Nicholas Sparks, ‘A Walk To Remember’ And ‘The Notebook’ Author, Spoke About Emotional Responses To His Work

Nicholas Sparks.

If you are a fan of emotional and romantic books or movies, chances are the name “Nicholas Sparks” will ring a bell. Many people would agree that Sparks is a master when it comes to creating stories that quickly pull at a person’s heartstrings — causing them to become overly emotional before the story ends.

Even people that are not “comfortable” with crying at movies will at least agree that they have been at least “misty-eyed” while reading a Nicholas Sparks book or watching a movie adapted from one of his books.

How does he do it? How is Sparks able to “spark” that type of emotional response from his audience time after time? The longtime novelist and movie producer answered that question during a 2011 interview with Writer’s Digest.

Nicholas explained that evoking emotional responses is just “a function of the genre.”

“The purpose of what I write is to move the reader through the entire range of human emotion, so that they feel as if they’ve experienced a mini life between the covers. So, you have to not only move them through the emotions, but you have to genuinely evoke these emotions, which means you can’t manipulate the reader into feeling them. And therein lies the art of writing what I write. I don’t know how I do it—I just do it.”

Sparks further explained that the “spark of creativity” is not something that he understands very well, but it is still somehow involved in his writing process. He compared it to not being able to understand “how people can write music” — coming up with new material song after song even after having written so many of them in the past.

Even though he admittedly doesn’t understand it, he states that “people do it” — essentially adding himself to that group.

During the same interview, Nicholas Sparks shared his ultimate goal — a goal that many of his fans may agree that he has already reached and surpassed.

“It is my goal to one day write a novel that every reader I’ve ever had feels is the best thing I’ve ever written. Which is an impossible goal, I understand that—but, it is my goal nonetheless. I’ll take 90 percent… Which is tough, because for every reader who has a favorite novelist, they have a particular novel of that novelist that’s their favorite. It’s very tough to dislodge that favorite, especially with the type of stories that I write.”

To illustrate his point, Sparks used The Notebook as an example, stating that if your spouse or parent died from Alzheimer’s, The Notebook would more than likely be your favorite novel from his growing collection of books. He admitted that dislodging that particular novel as a favorite in that case would be “very, very tough.” However, that was the goal he wanted to achieve with his writing.

Nearly 20 years ago, Nicholas Sparks’ first published novel The Notebook was released — introducing the world to the romantic novelist. It did not take very long for Sparks to make his mark in the world of literature with his novels. That overall popularity eventually allowed Sparks to enter into the wonderful world of movie adaptations.

His first film adaptation was the 1999 movie Message in a Bottle. The Luis Mandoki-directed film starred Robin Wright, Kevin Costner, and Paul Newman. Wright starred as Theresa Osborne, a researcher working for the Chicago Tribune that found an intriguing love letter inside of a bottle in the sand. She tracked down the man that wrote the letters, Garret Blake (played by Kevin Costner) — a widower that struggled with forgiving his wife for leaving him in death.

The next tearjerker from Nicholas Sparks’ collection adapted into a movie was the 2002 Adam Shankman-directed film A Walk to Remember starring Mandy Moore and Shane West. West played Landon Carter, a high school bad boy, whose life was unexpectedly changed for the better by an overlooked and frequently insulted classmate Jamie Sullivan (played by Mandy Moore).

Nearly two years later, Nicholas Sparks essentially struck oil when Nick Cassavetes directed the big-screen adaptation of his first published novel The Notebook in 2004. The film boosted the Hollywood careers of Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, cementing Nicholas Sparks as a master of well-crafted love stories.

Between 1999 and 2016, 11 of Nicholas Sparks’ books have been adapted into successful box-office hits:

  • Message in a Bottle (1999) – starring Kevin Costner and Robin Wright
  • A Walk to Remember(2002) – starring Shane West and Mandy Moore
  • The Notebook(2004) starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams
  • Nights in Rodanthe(2008) starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane
  • Dear John(2010) starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried
  • The Last Song(2010) starring Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus
  • The Lucky One(2012) starring Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling
  • Safe Haven (2013) starring Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough
  • The Best of Me (2014) starring James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan
  • The Longest Ride (2015) starring Scott Eastwood and Britt Robertson
  • The Choice (2016) starring Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer

Sparks’ worldwide box-office total for all 11 movies combined is more than $880 million, according to Box Office Mojo. Whether you love Nicholas Sparks’ work or not, even the most skeptical of critics has to admit that his consistent success and overall talent for evoking emotional responses are impressive.

[Image Credit: John Sciulli/Getty Images]