Safe Haven: An Interview with Nicholas Sparks

ROLEMOMMY sat down with one of our favorite authors of all time, Nicholas Sparks on the set of SAFE HAVEN his novel turned major motion picture which hits theaters February 14, 2013.
IMG_8368.JPGRM: How would you define a Nicholas Sparks character?
Nicholas Sparks: A Nicholas Sparks character, for the most part, whether male or female if they’re your main leads, unless they’re a specifically bad character.
Like Kevin Tierney (played by David Lyons) in Safe Haven, what you would want is someone that you would feel like they could be your brother, your sister, your kids, your neighbor, your friend from college, your friend from high school, someone that you know and like, someone you work with, right? Because the simple fact is that nobody walks around being perfect. And so, you don’t want to create a character that’s absolutely perfect.
They have to have flaws. And yet, for the most part, most of my characters are created with my own worldview I guess.
And my own worldview goes something like this. I think that 80 percent of the people 80 percent of the time try to do the right thing.
They try to do what’s best for their kids. They try to support their friends or their family. Nobody’s perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. But, I tend to see the glass half-full when it comes to humanity.
A Nicholas Sparks character would be, the glass half-full type of character.
Yes, they have flaws. Alex (played by Josh Duhamel), he gets frustrated. He’s lonesome. He has problems, right? He’s got his own baggage.
Rolemommy: He seems pretty perfect.
Nicholas Sparks: Well, he’s a nice guy at heart. He tries to be the best dad that he can and run his business. And you know, you’ve got the guilt of bringing someone new into your kids’ life. And what if they’re not the right person, you know? Some people never think of that. But, I think eight out of 10 people do.
Rolemommy: How are you going to portray her ex, because you did such an excellent job in the book of making the reader grasp that he was crazy. And you felt a little bad for him, not that it’s excusable. But, how do you portray that for film?
Nicholas Sparks: You know, as soon as you move from novel to film, you have to start making decisions. You know, Kevin was a very introspective character.
To be quite frank, some of that is impossible to bring out – Without a lot of time. So, you kind of pick. Instead of this almost an OCD paranoia, you make it a little more just a little crazy.
And then you throw some booze in it, and it ignites.–There’s always differences with the transition from novel to film. So, again we had to pick. We couldn’t do all of that for Kevin. So, what was the most important characteristics about Kevin? He scares her, right? He’s dangerous. He’s a very good cop and she knows that if he ever finds her, she’s in big trouble. He’s got a drinking problem, etc. So, you pick the big things and you make them work.
Rolemommy: There is a BIG twist in the book and we wonder how you bring that to the big screen. We thought, “Oh, you can’t leave that out of the movie because that’s–.”
Nicholas Sparks: It’s very tricky. It’s tricky to do it in film, and it’s tricky to do it in a book. And we’re–yeah, it’s in there. But, how–it’ll probably be a little bit different than it was in the book, be how they do the reveal or the exact nature of the relationship.
But, simply, again, for time reasons, you know, they — In a book, I had 30, 40 pages to devote to that relationship. In a film, you’d probably have eight to 10. Some things get condensed.
Rolemommy: Are there certain things that you were disappointed that had to be left out or tweaked?
Nicholas Sparks: It is a different kind of thinking. You have to be able to capture things. You know, a novel is a story told with words. A film is a story told with pictures. I’ve written both screenplays and novels and it’s a different thinking. I find novel writing much harder.
Rolemommy: Are you thinking about how your book will look on film when you are writing your books?
Nicholas Sparks: No. I think about films in the conception of the story. Before a single word is written because what you’re looking for is three things. You’re looking for things to be interesting, original, and universal. That goes to the theme of the story, the journeys of the character, but also the specific elements in the book.
For example, one of the questions I always have to answer is, “What’s an interesting, original, universal way for the characters to meet and come together.”
It is really easy to do two of those three. Original and interesting, and you get Hannibal Lector. But, he’s not universal. You don’t feel as if you can know him. So, in The Notebook, the character climbs up on the Ferris wheel, and he dangles, right? But, it seems realistic. You can see him doing that. But, you’ve never seen it before. You’d never read it before. You’d seen John dive off the pier to save her purse. You’ve never seen it before. But, it seems like it could happen. Someone finds a message in a bottle.
