Nicholas Sparks is warming up for his big Q-and-A answering your questions. Can’t wait for his responses? You can enter a writing contest judged by Nicholas Sparks with Grand Central Publishing. You can read, for a limited time, excerpts of his new novel, The Best of Me, and The Notebook. And you can, of course, read on!
The Best of Me deals with falling in love for the first time and how sometimes that love is so strong it can cross the span of time and space no matter what happens. Is that something you believe in?
Yes, I believe it’s possible. First love is always powerful, and for some people, that love really does last forever. The problem with that, however, is that over time, the love often becomes romanticized. I wanted to write a novel that explored that concept as well. Neither Dawson nor Amanda [high-school sweethearts separated for 20+ years] are the same people they’d been when they were younger, and little by little, that romanticism diminishes over the course of the story. For them, however, the new reality nonetheless left them feeling the same way about each other as they once had. And yet, they fell in love once more. Or maybe, phrasing it differently, they never fell out of love in the first place.
Tuck, Amanda and Dawson’s high school mentor, writes letters to Amanda and Dawson to be read after he is dead. They are wise and beautifully written. In this day and age of constant, electronic overload, do you lament the lost art of letter writing?
I do. I love letters as opposed to e-mail. But I’m old-fashioned that way.
This book has a large, spiritual component to it. Tuck sees Clara, his dead wife, and Dawson sees a man in a blue windbreaker, although he is not sure who he is and the reader does not find out until the end. Do you believe in ghosts?
I think I do. I had an experience much like the one Dawson described: at times, I could see unexplainable movement from the corners of my eyes. Quick, instantaneous movements that vanished before I could turn my head. If you talk to the owners of the house where those events occurred, they will swear it was a ghost. Other events occurred in that house as well before the “ghost”–or whatever it was–was finally exorcised from the premises. But that’s a longer story for another time.
What was your inspiration for writing The Best of Me?
I suppose the inspiration was two-fold. It had been a long time since I’d done a “reunion” story (like The Notebook) so it was time to do another. At the same time, I wanted it to be different than The Notebook in almost every way. At the same time, I wanted to write a novel about characters in their 40s. At that age, people are coming to terms with the decisions and choices they’ve made in the past. The Best of Me was essentially a combination of those two ideas.
Of all the movies based on your novels, which is your favorite?
I’ve been fortunate in that all the movies have been well-done and all have been successful, so I don’t have a personal favorite. I can say, however, is that, at the current time, The Notebook seems most likely to become a classic.