The monumental "walk" that author Richard Paul Evans started four years ago is finally coming to an end.
"Walking on Water" (Simon and Schuster, $19.99), the fifth and final journal in Evan's best-selling Walk series, will be released in bookstores on Tuesday, May 6.
For Evans, the only remaining question is whether or not readers will find it a worthy conclusion. Evans said he feels pressure to deliver something spectacular, especially when considering how the story has led some readers to change their minds about suicide and others have called from their deathbeds because they want to know how the series will end.
"All I could think about was the need to get it right," Evans said in an interview with the Deseret News. "People have been following this for four years. I can't imagine the disappointment if it wasn't right on."
The story began in 2010 with the main character, Alan Christofferson, losing his wife, his advertising business and home in a short amount of time. With nothing to hold him back, the heartbroken man decides to walk from Seattle to Key West, Fla. He embarks on a journey to discover why life is worth living and writes about it in his diary, which becomes subsequent books in the series.
In "Walking on Water," the 320-page story picks up with Christofferson returning to California to be with his dying father. He eventually travels to the Florida state line to begin the final leg of his cross-continental quest.
In a short question-and-answer session, Evans talks about his efforts in writing and finishing the popular series, including its challenges, highlights and life lessons. He is grateful to know it has made a difference in readers' lives.
Deseret News: In addition to the pressure to get it just right, what else goes through an author's mind when he finishes a series like this?
Richard Paul Evans: There is some nostaglia with it. I drove from coast to coast to go through the experience. When I hit that Key West sign, I was surprised at the euphoria and sadness at the same time. I tried to convey that through the character. I think I had a sense of what he must have felt, because for me it was a five-year journey that started in Seattle, much in the same way. When I started, I didn’t have it mapped out. I didn’t know where the book was going to end. So to get here, experience all that, brought a mix of those emotions.
I also felt a remarkable sense of gratitude that I did it. This series has become a big part of my life. I think of all the connections I’ve made around the world, from people in Poland to Brazil and all over the U.S., wherever I go, people will bring up "The Walk."
It means a lot to people. We have had more than 40 people call from their death beds because they had questions they wanted answered about the series. I got a letter from a woman who has been going through heavy loss, she’s been fighting alcoholism as a result of her loss, a friend gave her a copy.
Books are powerful things. They can start movements, political and spiritual revolutions. Sometimes those revolutions happen inside of us. The Walk series has been that kind of book for many people, including me.
DN: As a result of this series, how many readers have you inspired to walk across the United States?
RPE: A few. Someone told me they went for a 7-mile walk. Some people are driving the route on their Harley-Davidsons. They called and asked for my notes because they are actually going to drive it. I bought a GoPro (camera) and said I wanted them to take some pictures along the way. We're going to put it on Facebook and let people follow them as they make the path.
DN: In reflecting on the series, will you contrast your biggest challenge with a favorite highlight?
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