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Nicholas Sparks is the author of novels The Notebook, Message in a Bottle and Nights in Rodanthe, among others.
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Author. Born Nicholas Sparks on December 31, 1965, in Omaha, Nebraska. The second of three children born to Patrick Sparks, a college professor, and his wife Jill, a homemaker, Nicholas spent the early part of his childhood moving around with his family as his father finished up his graduate work. They lived in Minnesota, then Los Angeles, later Grand Island, Nebraska, and finally Fair Oaks, California, where the Sparks clan found a permanent home. Nicholas went on to graduate from high school there in 1984, becoming the class valedictorian.
Those early years were also lean ones, recalls Sparks. "Because my father was a student until I was 9 years old and my mother didn't work, we weren't exactly living the high life when I was little," he writes. "I grew up on powdered milk and ate tons of potatoes, though to be honest, I never noticed how poor we really were until I was old enough to take an honest appraisal of things. Even then, it didn't matter. For the most part, I had a wonderful childhood and wouldn't change a thing."
College brought him to Indiana and the University of Notre Dame, which had offered the athletic Sparks a full track scholarship. In 1985, during his freshman year, Sparks was part of a relay team that set a school track record that still stands. But the season did not end on a good note for the future author: An Achilles tendon injury slowed things down for Sparks, and forced him to spend the summer recuperating.
It also propelled the budding business major to take up writing. During that summer Nicholas Sparks churned out his first novel, a book that's never been published.
In 1988, Sparks graduated with honors and also met his future wife, Catherine Cote, a New Hampshire girl, while on spring break. A year later, the two were married. Six weeks later, however, tragedy struck the Sparks family when Nicholas' mother was killed in a horseback riding accident. She was only 47.
In the wake of these two life-changing events, Nicholas and Catherine moved to Sacramento, California, where Sparks continued to write (he finished a second novel, which again went unpublished) and took on a string of jobs (waiter, real estate appraiser, telemarketer) to make ends meet. Sparks eventually settled on a career that centered on the manufacturing of orthopedic goods. It wasn't exactly a thriving business, but Sparks worked doggedly to make it profitable.
More importantly, Sparks continued to write. In 1994 he got his first break when he teamed up with Billy Mills, a friend and Olympic medalist on a book called Wokini: A Lakota Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding, a story built around a Lakota allegory.
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