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Brid’s final chapter as book festival director

By SPP Reporter

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Brid McKibben
Brid McKibben

LUMINARIES of the literary world have been flocking to Inverness for the past eight years thanks to the hard work and determination of the various Inverness Book Festival directors who have taken the helm.

Bowing out after this year’s festival, after a three year contract which all festival directors have, Brid McKibben is no exception, having attracted some of the biggest authors to the city.

"It has been a big learning curve," said the 48-year-old.

"But it has been great with the amount of people that support you, both at Eden Court and within the publishing world.

"It was good networking and hearing from different people from year to year of the possibilities of who could be at the festival."

Growing up in County Down in Northern Ireland, Miss McKibben moved to Scotland after completing her university studies in Belfast.

After 15 years in the Central Belt, she moved to Inverness in 2003 to become the manager of bookshop Ottakers, now Waterstones.

It was during her time at Ottakers she learned about the festival, which not only acts as a platform for established authors, but allows local writers to showcase their work.

Reflecting on her time as festival director, Miss McKibben said last year was a particular highlight, attracting Edwyn Collins, an award winning musician and illustrator and Alistair Urquhart, who penned The Forgotten Highlander, an incredible personal account of his life as a soldier when he was captured by the Japanese in Singapore.

"I think I wanted to make sure that the festival was better known in Inverness," said Miss McKibben. "I wanted it to be something people were going to talk about more.

"I’m pleased, as last year several events seemed to hit the top mark.

"There were standing ovations for both Edwyn Collins and Alistair Urquhart and it felt that people were really appreciative of the festival."

Securing award winning Scottish author Ian Rankin for the festival in 2009 was also a tremendous coup.

"Ian Rankin was a big scoop and he devoted a lot of time to us and was very generous," she said.

As well as working tirelessly to organise the festival, a job which starts the day after the previous festival, Miss McKibben also works as a publicist and marketing officer for Community Energy Scotland, based in Dingwall, and as a development manager for the Cairngorm Food For Life Development Plan.

Although sad to be saying farewell, Miss McKibben believes it is the right time to be leaving.

"For me personally it is difficult to incorporate my job as director into working life," she said.

Since starting eight years ago, the book festival has undergone many changes, including moving from October to August, which happened for the first time last year and was hailed a huge success.

And, despite coming to the end of her time as director, Miss McKibben has left a clear vision for the future including holding more events outdoors, following in the footsteps of Edinburgh International Book Festival.

"Myself and Eden Court worked to move it to the summer as we all felt it wasn’t great in October," said Miss McKibben.

"We wanted it to be a festival festival and now we hope to hold some events outside in the future.

"Eden Court will continue to work on this. It would be great to have tents."

She continued: "The advice I would give to the next director is to start early to organise it. Start as soon as the previous one finishes. It’s important to contact agents and publicity and that does take a while."

The Inverness Courier is sponsoring this year’s festival, visit www.invernessbookfestival.co.uk

Brid's top 10 books

Dark Materials Trilogy, Philip Pulman

Testament of Gideon Mack, James Robertson

Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides

The Milleneum Trilogy, Steig Larsson

Saturday, Ian McEwan

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