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Book yourself into a free event at the NessBookFest

By Barbara Henderson

What are you doing on October 3-5? Nothing that can’t wait, you say? Good!

Because Inverness is going to be hosting so many free book events that it will be difficult know where to start. We are lucky! The NessBookFest elves have been flat-out and our city and our region is set to reap the benefits.

The festival is kicking off with the Big Poetry Read-In, an initiative to get as many primary children across the region to read – or be read to – simultaneously. All schools need to do is read for 20 minutes during a 30-minute slot on National Poetry Day and update nbfinverness@gmail.com with the final numbers so all can be collated.

Last year’s record was 3479, so it’s a tall order, but many schools across the region and beyond have already signed up. An inter-school kidlit quiz and a range of author visits aimed at primary schools follow, but the public programme is not far behind.

For a start there are writing workshops: focusing on family treasures, poetry, LGBT romance, publishing and marketing as well as handling old Enlightenment texts. History lovers can treat themselves to anything from Iron-Age fiction and primary source-inspired drama in the Archive Centre and the hidden history of Inverness, with additional sessions on Georgian mansions and the Highlander Museum. Historian Sarah Fraser will speak about her Jacobite non-fiction, subject of a recent BBC documentary.

The Stone of Destiny.
The Stone of Destiny.

Fans of the crime and thriller genre will have plenty to keep them occupied with Lucy Foley, author of international bestseller The Hunting Party, Robert J Harris with his sequel to the John Buchan classic Castle Mcnab and home heroine Margaret Kirk, who will talk about her unusual publication journey.

Outdoors enthusiasts will relish the chance to hear Cairngorms National Park Writer-in-Residence Merryn Glover and dolphin conservationist and author Charlie Phillips, while perhaps also taking in Ryan Raymond’s event on Drone Photography and learning Gaelic – a quirky combination. Gaelic in general is well served with Gaelic fiction, a Writing in Gaelic panel and a Gaelic poetry event, too.

Nature poetry and a glittering showcase of emerging Highland poets appearing in their first headline gig here are sure to be festival highlights. However, there is also a real focus on young people. Popular children’s entertainer Creeping Toad returns to Inverness for the Saturday, little ones can complete a book hunt in the Victorian Market and teenagers (and writers) will love local teacher Caroline Logan’s book launch of fantasy novel The Stone of Destiny or Lindsey Stirling’s events on creating and publishing her fantasy world.

And on a Saturday afternoon, what better place to bring your young readers than the library where Kelpies Prize-winner Elizabeth Ezra will create a wonderful witchy world of spooky storytelling and interactive fun.

If you’re exhausted after all of that, fear not: Eden Court Cinema is showing book-related films such as classic romcom You’ve Got Mail, dystopian Fahrenheit 451, the recent The Bookshop and the unhurried documentary on the New York Library service Ex-Libris, all completely free but bookable through Eden Court.

For all other tickets, search for ‘Eventbrite NessBookFest’ to secure your place and follow the NessBookFest Facebook page, or look up @NessBookFest1 on Twitter for more information. Programmes are available from Inverness library, Waterstones and a range of other outlets.

Spread across a range of venues from Leakey’s Bookshop and Highland Archive Centre to Inverness Museum and Waterstones, from Inverness Library and Velocity Café to the historic Abertarff House and the Victorian Market, from the riverside Junction Church to Eden Court: take a book-ish wander around the city and let’s support this local effort!

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