NBF 2021

Ness Book Fest 30th September – 2nd October

27th August 2021

The team at NessBookFest are delighted to announce the programme for 2021! After cancellation in 2020 due to covid and another challenging year of ongoing uncertainty, we are thrilled to let you all know that NBF will take place this year in a hybrid form. Running from Thursday 30th September until Saturday 2nd October, our book festival is somewhat scaled down this year because of current circumstances, but offers something for all ages with what we believe is a quality mix of schools and children’s events, writing workshops, a Gaelic strand, poetry and song, fiction and nonfiction, history, crime, science, film, nature and more!

In keeping with NBF’s ethos, all events are free of charge and will be a mix of live in-person events, indoor and outdoor, online and live on Zoom. Online events will be screened from our YouTube Channel and will be available to watch for a period of one month after the festival. All events will also be shared to the NBF Facebook page and other social media pages so please visit and follow us there. In-person and Zoom events can be booked via Eventbrite by searching for NessBookFest on that platform. Links to Eventbrite are also provided on our social media pages and here on the website.

NBF suggest it is advisable for audience members to bring cash if they wish to purchase books from authors at in-person events.

Mindful of ongoing coronavirus circumstances and to minimise travel, NBF has this year placed emphasis on the local, sharing and celebrating the rich literary, book and publishing culture we are fortunate to enjoy right here in Inverness and the wider Highlands. We are again partnering with many local venues and organisations, including Inverness Botanic Gardens, Inverness Archive Centre, Eden Court Theatre, the Junction Church, Sandstone Press, AbleKidsPress, Eastgate Shopping Centre, Waterstones, local schools, the Royal National Mòd, and we gratefully acknowledge funding and support from Inverness Common Good Fund, Bòrd na Gàidhlig and the Scottish Book Trust. Details of venue locations, NBF social media and covid safety can be found below.

We hope you can join us for this year’s book festival. Please download a copy of the NBF 2021 Programme and timetable at the foot of this page or, to book, click on the Eventbrite link beside each event.

Timetable & Programme

30th September

19.00Lin AndersonLiveJunction ChurchTickets via Eventbrite

1st October

14.00Moira ForsythLiveInverness Archive Centre  Tickets via Eventbrite
16.00Aoife LyallLiveInverness Botanic Gardens  Tickets via Eventbrite
17.00Sandy NicDhòmhnaill JonesOnlineWatch on NBF Youtube/Facebook  No ticket required
20.00Robin InceOnlineWatch on NBF Youtube/FacebookNo ticket required

2nd October

14.00Pauline MackayLiveInverness City Centre  Tickets via Eventbrite
15.00Ruairidh MacleanCancelled due to unforeseen circumstances  
17.30Barbara HendersonLiveJunction Church  Tickets via Eventbrite
19.30Brian PendreighliveEden Court  Tickets via Eden Court
20.00Film: 84 Charing Cross RoadLiveEden CourtTickets via Eden Court

School Events

30th September  Cal Flyn – Secondary School WorkshopOnline
30th September  Corrina Campbell – Primary School WorkshopOnline
30th September Catriona Lexy Campbell – Gaelic Primary School WorkshopOnline
30th September Raghnaid Sandilands – Gaelic Secondary School WorkshopOnline
1st October 9.15 – 9.45Primary School Read-inOnline

Thursday 30th September

19.00 – Lin Anderson – Festival Launch!  Live at the Junction Church

Lin Anderson is a Scottish author and screenwriter known for her bestselling crime series featuring forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod. Four of her novels have been longlisted for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year, with Follow the Dead being a 2018 finalist. Her short film River Child won both a Scottish BAFTA for Best Fiction and the Celtic Film Festival’s Best Drama Award and has now been viewed more than one million times on YouTube. Lin is also the co-founder of the international crime writing festival Bloody Scotland, which takes place annually in Stirling.

Ness Book Fest is delighted to welcome Lin for a live, in-person event to launch the festival’s adult programme, in which committee member Elaine Downs will join her to discuss her latest thrilling novel, The Killing Tides. Described by Scotland on Sunday as ‘A fascinating examination of how police and journalists determine a horrifying truth’ and ‘A cracking story told at breakneck speed’, this session will utilise Lin’s gripping tale to explore the darkness and light of the Scottish psyche and the Scottish landscape.

