If you are wondering just how well-known Nicholas Sparks is around the world, you can simply click on his Facebook official page which currently has over one million fans or check any best-selling list where his latest book is likely to be among the Top Ten (if not no. 1).
For the record, his books have been translated in over 45 languages, and he has sold books amounting to a total of a whopping $80 million. Many of his novels have also been adapted into highly successful films featuring Hollywood's biggest stars like Kevin Costner, Ryan Gosling, Richard Gere, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, and Channing Tatum. A film based on his novel, The Lucky One, will star Zac Efron and will be released in April next year.
And if you are wondering just how devoted his Filipino fans are, you need not wonder anymore. In his recent visit to Manila (his only stop in Asia) as part of his current book tour to promote his latest novel last October where he was scheduled for two book-signing events, fans lined up as early as 3am at the venues to get the chance to meet and have their Nicholas Sparks books signed by the best-selling author himself.
Sparks’ stop in Manila is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity believes Xandra Ramos-Padilla, merchandising director for books at National Book Store, the company which made Sparks’ visit possible. At a press conference held on October 27 at C3 Events Place in Greenhills, San Juan City, Padilla attests that authors don’t come much bigger than Sparks. Perhaps that is why those who attended the presscon seemed like they did not have enough time to ask Sparks questions—a sentiment shared by inWrite who was able to attend courtesy of Francis Garcia of Buensalido & Associates Public Relations.
“You just can’t get enough of hearing those stories behind his books,” Padilla quips as she introduced Sparks, who was more than happy to oblige to inquisitive minds even though he just flew in the night before and most probably was suffering from jetlag. Sparks even apologized for his “long, convoluted” replies to questions—something that was actually a treat for those at the event, especially to those who were writers and devoted fans of his as well.
Sparks did not waste any time in giving his responses to the questions fielded to him and talked about his latest work, The Best of Me, his seventeenth published novel, which Sparks says is a story of “love and choices.” As of this writing, The Best of Me sits at no. 2 in the New York Times Best Sellers list of Combined Print & E-Book Fiction.
The Best of Me explores the story of two people who fell in love in high school in a Southern town. After graduation they went on their separate ways, and it was not until two decades later when they reconnect during the funeral of a common mentor from high school and realize that they may still have feelings for one another even though many years have passed.
His previous books have predominantly featured young characters, but the leads in The Best of Me are in their 40s.
“I think that when you reach your 40s, you’re kind of at that point in life where you do struggle with the what-ifs of life,” he says. “If you’re in your 20s or 30s, you still think that you can change things. You might say, ‘I could still have children, I could still get going in my career, I could still meet someone and fall in love.’ If you’re in your 50s, you kind of go ‘do I want to change?’ because you’re kind of settled. But 40s, you’re kind of right in the middle of this phase and you ask yourself, “How exactly did I get here?’”
Sparks also offered a few tips to writers on how to cope with writer’s block.
“I deal with writer's block every day. There are different ways that I cope with writer's block,” he says, adding that one way he copes is by working backwards. Sparks is not insusceptible to rewriting either as he shared that he is sometimes asked to do rewrites by his editor. He says that he finished The Best of Me right on time but had to do a few rewrites and restructure some of the characters.
There is no doubt that everyone at the venue were all ears listening to Sparks tell his stories but perhaps it was when he told his own love story that really got everyone’s attention.
Sparks recounted how at 22 years old, he met his wife Catherine during spring break, which is a time perfect for a “fling” and short-lived romances where it was very unlikely for one to meet someone he is going to spend his whole life with, but Sparks did. The day after they met Sparks told her that they were going to get married, and they did. Now they’ve been married for 22 years and have five children.
“Isn't that the craziest thing you've ever heard?” Sparks said, laughing. It may be crazy, but it definitely is a story that tugs at the heart, same with his many novels and no doubt many more novels to come.