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.

The themes of healing and redemption appear throughout the Bible.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. — 1 Corinthians 15:43
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. — Mark 2:17.

So, for many Christians, it's no surprise to hear that people of faith live longer lives.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. — Jeremiah 17:14.

But it is certainly lovely to hear, and a recent study by a doctoral student at Ohio State University is just one more example of empirical evidence confirming the healing benefits of faith and religious belief.

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Moreover, the study finds that religious belief can lengthen a person's life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. — Proverbs 17:22
Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! — Isaiah 38:16

The study analyzed over 1,000 obituaries nationwide and found that people of faith lived longer than people who were not religious. Laura Wallace, lead author of the study, noted that "religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life."

The study notes that, "people whose obits mentioned a religious affiliation lived an average of 5.64 years longer than those whose obits did not, which shrunk to 3.82 years after gender and marital status were considered."

And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. — Matthew 10:1

"The researchers found that part of the reason for the boost in longevity came from the fact that many religiously affiliated people also volunteered and belonged to social organizations, which previous research has linked to living longer. The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives," said Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

In addition, the study showed how the effects of religion on longevity might depend in part on the personality and average religiosity of the cities where people live, Way said.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. — Luke 5:17
Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. — Luke 10:9

In early June, the Social Security and Medicare trustees released their annual report on the fiscal health of these programs, and the situation looks dire. Medicare is scheduled to run out of money in 2026 (three years sooner than anticipated), while Social Security is expected to run out in 2034. The rising national debt is only one of the well-known financial struggles the millennial generation faces. The burdens of student loan debt, high housing prices (thanks to zoning restrictions), stagnant wage growth, the rising cost of healthcare and lingering aftershocks of the Great Recession are among the biggest sources of economic anxiety millennials feel.

Progressive politicians have been very successful at courting the youth vote, partly because they actually promote policy ideas that address many of these concerns. As unrealistic or counterproductive as Senator Bernie Sanders' proposals for single-payer health care or a $15 an hour minimum wage might be, they feel in theory like they would provide the economic stability and prosperity millennials want.

RELATED: Time to reverse course: America is being corrupted by its own power

Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to craft a message to address these concerns. Fiscal conservatives recognize, correctly, that the burden of the $20 trillion national debt and over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities will fall on millennials. Some conservatives have even written books about that fact. But the need to reform entitlements hasn't exactly caught millennials' attention. Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, in her book The Selfie Vote, notes that millennials generally view protecting the safety net as more important than reducing the deficit.

Clearly, Republicans have a problem. They need to craft solutions that address the millennial generation's struggles, but they can't seem to sell entitlement reform, their biggest policy preference that addresses those problems. The Republican approach to wooing millennials on policy is failing because talking about stopping the debt from reaching an unsustainable level is long-term and abstract, and offers few immediate tangible benefits. A new approach to both pave the way for entitlement reform and give millennials an immediate financial boost is to first reform not entitlement spending, but the payroll tax: specifically, by partially (or wholly) replacing it with a value-added tax.

Under the current Social Security model, workers pay for the benefits of current retirees through the payroll tax. This system creates the illusion of a pension program, in which what you put in is what you get out, but in reality Social Security is a universal safety net program for the elderly paid for by taxes. The payroll tax falls on workers and is a tax on labor, while the value-added tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption imposed at every part of the production process. Assuming that this policy change is revenue-neutral, switching to a VAT will shift the responsibility for funding Social Security and Medicare away from workers, disproportionately poorer and younger, and onto everyone participating in the economy as a whole. Furthermore, uncoupling Social Security funding from payroll taxes would pave the way for fiscal reforms to transform the program from a universal benefit program to one geared specifically to eliminating old-age poverty, such as means-testing benefits for high-income beneficiaries, indexing benefits to prices rather than wages or changing the retirement age.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences. As the Tax Policy Center notes, the change would actually make the tax system more progressive. The current payroll tax is regressive, meaning that people with lower incomes tend to pay a higher effective tax rate than people with higher incomes. On the other hand, the value-added tax is much closer to proportional than the payroll tax, meaning that each income group pays closer to the same effective tax rate.

For Republicans, such a change would fit conservative economic ideas about the long-run causes of economic growth. A value-added tax has a much broader base than the payroll tax, and therefore would allow for much lower marginal tax rates, and lower marginal tax rates mean smaller disincentives to economic activity. According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of a value-added tax, the VAT would be a more economically efficient revenue source than most other taxes currently in the tax code.

Not only would replacing part or all of the payroll tax provide an immediate benefit to millennial taxpayers, it would also open the door for the much-needed entitlement reforms that have been so politically elusive. Furthermore, it would make the tax code both more pro-growth and less regressive. In order to even begin to address the entitlement crisis, win millennial support and stimulate the economy in a fiscally responsible manner, Republicans must propose moving from the payroll tax to the VAT.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate. His writing has appeared in Townhall and The Federalist. He is a federal policy intern at the Tax Foundation. Opinions expressed here are his only and not the views of the Tax Foundation. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Glenn was joined by Alanna Sarabia from "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios on Thursday for an exclusive look at Mercury Museum's new "Rights & Responsibilities" exhibit. Open through Father's Day, the temporary museum features artifacts from pop culture, America's founding, World Ward II and more, focusing on the rights and responsibilities America's citizens.

Get tickets and more information here.

Watch as Glenn gives a sneak peek at some of the unique artifacts on display below.

History at the Mercury Museum

Alanna Sarabia interviews Glenn Beck for "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios.

Several months ago, at the Miss Universe competition, two women took a selfie, then posted it on Instagram. The caption read, "Peace and love." As a result of that selfie, both women faced death threats, and one of the women, along with her entire family, had to flee her home country. The occasion was the 2017 Miss Universe competition, and the women were Miss Iraq and Miss Israel. Miss Iraq is no longer welcome in her own country. The government threatened to strip her of her crown. Of course, she was also badgered for wearing a bikini during the competition.

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In an interview, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, said:

When I posted the picture I didn't think for a second there would be blowback. I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary. The director of the Miss Iraq Organization called me and said they're getting heat from the ministry. He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title.

Yesterday, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, posted another selfie with Miss Israel, during a visit to Jerusalem.

In an interview, she said that:

I don't think Iraq and Israel are enemies; I think maybe the governments are enemies with each other. There's a lot of Iraqi people that don't have a problem with Israelis.

This is, of course, quite an understatement: Iraq, home to roughly 15,000 Palestinians, refuses to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate country, as it is technically at war with Israel. The adages says that a picture is worth a thousand words. What are we to do when many of those words are hateful or deadly? And how can we find the goodness in such bad situations?