Authors: Nicholas Sparks,Micah Sparks
Tags: #General, #Biography & Autobiography
Copyright © 2004 by Nicholas Sparks and Michael Sparks
All rights reserved.
Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
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First eBook Edition: April 2004
Three Weeks with
Message in a Bottle
A Walk to Remember
A Bend in the Road
Nights in Rodanthe
For our family, with love
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in the time of need.
here are always so many people to thank when it comes to writing a book, and as always, the names are much the same.
First, we have to thank our wives, Cathy and Christine, without whom this book never would have been possible.
And our children—Miles, Ryan, Landon, Lexie, and Savannah (Nicholas’s) and Alli and Peyton (Micah’s). Life without them is impossible to imagine.
Also no less gratitude goes to Theresa Park of Sanford Greenburger and Jamie Raab of Warner Books, our agent and editor respectively. It’s been a dream working with them.
Larry Kirshbaum and Maureen Egen, the CEO and president of Warner Books, were kind enough to believe in the project, and deserve our thanks as well.
Jennifer Romanello, Edna Farley, Emi Battaglia, Julie Barer, Shannon O’Keefe, Peter McGuigan, Scott Schwimer, Howie Sanders, Richard Green, Flag, Denise DiNovi, Lynn Harris, Mark Johnson, Courtenay Valenti, and all the rest deserve our thanks as well for various roles they played in the project.
And finally, thanks to the staff and crew of TCS, as well as our fellow traveling companions, including the wonderful Bob and Kate Devlin. It was wonderful traveling with all of you.
his book came about because of a brochure I received in the mail in the spring of 2002.
It was a typical day in the Sparks household. I’d spent a good part of the morning and early afternoon working on my novel
Nights in Rodanthe
, but it hadn’t gone well and I was struggling to put the day behind me. I hadn’t written as much as I’d intended nor did I have any idea what I would write the following day, so I wasn’t in the best of moods when I finally turned off the computer and called it quits for the afternoon.
It isn’t easy living with an author. I know this because my wife has informed me of this fact, and she did so again that day. To be honest, it’s not the most pleasant thing to hear, and while it would be easy to get defensive, I’ve come to understand that arguing with her about it has never solved anything. So instead of denying it, I’ve learned to take her hands, look her in the eyes, and respond with those three magic words that every woman wants to hear:
“You’re right, sweetheart.”
Some people believe that because I’ve been relatively successful as an author, writing must come effortlessly to me. Many people imagine that I “jot down ideas as they come to me” for a few hours each day, then spend the rest of my time relaxing by the pool with my wife while we discuss our next exotic vacation.
In reality, our lives aren’t much different from that of your average middle-class family. We don’t have a staff of servants or travel extensively, and while we do have a pool in the backyard surrounded by pool chairs, I can’t remember a time that the chairs have ever been used, simply because neither my wife nor I have much time during the day to sit around doing nothing. For me, the reason is my work. For my wife, the reason is family. Or more specifically, kids.
We have five children, you see. Not a big number if we were pioneers, but these days it’s enough to raise a few eyebrows. Last year, when my wife and I were on a trip, we happened to strike up a conversation with another young couple. One topic led to another, and finally the subject of kids came up. That couple had two kids and mentioned their names; my wife rattled off the names of ours.
For a moment, the conversation ground to a halt while the other woman tried to figure out whether she’d heard us correctly.
“You have five kids?” the woman finally asked.
She laid a sympathetic hand on my wife’s shoulder.
“Are you insane?”
Our sons are twelve, ten, and four; our twin daughters are coming up on three, and while there’s a lot that I don’t know about the world, I
know that kids have a funny way of helping you keep things in perspective. The older ones know that I write novels for a living, though I sometimes doubt that either of them understands what it means to create a work of fiction. For instance, when my ten-year-old was asked during a class presentation what his father did for a living, he puffed his chest out and proudly declared, “My daddy plays on the computer all day!” My oldest son, on the other hand, often tells me—with utter solemnity—that, “Writing is easy. It’s just the typing that’s hard.”
I work out of the house as many authors do, but that’s where the resemblance ends. My office isn’t some upstairs, out-of-the-way sanctuary; instead, the door opens directly onto the living room. While I’ve read that some authors must have a quiet house in order to concentrate, I’m fortunate that I’ve never needed silence to work. It’s a good thing, I suppose, or I never would have ever written at all. Our house, you have to understand, is a whirlwind of activity literally from the moment my wife and I get out of bed until the moment we collapse back into it at the end of the day. Spending the day at our home is enough to exhaust just about anyone. First off, our kids have energy. Lots and lots of energy.
amounts of energy. Multiplied by five, it’s enough energy to power the city of Cleveland. And the kids somehow magically feed off each other’s energy, each consuming and mirroring the other’s. Then our three dogs feed off it, and then the
seems to feed on it. A typical day includes: at least one sick child, toys strewn from one end of the living room to the other that magically reappear the moment after they’ve been put away, dogs barking, kids laughing, the phone ringing off the hook, FedEx and UPS deliveries coming and going, kids whining, lost homework, appliances breaking, school projects due tomorrow that our children somehow forget to tell us about until the last minute, baseball practice, gymnastics practice, football practice, Tae Kwon Do practice, repairmen coming and going, doors slamming, kids running down the hallway, kids throwing things, kids teasing each other, kids asking for snacks, kids crying because they fell, kids cuddling up on your lap, or kids crying because they need you RIGHT THIS MINUTE! When my in-laws leave after visiting for a week, they can’t get to the airport soon enough. There are deep bags under their eyes and they carry the dazed, shell-shocked expression of veterans who just survived the landing on Omaha Beach. Instead of saying good-bye, my father-in-law shakes his head and whispers, “Good luck. You’re going to need it.”
My wife accepts all of this activity in the house as normal. She’s patient and seldom gets flustered. My wife seems to actually
it most of the time. My wife, I might add, is a saint.
Either that, or maybe she
In our house, it’s my job to handle the mail. It has to be done, after all, and in the course of our marriage, this is one of those little responsibilities that has fallen in my lap.
The day that I received the brochure in the mail was a day like any other. Lexie, who was six months old, had a cold and refused to let my wife put her down; Miles had painted the dog’s tail with fluorescent paint and was proudly showing it off; Ryan needed to study for a test but forgot the textbook at school and had decided to “solve” the problem by seeing how much toilet paper could be flushed down the toilet; Landon was coloring on the walls—again—and I can’t remember what Savannah was doing, but no doubt it was something distressing, since at six months old she was already learning from her siblings. Add to that the television blaring, dinner cooking, dogs barking, a ringing phone, and the chaotic roar seemed to be reaching a fever pitch. I suspected that even my saintly wife might be nearing the end of her rope. Pushing away from the computer, I took a deep breath and stood from my desk. Marching into the living room, I took one look around at the world gone crazy, and—with instincts only men seem to possess—I knew exactly what to do. I cleared my throat, felt everyone’s attention momentarily swing to me, and calmly announced: