We are thrilled to announce the programme for NessBookFest 2022! After returning last year with a hybrid festival we are delighted to be able to offer more live events this year. This year is designated Scotland’s Year of Stories and we are taking the opportunity with this year’s festival to celebrate the different ways we tell stories. Running from Thursday 6th October until Saturday 8th October, our book festival offers something for all ages with what we believe is a quality mix of events for adults and children alike with school events, a Gaelic strand, poetry and song, fiction, a guided walk and more!
In keeping with NBF’s ethos, all events are free of charge and will be primarily live in-person events indoor and outdoor, with others available online. 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. Our 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.
We are again partnering with many local venues and organisations, including Inverness Library, Eden Court Theatre, the Junction Church, Simpsons Garden Centre, Bike Shed, Waterstones, local schools, the Royal National Mòd, and we gratefully acknowledge funding and support from 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 2022 Programme at the foot of this page or, to book, click on the Eventbrite link beside each event.
Thursday 6th October
19.00 – Shona MacLean – Festival Launch! Live at the Junction Church
Join us for our opening event of the festival – a discussion with S.G. MacLean, writer of The Bookseller of Inverness, about her work.
S.G. MacLean (Shona) was born in Inverness and grew up in the Highlands where her parents were hoteliers. She has a PhD in History from the University of Aberdeen. She is the author of the Alexander Seaton and the Damian Seeker historical crime series, and has twice won the CWA Historical Dagger. The Bookseller of Inverness, her first standalone, is her 10th novel.
To book a ticket to see Shona MacLean at the NessBookFest Launch please visit Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/nbf22-launch-sgmaclean-the-bookseller-of-inverness-tickets-425080787077
Friday 7th October:
9.15 – 9.45 – Primary Schools Read-in. Online
Join schools across Scotland to see how many pupils we can have reading at the same time. All your class needs to do is read together for 20 minutes within the half hour time slot! Register your interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with Reading Record in the subject line. #NBFrecord
15.00 – Ruairidh Maclean – Guided Walk starting from Inverness Rugby Car Park
Join storyteller Ruairidh Maclean on a short walk along the banks of the Caledonian Canal on the outskirts of Inverness, where he will tell some local tales, involving the sìthichean (‘fairies’) and historical characters who lived in, or visited, Inverness. Hear about Loch na Sanais, the fiddlers of Tom na h-Iùbhraich (Tomhnahurich), Calum Cille (St Columba) and others. We’ll walk out to the site of the ancient stone known as Clach na h-Eagaig (Clachnahagaig). The guided walk will be in English, with some Gaelic (Gaelic learners are particularly welcome).
Spaces are limited so to book your spot on the walk, please visit Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/guided-walk-ruairidh-maclean-inverness-stories-from-the-gaelic-tradition-tickets-425088490117
16.00 – Cinnamon Sisters – Poetry. Online
Watch at NBF YouTube/Facebook
Join the Cinnamon Sisters, a trio of poets who are published by Cinnamon Press – Jay Whittaker, Lynn Valentine and Leonie Charlton – for a feast of poetry in Scots and English: lively, accessible poetry rooted in landscape and the natural world, and touching on life’s stink and honey.
Jay Whittaker prioritised writing poetry in her mid-40s after her civil partner died and she started cancer treatment. Now an award winning author of two full length collections, Sweet Anaesthetist, (Cinnamon Press, 2020) and Wristwatch, (Cinnamon Press, 2017), which was Scottish Poetry Book of the Year 2018, she continues to write irreverent, unsentimental poems that demystify mortality, illness and loss with hope and often wry humour. Jay has lived and worked in Edinburgh since 1995 and Scotland is very much home, though she grew up much further south, in Devon and Nottingham. Much of her writing is rooted in the landscapes she knows well – Edinburgh, East Lothian, and the Hebridean island of Iona. Jay is widely published (credits include Poetry Review, The North, Butcher’s Dog and The Rialto), and two of her poems were included in the recent Bloodaxe anthology.Staying Human. http://www.jaywhittaker.uk / @jaywhittapoet
Lynn Valentine lives on the Black Isle in the Scottish Highlands although her thoughts are never far away from her hometown of Arbroath and her adopted city of Glasgow. She writes in Scots and English and has a Scots language pamphlet, A Glimmer o Stars, published by Hedgehog Poetry Press (2021), after winning their dialect competition. Her debut collection, Life’s Stink and Honey, was published this year after winning the Cinnamon Press literature award in 2020. She was runner-up in the Scots section of the Wigtown Poetry Prize in 2021and the Scottish Poetry Library chose one of her poems as best Scots poem of the year in 2021. Lynn has been described as ‘a fearless writer who tackles the great unspeakables head-on – bereavement, loss, childlessness, exile’ but her poetry is also rooted in the landscapes and seascapes of the Highlands and beyond. http://www.lynnvalentine.com @dizzylynn
Leonie Charlton lives in Glen Lonan, Argyll. Publications include her travel-memoir Marram, published by Sandstone Press (2020), which was selected as Waterstones’ ‘Scottish Book of the Month’ in April 2022. Leonie’s poetry has been widely published in publications such as Envoi, The Blue Nib and Northwords Now. In 2020 she won the Cinnamon Press Poetry Pamphlet Award and her pamphlet Ten Minutes of Weather Away was published by Cinnamon Press in 2021. Leonie’s poetry has been described as having ‘an ache at the core of the beauty here, not of self-pity or of indulgence, but of empathy, of griefs, both human and beyond human, that held to the light, are recognised, and invite compassion’. Leonie is currently doing a PhD with University of the Highlands and Islands, using creative writing as a way of giving voice to place, people and the non-human denizens involved in Scotland’s ‘deer question’. http://leoniecharlton.co.uk/ @CharltonLeonie
16.30 – 10 Years of Butcher’s Dog Magazine with Aoife Lyall – Bike Shed
Come join award-winning poet Aoife Lyall as she celebrates ten years of Butcher’s Dog, one of the UK’s foremost poetry publications, by discussing what she has learned as one of its contributors, editors, and reviewers.
Aoife Lyall is a poet, editor and reviewer. Her debut poetry collection Mother, Nature (Bloodaxe Books, 2021), was shortlisted for the Scottish First Book Award 2021. In 2020, she received generous National Lottery funding through Creative Scotland to write her second poetry collection. Lyall also works as an editor, mentor, and reviewer aoifelyall.com
To book a ticket for Aoife Lyall’s Poetry event visit the following link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/celebrating-10-years-of-butchers-dog-magazine-with-aoife-lyall-tickets-422908941027
18.30 – Poetry Slam – Bike Shed
Join us for an evening of poetry at The Bike Shed!
Poets will go head-to-head in a battle to be crowned the first NBF Poetry Slam Champion and book their place in the Scottish Finals in 2023.
Watch a diverse range of poets perform their work and be judged and scored on their performances with a champion of poetry emerging by the end of the night!
To book a ticket for the poetry slam visit the following link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/nbf-poetry-slam-2022-tickets-420781718447
19.30 – Helen Forbes – Junction Church
Helen Forbes is an author of Scottish crime fiction, living in her home-town of Inverness, in the Scottish Highlands. They have been writing novels and short stories for many years with much of their writing set in the Highlands and Islands and Edinburgh, although she has also written and published award-winning short stories set in the Antarctic and Italy.
Her debut police procedural novel, In the Shadow of the Hill, set in Inverness and South Harris, features Detective Sergeant Joe Galbraith. It was published by ThunderPoint Publishing in 2014. Madness Lies, Book 2 in the DS Joe Galbraith series, set in Inverness and North Uist, was published in 2017. Unravelling, a standalone crime thriller, set in Inverness, was published by Scolpaig Press in July 2021. Deception, a dark tale of a relationship mired in deceit and lies, uplifted by a cast of interesting characters brought together in adversity, was published by Scolpaig Press in January 2022.
Her work in progress, Queen of Grime, features an Edinburgh crime scene cleaner with a deadly secret that is endangering her family. It is full of grime, gore and dark humour.
To book a ticket, please visit Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/helen-forbes-tickets-425436882167
Saturday 8th October:
10.30 – Meet the Books with Mel Mackay – Inverness Library
Meet The Books: Fraser-Mackintosh and his 19th century public relations machine’ with Mel Mackay, about Fraser-Mackintosh, Victorian M.P. and antiquarian, and how he managed his image in the press including his close relationship with Inverness publisher Alexander Mackenzie.
To meet the books with Mel Mackay, please book your tickets at the following link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/meet-the-books-fraser-mackintosh-and-his-19th-century-public-relations-tickets-424635364807
12.00 – Daddy’s Bad Day with Ross MacKay – Inverness Library
An event for 3-6 year olds and their families. A reading of ‘Daddy’s Bad Day’ by Ross MacKay followed by a playful interactive session
Daddy needs to wake up and start the day. There are so many exciting things to do but Daddy won’t get out of bed – no matter what! Is Daddy being lazy or is he actually fighting very hard? This story has been created to help parents explain their mental health struggles to young children.
The story draws on the writer’s lived experience and research conducted with some of Scotland’s leading parent charities. A brand-new picture book from award winning writer, Ross MacKay and illustrated by twice Kelpies award shortlisted artist, Catherine Lindow. Published by the independent family run Scottish publisher, Curly Tale Books.
Ross MacKay lives in the village of Aberdour in Scotland with his wife and young
son, Noah. In 2020, Ross was the recipient of the William Soutar Award for Poetry and a Tom McGrath Trust Maverick Award. He has been commissioned to write poetry for libraries,
schools, and festivals across Scotland. His debut novel for children and debut picture book were released in 2022 in both the UK and USA.
Ross previously worked in theatre as the artistic director of Tortoise in a Nutshell. His
productions toured all over the world. His shows have received numerous prestigious awards including a Scotsman Fringe First for New Writing and a Critic’s Pick from The New York Times.
When Ross isn’t writing or making shows, he spends his time in his inflatable kayak,
trying to steer it as best he can. He loves gardening and is currently engaged in a fierce battle with a collection of snails who seem to love the rhubarb and potatoes just as much as Ross.
To book tickets for Ross MacKay’s Daddy’s Bad Day, please visit Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/daddys-bad-day-with-ross-mackay-tickets-424631894427
14.00 – Tomorrow’s chip paper, or the first draft of history? Journalists Panel at SImpson’s Garden Centre
Each week, journalists on local newspapers across the UK produce thousands of words, working to tight deadlines. Are their efforts merely destined to be recycled as a chip wrapper, or the lining of the hamster cage?
Or, is this literary form largely unrecognised and very much undervalued in creating the first draft of history, recording events as they happen and reflecting the issues of the day in a local community and perhaps providing a valuable resource for writers of fiction and non-fiction?
Join Val Sweeney, Tom Ramage and Jane Cumming in an ‘in-conversation’ style event, as they reflect on the decades of experience between them writing for newspapers and how every word counts.
Drawing on anecdotes, they aim to give an insight into their work as wordsmiths. They will reveal the pressures of working in newsrooms, searching out stories, covering breaking stories from tragic events to local politics, interviewing celebrities, trying to drag out salient points from a reluctant interviewee – all against constant looming deadlines.
It is an often-quoted saying in newspapers, that everyone has a story to tell. The journalists now tell their story.
Tickets for this event can be booked here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/journalists-panel-tomorrows-chip-paper-or-the-first-draft-of-history-tickets-425046183577
16.00 – Catriona Murray – Doras Gun Chlàimhean: Murchadh MacPhàrlain, Bàrd Mhealaboist – new edition of the Gaelic Poetry & Song of Murdo MacFarlane – Simpson’s Garden Centre
Through his songs and melodies the Gaelic poet and activist, Murdo MacFarlane, from Melbost in Lewis, encouraged young Gaelic-speaking islanders in the 1970s to have pride in their language and culture. Forty years on from MacFarlane’s death in 1982 Doras gun Chlàimhean, Murchadh MacPhàrlain, Bàrd Mhealaboist, is a new volume of his writings, edited by the Glasgow-based broadcaster and writer, Catriona Murray. The book includes a Gaelic biography of MacFarlane, his Gaelic poems and songs with English translations, articles and letters, photographs and a CD of the poet singing a selection of his songs. The words of Bàrd Mhealaboist are as relevant in Scotland and beyond today as they were in the 1970s; it is timely to present a new generation of Gaelic speakers and a wider audience with his body of work.
