Yes, Nicholas Sparks was involved in every step of the creation of the movie, and agrees with the changes. He consulted with Karen Janzen during the script writing process, visited the set 3 times, and consulted with the director after it was filmed.
On his website, he said:
“I’ll go on record as saying that I love the movie. I think it’s a wonderful adaptation, and I hope that everyone who enjoys my work will head out to see it. I promise that you’ll enjoy it.”
No, but he does live in NC not far away from Beaufort. Most of the movie was filmed in nearby Wilmington NC and that was only a few hours drive away from his home.
No, it is his third published novel. Before this he wrote “The Notebook” and “Message In A Bottle” (also adapted to film staring Kevin Costner, Robin Wright Penn, and Paul Newman). He wrote two books previously which are now and will forever be unpublished. He considers them an “internship” of sorts and they are collecting dust in his attic.