So, the conception of a story and the elements within the story — I do have to think about that because it needs to meet those three criteria for both novel and film.
But, then once I have those things sorted out, I sit down to write only about the book.
–‘Cause there’s no guarantee that’s going to be a film.
Rolemommy: Can you give us an example of something romantic that you have done?
Nicholas Sparks: Ha sure. Every year for our anniversary, I write my wife a love letter and it takes me four days or so to get all the words perfect. I type it up first. And then after I have it all typed, I handwrite it. So, everything is perfect. And it recaps the years, the ups and downs. And through it all, she’s just the one for me. Some women find that romantic. And they’re really well-written letters, by the way. I worked really hard on them.
Rolemommy: You appeal to people like my aunt who’s 87 and my niece who’s 16. So, what do you do to get inside the mind of an abused woman to write this character? It is shocking and very impressive. What is your process when you outline your characters?
Nicholas Sparks: It is always a challenge because by the age of the characters is the first thing I make a decision about in any novel. It’s always the first thing.
RM: What age group are the main characters that fall in love?
Nicholas Sparks: I try to vary it from book to book because most people like to read about people they relate to, right? I look back on my past. I said, “Well, I had The Last Song, and that’s teenagers. I had Dear John. They’re in their 20s.”
Nicholas Sparks: So I said I’ll do 20s for Safe Haven or whatever. But, then I said, “Oh, my gosh, where’s my middle-aged people?” So, here comes The Best of Me characters in their 40s and 50s. And so, then what you do is say, “Ah, but everyone wants to enjoy these.” So, in my teenage story, I also make it a father-daughter story. And in my 40- and 50-year-old story, they had a love story as teenagers. So, believe me, all of that is done purposefully to keep everybody happy.
Rolemommy: I found this book a little darker than your other novels. Especially the character of Kevin, so was that a conscious shift to go more violent suspenseful?
Nicholas Sparks: What you do when you’re among the many decisions you make in the creation of one of my novels is we all know it’s a love story, right? We all know that. It’s love and something. Love and something. You can have love and mystery, love and forgiveness, love and loss, first love, right? You can have all these things.
This was love and danger. I chose love and danger because it’d been a long time since I’d done one. I did that with The Guardian.
The Guardian was a stalker-type danger. A woman goes out on a date one time with a guy, and he will not go away. The guy is psychotic and nuts. That was a stranger danger.
I look back, say, “Okay. Now, I can do it. It’s been a long time. It was never a movie. No one’s familiar with it. No one will even remember about The Guardian. It’ll feel similar but, I will make it different.”
For Safe Haven, it could’ve been a female danger. It could’ve been a guy. But, I’m like, you know, “That fatal attraction was is still such an iconic film you know.”
Rolemommy: What research did you do to develop the story and the character?
Nicholas Sparks: Research is an interesting thing. For the most part, you know the basic. When it comes to how to be an abused woman, maybe that’s just a knack I have, but I think it’s partly because, from the very beginning of my career, I’ve jumped into different characters.
At the very first novel I wrote, I was 28 years old, this 80-year-old guy with all–you know, his wife has Alzheimer’s. You know, I’ve never been 80. (the successful novel and movie “The Notebook”) Next book was Message in a Bottle. And even though Kevin Costner kind of may dominate your memory, if you read the novel, it was about woman. That was a book about a woman. And she was divorced, so I made that jump. If you say, “Okay. Now, what if it was like if she has been beaten?”
We all know what it is, right? There’s just different varieties and this and that. So, you try to make it–how would a normal person in this situation–not crazy, not weak ’cause I didn’t really want to create a weak female.
And the question you really have to ask is — ’cause it’s what my wife would do when she’d watch this situation play out on talk shows — “Why didn’t you leave?”
Why didn’t you leave? He’s whacking you over the head with a frying pan. Why don’t you go? So, you had to say “why” and answer that question.
So you think, “Oh, okay. Maybe she did couple of times. Maybe he found her both times.” So, why would he be able to do that? Because he’s a police officer. She went to the police. They’re covering it up. She’s got no family. She has nowhere to go. He keeps track of the money. He does all this. Okay. Now, you know why she can’t leave–and you know what? She still does anyway. She does it. That’s part of the success is because she’s smart.
For your chance to see Nicholas Spark’s characters brought to the big screen don’t miss SAFE HAVEN in Theaters February 14, 2013. In the meantime, click here to see Nicholas Sparks introduce you to his amazing, complex characters.

