Nicholas Sparks knows a shocking amount about "ladyfantasies"—the ones where you move to a small Southern town and Josh Duhamel works at the convenience store.
He's something of a female telepathic. "The Notebook," "A Walk to Remember," "The Last Song," "Dear John,""Nights in Rodanthe,"—those all came from his brain. If it weren’t for Sparks,we’d still be reading romance novels with Fabio on the cover, and Ryan Gosling would just be that young guy who briefly dated Sandra Bullock. Miley and Liam wouldn’t have met and R. Kelly would never have broken up with his wife (sure).
In his latest novel-turned-movie, "Safe Haven" (out on DVD Tuesday), a thriller about a woman with a dark past and a bright future sucking face with a hunky convenience store manager, played by, yes, Josh Duhamel. How does he know what feels good in the cushion-y parts of our female minds? "I’ve been blessed to have great women in my life," Sparks told Yahoo Shine. “I had a great mom, I married well.” A little back story: at 47, he’s been with the same woman, Cathy, for almost a quarter of century. Together they have five kids—Miles, Ryan, Landon and twin daughters, Savannah and Lexie. So what has Sparks gleaned from all the females in his life? We asked.
Lesson: Flattering love letters will get you everywhere
"My wife and I met on spring break in Florida, near college. When she went back to her college for the last couple of months of her senior year, I think I wrote her about 150 letters and those letters have been the basis of many of my novels."
Lesson: Life is complicated, love isn’t
"For 'The Notebook,' I just had an idea for a story about a guy who loves his wife and she no longer remembers him. He was a very simple guy. He was a guy who loved a girl forever. There's something to be said about that feeling of being loved unconditionally. That's a longing that's in all of us."
Lesson: Girls like cupcakes"My daughters, they’re both 11 now, they're just different from my sons. They’re a lot more loving, more affectionate. And they like different things on TV, like 'Cupcake Wars.' That’s not a show my sons would have ever wanted to watch."
Lesson: Sometimes we need to feel special—really, really special
"All of my kids' names have ended up in my novels. Savannah was the name of the main character in 'Dear John.' So I put her twin sister Lexie in my book 'At First Sight' and 'True Believer,' both of which never made it to a movie. So Lexie came to me and said, 'Daddy, will my name ever be in a movie?' I said, 'You’ve got it better, you’re the only one with two books.' She said, 'I think I’d rather be in a movie.' So the little girl in the movie version of 'Safe Haven' is named Lexie, which is not the name that it was in the book. She’s very happy now."
Lesson: Chemistry can’t be faked
"We’ve had a couple of people who I guess— Ryan and Rachel they made it for a while—and Miley and Liam. If you don’t have chemistry the film’s just not going to work at all. It’s really what goes on before and after their reading. So we’re really looking for chemistry when we're in the auditions. It’s the way they look at each other, you kind of look for their eyes to light up. If you see that then you think you might have something."
Lesson: If it’s mean to be, it’ll be
"My wife’s a great person, a great mom, she’s very intelligent and charming. I’ve been very fortunate to have met her when I did, otherwise someone else would have married her. Was it fate? I suppose. She was walking to a parking lot. If I stopped at one more red light on the way home, I never would have bumped into her."
Lesson: There’s truth to every joke
"I met Cathy on a Monday, told her we’d get married that Tuesday. She laughed at me. And here we are almost 24 years later."