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Fri October 3, 2008
The Lucky One - Nicholas Sparks
By George Olsen
New Bern, NC – INTRO - New Bern author Nicholas Sparks has just released his 15th novel The Lucky One. Like his other writing, it's a love story, but unlike the bulk of his work it takes place amidst current world events. George Olsen has more.
Nicholas Sparks is an author of love stories and the books that he writes generally don't stray too far from the immediate world of his male and female protagonists. But living in eastern North Carolina home to the Camp Lejeune, Cherry Point and New River military bases it was perhaps inevitable that America's ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would work its way into his writing.
I know so many people who served in Iraq, be they neighbors or even family members. I've had a couple cousins serve. I had one of my former athletes on the track team who just got back from Iraq. It's certainly part and parcel with life around here.
The Lucky One features Logan Thibault, a Marine veteran of the current Iraq war a man who finds a photograph while overseas that becomes a bit of a lucky charm for him and ultimately a catalyst for his civilian life. The book spends some time in the midst of the Iraq war in flashback sequences, though not so much to turn it into a battle epic.
I don't go into heavy detail. I'm not Tom Clancy. You get the broad sweeps right, that its all in character and that its all reasonable and you move on from there.
The fact that Logan Thibault is a Marine is due in part, not only to where Sparks lives and his frequent contact with Iraq veterans, but somewhat by request. The Lucky One marks the second time an Iraq veteran has been a lead character one was featured in an earlier novel Dear John and that was met with enthusiasm among military audiences.
I guess the reason I did this one, one of the reasons, after I did Dear John I had a signing at Fort Bragg and everyone was very excited and they were very positive about it and I followed that with a signing at Camp Lejeune and everyone there essentially said why did you do the Army? When are you going to do a book with a Marine veteran and I said, it's coming, trust me, it's coming
And it did, with this book also somewhat different from past efforts because of the amount of research involved. His past books, again, just primarily revolving around the growing relationship between two people, often involved no more research than visualizing the eastern North Carolina towns where they take place, be it real life locales like Beaufort or New Bern or fictional towns like Hampton, where The Lucky One resides. When you reside in that area, research is what you already know, but getting the whens & wheres of war took a little bit of effort.
And that's one of the issues I faced with The Lucky One was to find the exact right division, the exact right squad and marine platoon that I wanted because I was very clear what I wanted. To be frank, not a lot of units qualified, so to speak, to do what I wanted in my study, so a chunk of my time was spent researching and making sure that if I'm talking about the 1st Fifth that they went when and where they actually did, because if I made that error, I would get a lot of letters about it.
Sparks says his books have been very popular amongst the military, which may, at first glance, given the themes of his books, seem surprising. He's not surprised by it though. He says he believes all walks of life like his books, but the nature of military deployments can encourage reading whether it's his books or just what's available.
I think certainly if you're in Iraq it is a it's a situation where you've got these moments of extreme action and anxiety and tension, and that's of course steadied by long periods of boredom and inactivity where you're not doing much, and that's pretty much any type of battlefield situation where you have these long periods and these novels of all types, certainly not just mine, they get handed around and handed around and handed around because people have some extra time during the day. You don't have a lot in a lot of places, so people read a lot.
The Lucky One by New Bern author Nicholas Sparks is published by Grand Central Publishing. I'm George Olsen.