Outlanderfan.com’s Interview with Himself (the First One), Allan Scott Douglas.

Allan Scott Douglas & Diana Gabaldon at the Lord Provost of Aberdeen's Civic Reception to conclude Tartan Day, 2011.

Allan Scott Douglas & Diana Gabaldon at the Lord Provost of Aberdeen’s Civic Reception to conclude Tartan Day, 2011.

By now we have all accepted Sam Heughan as our beloved JAMMF, but did you ken that he wasna the first?

It’s true—there was another ‘official’  Jamie Fraser, years before Sam:

When I was in Edinburgh in 2009, I made the acquaintance of a lovely man named Mike Gibb. Mike’s a lyricist and playwright, and having fallen in love with OUTLANDER, asked me whether I might approve his writing a song-cycle of the story: a series of 14-15 songs, telling the high points of the story, which might later form the libretto for a stage production.

Mike and his friends, composer Kevin Walsh, did a couple of demo songs for me, which I found entirely charming, and they went ahead with the project. I’m enchanted with the results. ~ Diana Gabaldon, 2010/Outlanderthemusical.com

And so a musical was born:

(Listen to Outlander the Musical song samples or purchase the CD here – it’s also available on iTunes)

Well, being obsessed with all things Outlander, naturally I ordered the CD as soon as soon as I found out about it, let alone as fast as my fingers could type! And it was then that I learned that the role of Jamie Fraser was sung by Allan Scott Douglas, an actor/singer and native Scot.

From his bio on Outlander the Musical’s website:

…Allan is absolutely delighted to have joined the Outlander universe and hopes he can live up to the expectations and fluttering hearts that Jamie’s words have set over the years – if all else fails, he is at least a 6’4″ redhead who regularly wears a kilt and whose nose is slightly too long…so at least he’s got that part of Jamie covered!

I thought it would be nice to get Allan’s perspective on his experience with Outlander/JAMMF,  as well as get to know the non-Outlander side of him (he’s been keeping busy, whether working on projects in Egypt, Turkey, or home in bonny Scotland…

jenny new haircutThanks to Outlander the Musical, you have the distinct honor of being the original “Jamie Fraser” in a production setting; knowing what you know now about the popularity/success of the series, would you have portrayed him any differently if you had the chance?

ASD preferred picWhen I first got the part of Jamie in Outlander The Musical, everything happened very quickly.

We were in the studio recording barely a couple of weeks after my audition. I am incredibly proud of the finished product and I truly believe we did the story and characters justice. However, if there was anything I would’ve done differently I guess it would’ve been to have had a bit more time to research the whole Outlander universe.

I felt I had a good understanding of Jamie and where he was in his journey in each of the songs in the musical—what I didn’t know though was just how massive the Outlander series really was and how incredibly fanatical it’s readers are.

It’s been an amazing journey for me but, for the first few months, I was genuinely shocked at just how many people suddenly knew who I was and had such strong opinions (both good and bad) on me as Jamie.

(He’s not kidding about Outlander readers being fanatical, and having strong opinions regarding him as Jamie; by and large he has been well received by Outlander fans, though he has had his (un)fair share of criticism.

I recall a specific instance last year when, on Herself’s Facebook wall, some incredibly rude and insensitive comments were made about his physical appearance, respective to his resemblance to Jamie. Mass bickering ensued and the whole debacle left many of us in the Outlander community with a bad taste in our mouths.

But Allan took it all in stride. Check out his classy response:

“It’s just as well I’m a polite and even-tempered chap really, isn’t it? I COULD go through the images of each person who has posted mindless negativity and dissect everything that is wrong with their appearance and throw out random character assassinations purely on that basis—but thankfully, my mother raised me better than that.”)

ASD preferred picOther than that, I kinda wish I known I was going to be portraying Jamie far enough in advance not to dye my hair purple a few weeks before my audition and therefore having to sport what was basically a crew cut for the concert performances and photo shoots…

Here is Allan as Jamie with ‘The Crew Cut:’

(Photo credit: Outlanderthemusical.com) Here is Allan as Jamie with the 'crew cut'

(Photo credit: Outlanderthemusical.com)

Here is what Allan’s hair is capable of, lol:

ASD singing in kilt

Photo credit: Allan Scott Douglas/fan page on Facebook

His answer to this next question really took me by surprise—not what I was expecting him to say at all.

jenny new haircutWho is your favorite character in the Outlander series? What do you think are their best and worst personality traits?

ASD preferred picThis might be highly controversial but the character I find the most fascinating is actually none other than “Black Jack” Jonathan Randall. I’m not sure how easy it would be to pick a “best personality trait” but he is definitely a character that intrigues me every time he appears.

As a reader, I find everything about him incredibly uncomfortable but I’ve always been the sort of person who is deeply fascinated by slightly deranged/damaged individuals. Without such an incredibly well written anti-hero, Jamie probably wouldn’t have captured everyone’s heart quite so readily.

I guess, at heart, I’m just the nerdy kid who roots for the bad guy…

jenny new haircutHave you ever portrayed a deranged/damaged character?  (Gene Simmons doesn’t count lol)

ASD preferred picWow, that’s an awesome question!

I once did a short film in which I played a Hitman who was sent to kill someone for cheating on his girlfriend; just when the Hitman was about to pull the trigger, he suddenly broke down in floods of tears…and it transpired that, just that very evening, his own girlfriend had thrown him a ‘surprise’ birthday party, but as soon as she had jumped out from the dark to surprise him, his killer instincts had set in and he shot her in the head before realising what was going on.

