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
National

Humans should thank ancient Scottish fish fossils for…

By Kate KellandLONDON (Reuters) - Scientists studying fossils have discovered that the intimate act of sexual intercourse used by humans was pioneered by ancient armored…

National

Comet makes rare close pass by Mars as…

By Irene KlotzNEW YORK (Reuters) - A comet from the outer reaches of the solar system on Sunday made a rare, close pass by Mars…

Local

NYPD: Man found hanging in Brooklyn subway station

A man was found hanging inside a Brooklyn subway station on Saturday morning, police said. The man, who still had not been identified on Sunday,…

Local

Only church destroyed in 9/11 set to rebuild

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, the only house of worship destroyed during the terrorist attacks on 9/11, held a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday to start the…

Television

9 things we learned about 'Hannibal' Season 3…

There’s plenty of fall television to be excited about, but the crowd inside the Paley Center for Media on Saturday night only wanted one thing:…

Going Out

Watch home cooks try to impress Tom Colicchio…

Is what you’re making for dinner tonight good enough to serve “Top Chef” judge Tom Colicchio? That’s the standard that some of the city’s best…

Television

‘Homeland’ recap: Season 4, Episode 4 ‘Iron in…

Carrie Mathison, what are you doing?! Don’t seduce virgins! More on that later: Lots of crazy stuff went down on the "Iron in the Fire" ep of "Homeland"!

Movies

Box office: Brad Pitt kills Nazis, also Nicholas…

This weekend, Brad Pitt's second WWII movie, "Fury," rolled into the lead, while the latest Nicholas Sparks movie, "The Best of Me," got little love.

College

College football AP Top 25 rankings: Mississippi State…

College football AP Top 25 rankings: Mississippi State holds off FSU

NHL

NHL Power Rankings: Sharks, Canadiens, Blackhawks out in…

NHL Power Rankings: Sharks, Canadiens, Blackhawks out in front

NFL

DeMarco Murray carries Cowboys to win over Giants

The Giants knew they would need to stop DeMarco Murray if they were going to leave Dallas with a win. It didn't matter.

NFL

Jets trade for wide receiver Percy Harvin: Report

According to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, the Jets have sent a conditional draft pick to the Seahawks for wide receiver Percy Harvin.

Wellbeing

Gabby Bernstein: The 3 questions I always get

For the last decade, I’ve been writing self-help books and preaching the Gospel of Gabby to audiences throughout the world. And no matter what country…

Wellbeing

Health News: 5K for lung cancer, free yoga,…

Get some fresh air to benefit lung cancer research On Friday, the first-ever Brooklyn Free to Breathe Run/Walk will take place Oct. 26 at Cadman Plaza…

Education

Can these two college students come up with…

Two Atlanta college students say they have an idea for a simple test that would quickly diagnosis the Ebola virus - and it all started…

Education

Chances are, the average college student isn't taking…

As a bachelor’s degree becomes more expensive than ever, one new report is criticizing colleges for the content of those pricey educations. The American Council…