I remember the first time I picked up a Nicholas Sparks novel. I had just moved to Philadelphia from Los Angeles, and was experiencing my first East Coast winter, and also, my first break up since High School. A close friend had recommended “A Walk to Remember” and insisted that THIS BOOK would change my mind on all romance novels (I was pretty bitter then). I shrugged her away most days, until finally she just gave me the book and said, “I promise you… it’s good.”
I finished it in less than three hours and, with tears still in my eyes after finishing the book, quickly headed to the bookstore in the snow to buy whatever Nicholas Sparks novels I could find. To me, and millions of readers, Nicholas Sparks is the ultimate in romance. But in his latest book-turned-movie, Safe Haven, there is a major element of danger- why the switch up?
“I write for anyone who likes a good story with real strong characters, ” said Sparks, “what I do is I try to write stories that evoke genuine emotion, all of them, and the one you feel is the one I think that you want to feel.”
Sparks has penned eight novels that are now full length films, with another already in pre-production. Yet, all of his stories have different elements and characters to create their own unique tale. How does he get his inspiration? He says “(…what I’m trying to say is that) it’s really less inspiration than it is conscious effort of trying to ask questions that will lead you into entirely different new directions(…)You literally sit there and ask yourself these questions over and over and over again, and then you try new things….And then, after a while, some combination of ideas, which go to character, pacing, plot, the ending, the twists and turns, the beginning, how the characters meet, all of that comes together in a way that suddenly in my head for whatever reason says, aha, that’s it, that’s the story I’m going to write!”
Sparks calls Safe Haven a “romantic thriller”, which he claims, was a bit of a challenge. “It’s really tough to do a romantic thriller. What happens is the thrilled moments in a story like this will always be more interesting and take over the film compared to a love story element. And that’s the real challenge.”
Safe Haven takes place in a small coastal town in North Carolina called Southport. It’s the type of town where everyone knows everyone and Katie (played by Juliane Hough) is the mysterious stranger who is running from something horrible. She keeps to herself, or tries to, but along the way she meets Alex, a widower with two kids who owns the town’s general store. As they begin to let go of their pasts, and Katie’s comes face to face with her, to make for a thrilling ending, with surprise twist in this journey of love, and danger.
Love and danger? He explains, “what you have to do, in other words, is you have to allow the time for the love story to develop, keep this thriller element growing,” said Sparks, “but really driven by mystery. Who is this, should he fall in love with her, but she seems so nice, and the kids like her, and you just kind of keep adding these little threads until then the moment that you really believe that they could be in love, switch it to a thriller and let the story take off from there.”
Disclosure: No compensation was received. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.