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Interview: February 1999

Ahh's almost Valentine's Day and everyone is getting geared up to impress the love of their life. We at TBR have a suggestion for the ultimate romantic experience --- read a book and go to a movie...preferably the same one. Anyone looking for a love story this Valentine's Day can't go wrong with Nicholas Sparks' book, MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE, which is also a movie starring Kevin Costner, Robin Wright-Penn and Paul Newman. TBR was lucky enough to catch up with Nicholas right in the middle of his whirlwind tour. He returned to TBR to answer some very pertinent questions about the new movie and his plans for Valentine's Day. Find out the most romantic thing that ever happened to this author and what plans the movie industry has for his other book, THE NOTEBOOK, in his most recent interview.

TheBookReport: Have you seen the movie version of MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE? If so, with whom did you see it and what were your reactions?

Nicholas Sparks: I saw the movie in Atlanta with 18 members of my wife's family. When I first sat down, I was nervous but I found myself getting swept up in the performances. It's a wonderful film.

TBR: What is it like having one of your books be made into a movie?

NS: It's always exciting to sell a project to Hollywood, but it's scary at the same time because I give up all creative control. Luckily, I worked with wonderful people who had the same vision for the project that I had.

TBR: How has it affected your life?

NS: So far, having a movie made of my novel hasn't really affected my life all that much. I still live in a small town, my wife and children keep me grounded. More people, however, will be exposed to my work, and I'm thankful for that.

TBR: How do you feel about Kevin Costner, Robin Wright-Penn and Paul Newman as the leads?

NS: The cast was perfect --- I don't know if it could have been any better than it was. Kevin, Robin and Paul were fantastic in the roles.

TBR: Did you have any input in the screenplay?

NS: I didn't have a lot of input into the screenplay, though my input wasn't really needed. Gerry D. Pego did a great job.

TBR: Are sceenplays something you'd like to write?

NS: I have no desire to write screenplays --- at heart, I'm a novelist.

TBR: The book has been published, the movie is about to be released, and it's almost Valentine's Day --- we want to know --- do you still believe in happily ever after?

NS: I believe in happily ever-after, though not for everyone all the time. Life doesn't work that way. That's why we appreciate it when it does.

TBR: You told us last year what your plans were for you and your wife for Valentine's Day --- we were all envious and impressed. What are your plans this year?

NS: Valentine's Day? I'll make my wife dinner, light some candles and listen to the soundtrack from the film. It's romantic, and I think we'll just go from there…

TBR: What is the most romantic thing anyone has ever said or done to you?

NS: My wife sometimes encloses cards or notes in my suitcase when I have to travel, without telling me first. Then when I arrive in some strange hotel and unpack, I'll find it. My wife is a doll.

TBR: What is the most romantic thing you've ever said or done to someone else?

NS: My wife had gone to visit her parents with the kids, and there was a blizzard all week long. She was trapped inside the house for a week and on the flight home both kids were sick. Her plan was delayed for two hours ... it was terrible and she was tired. When she got home, I led her to the bathroom where I had a tub drawn, candles lit, with a stack of magazines. I said "Honey, you relax --- I'll take care of the kids, given them supper and put them to bed. You just relax for a while." Then, I did just that.

TBR: Do you see THE NOTEBOOK as a movie as well?

NS: Hopefully THE NOTEBOOK will start filming this year. The script is finished and New Line is very excited about the project.

TBR: When you visualize writing your next book, do you "see" it as a movie?

NS: I don't really "see" it as a movie, though I do picture everything so I can write it down.

TBR: What are you working on now?

NS: I have a novel coming out in September entitled A WALK TO REMEMBER, and I'm currently working on my fourth novel, as yet untitled.