“Experience the Richness” Giveaway!

US-SVB-18oz-SS-AdvancedTherapy BL.JPG There are many things I detest about winter. At the top of my list is my super dry skin. No matter what I do, when the weather gets cold my skin gets dry, flaky, itchy and looks terrible. Here is something new to try and you could even win your very own!
Suave® is reinventing its body lotions from the inside out with improved formulations and sleek packaging. Suave® Skin Solutions Body Lotions are dermatologist tested and provide silky 24-hour moisturization with a new richer formula1.
Additionally, Suave Naturals® Body Lotions will feature a new look, with improved long lasting fragrance and the same great moisturization as before. Suave® Body Lotions have a unique, silky smooth formula that glides on easily and absorbs quickly for skin that is soft, smooth and delightfully fragrant! Suave® products offer great quality beauty solutions for the entire family to help you look good, smell good and feel good every day.
You can buy these lotions at drugstores, mass merchandisers and supermarkets nationwide for a suggested retail price of $0.99-$4.99. OR you can win the lotions right here!!
US-SVB-18oz-SS-Smoothing BL.JPG THREE of our lucky reader will win a new Suave® Skin Solutions lotion and ONE lucky reader will win all three of the new products. Here are the products you could win!
Suave Skin Solutions Products:
· Suave® Skin Solutions Advanced Therapy Body Lotion
· Suave® Skin Solutions Smoothing Body Lotion with Cocoa Butter & Shea
· Suave® Skin Solutions Soothing Body Lotion with Aloe
All you need to do is comment below with your name and email address and let us know your “winter skin care secret”. Winners will be chosen randomly on February 14th, 2013. Hey – it could be a nice Valentine’s Day gift to yourself… soft, smooth skin!
US-SVB-18oz-SS-Soothing with Aloe Body Lotion.jpg
For more information, please visit or follow @SuaveBeauty

Why Jimmy Kimmel is Hilarious

I don’t know about you, but Jimmy Kimmel is beyond funny. In fact, forget about all those late night talk shows out there who have stale jokes and silly antics that at times are borderline stupid. Jimmy Kimmel is hysterical. His skits are always right on the mark. His guests love him and well, that’s why he is now going head to head with Jay Leno and David Letterman. If you haven’t caught Jimmy in late night, have no fear — he’s also in taxi cabs, online and oftentimes, his videos are shared more than any other late night talk show host I know.
Want to see why?

I know. Hilarious. Feel free to share…it’s the right thing to do.

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

One of my favorite wintery ideas is to roast a butternut squash at the beginning of the week and use it up in many dishes like soup, salads and stirfrys. Cut it in half and bake for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Dice and place in a tupperware in the fridge. Here’s a healthy dish that took very little time since the squash was already prepared.
Butternut Squash with Bok Choy, Raisins and Almonds:

3 cups chopped and washed bok choy, Swiss Chard or any other green you like
1 1/2 cups cubed and already roasted butternut squash
1 -2 TBS chopped almonds
2 TBS raisins (I like golden)
1/2 tsp honey
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
tsp olive oil
In a medium sized skillet, heat up a tsp of olive oil and add coriander and cumin. Saute until fragrant, a minute or so
Add in the bok choy and saute until wilted
Add in the honey and stir
Add in the cubed, roasted butternut squash and stir gently so the squash does not get mushy
Add in the salt, raisins and chopped almonds
Serve with rice, any other grain or by itself
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.


