Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Nicholas Sparks In Conversation

All smiles: Nicholas Sparks

On That Note...

I'll be honest: I've never read any of Nicholas Sparks' 18 novels (a very lucky number in the Jewish culture) yet alone the dozen #1 New York Times' best sellers. As a film critic however, I've seen seven of the eight movie adaptions; so I thought I had enough knowledge to at least "keep up with the crowd." Boy was I wrong: Sparks is a literary rock star, who seems to have no trouble living up to moderator Angie Goff's introduction, "Secretly, this is the man your wife wants to run away with."

Sparks paid a visit to one of DC's most unique and popular venues, the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue last Saturday night; and talked at length about some of his now classic works (The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle) in addition to his latest #1, The Longest Ride. After clarifying what he does, "I don't write romance novels, I write literature," Sparks settled in, and shared several entertaining (even sentimental) stories about some of the inspirations behind his most popular titles. Make no mistake: Sparks is just as good a storyteller in person, as he is on paper.

Moderator Angie Goff and Sparks (r)

"True love can last forever," began a true story of when Sparks and his wife Cathy woke up the day after their wedding, got dressed up (again) in tux and gown, brought cake and flowers, and drove to visit her ailing grandparents (married themselves for over 60 years!) several hours away for a repeat performance of the previous day's big event. Talk about romantic. Sensible too... "I should write a book about that," joked Sparks, prompting laughs, tears and collective "oohs and aahs" from the audience.

There was no shortage of humor throughout the evening from Sparks, who I couldn't help but liken to a mild-mannered version of Will Ferrell. When someone in the audience asked why he chose a Marine for The Lucky One, Sparks cooly remarked, 'I wrote Dear John, and 10,000 Marines wrote me, "What about the Marines?"' followed by a pause and, 'because they yelled at me!' Funnier still, another fan asked if he ever considered writing a children's book? Once again, Sparks took his time before shrugging his shoulders and answering, 'Nah.' That's Sparks to a tee: Honest, modest and most of all... engaging.

Post Q&A receiving line

As a fellow writer (of course, on a much smaller scale) I was especially taken with his explanation of writing, '52 minutes of every hour is spent double-checking and asking yourself, "Is it good?"' Dead on, Mr. Sparks. He also shies away from picking favorites, even when it comes to his own work, 'I don't know (what's my favorite.) I gave 100% in each book.'

Up next for the busy North Carolinian? 'The Best of Me is the next film: That will come out a year from now, in October." He's also working on a TV supernatural drama The Watchers, which is set to air on ABC, and begins shooting next February. He may also be busy on the telephone, after one of his sons asked, 'Dad. You know Selena Gomez, right? Can you invite her to our birthday party?' Who says it's easy being a world famous author?

The Longest Ride is available on Amazon.com, and just about everywhere else where books are sold. I just downloaded it for my iPad, proving that anyone can become a fan of the great Nicholas Sparks... even if it is a bit late in the game.