Interview with Nicholas Sparks – Part 2

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was part of a bloggers roundtable who interviewed author Nicholas Sparks. It was an amazing experience to actually “talk” to Mr. Sparks. It’s important to note prior to the call I was informed we would be able to ask questions round robin style and I would probably have the opportunity to ask 2 maybe 3 questions on any topic although Mr. Sparks was promoting the film release of Nights in Rodanthe. Well, when the call started I have to confess I was really nervous. The moderator requested we press *1 when we were ready to ask our question. I hesitated and waited about 3 min before pressing *1. As it turned out, the interview started about 15 min late and that meant the total time for questions was cut short. When it was my turn to ask a question I really struggled on what to ask in fear it would be my only question. Would I ask something about the new movie Night in Rodanthe? …or maybe something about writing in general…like his inspiration or does he outline his books. I had done a ton a research, as much as possible in the 24 hours I had to prepare. In the end, after a prayer to the good Lord above it came to me. I’d ask something about his new book The Lucky One whose lead character is a Marine. Now it seems logical, but at the time I really wasn’t sure. In the end I was very happy I asked the question since it was my only one. I was surprised at Mr. Sparks candor and level of detail he supplied in his answer.

I hope this interview is the first of many.

The Lucky One release date is this Tuesday Sept. 30th, I’ll be at Sams picking it up and will clear the decks this weekend to finish it. Click here for book tour info.

Thank you again to Nicholas Sparks, Andrea, Gemma, and my fellow bloggers on the call: Megan, Tracy, Susan, Jenna and Ashley.

Here is the rest of the interview:

Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks

WP: It’s great to see military service members as lead characters in your novels. I’m wondering what is your military experience or background if any?

And what’s your inspiration for writing these characters?

Nicholas Sparks: My whole family was in the military. Both my grandparents, seven of my uncles, five of my cousins. I also live in North Carolina. You know 35 minutes to the south of me is Camp Lejeune and 50,000 marines and their families.

15 minutes to the southeast is Cherry Point, another you know 7,000 marines and their families. An hour to the west is Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and then you know about an hour and 45 minutes southwest is Fort Bragg. So I am surrounded by the military.

And it is just a way of life here and it is an honorable profession here. It is regarded as something, you know a good choice for a number of different, as a profession. So it’s just been part of me growing up. You know I had cousins, I had three cousins who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. So it’s just part of our family’s culture.

And then it’s part of my personal culture living in this area as well though I did not ever, no, I was not ever in the military. I’m very sensitive to the way military people are portrayed. Like there’s the way Oliver Stone does it and then I’m the exact opposite. I tend to see the good in these people.

I tend to see the sacrifice that they do. I tend to see the honor in what they do and I tend to see the personal effects on their families of what they do. Because of course I’m here you know. We work, one of the people who works for us, her husband is in Iraq right now.

And so you, I live with it you know on a daily basis. What she goes through, the sacrifices that she’s making and she’s certainly not alone. My neighbor the same thing. You know he went to Iraq. He was a chaplain and so he was always being posted over there with the Marines.

So I’m just surrounded by them, I know them well, I know the families, I see the families and I see the humanity and just the overall goodness as a general rule. So Dear John of course was about the Army. You know that was an Army veteran.

But my next novel The Lucky One was about a Marine. And of course I’ll eventually make my way through all of the service branches.

AT: (Regarding the movie Nights in Rodanthe) How do you feel, how accurate of a portrayal is it compared to your novel?

Nicholas Sparks: It’s very close. It’s, you know all of my novels tend to be fairly closely adapted. If you’re going to go in and look for, if you’re going with a yellow sheet of paper and a pencil looking for specifics of course you’ll find them.

But the overall theme, the emotional arcs of the characters, the vast majority of the story, the way you imagine the place to look, the interaction between the characters, all of this is essentially the same. Any differences that happen really come down to just the differences between books and movies.

A book is a story told in words and a film is a story told in pictures. And that very essential difference means you have to do some things differently because some things work great in one and not the other and vice versa.

For instance, in novels introspection works great. You learn all about the character but you can’t film someone thinking.

