From The Set of ‘The Longest Ride’: Interview with Nicholas Sparks

Last year, we were lucky to head to the set of The Longest Ride. It was probably one of our greatest set visits ever, because it’s absolutely amazing to be part of a Nicholas Sparks movie. The man has taught the world so much about love, loss, and everything in between.

Interviewing authors has always been one of our favorite things to do, but having the chance to sit down with others and talk to Nicholas Sparks has been a highlight for us.

You said when you were researching this book that you discovered Black Mountain College, did it surprise you to find this hidden gem?

Blew my mind. One of the greatest moments of wonderful coincidences in my entire writing career. It’s been gone for a long time, most people in North Carolina do not know about Black Mountain College. Unless you’re really into North Carolina history, it kind of slipped away. It was this unbelievable blip in time…Black Mountain College was the center of the modern art movement for American painters…So there I’m writing, I’m looking for an artist and I find out that this key element that I need to make art collecting believable, the center was about two hours from where I placed them originally. I was like wow!

Did you start this book by coming up with the characters or what started it?

Well all ideas, and I cannot speak for any other writer or creator of any kind, I can only speak for myself. Inspiration is probably not what you imagine it is, It’s teeny, teeny, tiny in the beginning its barley a germ, it is a theme, an image, it a voice, a general idea of something. The initial inspiration was love stories, that’s all I had. You kind of go in and think what kind of characters, and slowly but surely they come alive. That all come alive in my mind before I start writing, I had the idea to become Luke is bull rider, these two collect art, 19th story, first one I created with a voice was Ira.

Were you involved at all with the casting of this movie?

Yes, of course.

What was it like casting Scott Eastwood, it’s his first feature, how has it been working with him?

In the end, all the actors kind of select themselves for the role. Scott looked the part, he was comfortable with the idea of horses and bulls and all that stuff, he been around it. He was very enthusiastic but mainly, he had the demeanor that we wanted, it was kind of a quieter demeanor, light humor but he’s really enthusiastic at the same time and you’re like hey, that’s kind of like a cowboy. He just really chose himself for that.

You’ve had a lot of your books become movies, when was the specific moment when you either saw two actors together and was like this is exactly the embodiment of what I saw, whether it was like A Walk to Remember or The Notebook?

That’s a tough one, I’ve been pleased with all, I’ve been blessed with very good chemistry all the way through and there’s great chemistry in this one. It’s really hard to say, I think it would go back to the very first one, Message in a Bottle because it was first, everything was new, and everything blew me away. He said ‘well this letter washed up in Morehead City.’ Morehead City!? I picked that city, wow!! Everything was so nuts and then you watch these two together and you’re like wow that’s what it looks like. It would have to go back to the first, that’s when everything was new. It’s a little different now because I’m on set more, I see the filming more, I’m involved in the script more, I’m involved in the casting, so it’s a little different.

Obviously your books and movies have these epic romances and every teen girl is like ‘I want that in my life.’ Do you think they give unrealistic expectations for teens who are watching that?

No. Long relationships are work, that’s it. If you find someone who is willing to work as hard as you are and who has the same end goal, the same ability to compromise and forgive, move on and support and all that then well you’ve got a good shot but it’s still work. That’s what it is but it’s not unrealistic.

Almost of all of your books have been turned into movies, is there a standard amount of involvement every time or how is this one different?

It varies, my amount of involvement varies from film to film. This one I am a producer so, I’m pretty extensively involved throughout the process. I’ve also written screenplays, very involved early on and less involved once the filming begins. Always I’m involved in the marketing and everything after the camera stop rolling, I’m very involved in. Some of those choices, whether I write, whether I produce, whether I just step back and sell it, comes out to function of my time. It’s just what’s on the agenda, what are we trying to do, that kind of thing.

Have you eve ridden a bull and if so or if not, how long did you/would you last?

No, and it depends on the bull. A PBR bull, are you kidding? I’d be in the air getting out of the gate. I have no desire.” ….In the movies these animals are tame or trained so they go to their spot and you know where to put the camera. You don’t know where that bull is going, how do you Scott on the bull, how do you get the angle right? Well, guess who knows ho to do that? The PBR among other things.”

Do you ever base any of your characters on real people?

Yeah, always, sure. A lot of different characters have been inspired by different people. Ira, in this particular one was inspired by a guy I knew growing up Leo Robin, who was like my grandfather…He was just great.

When you sit down to write a book, what the aim for your word count every day? What the most words you’ve written in a day?

Two thousand words a day, about six hours. The most words I’ve ever written in a day is thirteen thousand.

I feel like a lot of your books have paved the way for other tear jerker books to movies, like TFIOS and If I Stay sort of thing, what are some of your favorites besides your own that has done a really good job transitioning?

I think Ghost did a nice job but don’t know if that was ever a novel. It’s a really tough genre, you have TFIOS, I thought it was good, it was very much A Walk to Remember, which is fine because A Walk to Remember was very much Love Story, which is fine because Love Story was very much Romeo and Juliet, you get the point. So, I thought they did a nice job, we’ll see what happens with a book called Wonder, unbelievable book. That will make you cry, that’s a tough one. The last movie that made me cry was Toy Story 3.


The Longest Ride is in theaters today!

I work a lot. Fangirlish is my baby. I work in social media professionally and I love it - which is probably why I don't keep up on my own. I don't sleep enough and I obsess too much over my favorite things. I need to work on combing my hair more. Or at elast I need to stop dying it different colors.