To book a ticket to see Lin Anderson at the NessBookFest Launch please visit Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/nbf-2021-launch-with-lin-anderson-tickets-168848884559?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

Friday 1st October:

9.15 – 9.45 – Primary Schools Read-in. Online 

Can we beat the 2019 record of 14200 pupils across 100+ primary schools reading at the same time? Join in the fun and have your class read together for 20 minutes within the half hour time slot! Register your interest by emailing nbfinverness@gmail.com with Reading Record in the subject line. #NBFrecord

Lucky youngsters doing a beach read-in!

14.00 – Moira ForsythEditing Workshop. Live at Inverness Archive Centre

Highland-based Moira Forsyth is the author of five published novels, and her short stories and poetry have appeared in magazines and anthologies. Since 2002, as Publishing Director of Sandstone Press, she has selected, commissioned, and edited both fiction and nonfiction for Sandstone Press, including books which have won or been listed for the Booker Prize, the Man Booker International, the Wainwright Prize, the Betty Trask Award and others. Moira will deliver a workshop on Editing, a vital skill for all writers, which will be an in-person event with restricted numbers, lasting approximately 90 minutes. To book a ticket for the Editing Workshop, please visit Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/editing-workshop-with-moira-forsyth-tickets-168851177417?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

16.00 – Aoife Lyall Poetry. Live at Inverness Botanic Gardens

Originally from Ireland, Aoife Lyall now lives in Inverness and is a poet, editor, reviewer, as well as a secondary school teacher of English. Rapidly gaining acclaim for her work, Aoife was awarded a Scottish Emerging Artist Residency by Cove Park in 2020 and has been a Guest Curator for the Scottish Poetry Library. Published in numerous journals and magazines, Aoife’s recent debut collection Mother, Nature was published in 2021 by Bloodaxe Books and has been widely hailed as ‘heart-rending’, ‘daring’ and ‘staggeringly tender’.

To book a ticket for Aoife Lyall’s Poetry event: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/poetry-with-aoife-lyall-tickets-168853345903?aff=erelpanelorg

17.00 – Sandy NicDhòmhnaill Jones – Gaelic Poetry & Song.

Watch at NBF YouTube/Facebook

Sandy NicDhòmhnaill Jones was appointed Gaelic Crowned Bàrd 2019 -2021 at the Royal National Mòd in Glasgow in October 2019.  Her latest collection of Gaelic Poetry and Songs ‘The Seventh Wave’ was published by Acair in June 2021.  Her first collection ‘Red Lichen’ was published by Acair in 2016 and won second prize that year in the Donald Meek Award.  She previously won the Wigtown Gaelic Poetry Prize in 2013; the Irish/Scots Gaelic Poetry Prize ‘Choirnéil Uí Néill’ in 2014; and a 2011 Scottish book Trust New Writer’s Award.

Sandy was awarded the Oban Times Gold Medal at the 2017 Mòd, and previously won various competitions for singing, clàrsach and composing. She is a Board member of the Gaelic College Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and former Board member of Bòrd na Gàidhlig.  In her earlier career, Sandy was a senior executive in the United Nations and the Commonwealth and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (FCIL), accredited in poetry translation. She also speaks French, German, Spanish and Welsh.

20.00 – Robin Ince: The Importance of Being Interested.

Watch at NBF YouTube & Facebook

Robin Ince is a comedian, author, broadcaster, and a populariser of scientific ideas. The Guardian once declared him a ‘becardiganed polymath’ which seems about right. He is probably best known as the co-host of the Sony Gold Award winning BBC Radio 4 series The Infinite Monkey Cage with Professor Brian Cox. In addition, he co-hosts the podcast Book Shambles with Josie Long, An Uncanny Hour and Science Shambles with Dr Helen Czerski, all three of which are a part of The Cosmic Shambles Network, also a co-creation. Ince quickly abandoned science at school, bored by a fog of dull lessons and intimidated by the barrage of equations. Twenty years later, he fell in love with it and now presents one of the world’s most popular science podcasts, meeting hundreds of the world’s greatest thinkers each year.

In this online event, NBF Committee member Elaine Downs talks to Robin about his latest book, The Importance of Being Interested: Adventures in Scientific Curiosity.  Robin reveals why scientific wonder isn’t just for the professionals. The book features interviews with astronauts, comedians, teachers, quantum physicists, neuroscientists and more – as well as charting his own journey with science – The Importance of Being Interested explores why many wrongly think of the discipline as distant and difficult. From the glorious appeal of the stars above to why scientific curiosity can encourage much-needed intellectual humility, this optimistic and profound book will leave you filled with a thirst for intellectual adventure.

