>I pulled up a chair, poured a little after-school coffee into my Book Lover mug, and settled down on hold. Voluntarily. Why? I was waiting my turn to join a group of bloggers interviewing author Nicholas Sparks. Yes, that Nicholas Sparks! He’s the author of several deep and wonderful stories including The Notebook, A Bend in the Road, Dear John, Message in a Bottle, and soon to be on the big screen, Nights in Rodanthe.
If the titles seem simple at first, that’s by design. However, don’t let the simplicity fool you. The stories themselves are complex, passionate, and enthralling. When I asked Mr. Sparks about these, he told me that “The titles are chosen very carefully and the titles are usually chosen after the fact, after the novel is written. And they are meant to do exactly that, reflect a deeper meaning to the novel.”
Nights in Rodanthe, the movie, comes out on September 26. Most of his books are closely adapted when they are made into movies, with very little change. Mr. Sparks referred to seeing a movie of his own book as being two ways of telling a story.
“A book is a story told in words and a film is a story told in pictures. And that very essential difference means you have to do some things differently because some things work great in one and not the other and vice versa.” He gave the example of introspection working well in print, but not so well on screen. As he put it, “You can’t film someone thinking.” Trivia buffs (who, me?) may notice differences between the book and the movie, but “…the overall theme, the emotional arcs of the characters, the vast majority of the story, the way you imagine the place to look, the interaction between the characters, all of this is essentially the same. Any differences that happen really come down to just the differences between books and movies.”
In Nights in Rodanthe, as in many of Nicholas Sparks’ books, the setting is essential to the story. Not all people who live in an area can recreate the feeling, the mood of the region; Mr. Sparks does. His sales route in an early career took him to small towns — so many small towns that he got to know the Southern Small Town as a unique and special entity, a place that becomes its own character. Every time he sets a new story, he can draw on his memory to bring up the perfect place to take that role. Indeed, his description of his current small town home was so vivid I could see it, even though outside my own door there was no Spanish moss hanging down, no kids running barefoot down the narrow street, and the people walking down my street spoke with a decided Midwestern twang rather than a Southern drawl.
I’m a voracious reader, and I almost always prefer books to the movies based on them. The exceptions are the movies that stay true to the spirit of the book, the characters, and the major elements of the plot. Nights in Rodanthe looks to be an excellent adaptation, one that can stand on its own or please Nicholas Sparks’ many faithful readers.