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Talking with Nicholas Sparks

Most writers are driven by the almost compulsive need to communicate what touches them deeply in their own lives. Nicholas Sparks’s novels seem to express the universal desire for love. One of the best ways for Sparks to quite literally communicate his theme was to narrate the audio publication of his most recent novel, A WALK TO REMEMBER. It was an opportunity he almost didn’t get. Originally slated to record the nostalgic musings of the novel’s hero, Landon Carter, was “Ally McBeal” star Gil Bellows. When that fell through at the last minute, Time Warner called on Sparks to fill in. “It was amazing,” says Sparks. For him the thrill of performing A WALK TO REMEMBER was twofold.

On one side, he was given the opportunity to learn the nitty-gritty of audio production. “I’ll tell you this: The director knew his job well,” says Sparks of his experience. “It’s fairly frustrating when you’re into the flow [of reading] and an “s” hits too hard. You have to pick up with the same emotion you had before. Really, a director’s job is appeasement!” Sparks also credits the editor for distilling about 23 hours of tape into the final five-hour unabridged version audiences hear today.

But reading his own work also brought a personal gratification for Sparks. “This character’s voice is closest to my natural voice,” he says. Considering that Sparks says that all his stories are inspired by his real life, this makes perfect sense. But while other authors might rush to double their fame, Sparks acknowledges that this particular book about the beauty of first love is the only one for which his voice is appropriate.

There’s a new Nicholas Sparks novel on the horizon, due out next fall. While it’s still untitled, Sparks did disclose that he will continue to communicate the theme of love to his widening circle of listeners. “This time,” he says, “it’s love as rescue.” It remains to be seen who will narrate the inevitable audiobook version, but it’s a fair bet that Sparks will happily leave that decision up to someone else. Either way, his message is being heard.—Rachel Astarte Piccione



Photo © Byron Holland

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