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The Notebook, a beautiful love story coming to theaters June 25, is based on Nicholas Sparks' novel by the same title. The film stars James Garner as Noah Calhoun, an elderly man who reads from a faded notebook to Allie, an old woman with Alzheimer's disease (Gena Rowlands). Noah's readings spark Allie's fading memory to relive her youth—and an unending love they once shared. Sparks, a best-selling author, has already seen several of his previous novels adapted to the big screen, including 2002's A Walk to Remember, which was embraced by many Christians. Sparks, 38, who lives in North Carolina with his wife Catherine and their five children, says The Notebook was inspired by his wife's grandparents, and their great love for each other. A fitness nut who runs 30 miles a week and has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, Sparks recently talked to us about his book and the upcoming film.
What did you think of the film?
Nicholas Sparks: I thought it was wonderful, a very close adaptation to my novel. This is the third novel that I've had adapted into film, and I thought that of the three this stayed truest to the story that was within the novel. I was very flattered.
How much control did you have over the story and the movie script?
Sparks: None. When you sell your story, you waive everything, you cede total rights. So they could take the book, change the title, change all the characters, change the entire story. That is completely up to the studio.
And you're willing to give that up?
Sparks: You have to. I mean, there are no book sales to studios that don't have that clause unless you are J. K. Rowling or John Grisham or Michael Crichton. They might be able to put their foot down and say I'll only sell this if … But not me.
Your wife's grandparents inspired this story. What impressed you about them?
Sparks: The depth of their love for each other after 60 years of marriage. My wife was very close to these grandparents, who only lived about 40 minutes away. But they couldn't ...