Nicholas Charles Sparks (born December 31, 1965) is an American novelist, screenwriter and producer. He has seventeen published novels plus one non-fiction. Eight of his romantic-drama novels have been adapted to film.
Nicholas Charles 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–) 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.
Sparks was raised Roman Catholic, and is of German, Czech, English and Irish ancestry. He and his wife are Catholics and are raising their children in the Catholic faith.
His father was pursuing graduate studies at University of Minnesota and University of Southern California, and the family moved a great deal, so by the time Sparks 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 teaching behavioral theory and management. His 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. In his freshman year, his team set a record for the 4 x 800 relay. Sparks 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
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 He wrote another novel in 1989, also unpublished, The Royal Murders.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 or 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. 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.
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. 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, NC. After his first publishing success, he wrote several international bestsellers. Eight of his novels have been made into 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), and Safe Haven (2013).
According to his website, he has also sold the screenplay adaptations of True Believer and At First Sight, though it is uncertain whether either film will be made.
Sparks released his 18th novel, The Longest Ride, on September 17, 2013.
Sparks and wife, Cathy live in New Bern, North Carolina with their three sons, Miles, Ryan, and Landon; and twin daughters, Lexie and Savannah. His son Ryan has autism.
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.
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