Tamla & Nicholas SparksNicholas Sparks and Tamala Edwards in conversation at the Free Library of Philadelphia

Every writer both aspiring and established seeks to write in such a way that the end product be it short story, autobiography, or novel resonates with the hearts and emotions of a targeted audience, forever etched in their memory. Nicholas Sparks’ works are the embodiment of that effect so when I heard he was scheduled to be at the Free Library of Philadelphia today, I promptly made space in my calendar several months in advance. Since I am known to speak passionately about whatever I believe in, it comes as no surprise that most of my friends received countless reminders about this event. Perhaps I must have thought that I was promoting a new author, but I was about to be proven wrong. For when the doors of the Parkway Central Branch swung open at 6:45 p.m, men and women, boys and girls, old and young filled the hall in just a matter of minutes to hear what Nicholas Sparks had packaged for his fans in his latest work, The Longest Ride.

I am ashamed to admit to this, but I have not completed a Nicholas Sparks novel from start to finish. I shall put the blame on Hollywood who made me lazy after I watched its production of Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, and The Notebook, which are three unforgettable movies  Actually, I just started reading The Notebook and I must say, the writing is excellent, the wording well crafted, and the phrasing profound. So, can someone tell me why I haven’t finished a Nicholas Sparks’ novel? To prepare for the evening, I visited his website, to find out more about The Longest Ride. I ended up reading his biography, his advice to writers, which by the way is  insightful, and the first 6 pages previewed on Needless to say, I was impressed and determined to devour all the Nicholas Sparks novels piled on my table.

Thankfully, Sparks has such a throng of devoted fans that my lazy reading habits did not deter the energy that was present in the hall. Let’s get this straight first of all, there is absolutely no picture of Nicholas Sparks that does him justice. He is fine! Okay, you get the picture. Unsurprisingly, Sparks lists as one of his hobbies, running 30 miles a week! I want to be like you when I grow up Nicholas. The evening  of conversation was led by Tamala Edwards, an Action News Morning Edition anchor with ABC  Philadelphia and she eloquently quizzed Nicholas Sparks about The Longest Ride, his life, and his previous works. Sparks stated that what makes his latest novel different from his other works is the love web this time is spun around two couples, Ira and Ruth (an elderly couple) and Luke and Sophia (college students). How their lives intertwine is the climax readers anxiously anticipate, and of course there is that expected dose of tragedy.

Tamala commented on Sparks’ use of letters in his novels and he acknowledged that he loves the epistolary form of writing. When Sparks confessed to writing a letter to his wife on their anniversary for the past 24 years, the audience awwed and ahhed after learning that each one took an average of 10 hours to write.  Sparks also offered some advice to budding writers, emphasizing the need to read voraciously as a writer. As he singled out each of his works to draw references from, several groups in the audience squealed with glee.  For lovers of The Choice, it is the next book scheduled for release as a movie come October 2014 and The Longest Ride is also on fast track for screenplay and pre-production due for release by February 2015. Yet, the announcement that drew the loudest cheers was, The Notebook will soon be on Broadway!

Throughout the evening, Nicholas Sparks kept the entire audience laughing and in good spirits with his confidence and great humor. In fact, Tamala remarked that Sparks didn’t need her as he had both the right responses and follow up questions even without her prompting. By question and answer time, it was quite evident why Sparks remains a New York Times bestselling author as everyone had a question for him from requests for favorite books to be made into screenplay down to complaints about why Sparks had not used the West (California since he was raised there) as a setting for any of his works. He took them all in stride and even gave a shout out to the Philadelphia Eagles. Clearly, Nicholas Sparks is not only a great writer, but also an author who has won the admiration of an audience who are eager to come aboard on The Longest Ride to see where it takes them.

The Longest RideNicholas Sparks’ The Longest Ride


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