Saturday 2nd October:

14.00 – Pauline Mackay: Wild About Inverness – City Centre Outdoor Trail for Children. Live
Wild About Inverness – Outdoor Trail for Children

Journey through the historic heart of Inverness and discover mythical, wild and domestic creatures hiding in plain sight! The trail begins on the Millennium Circle at the foot of Market Brae Steps and finishes on Castle Hill, and printed copies of the trail map will be distributed to parents at the event.

The Wild About Inverness sticker book (aimed at 5 – 10 year-olds) is available to buy if wished and follows the route, using a variety of activities including mazes, counting, colouring-in and join-the-dots, with snippets of information and questions along the way and a four-page pull-out map and location guide

To book tickets for the Wild About Inverness City Centre Trail for children (one ticket per accompanying adult – children do not need tickets), please visit Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wild-about-inverness-city-centre-outdoor-trail-for-children-tickets-168853700965?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

15.00 – Ruairidh Maclean – From Columba to Lloyd George – Live online Lecture (Zoom) – **Cancelled**

**CANCELLED** – Please note that this event is now cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. We apologise for disappointment caused and, should it be possible, we do hope to be able to offer this event at a later date. Please follow our NBF social media channels, local press and the website for future updates. Thank you for your continued support.

From Columba to Lloyd George: Inverness and Scottish-Irish relations over 1400 years.

O Chalum Cille gu Lloyd George: Inbhir Nis agus an Càirdeas eadar Alba is Èirinn thar 1400 bliadhna.

It is now a century since Lloyd George and his UK cabinet met in Inverness to map out a future for Ireland, following decades of struggle and insurrection. Fourteen centuries prior to that, the Irish churchman, Calum Cille (St Columba), travelled to Inverness to meet the Pictish king, an event that was arguably of great importance in the Gaelicisation of Alba. In this lecture, author, broadcaster and storyteller Ruairidh Maclean gives an account of both events, according to written sources and oral tradition, and highlights the pivotal place of Inverness in bookending a long history of Scottish-Irish relations.

Ruairidh is the author of two books on the place names of Inverness, the second published this year. He has also given accounts of stories of Columba’s travels to Inverness in his Gaelic children’s book Seachd Sgeulachdan às Inbhir Nis. The visit of the UK cabinet to Inverness in September 1921 is a pivotal event in Ruairidh’s award-winning novel Còig Duilleagan na Seamraig which is set in the period that led to the formation of the Irish Free State.

Tickets for this online Zoom event, which will be mainly in English with Gaelic references, can be booked at Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/columba-to-lloyd-george-1400-years-of-inverness-scottish-irish-relations-tickets-168854274681?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch

17.30 – Barbara Henderson – Scottish by Inclination. Live at the Junction Church

Inverness-based Barbara Henderson is the author of historical novels Fir for LuckPunchBlack WaterThe Siege of Caerlaverock and The Chessmen Thief as well as the eco-thriller Wilderness Wars, and an ArtyNess columnist for a range of North of Scotland newspapers. Her energetic school visits have taken her across Scotland and beyond – and as a Drama teacher, she loves to get young people on their feet. Her latest book is the autobiographical Scottish by Inclination, a collection of profiles of EU citizens who have made their mark on Scotland, as well as reflections on Barbara’s own three decades in Scotland.

Copies of Barbara’s book will be available for sale at the event (reduced cost £12.00) – cash or cheque.

Tickets for Barbara’s event can be booked at Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/barbara-henderson-scottish-by-inclination-tickets-168859404023?aff=erelpanelorg


19.30 – Brian Pendreigh Man in the Seventh Row.  Live at the Playhouse Cinema, Eden Court Theatre (Tickets for this event-with-film can be booked via Eden Court box office)

In Brian Pendreigh’s novel Man in the Seventh Row, a fan of classic Hollywood movies finds himself being sucked into the action of movies with which he fell in love as a boy and young man in Scotland, films including The Magnificent Seven, Blade Runner and Braveheart. Is this real? Or in his head? And why is it happening? The true meaning of Rosebud is revealed only in the poignant final story at the end of the novel, which has been acclaimed by reviewers and writers, including Andrew Marr and Ian Rankin, and was selected as a Scotsman book of the week, a BookBub recommended read, and featured in Amazon’s Literary Fiction bestsellers list.

