Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 364
Nicholas Sparks was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on December 31, 1965. While he was growing up, his family lived in Nebraska and Michigan before settling in California, where he graduated high school as valedictorian in 1984. In 1985, as a freshman at Notre Dame, he broke the school record for the 4 × 800 relay in track. After suffering from a track-related injury, and at his mother's suggestion, he tried his hand at writing. He wrote a novel, but it was never published.
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He married his wife Catherine in July of 1989 and they lived in Sacramento, California, while he worked at a number of jobs. He wrote another novel, which, like the first, was never published. In 1992, his job as a pharmaceutical salesman required a relocation to North Carolina, where he later wrote The Notebook. While it was not his first published novel—that was Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding, written with Billy Mills (1990)—The Notebook (1996) was the first novel that garnered widespread recognition for Sparks.
Sparks drew inspiration for his writing from his family hardships. His next novel, Message in a Bottle (1998) was inspired by the untimely death of his mother from a horseback riding accident in 1989. His father also died prematurely in a car accident in 1996 at age fifty-four. A Walk to Remember (1999), was inspired by Sparks's younger sister, Danielle, who had brain cancer. In 2000, shortly after its publication, she died at age thirty-three.
Following A Walk to Remember, The Rescue (2000), was inspired by Sparks's struggle to help his son, who was incorrectly diagnosed with autism. Novels that followed include A Bend in the Road (2001), Nights in Rodanthe (2002), and The Guardian (2003). The Wedding, also published in 2003, was written as a sequel to The Notebook. Three Weeks with My Brother (2004) is a nonfiction chronicle written with his brother, Micah Sparks, about their around-the-world trip that helped them process the emotional strain of their recent family tragedies.
Sparks is the author of eleven novels, with the publication of At First Sight (2005). Sparks is a major donor to the creative writing department at the University of Notre Dame, where his contributions support scholarships, fellowships, and internships. As of 2005, Sparks lives with his wife and five children in North Carolina.