Message in a Bottle (Sparks)

Author Bio
Birth—December 31. 1965
Where—Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Education—B.A., University of Notre Dame
Currently—lives in New Bern, North Carolina

Nicholas Charles Sparks is an American novelist, screenwriter and producer. He has published some 20 novels, plus one non-fiction. Ten have been adapted to films, including Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John, The Last Song, The Lucky One, and most recently The Longest Ride.

Sparks was born to Patrick Michael Sparks, a professor of business, and Jill Emma Marie Sparks (nee Thoene), a homemaker and an optometrist's assistant. He was the middle of three children, with an older brother and a younger sister, "Dana", who died at the age of 33 from a brain tumor. Sparks said that she is the inspiration for the main character in his novel A Walk to Remember.

His father was pursuing graduate studies at University of Minnesota and University of Southern California, and the family moved a great deal, so by the time Sparks was eight, he had lived in Watertown, Minnesota, Inglewood, California, Playa del Rey, California, and Grand Island, Nebraska, which was his mother's hometown during his parents' one year separation.

In 1974 his father became a professor of business at California State University, Sacramento teaching behavioral theory and management. His family settled in Fair Oaks, California, and remained there through Nicholas's high school days. He graduated in 1984 as valedictorian from Bella Vista High School, then enrolled at the University of Notre Dame under a full track and field scholarship. In his freshman year, his team set a record for the 4 x 800 relay.

Sparks majored in business finance and graduated from Notre Dame with honors in 1988. He also met his future wife that year, Cathy Cote from New Hampshire, while they were both on spring break. They married in 1989 and moved to New Bern, North Carolina.

Writing career
While still in school in 1985, Sparks penned his first (never published) novel, The Passing, while home for the summer between freshman and sophomore years at Notre Dame. He wrote another novel in 1989, also unpublished, The Royal Murders.

After college, Sparks sought work with publishers or to attend law school, but was rejected in both attempts. He then spent the next three years trying other careers, including real estate appraisal, waiting tables, selling dental products by phone and starting his own manufacturing business.

In 1990, Sparks co-wrote with Billy Mills Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding. The book was published by Random House sold 50,000 copies in its first year.

In 1992, Sparks began selling pharmaceuticals and in 1993 was transferred to Washington, DC. It was there that he wrote another novel in his spare time, The Notebook. Two years later, he was discovered by literary agent Theresa Park, who picked The Notebook out of her agency's slush pile, liked it, and offered to represent him. In October 1995, Park secured a $1 million advance for The Notebook from Time Warner Book Group. The novel was published in 1996 and made the New York Times best-seller list in its first week of release.

With the success of his first novel, he and Cathy moved to New Bern, NC. After his first publishing success, he began writing his string of international bestsellers.

Personal life and philanthropy
Sparks continues to reside in North Carolina with his wife Cathy, their three sons, and twin daughters. A Roman Catholic since birth, he and his wife are raising their children in the Catholic faith.

In 2008, Entertainment Weekly reported that Sparks and his wife had donated "close to $10 million" to start a private Christian college-prep school, The Epiphany School of Global Studies, which emphasizes travel and lifelong learning.

Sparks also donated $900,000 for a new all-weather tartan track to New Bern High School. He also donates his time to help coach the New Bern High School track team and a local club track team as a volunteer head coach.

In addition to track, he funds scholarships, internships and annual fellowship to the Creative Writing Program (MFA) at the University of Notre Dame. (Adapted from Wikipedia.)

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