Nicholas Sparks

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Nicholas Sparks
Sparks signing autographs in 2006
Born Nicholas Charles Sparks
(1965-12-31) December 31, 1965 (age 53)
Omaha, Nebraska, United States
Occupation Novelist
Alma mater University of Notre Dame
Genre Romantic fiction
Spouse Cathy Sparks (m. 1989-2015, separated)
Children 5

Nicholas Charles Sparks (born December 31, 1965) is an American writer and novelist. He has published eighteen novels and two non-fiction books. Several of his novels have become international bestsellers, and ten of his romantic-drama novels have been adapted to film with multimillion-dollar box office grosses; however, none of the film adaptations have been critically well received.

Early life

Sparks was born on December 31, 1965, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Patrick Michael Sparks, a professor of business, and Jill Emma Marie Sparks (née Thoene), a homemaker and an optometrist's assistant. He was the middle 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 is the inspiration for the main character in his novel A Walk to Remember.

He was raised Roman Catholic,[1] and is of German, Czech, English, and Irish ancestry.[2] He and his wife are Catholics and are raising their children in the Catholic faith.[3]

His father pursued graduate studies at University of Minnesota and University of Southern California, and the family thus moved a great deal. By the time he was eight, he had lived in Watertown, Minnesota, Inglewood, California, Playa Del Rey, California, and Grand Island, Nebraska which was his mother's hometown during his parents' one year separation. In 1974 his father became a professor of business at California State University, Sacramento, and the family settled in Fair Oaks, California, and remained there through Nicholas's high school days. He graduated in 1984 as valedictorian from Bella Vista High School, then enrolling at the University of Notre Dame, having received a full track and field scholarship. He majored in business finance and graduated with honors in 1988. He also met his future wife that year, Cathy Cote from New Hampshire, while they were both on spring break. They married on July 22, 1989 and moved to New Bern, North Carolina.[4]


Sparks was inspired to start writing by a remark from his mother when he was 19 years old.[5]

While still in school in 1985, Sparks penned his first (never published) novel, The Passing, while home for the summer between freshman and sophomore years at Notre Dame. He wrote another novel in 1989, also unpublished, The Royal Murders.

After college, Sparks sought work with publishers and to attend 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 with Billy Mills Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding.[6] The book was published by Feather Publishing, Random House, and Hay House. Sales for this book approximated 50,000 copies in its first year after release.[7]

In 1992, Sparks began selling pharmaceuticals and in 1993 was transferred to Washington, DC. It was there that he wrote another novel in his spare time, The Notebook.[8] 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). His website states that he has also sold the screenplay adaptations of True Believer and At First Sight.[9]

Personal life and philanthropy

Sparks and wife Cathy lived together in New Bern, North Carolina with their three sons, Miles, Ryan, and Landon; and twin daughters, Lexie and Savannah, until 2014. On January 6, 2015, Sparks announced that he and his wife had separated.[10]

Sparks donated $900,000 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.[11]

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 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.[12][13]

Published works


Film adaptations

Year Film Director RT approval
Budget Worldwide
1999 Message in a Bottle Luis Mandoki 32% $80 million $118,880,016
2002 A Walk to Remember Adam Shankman 27% $11 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. 31% $34 million $62,944,815
2016 The Choice[15] Ross Katz
Total/Average 26% $278 million $866,194,288


Sparks was accused of racism, homophobia, and antisemitism by the ex-headmaster of the North Carolina private school he co-founded, the Epiphany School of Global Studies.[16] Sparks denied the allegations.[17]


  1. "Author Nicholas Spark remembers his Catholic roots". 1999-11-04. Archived from the original on September 22, 2010. Retrieved 2009-08-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Formal Biography". Nicholas Sparks. 1965-12-31. Archived from the original on May 2, 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Morality in Hollywood: An Interview with Author Nicholas Sparks".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Nicholas Sparks: The Official Website". Willow Holdings INC.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "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.'... I was nineteen years old and had become an accidental author." From Three Weeks with My Brother, pp. 183-184
  6. 6.0 6.1 Billy Mills; Nicholas Sparks (July 1999). Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding. Hay House. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-56170-660-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Nicholas Sparks". Ferrum College. Retrieved August 3, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Biography for Nicholas Sparks". Book Browse. Retrieved March 26, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Frequently Asked Questions about At First Sight". The Official Nicholas Sparks Web Site: The Novels. Retrieved 2007. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Nudd, Tim (6 January 2015). "Nicholas Sparks and Wife Separate". People.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Buckley Cohen, Adam. "Nicholas Sparks." Runner's World 43.12 (2008): 70-71. Web. 29 Sept. 2012.
  12. Valby, Karen (October 10, 2008). "True Believer The chemistry of Nicholas Sparks -- The Notebook and Nights in Rodanthe scribe has penned 14 bestsellers in 14 years". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-09-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "The Epiphany School: Welcome". Archived from the original on September 23, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Sparks, Nicholas: "Somehow I was able to squeeze in time to write a book with Billy Mills, entitled would end up being the first work I'd ever publish,..." Three Weeks with My Brother, p. 230
  15. Fleming, Mike Jr (June 10, 2014). "Lionsgate Acquires North American, UK Distribution Rights To Nicholas Sparks' Novel Adaptation 'The Choice'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 3, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Book News: Nicholas Sparks Is Accused Of Racism And Homophobia". NPR. Retrieved October 3, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links