeah.

RICHARD: And I pick it up. It's like, there's no pictures in here. Why would I want to read this? The next thing I know, it's like, I want to be --

GLENN: For me -- for me it was Sherlock Holmes. And I think -- and I think this happens with -- with -- with Michael Vey. I read Sherlock Holmes. I was probably 18. Maybe 19 years old. I hated reading. Found that book. And I read it, I think, two or three times. Because I was like, no other book could be this -- I mean, this is really good. Right?

And so you just read it over and over again, until you get sick of it. And you're like, I wonder if there's something else. And then once you go down that rabbit hole -- Raphe hated to read. He told me -- he must have been six. Right around this time. Never going to -- I don't like to read, Dad. I don't like to read books. I don't.

Now, Tania and I feel like the worst parent in the world, because we're always saying, "You say that to him. I'm not going to say that to him." Put the book down. Go out and do something. Go play a video game. Put the book down. Go put the book down.

And I think Michael Vey had a lot to do with that. The book comes out today. If you have not read the series, this is the last in the series. Does it have a satisfying ending?

RICHARD: Yes. It has a very powerful ending.

STU: Does it have a Death Star in it?

RICHARD: No. And no Tyrannosaurus Rex. But I read the last page to my assistant, and she broke down crying. And she goes, my friends. My friends -- you'll love -- you'll love the ending. The big question is, where is Michael Vey? It will shock you, no pun intended, when you find out what's really going on. There's so many reveals. You'll feel like, "Wow. After seven years, I finally get it."

GLENN: Is there a TV show coming?

RICHARD: It looks like. At the launch party, we had Hollywood executives there.

GLENN: Excellent.

RICHARD: And the crowd was crazy.

GLENN: Excellent. Excellent. This will be a great TV show. It is a great series. Michael Vey: The Final Spark. If you haven't started, start from the beginning. You will not regret it. And you can read it with your kids. It is a fantastic series.

(music)

STU: Michael Vey: The Final Spark is the seventh book in the Michael Vey series. You can buy all of them. He didn't take the other ones off the market. So you can catch up whenever you want. We'll tweet the link @worldofStu on Twitter.

People should start listening to Nikki Haley

ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images

Okay. Let's take a vote. You know, an objective, quantifiable count. How many resolutions has the UN Human Rights Council adopted condemning dictatorships? Easy. Well. How do you define "dictatorship"?

Well, one metric is the UN Human Rights Council Condemnation. How many have the United Nations issued to China, with a body count higher than a professional Call of Duty player?

Zero.

How about Venezuela, where socialism is devouring its own in the cruelest, most unsettling ways imaginable?

Zero.

And Russia, home of unsettling cruelty and rampant censorship, murder and (actual) homophobia?

Zero.

Iraq? Zero. Turkey? Iraq? Zero. Cuba? Zero. Pakistan? Zero.

RELATED: Nikki Haley just dropped some serious verbal bombs on Russia at the UN

According to UN Human Rights Council Condemnations, 2006-2016, none of these nations is as dangerous as we'd imagined. Or, rather, none of them faced a single condemnation. Meanwhile, one country in particular has faced unbelievable scrutiny and fury — you'll never guess which country.

No, it's not Somalia. It's Israel. With 68 UN Human Rights Council Condemnations! In fact, the number of total United Nations condemnations against Israel outnumbers the total of condemnations against all other countries combined. The only country that comes close is Syria, with 15.

The Trump administration withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday in protest of what it perceives as an entrenched bias against Israel and a willingness to allow notorious human rights abusers as members.

In an address to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Nikki Haley said:

Let's remember that the Hamas terrorist organization has been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move our embassy. This is what is endangering the people of Gaza. Make no mistake, Hamas is pleased with the results from yesterday... No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.

Maybe people should start listening to Haley. Hopefully, they will. Not likely, but there's no crime in remaining hopeful.

Here's a question unique to our times: "Should I tell my father 'Happy Father's Day,' even though he (she?) is now one of my mothers?"

Father's Day was four days ago, yes, but this story is just weird enough to report on. One enjoyable line to read was this gem from Hollywood Gossip: "Cait is a woman and a transgender icon, but she is also and will always be the father of her six children."

RELATED: If Bruce was never a he and always a she, who won the men's Olympic gold in 1976?

Imagine reading that to someone ten — even five — years ago. And, honestly, there's something nice about it. But the strangeness of its having ever been written overpowers any emotional impact it might bring.

"So lucky to have you," wrote Kylie Jenner, in the Instagram caption under pre-transition pictures of Bruce Jenner.

Look. I risk sounding like a tabloid by mere dint of having even mentioned this story, but the important element is the cultural sway that's occurring. The original story was that a band of disgruntled Twitter users got outraged about the supposed "transphobic" remarks by Jenner's daughter.

But, what we should be saying is, "who the hell cares?" Who cares what one Jenner says to another — and more importantly and on a far deeper level — who cares what some anonymous Twitter user has to say?

