Nicholas Sparks Photo: From Reader's Digest
As readers of his richly autobiographical 2004 travelogue Three Weeks with My Brother know, Nicholas Sparks puts more than his imagination into his popular novels. As in The Choice, Sparks usually sets his novels on turf he knows intimately—that of his current home state, North Carolina.
In keeping with many of his best-selling love stories, The Choice resonates with a heavy appreciation of marriage and kids. This, too, springs from the author’s life. He and his wife, Cathy—whom he calls ‘Cat’—have been married eighteen years. (They met during spring break while in college.) They are the parents of five children and are still very much in love. ‘Cat and I have loved each other since March 1988,’ declares Sparks, ‘and my feelings for her have grown only stronger over the years.’
When he evokes loss and sadness in his novels, the depth of feeling he draws on is also from firsthand experience. In 1989, Sparks lost his mother when she died suddenly from a horseback riding accident; seven years later his father was killed in a car crash. In 2000, his sister, Dana, succumbed to cancer at age thirty-three.
Despite these personal trials, Sparks’s outlook has remained relentlessly life affirming—another signature element of his fiction. ‘As hard
as it’s been,’ says Sparks of his losses, ‘I know that in many ways I’m fortunate. My wife and children are proof of that.’
Sparks says that The Choice’s hunky sports-enthusiast vet, Travis Parker, is patterned on his brother Micah (co-author of Three Weeks). But readers familiar with his background are likely to recognise a direct link to the novelist as well. Once dubbed ‘sexiest author’ by People, Sparks is a disciplined athlete. Never one to do things by halves, he was so devoted to running in high school that he won an athletic scholarship to Notre Dame, where he still holds a track and field record. He is a black-belt martial arts expert (Tae Kwon Do). He runs thirty miles a week, coaches track and field at the local high school, and lifts weights four times a week.
So what does Sparks do to relax? When not parasailing or spending time with his family, he reads—more than a hundred books a year.
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