My wife and I began our married life working for seven years as volunteers in Zaire now DR Congo with Mennonite Central Committee — she as a nurse and I, first as a teacher, and later as a public health manager. That is, however, another story told better at http:
Subscribe to our FREE email newsletter and download free character development worksheets! Jessica Strawser January 3, The following is an online-exclusive extended version of the interview that appears in the February issue of WD.
The career of Nicholas Sparks began with one of the biggest breakout success stories in recent memory: Too often, what follows such stories is a tale of sophomore slumps—but the former pharmaceutical salesman proved to be anything but a one-hit wonder.
All 16 of his subsequent books to date—one memoir and 15 novels, including his latest, Safe Haven—have been bestsellers. In alone, both the film version of Dear John and his original screenplay The Last Song hit the big screen; the adaptation of The Lucky One is forthcoming in earlyand movie rights to Safe Haven—a harrowing story about a domestic violence victim who finds love while on the run from her deranged husband—have already been sold.
Today, the North Carolina husband and father is still consistently delivering what his legions of fans have come to expect: Why is it important to you to avoid the labels the industry is so fond of?
I just want them to be accurate. Your latest, Safe Haven involves a lot of elements of thriller, and it gives readers insight into the mindset of a very disturbed antagonist.
Was there a lot of research that went into that aspect of the story? The key[s] to writing Kevin, the antagonist, were the decisions I made up front when it came to the creation of that character.
Further, I wanted it to be a subtle degradation over time with Kevin, so that you would feel him gradually losing his mind, so to speak. So, I made those decisions up front, and the only way that I knew how to do that was to create that character first, which I did.
I wrote seven sections of Kevin, and that way his voice was consistent throughout, because it was all written without ever leaving his voice for a moment. I wrote myself a love story, and then I said, A-ha, pages in, this would be a place to put Section One of Kevin in.
So then I put it in, I edited it to make it fit with any changes in the story … [and went] back to the love story.
I think in the end, the seven sections became six, but he was all written in one fell swoop, and to me it worked very well, and I think Kevin is a very scary but believable and human character.
So that was the real challenge, in creating Kevin, was to make him very believable and human, and yet that humanness about him makes him even more scary because you think you know someone like this.
So do you take that approach often, writing in the voice of one character at a time? Are you conscious of wanting to set a certain example?
A lot of your readers are young women, and in this book you deal with some serious issues they could be facing. No—it has more to do with my grandmother rule. How much do you think about your readers as you write?
And I think that is probably one of the main elements of writing that young writers will hopefully take to heart. Why did you decide to take this open-book approach? Primarily because my books are widely taught in schools. So I did it for students, and also because these books are deceptively simple to read.
But there was a lot of challenge, in interweaving seven story lines simultaneously. And there was a challenge to Safe Haven. And a love story is always internal conflict.
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Zach Lieberman, creator of innovative eye-tracking software, preaches the idea of DIWO—Do It With Others—saying, “We need to think about art–working more like a laboratory, that we are performing research and working together.” This contrasts with the common design parable that a camel is a horse designed by committee.