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

Mayor pledges lower greenhouse gas emissions from New…

Just hours before the start of the People’s Climate March on Sunday, and two days ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit, Mayor Bill de…

National

The best places to see the Northern Lights…

A large solar storm hit the Earth's atmosphere and will tonight illuminate the skies with aurora borealis -- also known as the Northern Lights.

Local

Police officer killed Sunday morning Bronx crash, 8…

One NYPD police officer was killed and eight other officers were injured early Sunday morning when the van they were traveling in crashed  in the…

National

Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt near home of suspect's…

A police manhunt intensified on Friday for the gunman who killed an officer and wounded another in an ambush at a Pennsylvania police barracks a week ago.

Television

'How to Get Away with' mischaracterizing Shondra Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes read Alessandra Stanley's New York Times piece about her being "an angry black woman" and "a romance writer" and it did not sit well with her.

Gossip

New nude celebrity selfies leak … and Clay…

A new batch of nude selfies of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Lake Bell and Avril Lavigne hit the web and Clay Aiken has something to say!

Television

James Spader's route to villainy on "The Blacklist"

In honor of the second season premiere of "The Blacklist" tonight, where James Spader plays good guy/bad guy Raymond “Red” Reddington, it’s a good time to look back at Spader’s…

Television

True Detective

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

NFL

Jets vs. Bears: 3 things to watch

Jets fans likely chalked up Monday's matchup with the Bears as a loss when the NFL schedule came out. But given their team's play so…

NFL

Rashad Jennings carries Giants in first win this…

Rashad Jennings, who came to New York from Oakland last year, by way of Jacksonville, was highly coveted this offseason by general manager Jerry Reese.

NFL

3 things we learned as Giants pick up…

The Giants picked up their first win of the season over the Texans.

Career

Here's how to make the most of visit…

You’re primped, you’re looking polished, you’re prepared with a stack of resumes. Job fair hunters, unite! There are a few things to keep in mind…

Education

Learn how to study effectively and stop cramming…

Picture this: It’s midterm week, and college students everywhere are trying to frantically memorize all of the math formulas, political theories and historical facts that…

Parenting

How motherhood inspired Bethenny Frankel's new book

Bethenny Frankel's new children's book is about how her daughter and dog didn't always get alone.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.