Interview With Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks Nicholas Sparks is the author of several New York Times bestsellers. In 1994, at the age of 28, he wrote The Notebook over a period of six months. In October, 1995, rights to The Notebook were sold to Warner Books. It was published in October, 1996, and he followed that with Message in a Bottle (1998), A Walk to Remember (1999), The Rescue (2000), A Bend in the Road (2001), and Nights in Rodanthe all with Warner Books. All were domestic and international bestsellers and were translated into more than 35 languages. The movie version of Message in a Bottle was released in 1999, and A Walk to Remember was released in January, 2002.

In addition to writing success, Nicholas Sparks was also a track star at the University of Notre Dame, where a relay team record of his still stands today. He is an avid athlete who runs daily, lifts weights regularly, and competes in Tae Kwon Do. He attends church regularly and reads approximately 125 books a year. He contributes to a variety of local and national charities, and is a major contributor to the Creative Writing Program (MFA) at the University of Notre Dame, where he provides scholarships, internships, and a fellowship annually.

His latest novel, The Guardian, is about young Julie Barenson who is ready to search for love again four years after her husband's tragic death. Julie has two potential suitors two choose from: Richard Franklin, who is handsome and sophisticated and treats her like a queen, or Mike Harris, who is Julie's best friend in the world, though not as debonair. But with a decision that should bring her more happiness than she's had in years, Julie's life is about to become a living nightmare, as one man's jealousy spins into a deadly obsession.

Cover of The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks
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Why did you combine a love story with a dark character in a thriller?

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.

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

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.

Was it hard to create an original character and thriller?

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.

Have you ever known anyone like Richard?

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

Why was this book so hard to write?

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.

Posted with permission of the publisher.