Why the two narrative voices?
To add the necessary conflict to the relationship between Miles and Sarah. See Notes on the Writing of A Bend in the Road.
This was the first novel with a “bad” character. Why did you do that?
The theme of this novel is love and forgiveness, and the plot itself required the introduction of a “bad” character to keep the conflict from coming to a premature conclusion.
Unlike your previous novels, this one didn’t make me cry. Why?
Perhaps because of the theme, love and forgiveness. Forgiveness usually doesn’t make people cry. The ending wasn’t tragic, but it wasn’t exactly happy either. It was bittersweet.
Why didn’t you tell us more at the end?
I originally wrote a longer ending, one that more fully explained what happened to Miles and Sarah. However, my agent, my editor, and I all felt that it should be cut. This wasn’t the sort of novel where tying up the end and “putting on a fancy bow” was appropriate. The theme and story were too complex for an ending like that. Should I someday pick up where I left off, there’s enough potential conflict left between them to write an entire novel (no promises, just making note of that fact).
How much of this story was true?
Very little. Aside from being inspired by my brother-in-law (who isn’t a sheriff, but is a young widower raising two sons), everything else was made up.
Are the places described in the novel real? And is there really a Ghost Walk?
Most places were real. The location and name of Rhett’s Barbecue were changed for the story, so was the elementary school. The Tavern was a composite of a couple of different bars, but other than that, most places were real. There is a Ghost Walk in New Bern.
Was the ghost story told by Mrs. Hawkins a real story that you’d heard?
It was a blend of ghost stories I’ve heard in this area. I changed parts to make it more compatible with the story.
Miles wasn’t as experienced with women as some of your previous male characters. Was he drawn from your own experiences or those of someone you know?
I suppose. There was a time when I found talking to females a little scary, but then again, I married at 23, so I wasn’t in the dating game all that long.
Where did you get the idea for having a dog charge out of the bushes at Missy?
That actually happened to me once, back when I was in high school. I was doing a training run in the evening (summers in Sacramento can be very hot), when a dog did just that. Had there been a car in the road, I would have been hit.
Garrett Blake in Message in a Bottle and Miles Ryan are both young widowers. How were they different?
Aside from having completely different personalities, the primary difference was how they were feeling when the novel opened. Garrett wasn’t ready to move on and find someone new, whereas Miles was.
Where did the names of your characters come from?
Miles Ryan was named after my two oldest sons. Landon (my third son) had already been used in A Walk to Remember, and I didn’t want them to feel left out. Sarah Andrews was named after the children of friends: Sarah and Andrew.
Will A Bend in the Road ever be filmed?
I don’t know. It was optioned and the rights have reverted back to me. I haven’t offered it again, nor do the studios seem particularly interested at the present time. Still, it’s important to realize that The Notebook was finally in theaters seven years after the novel was published.