By Amon Rizvi

The Mash sat down with author Nicholas Sparks and talked to him about the movie “The Lucky One,” his writing process and current projects.

When you’re writing, do you ever feel the pressure to always have a happy ending?

Nicholas Sparks: I know before I’ve written the first word how (a story) will end. … If you define it by the major couple in the book, they can either end up together or they don’t, or they want to be together, but they can’t. So what I have to do is write a novel and I vary it. Look, I have had happy endings where they get together, right? And I’ve had ones where they want to be together but can’t, like “The Notebook” and “Dear John.” I’ve written ones where tragedy intervenes, like “Nights in Rodanthe,” “Message in a Bottle” or “A Walk to Remember.” You have to vary it because you don’t want the reader to know. But I know up front from page one whether or not (the characters) get together.

In “The Lucky One,” Logan is seen as “damaged,” but we then see that Beth is the same way. How important is it for the audience to realize that they were on the same boat?

NS: I think it’s incredibly important because what you’re trying to do when you craft these stories is that you’re trying to create characters that feel very real but they also feel very accessible. These are universal problems. In other words, if you see Logan or Beth, I feel like you know people like that in your own life–people who went off and served (in the war) maybe and then they come back and they’re different and they need to heal somehow. … I mean, these are people that you like because they’re trying to do the right thing. Life is hard, and yet even in the midst of all this, you know sometimes you can fall in love and that love can transform you.

What projects are you working on now?

NS: I have “The Safe Haven” (which will) start production in May. That will be another film. “The Best of Me,” another one based on my novel, should start production in the fall, and currently I’m writing another novel.

Who would you cast to play you in a movie?

NS: I’d have to get someone who is not conventionally handsome and someone in their 40’s and I’d need him to be an incredible actor to make me seem even vaguely interesting, so I will go with Matt Damon.

What is your favorite part about the entire writing process?

NS: Writing the last sentence, because it is not a joyful process for me. It is a very challenging process to get it exactly right. It’s a marathon.

What would you tell aspiring writers?

NS: Read a lot in a variety of genres. Learn what authors do well and what they don’t and why. You have to read with an eye toward learning.

Don’t go to the movies without checking out our review of “The Lucky One” first.

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About The Mash

The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free every other Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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