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Arts & Culture
Mon September 7, 2009
The Last Song - Nicholas Sparks
By George Olsen
New Bern, NC – INTRO - New Bern author Nicholas Sparks will try to make it nine New York Times #1 fiction bestsellers with the release Tuesday of his latest novel. George Olsen has more.
Nicholas Sparks has said in published interviews that after each novel he has a moment where he thinks "that's it. The well is dry." Then in order to re-fill the well he sits down and methodically looks at what he's recently written to try and determine what he is he hasn't recently written about.
"I start with age group or something like that. The Lucky One was about people in their late 20s, the Choice was about people in their late 20s and late 30s, Dear John was about people in the early and late 20s, and then I had the film Nights in Rodanthe come out about people in their 40s and 50s, so in the last 3 years that's what I've done so I didn't want to do anything between 20 and 50 so that left over 60 years old or younger."
He went with under twenty as he started to consider his 16th novel all but one of them love stories. It would be his 2nd novel with teenage leads 1999's "A Walk to Remember" was the first. That book was adapted into the moderately successful film of the same name which got the attention of a national teen star looking to branch out beyond her popular television character.
"About that time Disney called and said Miley Cyrus really likes what you do, she'd love to be in a movie like a Walk to Remember, do you have anything lying around and I said I don't but its funny you should mention that because I'm considering doing this now, so I spent last July thinking about the story, talked to the Disney people in August, talked to Miley in August and they signed me to write the screenplay and for scheduling reasons they asked me to write the screenplay first and then when I was finished with the screenplay I turned to the novel."
The film of Nicholas Sparks' new novel "The Last Song" will come out in January or perhaps it could be said the book of Nicholas Sparks' first screenplay will come out three months before the film. Sparks has written screenplays before, but this will be the first one to make it to the local Cineplex as well as the first screenplay written before he wrote the novel. The screenplay for "The Last Song" was about 100 pages, and despite what could be viewed as an extended outline, Sparks says taking it to novel form was not an easy task.
"Because of space limitations you have to tell in screenplays "Ronnie enters the room still angry period." I could write that and you go into the dialogue, what she says, what she does. In a novel, you're not allowed to tell, you have to show everything, so I have to show her being angry without ever using the word anger she's got to slam the door, glare at her father, swivel her head or do other things, you've got to show it, and when you multiple that by the 10,000 times you have to do that in a novel, always showing and never telling, it's tough. Now you have to think about it. It's much easier just to say "she's angry now" and "now she's not so angry." So screenplays are much, much easier.
Writing "The Last Song" also differed from prior novels in that, while several have become movies, this was the first one where he knew it would be a movie as he wrote it and who the lead actress would be. Knowing that didn't entirely write the book's lead character Ronnie but did influence the character Sparks notes the musical aspect of the novel was influenced by the fact that Miley Cyrus is a popular singer though at no time in the book does Ronnie break into song. Other than that, Sparks said he stayed true to writing the best story he could and letting the filmmaking fall where it may.
"The first thing I thought when I finished the screenplay was, wow, I hope she can do this, this is a tough role because I'm bringing you through a whole gamut of emotion and you're just a 16-year-old girl who's done the Disney Channel. Are you able to do this as an actress?"
Sparks later saw some of the filming and says it looked like Cyrus handled things just fine. The public will judge when the film "The Last Song" screens in January. The book "The Last Song" hits the stores Tuesday and is published by Grand Central. I'm George Olsen.