Thursday, 20 August 2009

Two Queens, A Prince Bishop, and a robber baron

Yesterday, my wife and I travelled over to Durham - a beautiful cathedral city in the north east of England, and the seat of power of the original Prince Bishops who once lorded over County Durham.

We weren't just sight-seeing, we were on a business cum social trip, although the day did include saving tiny peperdril bats from under the feet of clumsy tourists in the inner courtyard of Durham cathedral (for all you Harry Potter fans, a scene from one of the movies was filmed in this tranquil place). I was there to meet up with two awesomely talented and best-selling authors for a day of chewing the fat about the publishing industry, our books and our hopes and aspirations for the future.

The authors in question are both queens:

Sheila Quigley, Queen of northern crime fiction
Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Queen of Icelandic crime fiction

Both Sheila and Yrsa are hugely popular writers with differing styles but with a shared character of openness and honesty and a willingness to allow this new upstart, a robber baron called Hilton, to hold court with them. It was a fascinating day, and we shared many tales and stories, exchanged anecdotes and even at one point probed the hidden or lost meaning behind many of today' superstitions, how they impact on lives and how they've even become part of popular culture. Sheila has an infectious laugh and is full of fun, Yrsa has a dry wit that is also as infectious and we probably disturbed Durham with our laughter rolling out everywhere we went. Down on the riverside was probably the only time we weren't laughing, but that's because we witnessed the drama of a canoeist crashing into a bridge, becoming submerged and entangled in his boat and almost drowning. Thankfully the guy made it to the surface with only his ego bruised, which was a good ending all in all, and we were soon laughing again.

It was a fabulous day, and I feel privileged to have been in such great company - Yrsa's husband and daughter included - and returned home around midnight feeling thoroughly weary but with a big smile on my face. The publishing of a book, I found, isn't the most satisfactory elelment of being a writer, it is the meeting of such amazing people along the way.


Col Bury said...

New friendships, a common bond and shared laughter - priceless!

Matt Hilton said...

You've got it in one, Col. They're amazing people and you'd love them both.