Project You recently got the opportunity to host a fabulous cocktail party with the help of WPIX anchor, best selling author and lifestyle expert, Tamsen Fadal. And it wasn’t just any old cocktail party. Oh no. When we throw a party, we do it in style. And so, on a crisp January night a group of our favorite parenting bloggers, a nationally renowned organization expert, a real estate maven, one finance guru, a branding expert, television producer and more joined us for a night of wine, cheese, conversation, luxury apartment tours, and incredible advice from Manhattan House interior designer Heather Zick. Take a look…
“Manhattan House’s model residence staging inventory consists of merchandise that has been accumulated over the years from previous designers and include a spectrum of different styles,” says Heather Zick who says she uses “creativity and imagination to find a way to turn chaos into clarity, while making sure each model residence has a fresh, new and inviting look each time.”
“I try to use the three R’s whenever I can Reuse/Resize/Rework,” says Zick. “If it’s absolutely necessary that I purchase something new, I will, but I truly enjoy the challenge and creativity it takes to find a way to make the old make sense and furthermore, find a way to make it actually feel like new.”
If you would love to re-create some of these amazing looks in your own home, then follow Heather’s amazing design tips.
Choose furniture styles and layout wisely:
Beds without footboards and chairs without arms are great for smaller spaces
* Modular furniture that can easily be separated and moved around
* Stools and ottomans that can double as tables or additional seating
* If you have limited wall space, try placing furniture at the end of your bed, behind your sofa or float it in the middle of the room
* Turn convector covers into additional seating by adding cushions and throw pillows
* See if you can eliminate your dresser from your bedroom by moving it into your closet or by having your closet outfitted with drawers
* Flex-spaces that can serve more than one purpose (Media Room/Play Room or Guest Bedroom/Office)
* If you find something you like, but don’t love the color of it, buy it anyway – strip and stain it a color you do like.
* Buy commercial-grade wallpaper that looks like a grass-cloth or some other natural material but is actually vinyl, which is less expensive and more durable.
* Paint moulding and trim the same color as the walls to make the room feel larger and more uniform.
* For furniture and frame touch-ups use Sharpie markers and White-out or find a paint color that matches and buy a sample pot.
Art, Accessories and Area Rugs:
* Take your own photographs and have them printed on photo paper or canvas
* If you see an expensive piece of art you like, commission a friend or local art student to create an interpretation of it
* Shop in the flower district for candle holders, trays, vases and silk flowers – create your own floral arrangements
* Shag and sisal rugs are generally inexpensive, versatile and durable – if you like wool and silk rugs, opt for wool and viscose instead which has a similar look and feel but is much less expensive
* Buy plain white paper lampshades which are the least expensive kind and sponge-paint them for a cool, textural finish and better ambience
* Buy antique bulbs for light fixtures where the bulbs are visible for a more interesting look – purchasing them online in bulk will be less expensive
* Shop for fabric in large fabric houses like Mood and B&J – they have some really unique materials, especially in the faux fur and men’s suiting departments
* Buy throw pillows with removable covers so they can easily be changed – or use an old bedspread or faux fur coat to fabricate your own covers
* Use a furniture surgeon to adjust a piece to fit in your space rather than buy a new one
* Have area rugs made from wall-to-wall carpet remnants
MH_058.JPG“Many people have a hard time visualizing in a blank space. They are unable to connect with the space and imagine it as their home without seeing elements in it that remind them of a home, like furniture and artwork. My job is to help them get to the place of being able to imagine it as their home. Since each individuals’ idea of a home is different, I make my goal to simply come up with the optimal look for each space, using what I have available to me. I know my job is done, when I walk into a model residence that I’ve just designed and have a sense that “I’m home.”
To find out more about Manhattan House and their incredible luxury apartments, visit their website.

