Is there really an Inn at Rodanthe, like the one described in the novel?
No, there isn’t. There are a number of bed and breakfasts in other towns in the Outer Banks that are similar, but I moved it to Rodanthe for the story. Why? I loved the name Rodanthe ... it conjures up a mixture of mystery and sensuality, and I’ve always wanted to set a story there.
Is Rodanthe described accurately?
Yes. Rodanthe is, in reality, a tiny village on the Outer Banks. It is located on the beach, weathered and isolated.
Were you influenced by The Bridges of Madison County in the creation and writing of this story?
Some critics have made this assumption, but in reality, I was guided more by The Notebook than The Bridges of Madison County. Yes, the characters were roughly the same age in both Nights and Bridges, and yes, the relationship ended, but other than that, there was little in common with the stories. Bridges was the story of adultery, after all, while mine was not. Paul sacrificed for his child; the main male character in Bridges was a loner without children. The main female character in Bridges cheated on her husband; Adrienne had been left by her husband for a younger woman. Paul was a much harder-edged, flawed character than was the main male character in Bridges. The list could go on and on, but I think you get the point.
Where did you get the names for the characters in this novel?
The names came from my in-laws: Paul and Adrienne. Flanner, Paul’s last name, was the name of the dormitory where I lived in college. Willis, Adrienne’s last name, came from someone in the town where I live. The children’s names were taken from my cousins.
What inspired you to write this story? Is there any parallel in your own life?
Yes, parts came from my own life, though less than in my previous novels. See Background Information for Nights in Rodanthe.
Was Robert Torrelson based on someone you know?
No, Robert Torrelson was created wholly from my imagination. So was the love story with his wife.
Have the film rights been sold?
Yes. A major motion picture, starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane, was released in the fall of 2008. The movie is now widely available on DVD.
What were the shooting locations for Nights in Rodanthe?
The film was shot, for the most part, in Rodanthe, North Carolina and Wilmington, North Carolina.
Why did Paul have to die at the end of the novel?
There were a number of reasons for this. First and foremost, there had to be a reason for Adrienne to tell the story to her daughter, and it had to resonate with her daughter. By having her own past tragedy, Adrienne could relate to Amanda, and Amanda could realize that it’s possible to move on, no matter how much grief a person feels. Also, of course, there is the theme of love and sacrifice, which shaped every aspect of the novel. But in order to sacrifice, something must be lost. Both characters were willing to sacrifice the time they would have with each other for the sake of their children (Paul heading off to Ecuador, Adrienne going back to Rocky Mount), and I think that sacrifice is inherent in good parenting. Both Paul and Adrienne loved their children, and the sacrifices they were willing to make made them nobler as characters. Also, of course, I write tragedies, and I do that to create poignancy for the readers. Hence, from the very beginning of the story, I knew that Paul had died in Ecuador. Had he lived, he and Adrienne would have been together, but there would have been no way to create the emotional impact necessary to make a short novel memorable. Had Paul and Adrienne told the story to Amanda together, for instance (for an entirely different reason of course - maybe Amanda was simply wondering whether she would ever fall in love), the story would have come across as self-congratulatory, rather than as a lesson. In that scenario, Amanda would already know that love is possible, and logically, that would be one of the reasons she was upset. Her mom found love, but she couldn’t. In the end, it might make Amanda feel worse. In each “alternative” version, I kept coming back to that sort of problem. In addition, I write dramatic fiction. Dramatic fiction should represent the realities of life, and the best dramatic fiction allows the reader to feel a number of different emotions—happiness, empathy, anger, frustration, sympathy, passion, and of course sadness. All of those other emotions are played out in the novel as well, it’s just that most people seem to remember only the final emotion—sadness. But always remember that there would have been no sadness had the reader not cared for the characters, and to do that, the reader had to understand and sympathize with them. And finally, always remember that all great love stories—in novels or in life—must, by definition, incorporate tragedy. If there’s no great love, there’s no great loss. I read that somewhere (I can’t claim to have originated that statement) and it’s guided me throughout each of my novels.