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Author Talk: The Guardian, April 2003

Question: Why did you combine a love story with a dark character in a thriller?

Nicholas Sparks: I wanted to create a character who added an element of danger to the novel, and Richard was the result. I did that because I wanted to write the type of novel that I hadn't written before, and because I think it's important for my readers that they don't read the same book over and over.

Q: How did you come to create such an obsessive, evil character?

NS: In crafting the character and story, I tried to make it seem believable. I can't tell you how tired I am of hearing stories about people who stay with violent partners. The question I always asked myself was: 'Why didn't the other person simply leave when the danger started?' With this story then, Richard and Julie went out only a couple of times before she realized it wasn't working; yet Richard wouldn't let her go. I think that could honestly happen to anyone-that's what dating is for, after all-to learn if you're compatible with someone.

Q: Was it hard to create an original character and thriller?

NS: Richard was difficult to create in an original way. So many thrillers have been written, and so many different types of evil characters have been seen in film, that creating someone believable but original was one of my major challenges in the editing process.

Q: Have you ever known anyone like Richard?

NS: You should know that I've never come across someone like Richard in my life. He was entirely a figment of my imagination.

Q: Why was this book so hard to write?

NS: The balance between the love story and thriller elements was tremendously difficult to pull off. In many ways, THE GUARDIAN is two novels in one, yet I did my best so that the reader would never lose sight of the fact that the story was primarily a love story about Julie and Mike.

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