Nicholas Sparks Biography


Personal Background

Nicholas Sparks was born in 1965 in Omaha, Nebraska, the second of three children. His father, Patrick Michael (Mike), was a graduate student for much of Nicholas' early life, so the family lived in a number of college towns before settling in Fair Oaks, California, when Nicholas was eight. Nicholas' mother, Jill Emma Marie (Jill), worked as both a homemaker and optometrist's assistant. Nicholas, his older brother Micah, and his younger sister Danielle were all born within a three-year period, and the closeness in age created a strong bond between them.

Education and Work Experience

Nicholas excelled in high school, graduating as valedictorian of his class and earning notice as a middle-distance runner. He accepted a full athletic scholarship to Notre Dame but found himself hampered by an injury the summer after his freshman year. With time on his hands, Nicholas wrote his first novel, The Passing, which was never published.

Nicholas graduated Magna Cum Laude from Notre Dame in 1988 with a degree in business finance and then married his wife, Cathy, in 1989. Shortly after his wedding, his mother passed away at the age of 47 from a horseback riding accident. That same year, Nicholas wrote his second novel, The Royal Murders, which also remains unpublished. Over the next three years, Nicholas worked in a number of industries and experienced two bright spots: the birth of his son Miles and the chance to coauthor Wokini — a spiritual allegory that sold over 50,000 copies — with Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills. In 1992 and 1993, Nicholas experienced more change, more joy, and more tragedy. He moved his family to North Carolina, where his second son, Ryan, was born in 1993 — but he also learned that his younger sister had developed cancer — an illness that would later claim her life.

Early Published Works

At the age of 28, Nicholas decided to give his literary career a real chance. To that end, he spent the second half of 1994 writing a novel he called The Notebook, scheduling his writing time around his family. A year later, while living in Greenville, South Carolina, Nicholas was offered a contract by a young agent with no published novels to her name. Despite her inexperience, however, Theresa Park was able to not only sell the manuscript to Warner Books but also to secure a $1 million advance, much to the Nicholas' shock . . . and elation! Ms. Park also secured a sale of the film rights.

The next year brought a further mix of success and tragedy: Nicholas' father died in an automobile accident at the age of 54, just a month before Nicholas embarked on a 45-city tour to promote The Notebook. That novel eventually spent 55 weeks on the New York Times hardcover and paperback bestseller lists and was translated into 35 languages. In 1997, The Notebook was nominated for an ABBY (American Booksellers Book of the Year Award), but it did not win.

Nicholas has written 17 books and seen six of his novels made into movies. He lives in North Carolina, where he continues his prolific writing career and lives with his wife Cathy and their five children, Miles, Ryan, Landon, and twins Lexie and Savannah.

Career Highlights

Each of Nicholas' novels has become an international bestseller. After The Notebook, additional novels followed in rapid succession, starting with Message in a Bottle, published in 1998, and A Walk to Remember, published in 1999. After that came The Rescue in 2000, A Bend in the Road in 2001, Nights in Rodanthe in 2002, and The Guardian and The Wedding (a sequel of sorts to The Notebook) in 2003. Nicholas Sparks coauthored Three Weeks with My Brother with his brother, Micah, in 2004, and then returned to solo works with True Believer and At First Sight in 2005, Dear John in 2006, The Choice in 2007, The Lucky One in 2008, The Last Song in 2009, and Safe Haven in 2010.

In 1999, Message in a Bottle became the first of Nicholas' novels to be released as a movie. With stellar casting — Kevin Costner, Paul Newman, and Robin Wright Penn — the movie grossed more than $120 million and hit the number-one box office spot. A movie version of A Walk to Remember was released in 2002, followed by The Notebook in 2004 and Nights in Rodanthe in 2008. Two movies based on his work were released in 2010 — Dear John and The Last Song, for which Nicholas wrote the screenplay along with his former college roommate Jeff Van Wie. The Lucky One began filming in late 2010 with a projected release date of 2011, and Safe Haven is expected to start production in 2011 for a 2012 release.