Nicholas Sparks is not exactly a darling of romance authors. Actually, to be more specific, he’s not a darling of other writers be they romance or literary or whatever. Some of that is due to professional jealousy. The guy came out of nowhere, burst on the scene and became a mega-seller. And, some of hard feelings are due to the way Sparks has answered interview questions in the past.
Dear John is Sparks’s 10th release. In a recent interview, he categorized his work as a love story and says:
“When I say it’s challenging and not formulaic, I mean that,” Sparks said three weeks before the scheduled release of “Dear John,” his 11th published novel in a decade. “And when I say it’s a difficult genre, I also mean that. I say that because, no one else writes successfully in the genre. Not for lack of effort. Ten love stories are published every year and no author has really lasted more than one book; and no authors are currently writing in it now with any success — in the genre of what I do.”
He has gotten more respectful when talking about romance novels. He describes the difference between his “love stories” and his view of “romance novels” as this:
“First off, be very careful,” Sparks said about his work, including “Dear John.” “It is not a romance novel. That is a very distinct genre. I write love stories. Love stories are differentiated from romance novels in any number of ways, primarily the variance in structure and ending. Romance novels typically have a happy ending, and love stories have a tragic or bittersweet ending. They may have somewhat of a happy ending, but there’s always something that kind of tempers that. That’s a very distinct difference.
“The reason is that it goes to the roots of the genres themselves. Love stories are basically modern retellings of Greek tragedies. That’s what a love story is, and so it has these Homeric roots. Romance novels have a much shorter literary history. They have their roots in Grimm’s fairytales — which is not a condemnation of the genre.
There you go.