Author profiles submitted by Chris Bacon, Mason County District Library

 

Nicholas Sparks was born in December 1965 in Omaha, Nebraska to college professor father and a homemaker mother. Nick spent his early childhood moving around the country while his father finished up his graduate work. Sparks, his two siblings and mother and father finally settled in Fair Oaks, California when he was nine. There he graduated as the valedictorian of his high school class. He went to college at Notre Dame in Indiana on a full track scholarship and majored in business. After helping set a school track relay record his freshman year Sparks suffered an Achilles tendon injury later in the season that forced him to spend the summer rehabbing. During that time Sparks wrote his first novel, but it has never been published.

 

In 1988, Sparks graduated with honors and met his wife, Catherine Cote. The two married one year later and after Sparks's mother died six weeks after the wedding Sparks and Catherine moved to Sacramento, CA. After numerous jobs Sparks settled on a career on manufacturing orthopedic goods and he also finished his second novel, which again went unpublished.

 

Even with the lack of success Sparks continued to write and in 1992 decided he would write three more novels before moving on to something else if he was unable to find some success. In 1994, Sparks now living in South Carolina and working a pharmaceutical company began writing the novel “The Notebook.” He finished the book in six months and in early 1995 at age 28 he found an agent, a publisher, and success as an author of a bestselling novel and the recipient of a $1 million movie rights contract for his first published novel. He has since gone onto write fifteen more novels with ten of them being made into major motion pictures. All of his books have been New York Times bestsellers with over 97 million copies sold worldwide and the adaptations of his novels to films have a worldwide cumulative total of over three quarters of a billion dollars. His latest novel “The Longest Ride” was published in September 2013 and the film adaptation will be released in May 2015.   The story follows two couples, one old and one new, as they reflect on their pasts and their futures together and apart and how they will become part of each other’s lives.

 

In 2012, Sparks and his agent launched Nicholas Sparks Production, a film and television production company. The company has acquired movie rights to various stories and has television deals in place with numerous networks. The company's television first production “Deliverance Creek” debuted in September, 2014 on Lifetime.

 

Sparks and his wife Cathy currently live in New Bern, NC with their three sons and twin daughters. Sparks and his wife are very active philanthropists. They have donated more than $900,000 for new track for the New Bern high school and helps coach the track team. He and wife launched the Nicholas Sparks Foundation dedicated to improving cultural and international understanding through global education experiences for students of all ages with over $10 million distributed to charities, scholarships, and projects. The family also has made numerous donations to local and national charities, the Creative Writing Program at Notre Dame, and has also set up a Christian, international, college-prep private school, The Epiphany School of Global Studies.

 

Nicholas Sparks is a romance writer first and foremost, along with being a screenwriter and producer. His novels usually revolve around a death that changes and greatly affects a characters life and eventually leads that character to find true love. Not all of his novels have happy endings, but they do all center around on the idea that true love does exist and people of all ages should never get up looking for it. Critics of his novels claim Sparks just recycles the same old love story in different settings and time periods and his writing is rather mundane. However, his fans, which greatly outnumber his critics, defend his writing as inspiring and of course extremely romantic. Sparks is able to capture the innermost feelings of his characters and express them on the page few authors can and his stories are far from the same love story being recycled over and over again as the settings and characters vary greatly between stories. And like in real life his stories don't always have a happy ending with the couple ending up together or even alive. His writing style varies from first person to third person and even to stories told through letters, but all captivate the reader in keeping them glued to the pages to discover whether true love conquers all.

Although there are few authors that can match Sparks's writing style and hook readers to the budding romance between his characters, there are other authors who you should try if you love the theme of there is a true love for everyone somewhere in the world. They are Debbie Macomber, Karen Kingsbury, Robin Jones Gunn, Sarah Dessen, Richard Paul Evans, Nicholas Evans, Nora Roberts, and Danielle Steel.

 

So if you want a romance novel that can whisk you away to another place and allows you to follow characters that may not be searching for love, but find it anyway you should give Nicholas Sparks a try. You will find yourself holding your breath as ordinary people find love in extraordinary and unpredictable ways and maybe even end up happily ever after.