Roundtable Interview with Nicholas Sparks
Author and Producer of “Safe Haven”
Dallas, Texas, January 29, 2013
Presbyterian Outlook: The dead wife being an apparition. At what point did you
kind of anticipate the viewer catching on?
Nicholas Sparks: Ideally, you hope that it comes very much as a shock, toward
the end. There’s always a balance, and I’ve heard from most people that
that’s when they found out. It was that way in the novel, as well, that you
really did not find out until she found out, so to speak. And I like that kind
of twist at the end of the film. When you can end a film in such a way that
you can reflect back on the entire film, as a whole, it’s probably the most
PO: Well, you did that. Because I was thinking back saying, “OK, the only
times she ever saw her, they were by themselves. There was never anyone else
PO: You did it!
PO: Are you really that much of a romantic?
NS: Yeah, man. (Everybody laughs.)
NS: I got a wife. 23 years. She’s good. I will say that every film, every
novel I write, the female characters are just…my wife. That’s who I write
about, over and over again. All of my female characters have had some of the
same traits, but they’re the ones I find most attractive. They’re kind.
They’re honest. They’re loyal. They know right and wrong. They’re
forgiving. But most of all, I suppose, these female characters, they’re not
defined by their men. They’re not. If they have a child, let’s say, like
in “The Lucky One”: “If you’re not right, I’ve got a child, guess
what, my child comes first. It was nice getting to know you.” That’s what
they would say. In this movie, Katie loves him, but she’s like, “I am not
putting your family in danger. I will not do it.” They’re not defined by
another. They revel in this. They love deeply, but they never forget that
sense of loyalty to what’s right. That never verges into selfishness:
“just what I want.” And that’s what I find incredibly attractive. So all
of my female characters, whether it’s Allie, or Jamie, or Savannah,
they’ve all been the same.
PO: Since we’re all writers, also, say something about the process of
NS: It’s hard, in writing, to evoke genuine emotion, as opposed to
There’s a subtle difference. By the time a character says to another, “I
love you,” the reader should be saying “Yeah, I knew that.” And that’s
a fine line. So all writing is hard. I write 2000 words a day, that’s my
goal. And there are days, if it’s 6, 8 hours, to get that 2000 words, if I
hit word number 2000 halfway through a sentence, I’m stopping.
But there are other days when I hit 2100 or 2200 and I’m thinking, “You
know this is not so hard, five hours or four and a half, and I can just finish
out the rest of the paragraph.” And that can take anywhere from 3 ½ to 10,
12 hours. And there are some days I can write for 10 hours and only get 1200
words. It would be nice to just turn it on and off like a faucet, but it just
doesn’t work like that. And sometimes I need a break because I find that
writing isn’t an escape for me, it’s a challenge. And I’m the kind of
person who enjoys a challenge, but after you climb the mountain, you gotta
sit, right? You gotta relax, and re-charge. A novel’s about 100,000 words,
and it takes about 150,000 to get the 100,000 you’re going to keep.
(And PO wishes that he’d replied, “And a lot of those same dynamics apply
to sermon-writing, also.”)
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving,