Book Talk: Thriller writer Jack Higgins marks 50 years

Wed Jan 21, 2009 3:15pm EST
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By Belinda Goldsmith

CANBERRA (Reuters Life!) - Novelist Harry Patterson, better known as thriller writer Jack Higgins, celebrates 50 years of writing this year, counting his blessings.

Patterson, 79, was diagnosed about eight years ago with essential tremor syndrome, a progressive neurological disease, that made him shake so much that about two years ago he found he could not pick up a pen and was about to give up writing.

But while suffering a seizure friend's house, he fell and knocked his head, ending up in hospital -- and overnight his tremors disappeared, allowing him to write again.

"In a way it is a bit like Lazarus. It has been a blessing late in life -- this unprecedented cure. People have got in touch with me who have got this crippling thing to say what can they do. I can't tell them what to do. I was just lucky," he said.

Patterson has written more than 60 novels over the past 50 years, with his 1975 breakthrough novel "The Eagle Has Landed" made into a blockbuster movie and establishing him as an international best-selling author.

Patterson was a soldier and then a teacher before becoming a full-time writer and penned novels under various pseudonyms including James Graham, Martin Fallon and Hugh Marlowe.

His latest novel, "A Darker Place," released this month, is his 16th featuring Irish hero Sean Dillon.

Patterson spoke to Reuters about his career:   Continued...

<p>Jack Higgins is seen in this handout photo, taken in England 2008. REUTERS/Rob Currie/Handout</p>