60 Minutes – Excellent interview with British writer, David Cornwell (aka John le Carré)

IMG_2592Calling all spy/espionage fans! Have you read any “John le  Carré” books? Did you know that the John le Carré books are really written by a British author named, “David John Moore Cornwell?” That was news to me.

60 Minutes had an interview with David Cornwell. Writers are always told, “write what you know.” That is exactly what Cornwell did. First, some background on his father. His childhood had a rocky start. His mother abandoned him at five years old, so he was raised by his father. Cornwell’s father was a charming conman and it appears lived life in the fast line. One day they were well off, the next they were bankrupt and poor, with his father even landing in jail. Cornwell said this taught him a lot about people, life and keeping secrets.

Next, his spy/espionage background came in the 1950s and 1960s when he found a job with the British Secret Service. He was fluent in German and worked for MI5 and MI6 (foreign intelligence service) where he ran agents, was responsible for interrogations, the normal telephone tapping and more. This, you can imagine, gave him some great background material for writing spy novels.

He needed a pen name for his books. Working for the Secret Service meant his books needed to be approved before being published. Once approved, the condition was to acquire a pen name — John le Carré was born!

In the interview he showed his office and discussed how he does research for his books. He handwrites his books and his wife, editor, transcribes them for him. She runs the business side, which allows him to focus on writing. When he travels he has a journal and writes what comes to his mind.

At 85, he has quite a personal story to tell. A few of his books have been turned into films/BBC TV shows, maybe you know, “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold,” “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” and/or “A Perfect Spy.”

Cornwell is promoting his latest book, “A Legacy of Spies.” I have some catching up to do reading-wise, so that I know the background on his character, “George Smiley!”

I bet these books are great in audio! If you are already a fan, which book was your favorite?

Thank you, 60 Minutes!

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Sarah Porter founded Miss Porter’s School.

I learned at a young age how the universe can change the course of our life in an instant.

For me, 60 Minutes changed my life. One minute I was attending High School in Indiana and the next minute I was at Miss Porter’s School (boarding school) in Connecticut.

Years ago, my parents were watching 60 Minutes when a segment on girl’s boarding schools came on. My father called to me to come watch the show. When it was over, he asked if I would like to go to boarding school. My answer was an excited, “YES.”

My parents did not attend College. They really valued education. They were self taught devouring books and watching all sorts of educational shows. Opera and classical music were big in our house. They wanted to offer their children the education they did not receive.

Attending Miss Porter’s School changed my life. Our claim to fame was that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis graduated from MPS, but more than that, the school instilled in us the powerful feeling that “girls” are here “to make a difference” in the world “no matter what we do!”

Last week the Universe was at work AGAIN. I am new to Seattle and trying to make friends. You can imagine my surprise when I saw an email from an Ancient of MPS asking if fellow Washington Ancients would be interested in getting together.

Wow – what a pleasant surprise! Suddenly, we were exchanging emails, hoping we weren’t the most Ancient in the group, i.e. Class of ’67, ’04, ’85, ’72, etc. It was fun!

So, all I can say is “believe” in change, “believe” in miracles, keep your eyes and ears open and be ready to take advantage of special “unexpected” opportunities that come to you. They say, “LUCK is when OPPORTUNITY meets PREPARATION!” Which means we create our own luck in life.

For me, I say, “Thank you, 60 Minutes” for opening the doors for me to study out East.