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The Loyola PHOENIX

DIVERSIONS April 12, 2012


All it takes is one little Spark Photos courtesy of allmovieph and ~LL-stock/deviant

Diversions sits down with writer Nicholas Sparks to talk about the upcoming film adaptation of The Lucky One by Anna Heling

Hopeless romantics know about the Nicholas Sparks moment. It’s that moment when guy spots girl from across the subway car and just knows she’s the one he’ll spend the rest of his life with. You know the scene, played out by pretty people while a soaring score plays in the background. The chance meeting and subsequent relationship (with inevitable bumps along the way) aren’t just reserved for Nicholas Sparks novels or their adaptations on the big screen, according to the author himself. The relationships he creates are designed to be accurate portrayals of real live relationships, he said. “Without [a realistic relationship], you have nothing,” said Sparks, bestselling author of novels such as The Notebook and A Walk to Remember, in an April 4 roundtable interview with The Phoenix. “In my particular genre . . . that’s what it’s about, to move the reader and the viewer through all of the emotions of life and to make the evolving relationship as real as possible.” A Nicholas Sparks moment can happen for anyone, he said, but “you can’t rush it.” The Lucky One, the latest Sparks film, hits theaters April 20. The film focuses on Logan Thibault (played by a grown-up and muscled-up Zac Efron), an Iraq war veteran who finds a photo of a young woman, Beth (Taylor Schilling), while in combat. The photo becomes his lucky charm, and he sets out to find and thank the slightly older

woman in the snapshot for keeping him safe. Spoiler alert: He falls in love. Logan and Beth’s relationship is anything but perfect, and the individuals in particular are refreshingly flawed. After returning from Iraq, Logan has difficulty adjusting to his pre-combat life and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. When he meets Beth, she’s juggling an unhealthy relationship with her ex-husband (Jay R. Ferguson), taking care of their son (Riley Thomas Stewart) and working at her family’s dog kennel. In both the novel and in the film, Sparks wants people to see these characters’ struggles and understand that they’re not perfect. Rather, they’re the people that readers and audiences connect with each day. “If you see Logan, I feel like you know people like that in your life,” Sparks said. “People who go off and serve, and then they come back and they’re different and they need to heal somehow . . . These are people that A, you like because they’re trying to do the right thing, and B, it’s hard. Life is hard. And yet even in the midst of all this, sometimes we fall in love and that love can transform you.” Although the idea of fate is heavily woven throughout the story, Sparks said individuals aren’t merely bystanders in their own lives. “Once something happens, a random event or a coincidence, conscious and unconscious decisions are going to be made,” he said. “This journey, this path, will lead you to a conclusion. Whatever that conclusion may be, it will get you somewhere. And when

you look back, it seems like fate had everything in mind, but it’s really the choices that we make.” While there’s a popular misconception that someone has to die at the end of each Sparks novel, the author said that ending a story is a deliberate thought process rather than a whim. To make this “conscious decision,” he said, he looks at how he’s ended his last three books and recent film adaptations. According to Sparks, there are three possible endings: the two main characters end up together, they don’t end up together or they want to be together but can’t. “I know, before I’ve written the first word, how it will end,” he said. Despite this foresight, the most difficult part of the writing process (and his favorite) is writing the last sentence. “It’s not a joyful process for me,” he said. “It’s a very challenging process to get it exactly right. And it’s a marathon.” For Sparks, writing a novel from start to finish takes roughly five months. “It doesn’t seem like long to you guys, but if it’s always in your head and doesn’t seem like it can escape, it’s pretty all-encompassing,” he said. “It’s not a job that I turn off and say, ‘Oh, I’m done and I won’t think about the book again until tomorrow.’” Sparks is involved in all steps of the transformation of his novels to the big screen. He’s okay with the fact that the movie will never be exactly like the book; they’re different mediums, he said, and what you can do in one you may not be able to execute as well in the other. For example, it’s hard to express Logan’s thoughts in a motion picture

as easily as on the pages of a book. In that same vein, it’s easier to demonstrate the characters’ chemistry through longing glances and gestures on screen than on the pages of a novel, he noted. His three “unbreakable rules” for translating his novels to the big screen are to capture the spirit and intent of the overall story, to capture the spirit and intent of the characters and to make the best film possible. The film version of The Lucky One, he said, abides by all three. Sparks, a happily married romantic, is preparing for the movie’s opening day by attending press meetings and screenings, but he still hasn’t put his pen down; he’s busy at work on his next novel. Along with that, he’s getting ready to start film production for his books Safe Haven and The Best of Me.

As he gears to cast his upcoming films, one can only wonder who would play him in a movie, should a biopic ever hit the big screen. “I’d have to get someone who’s not conventionally handsome and someone in their 40s,” Sparks said, pausing to collect his thoughts. “And then I’d need an incredible actor to make me seem even vaguely interesting.” With a loud guffaw he announced his choice: “I will go with Matt Damon.”

All it takes is one little 'Spark'  

An interview with best-selling author Nicholas Sparks.