Behind the Scenes at “Safe Haven”

Kristin NC.jpg Last summer Rolemommy had the chance to fly to North Carolina to meet Nicholas Sparks and tour the set of his new movie SAFE HAVEN in theaters February 14, 2013. When I flew in to North Carolina, I was met by a local towncar driver who whisked me away (well, I was running late) and we started on the hour journey to get to the parade scene in the movie.
On our way I learned all about Southport, North Carolina’s history (in 2010 when it was announced that billionaire hedge fund manager, Louis Moore Bacon, bought this huge mansion called Orton Plantation), the other films that have shot in NC (Hunger Games, Iron Man 3 and soon to be released We’re The Millers) and his divorce and kids (what can I say, people tell me everything!). We already knew why Southport, NC was the perfect spot to film SAFE HAVEN but taking a walking tour with Nicholas Sparks was something we did not want to miss….
Mr. Nicholas Sparks: The really interesting thing about North Carolina, it’s one of the reasons why I set the stories here and why this particular place is perfect is that it’s a very unique state in that, unlike virtually every other state, the big cities are off the coast because of the hurricanes.
The entire eastern part of the state is dotted with small towns. Biggest town is Wilmington, about 150,000. And that’s huge. I mean, you know, Southport has a population of 1,500.
So here is something very typical of outdoor dining in these small towns. And it’s a great place where someone like Katie could wander in and, you know, there’s never going to be anyone from Boston that you’d ever happen to bump into here.
Mr. Nicholas Sparks: You’re at the mouth of the Cape Fear River here. Over there is Oak Island, where they were filming the parachuting scenes for Iron Man 3.
People here are watching fireworks and people diving from the sky over there. Poor little Southport, right? Southport is interesting. Wilmington was the last open port in the, as they say here, the war for Southern Independence.
Charleston had closed, and everything else had closed, New Orleans had closed. Southport was really the last place that everything came in. And this was the south port, hence the name that they change it to in about 1887. It was originally called Smithville. There’s your North Carolina history lesson.
Most people don’t know, but the last major battle of the Civil War was fought in North Carolina, it was fought after Robert E. Lee surrendered.
This is true, the Battle of Bentonville, which was fought by Joe Johnson because Robert E. Lee, he was just in charge of the armies of Northern Virginia, which was the main army, but you still had the North Carolina regimens–.
Rolemommy: I think this such an amazing experience -it’s fun to see the actual place your filming, and then to see it on the big screen, I know it will look so different.
Nicholas Sparks: yes, it always looks different when you frame things. That’s called movie magic.
We walked down the street to the set of “Ryan’s Port Market” which was fully built from scratch. *Plot spoiler alert* Unfortunately, the very cool-looking market did not stay there in keeping with the plot of Nicholas Sparks’ book they burnt it down.
Nicholas Sparks: The one side of the store is here. This is where they entered. Now it’s burned down, people were sad that it was gone. One of the great things about North Carolina are these live oaks. I love these trees, they are very interesting because they don’t shed like regular oak trees. They stay green year round, they shed three times per year.
And so, they’re always as beautiful as this. It’ll be this green throughout winter, these little leaves just fall all the time.
Normally when they grow let’s say, in Virginia, they don’t look like this because it’s not quite as wet and humid. It’s the moisture in the air that causes these trunks to twist and to spread out.
So if you buy a live oak in a nursery they won’t look the same. The sad thing they do now is they kind of force them to grow straight and spread.
Nicholas Sparks: So, the best way to get a live oak for your yard — that’ll look like this — if you live outside of North Carolina – is to go out to the forest, find someone with some forest land, and you dig up one that’s already kind of growing like this.
And then in about 60 years when you’re dead, you’ll have a fabulous tombstone there. And people say, “Man, that is a great tree.”
I mean, I think this is one of the most beautiful towns. Ten years ago, I was here for the filming of “A Walk to Remember.” I remember walking down here and I said, “I have to find a book for this place one day.”
So get ready for Nicholas Spark’s SAFE HAVEN in Theaters February 14, 2013
In the meantime, click here to see the trailer and the beauty of North Carolina….

