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Nicholas Sparks offers advice, reveals truth behind best-selling novels

Courtesy of MCT

“Are there any guys here?” Nicholas Sparks said when he addressed the group of more than 800 people that crowded into the Ohio Union to hear him speak.

The predominantly female audience laughed and swooned throughout the author’s lecture, which was held Monday night in the Union’s Archie Griffin Grand Ballroom, as he told the true stories behind several of his bestselling novels. 

“I wrote ‘The Notebook,’ it was about my wife’s grandparents, it was a sweet little story and everybody loved it so I did another romantic story and here I am, 18 books later,” Sparks said. “I don’t know what I would have done had ‘The Notebook’ flopped. Perhaps I would’ve written a thriller or something. But it went, and people loved it, and that’s how I started.”

The author’s writing career began while he was an undergraduate student at the University of Notre Dame where he studied business finance. 

“One (class) that really profoundly moved me was American Fiction Since the 1950s. I took it because I thought it would be easy, and I thought I’d get a good grade,” Sparks said. “But I ended up really liking the class, it really introduced me to great books from the last 50 years that I’d never been assigned in high school and I’d never read on my own.”

Sparks’ words of wisdom inspired some students, including Evin Bachelor, a second-year in history and political science. 

“I love that one of the great things about coming to Ohio State is you get to see people like him and hear their stories, hear what motivates them and what they do,” he said. “And now understanding how he writes and the basis for which he writes, it was just very inspiring.”

Deepa Singh, a third-year in political science, has been a Sparks fan since she was a teenager and said she was thrilled to be able to hear him speak.

“I’ve been reading Nicholas Sparks books since I was 13, so I knew I had to be here,” Singh said. “I’ve based every relationship off this one guy, so I think that it was worth it.” 

Sparks offered some advice for aspiring writers that want to make it as an author.

“You have to read a lot, and you have to read in a variety of genres no matter what you want to write,” Sparks said. “Read with an eye toward learning what authors do well and what they don’t do well.” 

MacGregor Obergfell, Ohio Union Activities Board’s lectures chair, said in an email that OUAB was excited to have Sparks visit campus the week of Valentine’s Day. 

“We had wanted to bring a popular author to campus this year, as it is the type of speaker that we don’t often bring,” Obergfell said. “When we saw that we had an opportunity to have a speaker during Romance Week around Valentine’s Day, we jumped at the opportunity to schedule Mr. Sparks.” 

Sparks said since he is traveling around the country promoting “Safe Haven,” a movie coming out Thursday that’s based on his book of the same name, he does not have any big plans with his wife for Valentine’s Day.

“I had to order (her gift) online since I’m promoting the film,” he said. “We’ll probably have a glass of wine and talk, I will not have seen her for over a week so we’ll just catch up.” 

“Safe Haven” stars Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel and Cobie Smulders, and follows Hough, who plays main character Katie, as she arrives in Southport, N.C., and begins to fall in love while also struggling with a dark secret from her past.

Sparks said he has been blessed in his career and is working on more projects for the future.

“I’ve had great experiences with each and every film and met a lot of big stars, I’ve had terrific directors and studios who really cared about the projects,” he said. “Some authors haven’t always been thrilled, but that’s not me.” 

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