Nicholas Sparks: It just doesn’t work. It’s a very boring film. And then you know conversely the, some things work great in film, they tend to work better than they do in books. Anything involving a fire, a car chase, intense emotion. These things work very well because you can see what’s happening. And you know you can describe a, you know a fight in a book. But man you put it on screen and it looks that much better.

Nicholas Sparks: And so there’s, so most of the changes just go to those, those types of differences and you can go through one by one and I can explain you know why The Notebook was a little bit different here or why A Walk to Remember was a little bit different there.

And usually the changes are made to keep it more in line with what the book was trying to achieve.

MS: (Regarding Three Weeks With My Brother – a book about a trip around the world with NS and his brother) What was the hardest thing about the experience of taking the trip and writing the book? And what was the easiest?

Nicholas Sparks: The hardest thing about it was, and I spelled it out in the novel or in the memoir. It was twofold. It was going, you know just going. I was at a point in my life when I was very, very busy. And then number two, finding a way to enjoy it. And that was really what the journey that I was going through was about.

It was, that was an important part of my journey. So that was the most challenging part, the most challenging part about writing it was reliving experiences that I’d rather not get emotionally close to again. It’s, you know there were a number of tragedies that struck my family and I needed to go back to those places, put you back in there.

You really have to work to do that. That’s a very painful place to be. It became very real for me again. So those were very, that was that. For the good things look, traveling the world with my brother is an experience that I’ll never forget and it’s something most likely we’ll do again.

And the best part about writing it was the fact that I knew the story. I mean I knew it in and out.

MS: Now when you say finding a way to enjoy it tell me a little bit about that. Letting yourself go to enjoy the trip?

Nicholas Sparks: Yeah. Both. I mean it was, I have a lot going on. I have a lot, I had a lot going on. It was not the time for me to take that trip. And so by the time I went it felt almost as if it was a burden to go. And that is a shame because that is, that reflects an imbalance in your life. And to correct that imbalance took time.

MS: Has your wife taken a similar trip?

Nicholas Sparks:

MS: Does she plan to?

Nicholas Sparks: I know, yeah, maybe not three weeks but without question.

TO: I’m a teacher and teachers are readers and so are my co-workers. And one of them asked me when I mentioned I would be talking to you, said oh ask him about the titles. Because we’d noticed that the titles at first glance seem so simple on your books.

And then as you read the story there’s such a deeper meaning to each one. For example, The Rescue.

Nicholas Sparks: Of course. The titles are chosen very carefully and the titles are usually chosen after the fact, after the novel is written. And they are meant to do exactly that, reflect a deeper meaning to the novel.

And you know there’s this real fine line between being too schmaltzy with the title and then being too hard with the title. There’s a real fine line between appealing to both men and women with the title. And so you’ve got to find the right balance and then of course make sure it has meaning.

So titles can be very challenging to be quite frank.


Read Part 1

Nights in Rodanthe is currently in theaters.

Interesting facts about Nicholas Sparks:

1. He is a father of 5 children

2. Coaches a high school state champion track team

3. Sold over 50 million books

Interview with Nicholas Sparks – Part 1

20 Sep 08

Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks

Last Thursday I had the amazing opportunity to be apart of interviewing author Nicholas Sparks on a conference call with 5 others bloggers. I’m so excited to share the call. As I mentioned in a preview post, I found Nicholas Sparks to be very open as he was willing to answer any question we asked. I felt he was truly engaged in the conversation and really elaborated in the answers he provided. My hope is as you read the interview you find it revealing, interesting and leave you wanting to read more of Nicholas Sparks or perhaps pick up your first of his novels. Nights of Rodanthe based on the book by Nicholas Sparks opens Sep 26th, so grab a girlfriend, your mom, sister, the neighbor along with a pack of tissues and escape into this great movie. I’m leaving for NYC for the World Premier on Tuesday morning (5am) and can’t wait to share all the sights, sounds and tastes I can manage to fit into 48 hours!


MS: I recently read the book Nights in Rodanthe and when I finished the book I came away saying, “What a lovely story.” And the character Adrienne was so well drawn. How do you think it is that you’re able to write such well rounded women characters?