Catriona Murray, brought up in Lewis, is a former chair of the Gaelic Books Council, the lead organisation supporting Gaelic writers and publishers, and raising the profile of Gaelic literature and books.
Chaired by BBC broadcaster and journalist Donald Morrison.
Tickets for this event can be booked here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/doras-gun-chlaimhean-murchadh-macpharlain-bard-mhealaboist-new-edition-tickets-424620079087
19.00 – Jeff Zycinski – Eden Court Theatre (Tickets for this event-with-film can be booked via Eden Court box office)
Join Jeff where he will discuss his career in radio, as a writer, and a journalist. Afterwards, there will also be a screening of the celebrated film ‘All The President’s Men’.
Jeff Zycinski is the former Head of Radio at BBC Scotland. A graduate of the Centre for Journalism Studies in Cardiff, Jeff began his career a News reporter with Moray Firth Radio in Inverness before moving to Radio Clyde and then to the BBC. After leaving the BBC in 2018 he penned two memoirs – The Red Light Zone and Travels from my Twilight Zone – in which he recounted his upbringing in the east end of Glasgow , his teenage passion for radio and his subsequent career in broadcasting. He was described in The Scottish Review as ‘a supreme anecdotalist, an excellent journalist and a very accomplished writer.” Jeff now manages the Partnerships for Wellbeing charity in Inverness and co-presents the Ways to Wellbeing podcast.
20.00 – Film All the President’s Men – 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 2022, this political thriller from 1976 tells the story of how “The Washington Post” reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate Scandal. Directed by Alan J. Pakula and starring Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman and Hal Holbrook amongst others this is an excellent opportunity to see All the President’s Men on the big screen.
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 6th Oct:
Aoife Lyall – Secondary school workshop
Acclaimed poet Aoife Lyall will be leading a creative writing workshop for well-being for secondary school pupils.
A story tour of Scotland’s past – Primary school workshop
A free virtual event for upper-primary pupils, led by Barbara Henderson, Victoria Williamson, Lindsay Littleson and Joe Covenant. All authors of children’s books which are historical adventure fiction inspired by real events and people they will take pupils around Scotland with readings from their work amongst talks about their stories too.
Raghnaid Sandilands – Gaelic primary school workshop
Raghnaid Sandilands will be leading a gaelic workshop for primary school pupils based on her latest book on local stories of Strathnairn.
Iain Macinnes – Gaelic secondary school workshop
Iain Macinnes has a been a journalist with BBC Scotland for 15 years and will be using his experiences to lead a workshop with secondary school pupils via video. He will be looking at short-form story writing to inspire pupil’s own writing and creativity whilst showing what careers may be available to pupils in the future.
He began his career as a reporter on the award-winning European current affairs show Eòrpa, before moving into daily news where he presented news programmes on Radio nan Gàidheal, and BBC Alba. For the last five years, Iain has been the BBC’s Senior Journalist covering the Highlands and Islands. He also presents Reporting Scotland and other news programmes from Glasgow on a rotational basis. Iain was brought up in Lewis, is a keen musician and lives with his wife and two daughters in Inverness.
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 Library, Farraline Park, Inverness IV1 1NH
Eden Court Theatre, Bishop’s Road, Inverness IV3 5SA
Simpsons Garden Centre, Culloden Road, Inverness IV2 5BA
Junction Church, Bank Street, Inverness IV1 1QU
The Bike Shed, Grant Street, Inverness IV3 8BN
NessBookFest Facebook, Twitter & Instagram feeds
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 2022 Programme: