For nearly 20 years, Nicholas Sparks has been crafting emotionally powerful novels that deal with every relationship hurdle imaginable: War, class, aging, rebellion, and death are common themes. In 1999, Hollywood took note of how insanely popular his works had become and turned his second novel, Message in a Bottle, into a feature film starring Robin Wright, Kevin Costner, and Paul Newman.
"There was never any hesitation," Sparks told BuzzFeed News of selling the rights to his books. "I had the chance to tell the story the way I want, people have had a chance to imagine the story the way they want, and a film is just another chance to see the story the way someone else imagined it. To me, it's just one more great way to tell a story."
To date, eight of his stories have been turned into hugely popular films — with the ninth, The Best of Me coming to theaters on Oct. 17, and his first TV movie, Deliverance Creek, premiering this month on Lifetime — so BuzzFeed asked Sparks to reflect on the adaptations of his novels and select his single favorite scene.
Message in a Bottle (1999)
A Walk to Remember (2002)
Shane West and Mandy Moore played Landon and Jamie, lovers savoring borrowed time, as she has terminal leukemia.
"A lot of great scenes in this one, but I'm going to go with the scene with Shane and Mandy in the car, on their date — he helps her be in two places at once — and puts the fake tattoo on," said Sparks. "Just the fact that he was trying to help make some of her dreams come true. I found that to be a great scene."
The film is also extremely popular with Sparks' family. "The movie we watch most frequently in my house is A Walk To Remember. I have kids and I just think the message there is wonderful: You can be true to who you are and you can do the right thing and it's OK. I think it's such a fabulous, fabulous message."
The Notebook (2004)
Far and away the most talked about Sparks movie, Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams played star-crossed lovers, continually driven apart by her status-obsessed family.
"We gotta go with the rain," Sparks exclaimed. "Gotta go with kissing in the rain! Come on! How can I not? There is no other scene. That's what everyone watches the movie for: 'It wasn't over for me! It still isn't over!" Come on, that's so good."
Although not an outright box office smash, the film found a second life on DVD and on cable. "I think it only did $81 million, which certainly isn't Spider-Man or Titanic; you're talking about 10 or 11 million people only saw it in theaters, and now what's the number? 300 million people? It seems to have struck a chord in a way that a lot of movies didn't. I don't think there's any question that The Notebook — for any number of reasons: the performances, how much it's in rotation — is most likely destined to become a classic."
Nights in Rodanthe (2008)
Dear John (2010)
The Last Song (2010)
The Lucky One (2012)
Safe Haven (2013)
Deliverance Creek and The Best of Me (2014)
2014 will see the release of two new Sparks films: One on television (Lifetime's Deliverance Creek, which airs Sept. 13) and one in theaters (The Best of Me, to be released Oct. 17).
Of Deliverance Creek, Sparks said, "I've always wanted to do a Western. One of my all-time favorite movies is Unforgiven." The historically testosterone-heavy genre proved to be fertile ground for Sparks, who has a unique knack for writing female protagonists. "I wanted to do something different," he said. "Something no one had seen before, which is to really explore the reality of their situation. In many of these small towns, the men went off to fight, leaving the women behind to become very powerful. They had to keep the towns and ranches running while their husbands were away for years."
With The Best of Me, Sparks returns to his comfort zone, writing about high school sweethearts (James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan) who reunite after decades to find out they've both carried torches for one another despite going their separate ways after graduation.
"There is not a person who is married who hasn't wondered, What if I married someone else? Who would I be?" said Sparks. "I think the forties are an incredibly interesting decade in life for most people. In your teens, your twenties, and your thirties, you still probably believe that all your dreams will come true. When you're in your fifties, sixties, and seventies, well, you've now reached the point where you accept that your dreams may not happen. The forties is this period where you have the realization you've made a series of choices, but you're not quite ready to accept that all your dreams may not come true. For me, it was a fascinating decade to write."