Nicholas Sparks, December 31, 1965 - Nicholas Sparks was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on New Year's Eve, about eighty minutes prior to 1966. As a child, he lived in Minnesota, Los Angeles, and Grand Island, Nebraska, finally settling in Fair Oaks, California at the age of eight. His father was a professor and his mother was a homemaker. He lived in Fair Oaks through high school, graduated valedictorian in 1984, and received a full track scholarship to the University of Notre Dame. After breaking the Notre Dame school record as part of a relay team in 1985 while a freshman (a record which still stands), he was injured and spent the summer recovering. During that summer, he wrote his first novel, "The Passing," but he never had it published. He majored in Business Finance and graduated with high honors in 1988. In 1989 he wrote his second novel, "The Royal Murders," which was also never published, after being rejected by publishers. Sparks decided to concentrate on another career. He'd been rejected by publishers and law schools alike, and went through a number of short-term jobs. Among these were appraising real estate, buying and restoring houses, waiting tables, selling dental products by phone and finally deciding to start his own business manufacturing orthopedic products. Sparks' self-employment didn't last long before he found himself in piles of debt. During this time, he wrote yet another book, "Wokini" with Billy Mills, a long-time friend and Olympic Gold Medalist. It was published by Feather Publishing, and did well regionally, selling about 50,000 copies, and was picked up by Random House in 1994. Sparks wrote "The Notebook" over a six-month period, from June of 1994 until January of 1995, writing in the evenings and one day on the weekends. In January, 1995, he was transferred to Greenville, South Carolina and continued editing the book. In July, 1995, he started soliciting agents, finally got one, and the book was presented to publishers in October, 1995. Warner Books bought the rights for $1,000,000. Film rights to the novel were sold later that week to New Line Cinema. Foreign rights were sold, and the novel was made a Main Selection of the Literary Guild. It spent 56 weeks on the New York Times hardcover best-seller list, and another 54 weeks on the paperback list. It was only the third novel in the previous thirty years that had lasted over a year on the hardcover list, and the only novel to last over a year on both hardcover and paperback lists. In April, 1997, movie rights for Message in a Bottle were sold to Warner Brothers, with Denise DiNovi producing, when the novel was about half-completed. Message in a Bottle was published in the spring of 1998 The novel spent seven months on the best-seller list in hardback and another five months on the list in paperback. In the summer of 1998, he wrote "A Walk to Remember." In December, 1998, film rights to "A Walk to Remember" were sold to Warner Brothers, with Denise DiNovi producing again. In February, 1999, the film, "Message in a Bottle" premiered, starring Kevin Costner, Paul Newman and Robin Wright Penn. It opened at number one at the box office and went on to gross more than $120 million worldwide. Sparks spent the spring and summer of 1999 writing "The Rescue." "A Walk to Remember" was published. In the end, it would spend nearly six months on the hardcover best-seller list, another five months on the paperback best seller list. The novel "The Rescue" hit #1 on the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Hardcover Fiction lists, and spent nearly five months on the best-seller list. A couple of months later, Sparks finished writing "A Bend in the Road," and made the decision to support the creative writing department at the University of Notre Dame with scholarships, internships, and a fellowship annually.