The Talk Tackles Weight Loss

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

IMG_4040.JPG O.K., I admit it; I tried the Paleo (Caveman) diet earlier this month. I gained so much weight over the holiday that I needed to kickstart healthier eating. To my surprise it was easy, healthy and satisfying (except I missed cheese desperately!). This was one of my go-to salads. Enjoy!
Shrimp Avocado and Cashew Salad:
6 -8 cups of dark leafy greens, washed and dried
1/2 cup cooked, medium sized chilled shrimp
1/2 avocado, diced
2 TBS cashew halves
one clementine, sectioned
Drizzle of olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all salad ingredients, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, top with salt and pepper.
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.

The Attack of the Scary Flu!!

Written by Role Mommy Contributor, Danielle Feigenbaum

0-1.jpeg The Flu or not the Flu, THAT is the Question

“They say this is the worst flu season EVER!” First of all, who are “they” and second of all, how do “they” know? You can’t turn on the news or have a conversation with someone without the “scary flu” coming up. I know all about it – the flu attacked my house – I think. On Tuesday January 8th, my almost nine year old daughter complained about her throat and that she was tired, so she put herself to bed at 6:30, fully dressed. She slept through the night and woke up Wednesday with 103 fever. I figured it was a quick virus, I was wrong.
When she still had a fever on Thursday and wasn’t really eating, I took her to the doctor. The strep test was negative, ears and lungs were clear so they said it was a virus… all you can do is give fluids and rest. Friday – still high fever, Saturday – still high fever, by Sunday when her fever hit close to 105, I panicked. Her doctor said it sounds like the flu. (Yes- she did have the flu vaccine – the mist, not the shot – but does that matter?) I felt so bad for her, the poor thing, I was giving her Tylenol and Motrin to keep her fever on the low side and keep her more comfortable. It was too late to give Tamiflu (only effective within first 72 hours of symptoms) and there are side effects such as vomiting and aggressive behavior in some patience which made me nervous anyway.
I took her back to the doctor on Tuesday (since her fever was still 102 and it was day # 7 with fever!!) and luckily her lungs were still clear and there wasn’t any secondary infection. That is what can be so frightening, especially with young kids and the elderly. It may not be the “scary flu” itself, but when you have the flu, your immune system is weak so you are susceptible to other infections like pneumonia and other dangerous invaders. Thank goodness she was fever free by Wednesday and finally went back to school on Thursday.
Looking back, my son had a “virus” with 7 days of fever and a terrible cough in mid-December… could it have been the flu? Did my daughter actually have the flu? It does feel like a lot of people are sick, but do they all have the flu? We may never know, but what I do know is that getting the vaccine should lessen your chances, making sure your kids wash their hands a lot and using lots of hand sanitizer can all help you stay well. I am a big fan of Lysol spray and wipes, any suggestions on what you use to stay healthy?
Good luck to everyone and I hope nobody gets attacked by “The Scary Flu!”

Newsflash: What’s Trending Today

If you are too busy to catch up with your morning paper today, have no fear. Here at Role Mommy, we’ve got five of the top stories at that are making news today. Click on these links and you’ll be up to speed in no time:
1. Coroner Changes Cause of Death for Natalie Wood — looks like Robert Wagner could be in deep water…
2. Jodie Foster’s Golden Globe Speech still making headlines — check out this article in today’s New York Times about the actress who sort of came out during the show.
3. Missing Philadelphia Girl found Safe and Sound — After an Amber alert was released for a little girl who was taken from her school, she was found unharmed.
4. Check out HaveUHeard’sstory about “The Talk” co-host Sharon Osbourne who discusses her daughter’s feud with Lady Gaga as well as the the singer’s headline making Gun Bra. (what a fashion don’t).
5. In case you think you may have the flu, check out WebMD for symptoms and stay away from people is you can!