|Boy Abunda's interview with Nicholas Sparks
MANILA - Anybody who's ever read "A Walk to Remember" or "The Notebook" -- or watched the film adaptations, knows what fate, romantic tragedy or triumph is.
It takes a maestro of the pen to weave that kind of spell and leave us breathless from cover to cover. But best-selling author Nicholas Sparks said for all his accomplishments and aspirations, he's far from Shakespeare.
In fact, writing was farthest from his mind. He was on track (running) scholarship to Notre Dame, when he had a foot injury which sent his tumbling into the world of writing stories.
"Running was the most important thing in my life and I got injured in the Achilles tendon," Sparks recalled in an interview on "ANC Mornings," where the author candidly shared his sentiments on his Manila stop, his latest novel and his love for writing.
(Watch the [email protected] Nicholas Sparks interview)
"I wrote a novel at 19, another at 22 neither of which were ever published. But years later, when it was time to write 'The Notebook,' having these two experiences were really beneficial because I knew right then even before I wrote a single word that I'd finish the novel."
"The Notebook" is just one among six of his books that have been adapted to film, a number of which had a strong following.
'The Best of Me'
According to his website, two of his upcoming novels are in various stages of development. The film adaptation of "The Lucky One," starring Zac Efron, is expected to be released in March or April of 2012. His other novel, "Safe Haven," is expected to begin filming by October.
Sparks is in the country to promote his newest novel "The Best of Me."
"It's about the `what ifs' of life. Like `The Notebook,' it's a reunion story. It's about two people who fall in love in high school, their lives diverge then they reunite 24 years later at a funeral of an old friend. She's married with two kids but unhappy. There are the big what ifs [like what if] I married the man I love instead of the one who was right for me'."
"In your 20s you think you can do anything, in your 50s you don't think it's worth it, but in your 40's you think you can but [ask] is it worth it?" he said bemusedly.
As for his own what-ifs, Sparks said, he's still good friends with his exes. On vacation, he even stays with the parents of an ex-girlfriend from 25 years ago, who also paid for his honeymoon.
Manila is the fourth leg of Sparks' book tour, and is his single Asian stop before flying to Australia.
It was also a personal choice.
"The Philippines was the place I wanted to go so I was excited to be here," said Sparks.
Sparks is scheduled to do hold a book signing at the Podium on Oct 28 at 5 p.m., and Powerbooks, Greenbelt on Oct 29 at 11 a.m
"This is the 17th book, he's been a consistent bestseller. You can't help but cry and get your heart wrenched by the story he's telling," said Xandra Padilla, Purchasing Director for Books for National Bookstore.
With more than a dozen published works, today, Sparks said, working on new projects has been increasingly difficult to do.
"Writing is a more painstaking process now after writing 17 books than it was at the very beginning of my career. Even with `The Notebook.' It takes me longer now to write a novel. I try to keep raising the standards."
Asked if he'd ever consider setting a story in the Philippines, Sparks brightens up at the possibility.
"Anything is possible. Most of my novels are set in North Carolina, but nothing would prevent me from putting someone from the Philippines to tie this in somehow."
Born in Sacramento, Sparks lost his parents early. He is married, a father of five, and has an aunt who's Filipino.
An avid reader, Sparks said he reads 125 books a year, particularly biographies, of which "Einstein: the Life and Times" by Ronald Clark is a recent favorite. He makes sure to while the time reading a page or so while waiting for the stop light to turn green.
Sparks also finds great joy in reading an original story with a surprise in the end. But among his works, "Three Weeks with My Brother," which he admitted was drawn from my his own life experience, is a personal favorite.
He also loves languages and said he could learn one in a country after 6 days. But while he knows a few Filipino words and phrases which he has freely used in his tweets, he wouldn't attempt to speak these, just yet.
Despite the subject of his stories and the prominent element of romance, Sparks said he's not a romance writer, but rather one who writes about tragedies, always weaving in other emotions, as well as elements of suspense or danger.
"You draw on anything, perception, you draw on your own memories and what you can to create these emotions."
Tips for lovers
Sparks admitted he's a hopeless romantic, and advised the boys to woo the object of their affections with "unexpected phone calls, flowers when they least expect them doing something kind and meaningful to them just because you know they'll like it, not because you have any expectation."
He also had this piece of advice for writers caught in a writer's block: to work backwards mentally, retrace their steps several scenes or pages, then take the story another way. In his case, he gets stumped and not sure of what to write next, it's his instincts' way of telling him something is wrong with the story.
Today, although floored by all the attention he's getting, Sparks said he's just a writer, one he hopes people will continue to read.
"For the vast majority of my life, I'm just at home. I'm a writer, I don't consider myself a best-selling author."
"20 years from now, I would like people to still enjoy these novels."