How We Met: Christopher Brookmyre & Ed Byrne

'One of Chris's books indirectly caused the break-up of my relationship at the time'
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The Independent Online

Christopher Brookmyre, 39, is an award-winning Scottish author of 12 novels. His debut, Quite Ugly One Morning, was dramatised for television and starred James Nesbitt. His latest book is A Snowball in Hell. He lives in Glasgow with his wife and their son.

I met Ed in 1997 in Edinburgh, where I was living. My wife is an anaesthetist and was on call that night, so I was wandering around on my own, looking for a comedy show to watch and ended up at Ed's.

During his routine, he walked over to my seat. I suspected that he recognised me, but I'd only had one book published at the time, so I was surprised when he asked me, "Are you Christopher Brookmyre?" It turned out that he'd been lent my book by his friend Brendan Burns.

Brendan had mistaken me for a critic at a gig and asked me in the bar afterwards: "So, are you going to give me a good review?" I said I wasn't the critic, it was the guy whose hairstyle he'd been taking the mickey out of throughout his routine. I ended up giving him a lift home and gave him my book – the copy that Ed read.

Not long afterwards, my wife's job took us to Inverness and Ed came to stay for a few days – I think he was the only visitor we had. He had an idea for a script and wanted some advice. It was quite a commitment to come all that way and a good grounding for our friendship.

We share a lot of enthusiasm for the same issues, such as religion – we're both outspoken atheists. I like the intellectual thread in Ed's work – even if I've heard a routine three or four times before, I still aprpeciate it, like a piece of music.

I feel slightly intimidated by someone who's funny off the cuff, because I can only be funny if I sit down and think hard about it. Once we were on Irish television together, and Ed made a real effort to give me ins for funny stories he knew I could tell. He's a very generous performer.

Ed and I also discovered that we share a dirty secret – we're both very big fans of Queen. He had appreciated the character in one of my books, who uses the members of Queen as code names for his accomplices – and so we were able to confess.

We like each other's work – in fact, Ed once blamed me for the breakdown of one his relationships on the grounds that he stayed up all night reading one of my books when he should have been sorting things out with his girlfriend. It is a good indicator of the strength of his new marriage that he was able to take another of my books on his honeymoon!

Ed Byrne, 36, is an Irish stand-up comedian and Perrier Award nominee who appears regularly on the panel of television shows including Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Have I Got News for You and, on radio, Mock the Week. He lives in Essex with his wife, Claire

At the heart of our friendship is a bit of a professional mutual admiration society which started when a friend lent me one of Chris's books. I'd never previously been a fan of crime fiction – but Chris's stuff is very satirical and does lots of slagging off of pop culture and celebrity.

I don't usually have much audience participation in my shows but I was sure I'd spotted him and had to ask. "Christopher Brookmyre? How funny, because I'm half way through reading your book, and here you are half way through watching my show." He told me that he was just thinking, "Oh ground, swallow me up". We had a drink after the show and kept in touch.

The next time we saw each other was when I had an idea for a film, about a serial killer who stalks a comedian. My manager suggested talking to a crime writer: "There's this Scottish writer called – ", she started, and I finished: "Christopher Brookmyre!" Again, quite a coincidence.

A few years later, one of his books indirectly caused the break-up of a relationship. The holiday I was on was supposed to save it, and when all I did was read Chris's book, it didn't help. Nor did the fact that he'd signed the book "from one infidel to another". My girlfriend saw another meaning in "infidel" and got very suspicious. But maybe I wouldn't be married to my wife had I not been so engrossed in that book. And she likes his books. In fact, when I introduced her to him she was almost starstruck. It was sweet.

With Chris, I found a kindred spirit but didn't quite know why – but whenever we met we'd discover another thing we had in common. When you're on the same wavelength you can use shorthand about certain things: one of us says during a film that a character is "wearing a red shirt" – and the other one knows exactly what's meant. It's a Star Trek reference; the guy in the red shirt who beams down to the planet is always the first to die.

Yet another coincidence was when he turned up on the Irish TV show, The Panel. We have few novelists on it, even fewer non-Irish novelists – and I had nothing to do with him being there. He came across really well and I came across as a real geek because I knew everything about his books.

Ed Byrne's 'Different Class' tour starts in London on 9 September. Book online at www.edbyrne.com. Christopher Brookmyre reads from 'A Snowball in Hell' at the Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh on 9 September. Details at www.brookmyre.co.uk

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