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Interview: February 11, 1997

On February 11, 1997, THE BOOK REPORT welcomed Nicholas Sparks, author of THE NOTEBOOK, to discuss true love, romance, and writing. The interviewers were Jennifer Levitsky (BookpgJL) and Kelly Milner Halls (WiserDino).

Marlene T: Hello, Jennifer, Kelly, and Mr. Sparks, welcome!

BookpgJL: Thank you for being here, Nick and Kelly.

N Sparks97: Thank you. I am glad to be here.

Wiser Dino: My pleasure, Jen.

BookpgJL: So you've written this incredibly romantic book. What does true love mean to you?

N Sparks97: True love means enduring love. Love that stands the test of time. Love that makes it through the ups and downs of any relationship. 

BookpgJL: Do you believe in happily ever after?

N Sparks97: I believe that happily ever after is possible for a few people if they work on it. Every relationship goes through ups and downs. It is possible if that is what you are looking for that is what you get if that is what you are looking for. If you are looking for love, you will find love.

BookpgJL: We're coming up on that romantic day -- Valentine's Day -- any big plans? Surprises for your wife?

N Sparks97: Not really, a romantic candlelit dinner, a gift, a dozen roses. Real romance happens at other times of the year -- when it is not forced down your throat. Romance is thinking about your significant other, when you are supposed to be thinking about something else, and you are thinking about the one you love. 

BookpgJL: THE NOTEBOOK is based on your wife's grandparents....tell us a little about what seeing them in love was like.

N Sparks97: Her grandparents taught me what enduring love and committed love was all about. The day after our wedding, we talked to them and they treated each other, after 60 years, the way we were treating each other after 12 hours of marriage.

Wiser Dino: Nick, we know that lasting affection influenced the flavor of THE NOTEBOOK. Can we see your relationship between the lines too?

N Sparks97: There is definitely the flavor of my relationship with my wife -- you tend to draw on your own experiences when you write. The first time when Noah met Ali is the way I felt when I met my wife.

BookpgJL: What made you want to turn their love into your lovely story?

N Sparks97: I think that enduring, committed love between a married couple, along with raising children, is the most noble act anyone can aspire to. It is not written about very much. I wanted to capture what I believe makes the world go around --- to capture the essence. My wife is my best friend.

Wiser Dino: So would you say lifelong love is more central to the theme than love rekindled?

N Sparks97: Yes, lifelong love which has withstood the ups and downs. Rekindled love is generally short-term.

Question: Did you ever expect your readers to fall in love with you as much as the book?

N Sparks97: That is a very sweet thing to say. I wanted for my readers to relate the book to the best people they know in their lives --- their parents, grandparents, their husbands, their wives.

Question: Mr. Sparks, I hear the book is based on your grandparents. Are they still living?

N Sparks97: They are both deceased -- they both died prior to me starting the book. They died within six months of each other.

Question: Please....!!!!....tell me about the poetry in the Notebook? It was as lovely or lovelier than the story itself which was grand.

N Sparks97: I read a lot of poetry and that poetry was very carefully selected to match the scene. The final three poems were my own.

Wiser Dino: Nick, did you ever consider any other plot twists, say between Noah and Ali's fiance?

N Sparks97: Yes I did, in fact, that might be a future book.

Wiser Dino: Can you tell us a little about the new book? Will it be as sweet and sentimental as THE NOTEBOOK?

N Sparks97: Yes, it is a contemporary love story with very universal characters with a bitter-sweet ending -- I am almost done with it.

Question: I have read the book and loved it. I have also heard there is a movie in the makings. What, if anything are you writing now?

N Sparks97: There is a movie in the makings. Mark Johnson of Rainman and Risky Business fame is the producer, the screenwriter of Shine wrote the screenplay.

Question: Were you surprised by the immense success of The Notebook?

N Sparks97: You hope for the success, you dream about it, but you never expect it. In my heart I hoped it would touch as many people as it has and be as meaningful as it has been --- as it was for me.

BookpgJL: What do you think about the inevitable comparisons to BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY?

N Sparks97: It is a double-edged sword. Bridges was the most successful hardcover book in history. If they are comparing me on the basis of that, I am OK with that. Otherwise, there is no comparison at all. Bridges is the story of adultery and The Notebook is the story of committed love. I am not into adultery!

Question: When can we expect the new book??

