Nicholas Sparks, author of 17 romantic novels including "The Notebook" and "Message in a Bottle," is parting from his wife Cathy after 25 years together.
"Cathy and I have separated," the 49-year-old author told People Tuesday. "This is, of course, not a decision we've made lightly. We remain close friends with deep respect for each other and love for our children. For our children's sake, we regard this as a private matter."
The couple married seven years before "The Notebook" became a best-seller, and have five children together — three sons and twin daughters whose ages range from 12 to 23.
The couple met on spring break while both were still in college. Sparks tried a number of careers before "The Notebook" was pulled from a slush pile and ultimately sold for a $1 million advance in 1995. He has often spoken of Cathy's role as his muse for telling his stories.
Many of Sparks' books have been made into movies, including "Notebook," "Bottle," "The Lucky One" and "The Best of Me."