Sparks: Had "The Notebook" flopped, my next novel might have been a thriller, it might have been a horror novel, I don't know. It worked, and I'm not dumb enough to think that lightning strikes twice in the same spot. There was obviously a market for this type of book, so I said OK, let me do another one. So I wrote "Message in a Bottle," or at least started it, and the film rights were sold halfway through the novel, and then they got Kevin Costner on board right away. In fact, the first script was finished before even the novel was finished. So yeah, I made the right choice. So that's why I write what I do.
Bankrate: A wise choice when you have a growing family to support.
Sparks: That's right. I had no time. I had to write. I had only X amount of hours to write and then I had other stuff to do. It's still that way.
Bankrate: How do you plan for your children's future? Have you set up college funds?
No. For one, there's no reason to. I guess the
extent of our college plans is, "You know
you're going to college, so try to get some decent
grades." But where they go, I honestly and
truly don't care -- if they go to Harvard, great;
if they go to East Carolina University, great.
Every kid is different. I've learned enough by
this age to realize that kids are going to be
who they're going to be. You do the best you can
until they're 14, 15 and 16 and then they start
making their own decisions, and by 18 or 19, they're
really not interested in yours, for at least a
few years, and then they get interested again.
But I'm not there yet.
Bankrate: You lost your parents at a relatively young age. Where did you find the strength to take on a writer's career and raise five children?
Sparks: I don't know. First off, I don't know that it's strength; I think it's probably more survival. You ask me how I survived, you just survive like the old clichés: day by day, you take care of the things you need to do and then the next day happens and you do it again. That's pretty much what you do. I certainly don't think I have more strength or I learned valuable lessons from these losses. Believe me; I would much prefer to have my parents and my sister around. By that time, I had children, I had a wife, and I had obligations. I'm just not the type to fold on my obligations. I suppose there was almost a frenetic aspect to my character at that time, although I can't vouch for that. To me, it wasn't like that. How do you get through it? You just do, I guess.
Certainly people have had far worse tragedies than I did, and I certainly had more blessings than most, at the same time. I think what was odd was just the juxtaposition of these highs and lows; I mean, they were really high and they were really low. So that was kind of odd; as I get older, you look back and you think it was more and more odd. It was strange as you could get, no question.
Bankrate: What's the one message you hope to impart to your children?
Sparks: It's your life; make the best of it that you can. That's really the main lesson. I don't particularly care which college they go to, I don't particularly care what they do for a living. I do particularly care about the quality of people that they become. You know: Are they honorable? Do they have integrity? Are they honest? Are they responsible? Are they kind? Are they generous? Are they patient? Those things are important to me, but everything else, I don't really care. It's their lives.