Nicholas Sparks: That in all honesty is the magic question. I have not the slightest idea. I have a, I have a standard group of answers that I give whenever asked that question you know and they’re all true. I had a wonderful mother. I married very well. All of the most important people in my life at the present time and throughout my publishing career have been women.

I have daughters. And yet none, and yet none of those fully answers the question. I suppose I just have an ability to create a character’s voice that is, that sounds genuine and real. And I know that’s the question you asked. I don’t know. That’s part of the magical writing process. It is what differentiates writers, the talent level of writers.

It’s, and it’s akin to asking where do you get the ideas. I don’t know. I just do. How do I create women? I don’t know. I just do. Certainly I observe the world. I’ve seen how my wife reacts in certain situations. I saw how my mom or my sister did it.

All of these things I’m sure play a role in that but it comes together in a way that is unique for me just as it is unique for everybody.

TO: You write so well about the south. Do you need to do greater research in terms of the settings, for example, the inn in Nights of Rodanthe?

Nicholas Sparks: As a general rule I don’t have to do so much research because I’ve been to, in every novel that I’ve written I have been to the town that I’ve described. And of course as a novelist I feel free to take certain liberties when I need to because I’m a novelist and I can do such things.

But the – and the reason for that is in the novels that I write and these are dramatic fiction, this is the love story genre. It’s got its roots way back to Greek tragedies and you know Hemingway did it, Shakespeare did it.

In these types of stories the atmosphere and the setting almost becomes a character. And you know that always on a subconscious level when you’re in the south, in all forms of southern literature the atmosphere and the setting almost become their own character.

And it’s just part of writing about, living in the south and writing about the south. And it’s the way people tell stories, it’s just the way it is down here. It’s a very different world in some places. I live in a small town that I swear hasn’t changed much in 30 years. I mean it is, people walk places, it’s very hot and muggy, you’ve got the Spanish moss hanging from trees, kids running around barefoot.

It’s very much like it, it’s like a place stuck in time. And whenever you’re in rural areas of the south it is, of the south, it’s often like that. It’s just, yeah it’s moved up, it’s got the, we’ve got cell phones and the whole bit but the core of the place has not changed.

And it is a unique and wonderful place and certainly every place has their unique features but it’s a great place to write about because the setting is so important and there’s always the perfect place to set a story. And I know exactly where that is.

You know I – for a while before I was a writer you know I sold pharmaceuticals so I drove around virtually to every small town in the eastern part of the state. So I’ve been to every one of them. So it makes picking a setting relatively easy.

SO: I was wondering when you are writing your stories and has this changed over the time that you’ve written them and published so many successful ones, how does the editorial decisions affect your plot and is that a painful decision when they want you to change things?

And how much does that play into the final book that we get to get our hands on?

Nicholas Sparks: That’s a great question. For the most part I am, I would be considered lightly edited. I mean there’s no question that I’m edited but the process is a little bit different for me than it is for other writers. And I suppose, and I can’t speak for other writers because I don’t know exactly what they do.

But for me the process goes something like this. I write a novel or I write half of a novel and then send the other half later. The first step is it goes to my agent. And my agent really, she’s a Creative Writing major. She’s probably one of the most intelligent women I’ve ever met in my life.

She, she goes through and does a pretty significant line edit on the work. And she, she suggests deletions of passages that she doesn’t necessarily believe are necessary. You know she might change the wording here and there on a few things. But it’s mainly a lot of blue marks and I’m deleting an awful lot.

And the reason she does that is I ask her specifically to do so. One of those core tenets under which I write is efficiency. I believe that efficiency is underrated and it is, and it is incredibly important to develop in quality literature. I’ll give you a real quick example before I go on.

You know you could write a story and say you know the country’s out of whack, you know the markets are crashing, house prices are plunging, you know people are losing their jobs, there’s a lot of illegal immigration, you know healthcare costs are spiraling out of control and yet you know some people are doing okay.

