With 15 bestselling novels and six film adaptations under his belt, Nicholas Sparks is one of the most successful writers working today — and he does in fact sit down to work every single day. The man behind The Notebook, A Walk to Remember and the upcoming Dear John sat down with Metro to chat about film adaptations, the state of the publishing industry and making people cry.
When you write a book now, is a film adaption in your mind?
No, I’m a novelist. Movies come, movies go, and the day I figure out Hollywood, I think I’ll be the first in town. It’s a complicated thing, and that’s a world that I can’t control. The only world that I can control is the world of writing a novel, because if I write it, it will get published.
But there isn’t a part of you thinking, ‘How will this be adapted?’
No, it isn’t. The only way I think about film in the process of writing is to be aware of films with the knowledge that I’m trying to write an original story. I don’t want to write a book that’s been written before, even by myself. At the same time, I don’t want to write a novel that feels like you just saw it in a movie. For instance, I would never write a love story set on the Titanic. It was never a book. It would be original in literature, but it’s not original.
What’s your interaction level with your readers?
It’s minimal. For the most part I’m not recognized. I could walk down through the lobby right after this interview and nobody’s going to know who I am. I get tons of fan mail, and everybody gets an answer. Well, almost everybody. I don’t do Twitter, but I do have a very extensive website. And I think I have a Facebook page that my publisher runs. I don’t even know how to get onto Facebook.
Certainly your name is recognized.
It would be wonderful to think that the world is full of readers, but it’s not. More people would recognize The Notebook than Nicholas Sparks. It’s on cable every month, and it’s been seen by 400 million people, whereas 20 per cent of the U.S. population reads novels.
Do you see that number declining further?
I don’t think reading’s going anywhere. Reading and literature have survived all sorts of technological advances. People who love to read will continue to love to read. Certainly, I would love more people to read, but sometimes that’s just not a way that everybody finds enjoyment.
And finally, why do you like to make people cry?
I don’t think that’s quite a fair question, because that is certainly not the reason I write what I write. I write in the genre of the Greek tragedies. You cover the full spectrum of human emotions. So sadness is certainly part of that. It just happens that most people remember the sadness. That’s not my fault, though.