Nicholas Sparks was at my local Dymocks today, signing copies of his new book The Best of Me.
“…the heart-rending story of two small-town former high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks. Now middle-aged, they’ve taken wildly divergent paths, but neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever altered their world.”
I was walking by on the upper level of the shopping complex when I noticed a usually large gaggle of schoolgirls below. The line of uniforms stretched past the ‘Build-A-Bear’ workshop and all the way down to the escalator in front of ‘Lush’.
According to his website, Nicholas Sparks is the author of 17 novels – 7 of which are now major motion pictures, starring some of Hollywood’s biggest stars:
· Message in a Bottle (1999), starring Kevin Costner and Robin Wright Penn
· A Walk to Remember (2002), starring Mandy Moore and Shane West
· The Notebook (2004), starring Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling
· Nights in Rodanthe (2008), starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane
· Dear John (2010), starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfreid
· The Last Song (2010), starring Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth
And, the latest cab off the rank…
· The Lucky One (2012), starring Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling
Film studios have also optioned three more novels – True Believer, At First Sight and Safe Haven – although production has not begun on any of these projects. Sparks obviously has a knack for dreaming-up Hollywood-style content.
Sparks is also, very obviously, a prolific author. The Notebook was first published in 1996 and his other 16 novels have all been churned out in the years since. (17 published novels in fifteen years isn’t bad at all – and that’s not even counting the novels that he hasn’t finished.)
On his website, Sparks links to a Newsweek article entitled ‘My Favourite Mistake’, in which he recounts the process of struggling to write a novel that was never meant to be.
“It’s a strange thing, because most novels take me five months to write. If I’m four months in and only two thirds of the way through, there’s a problem."
At five months a pop, you can hardly expect his books to be literary marvels. Each of his books has come straight from the production line of the hopelessly in love – the unrequited, tragic romantics. Girl meets boy, boy is cute yet slightly troubled, they fall in love; insert seemingly insurmountable obstacles, etc etc.
But, like it or not, Sparks has found a winning formula and he’s sticking to it – teenage girls don’t just line up for anyone, after all – and with Hollywood so ready to jump on the bandwagon, who can blame him?