You know they haven’t been affected, da, da, da, da, you can go on and on like that. Or you could say something like it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Nicholas Sparks: And that is what I mean by efficiency. And that is very hard to do. And it’s a, it’s a lesson that only, that very few writers master and it’s always a struggle because it’s much easier believe it or not to take a paragraph to describe it than to come up with a sentence like it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. So my edit, my agent goes through with a rather significant line edit. I make all the changes. And then from there it goes to my editor. My editor is also very intelligent. And she and I have worked together since the very beginning. And by that time the writing is fairly strong and it tends to be very efficiently written.

And what she’ll do is she’ll fill in story gaps or she’ll say this doesn’t quite flow the way it should or you really need to maybe rework this particular scene. So she does story holes. And as a general rule there aren’t many. For instance, you know for me to do all of the line edits in a novel, you know I write a novel from beginning to end, to do all of the line edits for my agent might take 12 hours.

The edits from my editor which include new writing and you know deletion perhaps and increasing flow, all of those edits might take 12 hours.

So, in other words, no, no, once I, you know if I, I either send my agent the whole book or I send her half and then send her the other half. So it’s all done through the line edit. And then once she’s gone all the way through it once it goes to my editor.

So really my books go to my editor probably about 98% complete, you know 98% and so you’re only talking about editing at the most, 2% and that doesn’t take long at all. Like I said, I could do, for most of the vast majority of my books, a total editing process of less than 24 working hours…

SO: Wow.

Nicholas Sparks: …which isn’t much.

Nicholas Sparks: …and then rewrite the whole thing. I’ve never had to do that.

SO: Has that always been the case or is that improved as you’ve done more books? I mean was your first book the same?

Nicholas Sparks: The first book was the same. It probably took…
…well actually I probably spent a little bit longer editing. I mean it was probably a little bit more time. not, but certainly much less than you would imagine. They come in, they come in pretty close to what the final product is.


Look for Part 2 of this interview coming soon!

A big thank you to Andrea, Gemma, and my fellow bloggers on the call: Megan, Tracy, Susan, Jenna and Ashley. Your questions were great.

Don’t forget Nights in Rodanthe, staring Richard Gere and Diane Lane opens Friday 26 Sep 08!

Nights in Rodanthe Contest Winners

Related post:

Nicholas Sparks’ Nights in Rodanthe – Watch the Trailer and Enter the Giveaway!

Recently on Navy Wife Radio we announced the winners of our first ever contest!

Here are the winners of our Nights in Rodanthe contest.

  1. Erin Lindsay
  2. Yasenia
  3. Kathy Conley
  4. Heather
  5. Kelly was the winner of the best comment.

We’ve notified the winners via email and they will be receiving their FREE *Nights in Rodanthe* book by Nicholas Sparks shortly.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest! We hope to bring you more book contests in the future! A big thank you to Andrea who made this contest possible!

Click the photo to order the book from

I have so much to update you all on the past week since we announced the winners!

More after the jump!

Chris Altice and Christian Garzone from PBS’ CARRIER Join Us 9/9 9pmET

This Tuesday 9/9 at 9pmET we welcome two “cast” members from PBS’ CARRIER. You don’t want to miss this show LIVE! Here are the details:


Tuesday 9 September 08 – CARRIER | PBS Special | Chris Altice and Christian Garzone –

Chris Altice

Chris Altice

The PBS Special CARRIER evokes many different reactions depending on who you ask. Some loved the series, some not so much. No matter which side of the fence you fall on, our listeners keep telling us it’s the closest view we as spouses will ever get to what it’s like living on an aircraft carrier. Just like any good evening drama, CARRIER had it share of dramatic story lines. We were introduced to young Sailors, who quickly became fan favorites. When we began the search on which crew members to invite to the show, our two guests tonight were tops on the list. Tonight we welcome Chris Altice, who we watched on the flight deck in his red shirt loading ordinance. We got to know this young father-to-be and rooted for him during his agonizing girlfriend experience.

Christian Garzone

Christian Garzone

Second, we welcome the humorous Christian Garzone. His homemade videos with side-kick Phil gave us a unique insight into their world inside the ship. Christian was a breath of fresh air during series and was the 1st person our fans requested.

