Afternoon Keynote – Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks, Author of 20 New York Times #1 best selling books, storyteller and producer.

In 1994, rejected by both publishers and law schools, Nicholas Sparks was a job-jumping salesman who wrote in the evenings. Then, against all odds, his manuscript was discovered in the slush pile. In October 1996, Warner Books published The Notebook, for which they famously paid its unknown author a million dollar advance. The rest, as they say, is history. Now, with over 105 million copies of his books sold worldwide, literary sensation Nicholas Sparks is the author of 19 New York Times #1 bestselling books and is a cultural phenomenon in his own right.

Sparks’ latest novel, Two By Two, is the story of Russell Green, a 32-year-old man with a stunning wife, a lovable six-year-old daughter, and a successful career as an advertising executive and an expansive home in Charlotte. But underneath the shiny surface, fault lines are beginning to appear…and no one is more surprised than Russ when he finds every aspect of the life he took for granted turned upside down. Russ soon finds himself without a job or wife, caring for his young daughter while struggling to adapt to a new and baffling reality. Throwing himself into the wilderness of single parenting, Russ embarks on a journey at once terrifying and rewarding—one that will test his abilities and his emotional resources beyond anything he ever imagined. Two By Two was released in October 2016.


Before he was a world-famous novelist, Nicholas Sparks worked a variety of jobs, including real estate appraisal, waiting tables, selling dental products by phone, and starting his own small manufacturing business, which struggled from the beginning.

In 1994, at the age of 28, he wrote The Notebook over a period of six months, and in October 1995, Warner Books bought the rights. He went on to write and publish a novel every year, including Message in a Bottle (1998), A Walk to Remember (1999), Nights in Rodanthe (2002), Dear John (2006), The Last Song (2009), and The Best of Me(2011), to name a few—all with Warner Books/Grand Central Publishing. All of his books were domestic and international bestsellers and have been translated into more than fifty different languages.

Coupled with the undeniable success of his novels, the movies adaptations of Sparks’ books have become the most iconic romantic feature films for a whole new generation. Beginning with Message in a Bottle in 1999, Sparks’ novels continued to grace the silver screen with adaptations of A Walk to Remember (2002), The Notebook (2004), and Nights in Rodanthe (2008). Dear John, starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, and The Last Song, starring Miley Cyrus and Greg Kinnear, were released in 2010 to great box office success. Sparks continued to dominate the box office with the release of The Lucky One in 2012, Safe Haven in 2013, The Best of Me in 2014, The Longest Ride in 2015, and The Choice in 2016.

Sparks contributes to a variety of local and national charities, and is a major contributor to the Creative Writing Program (MFA) at the University of Notre Dame. He is a co-founder of The Epiphany School in New Bern, North Carolina, and he spent five years coaching track and field athletes at the local public high school.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Sparks graduated valedictorian of his California high school in 1984, and received a full track scholarship to the University of Notre Dame. His freshman year, he broke the Notre Dame school record as part of a relay team in 1985, but he was injured soon after. During his recovery, he wrote his first novel, though it was never published. He majored in Business Finance and graduated with high honors in 1988.

Nicholas lives in North Carolina with his family.