I have bumped into most of my authors in this way (although I've actually never met Jamie Rix, author of my two Giddy Goat books). I've worked with Julia Jarman on lots of titles and we've done lots of children's storytelling events together over the years, so have now become good friends (and talk about book ideas behind our publishers' backs - don't tell!), but this generally happens only once you have a number of titles together.
One of the talks at this weekend's conference discussed this very thing. Author David Almond and illustrator Polly Dunbar told us all about how they had worked together on My Dad's A Birdman, a beautiful and touching story, a little like a modern fairytale. But though their talk was called 'collaboration', it was soon clear that they too had worked entirely independently, only speaking once the project was over.
There are reasons for this. It is very important that the illustrator is allowed the space for their ideas to flow where they will, and they do need to be protected against outside influences, even if that might sometimes be the actual author. David Almond was very aware of this and never had any intention of trying to steer the visual side of the project, but I suppose the publisher is not to know this, and plays safe. It was also suggested that perhaps publishers like to keep a nice tight control over proceedings, much easier if all contact goes through them!
It was lovely to meet Tony, as well as getting the chance to catch up with lots of other authors and illustrators who I only get to see every couple of years.
Gus seemed a really lovely man. He was also brave enough to act on a dream and move with his family from West Yorkshire up to the tiny isle of Arran, in Scotland, where they live in an old longhouse. They run a smallholding and his wife weaves, while Gus writes his novels and plays a range of musical instruments, including a concertina and a melodeon (whatever that is!). See? You never know who you are going to meet, when you sit next to stranger and start to chat.