Nicholas Sparks writes characters across decades in ‘The Longest Ride’

Nicholas Sparks Credit: Nina Subin
Nicholas Sparks
Credit: Nina Subin

Nicholas Sparks is back this fall with his latest, “The Longest Ride,” which weaves back and forth between two different couples’ love stories. Characters we meet include Ira, a 91-year-old man stranded after a car crash and thinking back on his decades-long marriage, and Sophia, an East Coast gal who meets Luke, a bullrider, on a fluke night out.

Sparks, known for romances that readers devour and are often become movies (most recently “Safe Haven”) spoke to Metro about getting into the minds of an elderly man and a college student, and keeping the romance alive at home.

How did you come up with this idea? A recent trip to the rodeo?

Stories come from a variety of different ideas. Sometimes they’ve been inspired by events in my past or people that I know, or a scene that I want to explore. This particular novel came from an image of what I wanted the big surprise at the end of the book to be. I knew that, and then I knew the feeling that I wanted to create, surprise and wonder and “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe that just happened, did I read that right?” This is what I wanted to create, so I said, “OK, so to put that in motion, art plays a role, how do we put that together?”

What was different about writing this?

The way I wrote it was different. Basically what I did was, I wrote Ira and Ruth’s story up to the point where Ira’s story intersects with Luke and Sophia’s. Then I literally set Ira aside, on my desk by my computer. Then I wrote Luke and Sophia’s story. Then I wrote all the way through to the end. … Then it took three hours to drop all those sections into the appropriate place.

What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you ever feel you need to explore what your characters do – in this case, that would be riding bulls or being trapped in a car?

I did not ride any bulls, but I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos. My kids like (watching) the bull riding, my wife and I enjoy it. Certainly I did a lot of research, reading into bullriding in general. I have a brother-in-law who lives on a ranch, and so much of the information about the ranch, including the size of the ranch and how they spend their days, is really drawn from his specific experience. The 4H, that’s my nephew’s experience, the horse named Horse, that’s my brother-in-law. … They had to roll the pumpkins and shape the trees. I asked the same questions as Sophia, “What do you mean you have to roll the pumpkins?” These are literally drawn straight from my conversations.

What’s something you haven’t been able to experiment with yet? A setting, or a genre or a character?

I’m really fortunate in that the genre I work in allows me to really experiment with a lot of elements from other genres. “Safe Haven,” I was able to add a thriller element. In “The Notebook,” I was able to add nostalgia. In “The Longest Ride,” I’m able to add an epic element. I’m very pleased, because the novels I write really explore the entire realm of human emotion: fear, surprise, mystery. I’m allowed to cover those things.

Last question for you. You write such romantic books. Is there a high expectation of flowers and romantic dates in the Sparks household?

There is. I do get my wife flowers, I send her cards. I just got her perfume for no reason, put it on her pillow with a card. I do my best. She’s a great lady and she deserves a little bit of romance.

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @reporteralison



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Man dies trapped in elevator shaft at Bronx…

A man in his twenties died after being trapped in an elevator shaft of a Bronx building early Monday, police said.

International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…