Nicholas Sparks finds atmosphere key to romance

Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:20pm EDT
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By Gina Keating

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Best-selling author Nicholas Sparks, who has seen three of his romantic novels turned into films, celebrates as the third, "Nights in Rodanthe", hits theaters and this month and a fourth, "Dear John" goes into production in South Carolina in October.

"Nights in Rodanthe", a mid-life love story of two strangers who become stranded together at a seaside inn during a storm, stars Richard Gere and Diane Lane and opens September 26.

Sparks, 42, talked to Reuters about mid-career drift, and not letting things get too personal in his famously sentimental tales of ordinary love.

Q: Why do you set your novels in the Southern United States?

A: "A love story comes down to atmosphere, and it's a place I can always find the atmosphere that I need for a particular setting or scene. One of the things I write are very universal stories, which means these are stories that could happen to anyone and they are also individuals you can feel like you know. They're not movie stars or CEOs or astronauts -- they are just ordinary people. Everybody knows someone who lives in a small town still ... and the South is very good for that.

Q: The outer banks of South Carolina have the highest density of shipwrecks in the world. Did that have anything to do with why you set "Nights in Rodanthe" -- about two people whose lives are essentially shipwrecked -- there?

A: "Absolutely because when you get two wounded people and they are withdrawing and you keep them in their normal lives they will continue to withdraw. That's just reality. In this isolated place, they are forced to interact if they have any interaction at all."

Q: Was there a particular incident or person or inspiration for "Nights in Rodanthe"?   Continued...

<p>Actors Richard Gere (L) and Diane Lane are shown in scene from "Nights In Rodanthe" in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters September 23, 2008. In their third screen pairing, Gere, 59, and Lane, 43, play lonely strangers thrown together at a romantic and deserted seaside inn on the North Carolina coast as a storm, both real and emotional, bears down on them. REUTERS/Michael Tackett/Warner Bros./Handout</p>