N Sparks97: Spring of 1998

Question: That's terrific. How can you miss with all that support. Will we see the movie on the screen this year?

N Sparks97: It will probably be out summer of 1998 -- because of long production times


N Sparks97: I was inspired to tell a story that people wanted to read. There are very few books written about the love of a single couple that spans a lifetime.

Wiser Dino: Nick, as you've toured the country, have you been met with dozens of romantic stories? Are your readers eager to share their experiences?

N Sparks97: Absolutely, I have heard so many wonderful stories --- I have received about 2500 letters which often begin with "you remind me so much of my grandparents."

Wiser Dino: How many cities have you been able to hit in the past months?

N Sparks97: I stopped touring in December but I ended up doing about 60 cities.

Wiser Dino: Any special ways you romance your lady long distance? When you have to be apart?

N Sparks97: When I met my wife on Spring Break my junior year of college, I wrote her 200 letters in about 2 1/2 months, 2 a day, and sent her flowers telling her how much I thought about her, chatty letters. She has boxes of love letters.

Wiser Dino: So you wrote her letters while you were touring THE NOTEBOOK?

N Sparks97: When you don't get to see each other, you get to have an emotional attraction. Yes, letters, phone calls, flowers, came home with gifts. The first thing I did when I sold my book was buy a new wedding ring for my wife and asked her to marry me all over again. I like romance -- I think it is fun.

Wiser Dino: Nick, do you feel your book can help teach American men the value of romance?

N Sparks97: I think that it is possible that some people might pick up on that but romance takes effort and it is easy to neglect -- it takes effort to keep the spark alive.

Wiser Dino: "Sparks" 

N Sparks97: You know, I do do the laundry in my house!

Question: Nick, are you a regular user of AOL and can I send you E-mail in the future?

N Sparks97: Yes, I read everything I receive, but due to the volume of mail I receive, I can't respond to everything I get. I hang out at the Writer's Cafe frequently.

Question: How many years are you married?

N Sparks97: I have been married 8 years and I love my wife more now than I did when I married her. Our relationship has so much more depth than it did. We have been through our ups and downs -- we have learned so much from that.

Question: Nick, could you comment on the difference between personality and character, and its bearing on love?

N Sparks97: I think that some people are more prone to having more outward signs of affection. Noah is dominated by the feeling of undying love that he felt for Ali from the moment he met Ali. He is me in a lot of ways.

Question: Nicholas, do you have children?

N Sparks97: I have two sons, 5 and 3, and they are fabulous -- my best friends aside from my wife. I tell them that I love them and I am proud of them every day. I think that is where it all comes from.

Question: Did your wife keep your letters?

N Sparks97: Yes she did and she occasionally reads through them. The letters in THE NOTEBOOK were drawn from the various letters I have written her over the years.

Question: Ever thought of publishing your letters to your wife?

N Sparks97: No, because there really isn't a story --- except that I loved my wife and I missed her. But my next book is entitled LETTERS TO CATHERINE -- which is my wife's name.

Question: Will you ever write the love story of your life, Nicholas? -Debra

N Sparks97: Debra, perhaps one day!

Question: What will you get your wife for Valentine's??

N Sparks97: Flowers, I will make her dinner -- carbonara over ziti --- and a gift.

Question: How many times have you experienced the "real" love in your life and how soon did you realize it?

N Sparks97: Twice. I had a very special girlfriend when I was younger -- she is one of my wife's best friends now. The day after I met my wife, I told her that we would get married one day. I just knew. She had these incredible eyes. I just knew.

BookpgJL: One last question from the audience....

Question: Mr. Sparks, how difficult was it to create fiction from a true story??

N Sparks97: I would take the basic true elements in the grandparents' story and I would add fiction to make it a more compelling story -- because above all a good novel is a wonderful story told in a compelling manner.

BookpgJL: That's all folks. Thank you so much, Nick, for such a romance-filled evening. I'm sure everyone is in the mood for Valentine's Day now. :) Thank you also, Kelly, for helping with the interview!

Marlene T: One last question, Mr. Sparks? I'm interested, myself to know the answer to this one!

Wiser Dino: Always a treat talking to Nick.

N Sparks97: Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed being here. I am very proud of you guys!

Question: Do you have a twin brother?

BookpgJL: He does have a brother.....not a twin. :) But he's gone now! Thanks for coming everyone! :)

Marlene T: Thank you all!!