Spoken Language: English

Originally broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and then added as a podcast on the radio version of BBC iPlayer which has now been rebranded as BBC Sounds.

In a moving and personal interview the novelist and journalist Andrew O’Hagan talks to Michael Berkeley about his family and the music that inspires his writing.

Andrew O’Hagan grew up on a tough housing estate in north Ayrshire, the son of a cleaner and a carpenter, and the youngest of four boys. He has gone on to become one of our most prolific, vivid and meticulous writers - an essayist and investigative journalist whose subjects have included Julian Assange; the invention of Bitcoin; and the Grenfell fire. And he has published five multi-award-winning novels, ranging from a fictionalised life of Lena Zavaroni to the tragedy of a Catholic priest in a small Scottish town - and the memoirs of Marilyn Monroe’s dog.

Andrew tells Michael Berkeley that his childhood ambition was to be not a writer but a ballet dancer, which did not go down well in his tough home and school environment. We hear the ballet music by Massenet that first transfixed him.

Despite living in England for many years Andrew returns to Scotland constantly in his novels. He chooses a setting of a poem collected by Robert Burns, which always takes him back to his homeland. And we hear music by John Field and by Beethoven, two composers who provide him with creative inspiration.

Andrew talks movingly about his love for his family and chooses music by June Christy that accompanied the birth of his daughter, and a poem by Shelley set by Frank Bridge which was played at his wedding.

Producer: Jane Greenwood

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 3