Brian is an award-winning journalist and writer, formerly cinema editor on The Scotsman, Radio Times film critic and a regular contributor to the Guardian, Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday. He has written around a dozen books, including Man in the Seventh Row and a Portuguese-language version of The Legend of the Planet of the Apes. His presentation will be followed by a screening of 84 Charing Cross Road but Brian will be available for five minutes after his talk (before start of the film), and also after the film, to sign copies of his book.

20.00 – Film 84 Charing Cross Road. Live at the Playhouse Cinema, Eden Court Theatre

(Tickets to be booked as above at Eden Court box office for this event-with-film)

Perfectly rounding off Ness Book Fest 2021, this classic 1987 British-American drama tells the story of New York bibliophile Helene Hanff, who writes to the London bookshop Marks & Co in search of titles she cannot locate elsewhere. When shop manager Frank responds, their correspondence marks the beginning of a long friendship. Based on a true story, the film stars Anne Bancroft, Anthony Hopkins and Judi Dench, and was directed by Mel Brooks.

That’s all, folks!

In addition to the above ticketed and non-ticketed events, we have a number of authors doing creative writing sessions with several Inverness schools, as follows:

Thursday 30th Sep:

Cal Flyn – Secondary school workshop

Award-winning Highland writer Cal Flyn is well-known for her literary nonfiction and long-form journalism. Her second book Islands of Abandonment, exploring the ecology and psychology of abandoned places, has been described as ‘Extraordinary’ and ‘A radical revisioning of what we mean by ‘nature’ and ‘wild’.’ Cal will deliver a creative writing workshop to Highland secondary school pupils online.

Corrina Campbell – Primary school workshop

Nairn-based primary school teacher, author and self-taught illustrator, Corrina Campbell has won great acclaim for her beautiful debut picture book The Girl Who Stole The Stars. Her fun, interactive story and workshop sessions are hugely popular and Highland primary pupils will enjoy this session with Corrina online.

Catriona Lexy Campbell – Gaelic primary school workshop

Working primarily in Gaelic, Catriona Lexy Campbell is a writer, theatre artiste and author of published novels, plays, poetry and children’s books. A sought-after leader of writing and theatre skills workshops for numerous organisations, Catriona seeks to enable participants to explore new ideas and express themselves creatively, in a warm and relaxed environment, and will be delivering an online workshop to Gaelic-medium primary pupils on her book Òran mo Sheanar, My Grandfather’s Song.

Raghnaid Sandilands – Gaelic secondary school workshop

Raghnaid Sandilands is a writer, Gaelic translator, cartographer and publisher, based in Strathnairn, where she co-founded Farr Conversations. She has translated numerous books into Gaelic, including Asterix and Tintin, and she will deliver an online workshop session on creating a graphic story to secondary school students of Gaelic.

Further Information:

Tickets:  All events are free and all live in-person and Zoom events should be booked through Eventbrite (click on the links beside the above events or search for NessBookFest and the event title on http://www.eventbrite.co.uk). All other online events will be available to view on NessBookFest’s YouTube Channel on the day of screening and for a period of one month after the festival. All YouTube screenings will be shared to our NBF Facebook page so do visit and follow us there.

For the film event, book via www.eden-court.co.uk or Box Office 01463 234234


Inverness Botanic Gardens, Bught Lane, Inverness IV3 5SS

Eden Court Theatre, Bishop’s Road, Inverness IV3 5SA

Highland Archive Centre, Bught Road, Inverness IV3 5SS

Junction Church, Bank Street, Inverness IV1 1QU


Please note that all live, in-person events will be held in a covid-safe manner according to current guidelines. We would kindly ask audience members attending indoor events to please wear a face covering if possible and adhere to safe distancing guidelines. Hand sanitiser will be available at all in-person events.

Further information:

Email: nbfinverness@gmail.com

NessBookFest Facebook, Twitter & Instagram feeds

Website: www.nessbookfest.com


In keeping with NessBookFest’s ethos of #nobarriers, all events are free of charge. However, in order to secure a free-access festival in the future, we welcome donations should audience members feel inclined. Cash buckets will be present at live events and arrangements will also be in place for digital donations.


NessBookFest is grateful to the following sponsors and supporters:


Downloadable PDF of NessBookFest 2021 Programme and Timetable:

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