Monday, May 04, 2015

"Desert Island Discs": Interview with Jack Higgins

This is from Ben Boulden at Gravetapping

Posted: 28 Apr 2015 12:41 PM PDT
A few years ago I stumbled across an old BBC radio interview, or more accurately conversation, with writer Harry Patterson. It is from a program called “Desert Island Discs”. The host is a smooth voiced man named Roy Plomley, and it was broadcast December 18, 1981.

The conversation meanders across several topics, including Mr. Patterson’s early life, military service, and writings. The talk is done between short music pieces selected by Mr Patterson, and it includes a nice mixture of jazz, big band, and classical. The music is enjoyable, but the interview is a real treat.

A favorite moment is when Mr Patterson discusses his fondness for a band leader named Al Bowlly. Mr Patterson wrote Bowlly, as a background character, into his 1972 novel The Savage DayThe Savage Day was Mr Patterson’s first bestseller, and afterwards he included—at least through 1981—a cameo for Al Bowlly in each of his novels for luck. A recurring character I have never noticed.

A few interesting facts. The Eagle Has Landed was translated into 43 languages, including Welsh. The Harry Patterson novels published after The Eagle Has LandedThe Valhalla Exchange, and To Catch a King specifically—were written for his American publisher Stein and Day and could not include the Jack Higgins name, likely due to contractual issues. The book he would want on a deserted island: The Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot.

The interview runs approximately 48 minutes, and it is  well worth a listen . Mr Patterson also appeared in a “Desert Island Discs” episode broadcast March 5, 2006; unfortunately the online stream is currently unavailable. It is also very much worth seeking out.        

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