We’ll hear from both Chris and Christian on what it was like on board during the filming, their thoughts on how well or truthful the series depicts Navy life on board a Carrier, what they are doing now and much more.

As always we’ll be taking your questions and your calls.

We are also announcing the winners to our *Nights in Rodanthe* by Nicholas Sparks Book Contest!

Show Details:

We invite you to join the conversation!

You don’t want to miss this show LIVE! Our call in # is 646-652-4629.

To listen live go to:


Show link:

Show Details:

Sep 9th – Tuesday
9pm ET
Yahoo IM: Navy Wife Radio


Chris Altice served for three-and-a-half years in the Navy as an E-3/aviation ordnanceman, which was his position during the deployment featured in CARRIER. He separated from the Navy in September 2006 and is currently working and planning to attend college full-time. He was born in West Virginia and resides in Virginia, where he grew up.

Christian Garzone has served in the Navy for four years. During the deployment featured in CARRIER, he served as an undesignated airman working in Air Department/V-2 Division. He continues to serve in the Navy; his current position is petty officer third class, mass communications specialist (aviation warfare specialist) based out of Japan. He grew up in upstate New York.



Look for a Part 2 featuring more crew members from the hit PBS series CARRIER.

Nicholas Sparks’ Nights in Rodanthe – Watch the Trailer and Enter the Giveaway!

If you love Nicholas Sparks, or even “love” love stories for that matter you are going to love our first ever contest! (notice how many times I said “love”?)

It’s simple, watch the Trailer of the new movie Nights in Rodanthe, based on the book by Nicholas Sparks and let us know you what you think in the comments section. When you do, you’ll be entered to win one of 5 copies of Nights in Rodanthe. The contest is open until September 9th, 2008. We want to hear why you love Nicholas Sparks’ books. Four winners will be drawn at random and one winner will be voted on by Hillary and myself as our favorite comment. I guess that means neither one of us can win. Since I already have the book, I’m ok with that……and maybe I’ll send her mine so she doesn’t miss out.

You can use the book in your book club, here is the reading club guide. We do plan on having a segment on the show with your reactions, so stay tuned for that.

I have to say yesterday during my morning commute I heard a promo for a Nicholas Sparks interview on the Gayle King show on XM radio. I wasn’t able to listen in then as I was already pulling into the parking lot, but guess where I was when they played the “encore” at lunchtime. Yep, in my car listening. You can catch a snippet here.

Contest Details:

1. Watch the Trailer

2. Leave a comment on what you think about the upcoming movie or the book.

3. Tell us why you enjoy Nicholas Sparks’ novels.

Contest ends 9 Sept. 08

Facts about Nights in Rodanthe:

It was Nicholas Sparks’ first book to debut at #1.

The movie stars Richard Gere, Diane Lane and James Franco

The names of the two main characters were Christmas presents to Nicholas’ in-laws (Paul and Adrienne).

Related posts – The Lucky One

Navy Wife Radio LIVE at 9pmET

Show Detail Update:

Be sure to catch tonights episode of Navy Wife Radio.

Highlights include: Ways to get a better nights sleep, Lifetime TV’s Army Wives show reactions, what’s in our Netflix que, plus, Doug Szwarc from makes a surprise visit. We missed him last week due to a power outage. His interview starts about 30min. into the show, listen in as he shares details about the Fuji Challenge. Make your donation today at

We also announced our new Book Club Giveaway featuring Nicholas Sparks and Nights in Rodanthe. Look for details in a separate post.

Coming up on 1 Sep 08, four Navy Submariners three Navy Sailors and one friend (the local MWR sports director)  will attempt to climb Mount Fuji FOUR times to raise money for charity. Their donation goal is $10,000. Join us in helping them reach their goal.

One of the climbers visits us tonight on Navy Wife Radio for a inside look at the training involved, how the Fuji Challenge ( was born and more.

Plus, we have a special guest host.

Navy Wife Radio is LIVE tonight at 9pmET. Be sure to join us live or on demand.

Tonight we are taking your calls and questions, plus announcing details in our new contest!

Here is the show link: