When U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a smiling young woman half-buried in the dirt during his third tour of duty in Iraq, his first instinct is to toss it aside. Instead, he brings it back to the base for someone to claim, but when no one does, he finds himself always carrying the photo in his pocket. Soon Thibault experiences a sudden streak of luck—winning poker games and even surviving deadly combat that kills two of his closest buddies. Only his best friend, Victor, seems to have an explanation for his good fortune: the photograph—his lucky charm.

Back home in Colorado, Thibault can’t seem to get the photo—and the woman in it—out of his mind. Believing that she somehow holds the key to his destiny, he sets out on a journey across the country to find her, never expecting the strong but vulnerable woman he encounters in Hampton, North Carolina—Elizabeth, a divorced mother with a young son—to be the girl he’s been waiting his whole life to meet. Caught off guard by the attraction he feels, Thibault keeps the story of the photo, and his luck, a secret. As he and Elizabeth embark upon a passionate and all-consuming love affair, the secret he is keeping will soon threaten to tear them apart—destroying not only their love, but also their lives.

Filled with tender romance and terrific suspense, The Lucky One is Nicholas Sparks at his best—an unforgettable story about the surprising paths our lives often take and the power of fate to guide us to true and everlasting love.

    Inspiration for The Lucky One

    The Lucky One is unique among my novels in that it is the only novel inspired by an image.  

    At the time, the news from Iraq was dominating the front pages.  Because my town is virtually surrounded by military bases (including Camp Lejeune, Fort Bragg, Seymour Johnson AFB, Cherry Point Marine Corp Air Station, and the New River Air Station), stories in the newspaper about military personnel are often personal and focus on their families or the struggles they faced upon returning home.  In addition, I have dozens of neighbors who have spent time in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

    It was this combination of things that I assume led to the image.  In my mind’s eye, I saw a marine staring at a photograph as if drawing strength from the image.  He was in his fatigues and he looked tired and dusty after a long day on patrol, and though it was simply an image, I couldn’t seem to get it out of my mind.  It was, somehow, calling to me and though it took a couple of years for me to figure out the nuances, I knew I would eventually end up writing about the image. 

    From there, I began to ask the type of questions anyone would:  Why is he staring?  Who is in the picture?  What is the status of their relationship?  And little by little, elements of the story began to form. 

    No, I thought, he doesn’t know her.  He found the photograph in the sands of Kuwait.  But he considers the photograph his lucky charm.  And then decides that after his tour, he’s going to find her.

    Not all those elements were maintained in exactly those ways, but it was enough to get the mind turning.  The rest of the story slowly evolved from there.

    There were a couple of other challenges in conceiving the story.  Readers familiar with the military are sticklers for accuracy (blame Tom Clancy and Stephen Ambrose), and thus I knew I had to find a marine unit that had been posted to Iraq three times.  (It’s easier to find one now, but in 2008, only a few units had served three times.)  I also had to find a unit that suffered an inordinately high number of casualties.  I also wanted a “variation” in the type of tours they did, just to keep the story interesting.  And then, in order for him to be “lucky,” I had to find out whether what I was writing could be considered believable. 

    Hampton, NC

    Hampton, NC

    Hampton, based on the Blue Mountain Region of North Carolina, is an idyllic mountain setting for The Lucky One. Surrounded by mountains, lakes and streams, Hampton boasts a near-perfect climate and a place of true serenity. It provides the ideal location for the small-town community described inThe Lucky One, where a stranger’s search for love yields more than he could have ever imagined.

    To do that, I relied heavily on magazines, newspaper articles, military web-sites and Google, and I eventually settled on the 1st 5th out of Camp Pendleton.  From there, I had to learn the specifics about their tours (where they were, whether they faced combat, what type of fighting there was, the causes of casualties, etc.).  Only then was I able to begin writing the story about Logan Thibault.

    Again, I tried my best to make Logan memorable and again, I was drawn to an image of him walking along the side of a highway with a dog at his side.  Zeus, by the way, was modeled after one of my German Shepherds; they’re a fun breed, if only because they seem to love learning new things, and tend to always stay by your side.

    Once those images had settled and condensed, and once I was clear on all things military, I began focusing on the other characters:  Beth, Ben, Nana and Keith Clayton.   I wish I could say that I had images of them as well, but I didn’t.  Instead, each was crafted in my more traditional way of doing things:  by asking myself “what if?” type questions.

    Finally, I chose to make Logan Thibault a Marine because I’d already written a book about an Army soldier.  It was funny:  I’d gone to a book signing at Camp Lejeune for Dear John, thinking I’d done the military proud in crafting a military story, but that wasn’t quite how the Marines at the base saw it.  I was asked at least fifty times “when was I going to write a story with a Marine?”

    In other words, I didn’t think I had much choice.

    The Lucky One - audio excerpt

    The Feature Film

    • Director: Scott Hicks
    • Screenplay: Will Fetters
    • Cast: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner
    • Run Time: 100 minutes

    The Lucky One Trailer

    About The Film

    Based on Nicholas Sparks' bestseller The Lucky One, Zac Efron ("17 Again," "Charlie St. Cloud") stars alongside Taylor Schilling (TV's "Mercy") and Blythe Danner ("Meet the Parents" franchise) in this romantic drama directed by Academy Award®-nominated writer/director Scott Hicks ("Shine," "No Reservations"). U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault (Efron) returns from his third tour of duty in Iraq, with the one thing he credits with keeping him alive—a photograph he found of a woman he doesn't even know. Learning her name is Beth (Schilling) and where she lives, he shows up at her door, and ends up taking a job at her family-run local kennel. Despite her initial mistrust and the complications in her life, a romance develops between them, giving Logan hope that Beth could be much more than his good luck charm.

    Book FAQs

    • Have movie rights been sold for The Lucky One?

      Yes, film rights were sold to Warner Brothers, with Denise DiNovi (Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, and Nights in Rodanthe) producing. Movie release date is scheduled for April 20, 2012.

    • Does Shagging for Crabs exist? If so, where is it located?

      No, the place is fictitious, though there are numerous restaurants that combine both shag dancing and food of various types throughout the year.

    • How did you acquire information on life as a soldier?

      A few ways. I happen to live in an area of the country surrounded by military bases, and consider many members of the military (and their families) my friends. My family also has a long history of military service, and it includes cousins who’ve spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan. From these people, I was able to obtain first-hand accounts of what life is like and have specific questions answered. I supplemented that with vast amounts of reading (books, self-published books, military blogs, articles, and public information provided by the U.S. Military). It’s also possible to view snippets of various military engagements via YouTube. I tried to do my best to make everything as accurate as possible.

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