|Nicholas Sparks was born on New Year's Eve, 1965, in Omaha, Nebraska. The son of a scholar, his early years were largely nomadic until his father settled into a Ph.D. program at the University of Southern California. Like his father, Sparks excelled intellectually throughout high school and college at the University of Notre Dame. His first love, however, was running. When a severe tendon injury forced him off the track during his first year of college, Sparks, at his mother's request, delved into writing. His first book, THE PASSING, was never published and still sits in his family's attic. Several years passed, during which time Sparks married and had two sons. After surviving uninspiring careers as a real estate appraiser, waiter, telemarketer, and entrepreneur, Sparks wrote his first published work, THE NOTEBOOK. This inspirational love story based on the life of his grandparents was an instant best-seller in 1996. Since then, he has written two other books--MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE (1998) and A WALK TO REMEMBER (1999)--both of which have achieved best-seller status. MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE was adapted for film in 1999 and starred Kevin Costner, Paul Newman, and Robin Wright Penn.