Nicholas Charles Sparks (born December 31, 1965) is an American romance novelist, screenwriter and producer. He has published nineteen novels and two non-fiction books. Several of his novels have become international bestsellers, and eleven of his romantic-drama novels have been adapted to film all with multimillion-dollar box office grosses.
Sparks was born in Omaha, Nebraska and wrote his first novel, The Passing, in 1985, while a student at the University of Notre Dame. His first published work came in 1990, when he co-wrote with Billy Mills Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding, which sold approximated 50,000 copies in its first year. In 1993, Sparks wrote his breakthrough novel The Notebook in his spare time while selling pharmaceuticals in Washington, D.C.. Two years later, his novel was discovered by literary agent Theresa Park who offered to represent him. The novel was published in October 1996 and made the New York Times best-seller list in its first week of release.
Nicholas Sparks was born on December 31, 1965 in Omaha, Nebraska to Patrick Michael Sparks, a future professor of business, and Jill Emma Marie Sparks (née Thoene), a homemaker and an optometrist's assistant. Nicholas was the second of three children, with an older brother, Michael Earl "Micah" Sparks (1964-present), and a younger sister, Danielle "Dana" Sparks (1966-2000), who died at the age of 33 from a brain tumor. Sparks has said that she was the inspiration for the main character in his novel A Walk to Remember.
Sparks was raised in the Roman Catholic faith, and is of German, Czech, English, and Irish ancestry. He and his ex-wife are Catholics and are raising their children in the Catholic faith.
His father pursued graduate studies at University of Minnesota and University of Southern California, one reason for his family's frequent moves. By the time Sparks was eight, he had lived in Watertown, Minnesota; Inglewood, California; Playa Del Rey, California and his mother's hometown of Grand Island, Nebraska for a year, during which his parents were separated. By 1974 his father became a professor of business at California State University, Sacramento, and the family settled in Fair Oaks, California.
The family remained there through Sparks' high school days, and in 1984, he graduated as the valedictorian of Bella Vista High School. After being offered a full sports scholarship for track and field, at the University of Notre Dame, Sparks accepted and enrolled, majoring in business finance. In 1988, while on spring break, he met his future wife, Cathy Cote of New Hampshire, and then concluded his early academic work by graduating from Notre Dame with honors. Sparks and Cote would be married on July 22, 1989, and the moved to New Bern, North Carolina. Prior to those milestones, however, Sparks had begun writing in his early college years.
Sparks decided to start writing based on a simple remark from his mother when he was 19 years old that introduced him to the possibility:
'"Your problem is that you're bored. You need to find something to do..." Then she looked at me and said the words that would eventually change my life: "Write a book." Until that moment, I had never considered writing. Granted, I read all the time, but actually sitting down and coming up with a story on my own? ...I was nineteen years old and had become an accidental author.
In 1985, while at home for the summer between his freshman and sophomore years at Notre Dame, Sparks penned his first - though never published - novel entitled The Passing. He wrote another novel in 1989, also unpublished called The Royal Murders.
After college, Sparks sought both work with publishers, and applied to law school, but was rejected in both attempts. He then spent the next three years trying other careers, including real estate appraisal, waiting tables, selling dental products by phone and starting his own manufacturing business.
In 1990, Sparks co-wrote a book with Billy Mills entitled Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding, a nonfiction book about a three-week trip Sparks and his brother took around the around the world, as well as their personal growth experiences during that time, and the influence of Lakota spiritual beliefs and practices. The book was published by Feather Publishing, Random House, and Hay House, and sales for this first book approximated 50,000 copies in its first year after release.
In 1992, Sparks began selling pharmaceuticals, and in 1993 was transferred to Washington, D.C.. It was there that he wrote another novel in his spare time, The Notebook. Two years later, he was discovered by literary agent Theresa Park, who picked The Notebook out of her agency's slush pile, liked it, and offered to represent him. In October 1995, Park secured a $1 million advance for The Notebook from Time Warner Book Group. The novel was published in October 1996 and made the New York Times best-seller list in its first week of release.
With the success of his first novel, he moved to New Bern, North Carolina. He subsequently wrote several international bestsellers, and several of his novels have been adapted as films: Message in a Bottle (1999), A Walk to Remember (2002), The Notebook (2004), Nights in Rodanthe (2008), Dear John (2010), The Last Song (2010), The Lucky One (2012), Safe Haven (2013), The Best of Me (2014), The Longest Ride (2015), and The Choice (2016). He has also sold the screenplay adaptations of True Believer and At First Sight. His 2016 novel, Two by Two, sold about 98,000 copies during the first week after release. 11 of Nicholas Sparks' novels have been #1 New York Times Best Sellers.
Sparks and his then-wife Cathy lived together in New Bern, North Carolina with their three sons and twin daughters until 2014. On January 6, 2015, Sparks announced that he and Cathy had amicably separated. They subsequently divorced.
Sparks donated $9,000,000 for a new, all-weather tartan track to New Bern High School along with his time to help coach the New Bern High School track team and a local club track team as a volunteer head coach.
Sparks contributes to other local and national charities, as well, including the Creative Writing Program (MFA) at the University of Notre Dame by funding scholarships, internships and annual fellowships. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly reported that Sparks and his then-wife had donated "close to $10 million" to start a Christian, international, college-prep private school, The Epiphany School of Global Studies, which emphasizes travel and lifelong learning. He was later sued by the headmaster of this school who accused Sparks of homophobia, racism and anti-semitism. In his spare time, Sparks volunteers at his local retirement home.
- Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding (1990), Nicholas Sparks and Billy Mills.
- The Notebook (October 1996)
- Message in a Bottle (April 1998)
- A Walk to Remember (October 1999)
- The Rescue (September 2000)
- A Bend in the Road (September 2001)
- Nights in Rodanthe (September 2002)
- The Guardian (April 2003)
- The Wedding (September 2003)
- Three Weeks with My Brother (April 2004)
- True Believer (April 2005)
- At First Sight (October 2005)
- Dear John (October 2006)
- The Choice (September 2007)
- The Lucky One (September 2008)
- The Last Song (September 2009)
- Safe Haven (September 2010)
- The Best of Me (October 2011)
- The Longest Ride (September 2013)
- See Me (October 2015)
- Two by Two (October 2016)
- Every Breath (October 2018)
Adaptations in other media
|1999||Message in a Bottle||Luis Mandoki||32%||$80 million||$118,880,016|
|2002||A Walk to Remember||Adam Shankman||27%||$12 million||$47,494,916|
|2004||The Notebook||Nick Cassavetes||52%||$29 million||$115,603,229|
|2008||Nights in Rodanthe||George C. Wolfe||30%||N/A||$84,375,061|
|2010||Dear John||Lasse Hallström||29%||$25 million||$114,977,104|
|The Last Song||Julie Anne Robinson||20%||$20 million||$89,041,656|
|2012||The Lucky One||Scott Hicks||20%||$25 million||$99,357,138|
|2013||Safe Haven||Lasse Hallström||12%||$28 million||$97,594,140|
|2014||The Best of Me||Michael Hoffman||8%||$26 million||$35,926,213|
|2015||The Longest Ride||George Tillman, Jr.||30%||$34 million||$62,944,815|
|2016||The Choice||Ross Katz||12%||$10 million||$23,420,878|
|2014||Deliverance Creek||Executive Producer||Jon Amiel||Lifetime||50%|
|TBA||Untitled The Notebook followup||Characters based on