The literary scene

A new kind of love story for Nicholas Sparks

 

You know Nicholas Sparks: He’s the guy who cranks out your favorite love stories before they become movies.

The author of The Notebook, Safe Haven, The Lucky One and many other bestsellers, who appears Monday at Miami Dade College, is in town to talk about his new novel, The Longest Ride. The book chronicles two couples — one young, Luke and Sophia, and one older, Ira and Ruth — whose lives intersect. Time ranges from the 1930s to the present day, as the characters’ stories shift back and forth and touch on a variety of ordinary details: working in a deli, bidding at art auctions, enjoying college Greek life (Sophia is a senior at Wake Forest).

Sparks said the characters have real problems, too, including losing family in the Holocaust and thoughts of suicide, troubles that help readers relate to them.

“Most people it seems in life deal with these issues; they’re not fantasy characters,” he said.

Sparks also delves a bit more into new media in The Longest Ride, writing about YouTube and cellphone video. Luke and Sophia, both in their 20s, text each other, naturally.

“I think the main thing that I wanted to do is give them voices that made them feel real,” Sparks said.

One particular challenge included Luke’s professional bull riding experience, which is a source of conflict in the novel. Sparks’ brother-in-law had some rodeo experience and helped Sparks capture Luke’s character accurately by helping the writer with the lingo at the dinner table one evening.

“Many of these lines are directly in the novel,” Sparks said. Still, finding true authenticity was tough: “You put your finger on what was the biggest problem to get that story exactly right. . . .The first go-round wasn’t quite that answer.”

Sparks must have got things right in the end: the Professional Bull Riders organization now has a marketing deal in place with the author. Sparks said they liked how Luke is represented on the circuit and especially how the dangers of the profession were depicted.

While no actors have been named yet, the film version of The Longest Ride is scheduled for a 2015 release. But fans can get a fix in 2014 when The Best of Me, based on Sparks’ 2012 novel, hits theaters.

Sparks is already bracing for challenges with the latest movie script.

“I think the biggest challenge is weighing the stories equally,” he said. “You really have to voice the stories equally for the last act to have some sort of impact.”

Sparks appears in conversation with NBC Miami anchor Jackie Nespral at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Miami-Dade College’s Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave. Vouchers required and available at Books & Books locations in Coral Gables, Miami Beach and Bal Harbour with purchase of the book; 305-442-4408 or www.booksandbooks.com

Anthony Cave

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