When are we going to stop playing into the hands of the Twitter mob?

When are we going to stop playing into the hands of the Twitter mob? Because, at the moment, they've got it pretty good. They have a nifty relationship with the mainstream media: One or two Twitter users get outraged by any given thing — in this case Jenner and supposed transphobia. In return, the mainstream media use the Twitter comment as a source.

Then, a larger Twitter audience points to the article itself as proof that there's some kind of systemic justice at play. It's a closed-market currency, where the negative feedback loop of proof and evidence is composed of faulty accusations. Isn't it a hell of a time to be alive?

These days, when Americans decide to be outraged about something, we really go all out.

This week's outrage is, of course, the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy toward illegal immigration along the southern border. Specifically, people are upset over the part of the policy that separates children from their parents when the parents get arrested.

RELATED: Where were Rachel Maddow's tears for immigrant children in 2014?

Lost in all the outrage is that the President is being proactive about border security and is simply enforcing the law. Yes, we need to figure out a less clumsy, more compassionate way of enforcing the law, but children are not being flung into dungeons and fed maggots as the media would have you believe.

But having calm, reasonable debates about these things isn't the way it's done anymore. You have to make strong, sweeping announcements so the world knows how righteous your indignation is.

That's why yesterday, the governors of Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut declared they are withholding or recalling their National Guard troops from the U.S.-Mexico border until this policy of separating children from their parents is rescinded.

Adding to the media stunt nature of this entire "crisis," it turns out this defiant announcement from these five governors is mostly symbolic. Because two months ago, when President Trump called for 4,000 additional National Guard troops to help patrol the border, large numbers of troops were not requested from those five states. In fact, no troops were requested at all from Rhode Island. But that didn't stop Rhode Island's Democratic governor, Gina Raimondo, from announcing she would refuse to send troops if she were asked. She called the family separation policy, "immoral, unjust and un-American."

There's so much outrage, we're running short on adjectives.

The governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York all used the word "inhumane" in their statements condemning the Trump administration policy. There's so much outrage, we're running short on adjectives.

In a totally unrelated coincidence, four of these five governors are running for re-election this year.

I've made my position clear — separating these children from their parents is a bad policy and we need to stop. We need to treat these immigrants with the kind of compassion we'd want for our own children. And I said the same thing in 2014 when no one cared about the border crisis.

If consistency could replace even just a sliver of the outrage in America, we would all be a lot better off.

I think we can all agree, both on the Left and the Right, that children who have been caught up in illegal immigration is an awful situation. But apparently what no one can agree on is when it matters to them. This past weekend, it suddenly — and even a little magically — began to matter to the Left. Seemingly out of nowhere, they all collectively realized this was a problem and all rushed to blame the Trump administration.

RELATED: These 3 things need to happen before we can fix our border problem

Here's Rachel Maddow yesterday:

I seem to remember getting mocked by the Left for showing emotion on TV, but I'll give her a pass here. This is an emotional situation. But this is what I can't give her a pass on: where the heck was this outrage and emotion back in 2014? Because the same situation going on today — that stuff Maddow and the rest of the Left have only just now woken up to — was going on back in July 2014! And it was arguably worse back then.

I practically begged and pleaded for people to wake up to what was going on. We had to shed light on how our immigration system was being manipulated by people breaking our laws, and they were using kids as pawns to get it done. But unlike the gusto the Left is using now to report this story, let's take a look at what Rachel Maddow thought was more important back in 2014.

On July 1, 2014, Maddow opened her show with a riveting monologue on how President Obama was hosting a World Cup viewing party. That's hard-hitting stuff right there.

On July 2, 2014, Maddow actually acknowledged kids were at the border, but she referenced Health and Human Services only briefly and completely rushed through what was actually happening to these kids. She made a vague statement about a "policy" stating where kids were being taken after their arrival. She also blamed Congress for not acting.

See any difference in reporting there from today? That "policy" she referenced has suddenly become Trump's "new" policy, and it isn't Congress's fault… it's all on the President.

She goes on throughout the week.

On July 7, 2014, her top story was something on the Koch brothers. Immigration was only briefly mentioned at the end of the show. This trend continued all the way through the week. I went to the border on July 19. Did she cover it? Nope. In fact, she didn't mention kids at the border for the rest of the month. NOT AT ALL.

Do you care about immigrant kids who have been caught in the middle of a broken immigration system or not?

Make up your minds. Is this an important issue or not? Do you care about immigrant kids who have been caught in the middle of a broken immigration system or not? Do you even care to fix it, or is this what it looks like — just another phony, addicted-to-outrage political stunt?

UPDATE: Here's how this discussion went on radio. Watch the video below.

Glenn gives Rachel Maddow the benefit of the doubt

Rachel Maddow broke down in tears live on her MSNBC show over border crisis.