James Bridges/Relativity Media
Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough as Alex and Katie in Safe Haven, the latest Nicholas Sparks' romance novel to be turned into a film.
Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough as Alex and Katie in Safe Haven, the latest Nicholas Sparks' romance novel to be turned into a film. James Bridges/Relativity Media
So who wrote the book on love?
In a lot of ways, you might say it's author and screenwriter Nicholas Sparks. All of his novels, which include The Notebook, Message in a Bottle and Safe Haven, have been huge international bestsellers, with 80 million copies in print in more than 45 languages.
Many of his books have also been made into successful films. His latest, Safe Haven, stars Julianne Hough as a woman from up north who escapes to a small beach town in North Carolina and begins to spend time with a widower, played by Josh Duhamel, and his two kids.
Sparks also served as executive producer on the film, and he sat down with NPR's Scott Simon to talk about his latest movie, as well as love, life and inspiration.
On why people fall in love
"I suppose it's just deeply rooted in humanity itself; the desire to care for others and to be cared for. I think it [has] probably led to the development of civilization itself in no small way.
" ... To me, without love of something I don't know if you [can] have a meaningful life at all. I'm not saying it has to be romantic love, but you've got to love something: your family, your kids, your friends, your job, your pets — but if you love nothing, to me, that would be an empty life."
On real-life inspiration
"A lot of my early works were inspired by events in my own family. The Notebook was inspired by the story of my wife's grandparents, for instance. Message in a Bottle was really inspired by my father after the death of Mom and the struggles he had to move on and find happiness again. So, as I've moved forward sometimes that comes back and sometimes it doesn't, but Safe Haven was largely a fictional novel."
Author Nicholas Sparks' popular books have become even more popular romance films.
Author Nicholas Sparks' popular books have become even more popular romance films. Nina Subin
On the theme of abusive relationships in Safe Haven
"It's something that most people, they're familiar with the theme. The question then becomes: How do you make the story feel fresh. For me, what I tried to concentrate on primarily was the aftermath of such an event; the healing process, so to speak, after someone goes through a very traumatic event. What is their life like? ... The novel, and the film, is really about second chances. It's about healing [and] it's about moving forward."
On writing love stories
"[It's nice], but at the same time it's a challenging thing to write, at least it is for me. I think that to create a character that readers will remember, to create a voice that is unique and to tell a story that people will enjoy, to me these are very challenging things to do.