With another of his sobfests in cinemas, Time Out speaks to author Nicholas Sparks
He’s penned the novels-turned-films The Notebook, A Walk To Remember and Message in a Bottle – and now comes his latest book-to-screen adaptation, The Lucky One. As he drowns out cinemas once more in romance, we spoke with author Nicholas Sparks.
How close are the things you write about to actual events in your own life?
Some stories have been inspired by family events, in other stories, characters were inspired by people that I know. In the end, however, I pick and choose specific details.
At what time of the day do you write best?
I usually write from 9.30am to 3.30pm, with a short break for lunch. I can write at any time, however; those hours tend to correspond with the kids’ school hours.
What comforts help you to write?
I usually have the television on while I write, always with a movie or television series on DVD, shows I’ve seen half a dozen or more times. I don’t want to feel as if I have to ‘watch’ the show; it’s more background noise than anything.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block?
Every single novel. Frankly, I’m ‘temporarily’ blocked almost every single day. ‘Block’ simply means that you’re not sure what to do. Usually, I’ll get up from the desk, pace or take a walk, and sometimes the answer comes to me. Other times, it takes a couple of days to figure out that I’ve made a wrong turn somewhere.
Do you always know the end of a novel before you have written it?
Yes, always. I have to know, because my novels require that I genuinely evoke all the emotions of life.
How were your books eventually made into films?
I sold The Notebook to New Line Cinema three days after the novel sold to the publisher. At the time, I wasn’t even aware that any of the studios were interested. The movie deal came out of the blue.
Do you think the films have done your books justice?
Yes, I’ve been lucky in that regard. The films are all wonderful and did very well at the box office.
Which character out of all of your books do you most relate to?
That’s hard to say, but probably Landon Carter in A Walk to Remember. I say that only because I’ve never been most of the characters in my novels, but I was once a 17-year-old high school student.
How is it that you are so tuned in with women’s feelings?
I try to write a wonderful novel with wonderful characters. In the end, that’s all I ever try to do. With that said, I was fortunate in that I had a wonderful mother, I married a wonderful wife, my agent and editor are female, and I have two daughters in addition to my sons. I’m surrounded by women, and they’ve been the most influential people in my life.
Out of all of your books, which have you enjoyed writing the most?
I enjoyed A Walk to Remember, if only because it was the easiest to write. The story literally flowed non-stop from my fingers, without a single ‘wrong turn’.
On average, how long does it take you to write a book from concept to completion?
Five months to write, and another month to edit. It can take anywhere from a day to six months to conceive of a story. In the end, that’s a novel a year, which is a good pace for me.
What is your favourite book, other than your own?
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer. I learn something new about politics, sociology, insanity, evil, propaganda and human nature every time I read it.