That was one truly messed up mindset to try to get into to shoot a movie…

I also once played a psychotically deranged Glasgow gangster who constantly got into blazing rows with his brother…despite the fact that his brother had been dead for 10 years! Now THAT was a lot of fun…

jenny new haircutWow, those are two interesting characters! Were they both Scottish? Don’t you have something of a talent for different dialects around the UK?

ASD preferred picYeah, both of those particular characters were Scottish (perhaps Scottish characters just have a more naturally deranged disposition…) but I do love working in other accents too.

In the play Laquearia, I played the Irish playwright and novelist Samuel Beckett and really enjoyed finding what little video and audio recordings there are of him and tried to give a faithful performance of him both physically and vocally.

Challenges like that are what make this business so fascinating and (when you get it right) rewarding for me.

His dedication and humility are refreshing; it’s wonderful that he truly enjoys what he does for a living because we the audience reap the benefits. Specifically I was thrilled to learn of another, separate connection to the Outlander Universe…

July 2013 was a monumental month for Outlander fans, in more ways than one. First, when it was leaked that Sam Heughan was cast as Jamie; Allan Tweeted this:

He’s a class act, that Allan! And, he had some good news of his own to share (from his Facebook wall, July 3rd):

Well, now that all the contracts and various legal forms have come through (and since Diana herself has already mentioned it on Twitter), I think I’m safe to now officially announce that I am delighted to have been chosen to read Diana’s short story “Virgins” for Random House Audiobooks.
“Virgins” is one of 21 stories which have been selected for inclusion in an upcoming anthology called “Dangerous Women”—which is being put together by none other than Mr. George R.R. Martin, of ‘Game Of Thrones’ fame!! The anthology and it’s audiobook version are due for release in December. To say I am excited would be something of an understatement! This is an anthology featuring work by some of the world’s finest sci-fi and fantasy novelists and will feature a host of very well-known actors lending their voices to the audio versions—along with little old me!
Even more humbling was the fact that a prominent Game Of Thrones actor was offered to Diana to read “Virgins” but she felt I was better suited and Random House have bent over backwards to get me on board! Still a few logistical issue to iron out but I’m hoping to get the recording done by early September. Thank you all so much for all your support—I remain utterly bemused that so many people have taken an interest in my career but I appreciate every single one of you and hope there are many more exciting announcements to share with you all in the future…

You KNOW I couldn’t wait to ask him about THAT!

jenny new haircutWhat was your experience like working on Virgins?

ASD preferred picWorking on Virgins, for it’s inclusion in the “Dangerous Women,” anthology being compiled by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, was a truly amazing experience! Hooking up, via Skype, with the director Fred in LA was incredible and the whole process was just so much fun!

It was also very interesting for me personally having to read as Ian, as well Jamie, as Ian was a character I hadn’t had any experience of up to that point.

I really can’t wait for everyone to hear the finished product and just hope I can live up to the very high standards Davina Porter sets with the main Outlander audiobooks.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Well we can’t wait to hear it too! Diana Gabaldon said on her Facebook wall today that “Dangerous Women” anthology will be released on December 3rd, so hopefully the audio version will be available at the same time. I think I’ll have to buy both, just to hear Allan’s narration! What about you?

Follow Allan on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/AllanScottDouglasFans

Follow Allan on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/AlScottDouglas

BONUS: From Allan’s Facebook page (a snippet of his narration skills,which are verra nice I might add):

Howdy folks! Here’s a wee 90 second free preview of the radio drama adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling story “The Black Cat” which I recorded earlier this year. The full version is available for just $1.99 on iTunes. Something to tide you all over until ‘Virgins’ is realised… 🙂

 https://soundcloud.com/dmrutherford/the-black-cat-preview

Advertisements

OutlanderFan.com’s Interview with ‘Herself,’ Diana Gabaldon…

Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ series, books 1-7

First, I have to say a ginormous THANK YOU to Diana for graciously taking the time to do this interview; not only was she in the midst of writing MOBY (Written in My Own Heart’s Blood/Book 8), she was also gearing up for her daughter’s wedding in Scotland… I found her to be friendly, funny, and generous in her responses, for which I’m verra appreciative.

 As an Outlander fan, I’m curious about what goes on in Herself’s head when she writes/goes about her daily life. I want to know: 

  • Is the connection between Jamie & Claire a reflection of  Diana’s own sense of self?
  • What is she like to be around while she’s writing?
  • Is there a particular book/author that affected her life as much as Outlander has ours? 
  • Is she ever reluctant to turn over her stories/characters to us, the readers?
  • Does she think about Jamie as much as we do, lol?

I think you’ll find her responses enlightening as well as entertaining…

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

{She answered this first question in true DG form, and left me laughing out loud…}

Not to sound cliché, but the dynamic between Jamie & Claire awakened my ‘inner-goddess;’ something about their connection  moved me to embrace my  femininity & literally view the ‘male species’ in a different light (much to my husband’s great delight, lol). Who/what awakened yours, or did you perhaps always have a sense of being comfortable in your own skin?                  

 Dear Jennifer- I just like men.

 

 {Don’t you just love that?  Her response just smacks of  Jamie or Lord John Grey, lol}

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ 

{I did gain a lot of insight into her writing process from her response to this question…}

Whenever inspiration to write something hits me, it feels like I will literally burst; hopefully I’m at home when this happens- the kids can be running around screaming their heads off  like little barbarians in their underwear and it doesn’t matter, as long as I’m able to get it ‘out of my system’ and into the computer. However, if I’m not at home or near a computer it’s unfortunate for anyone around me as I’m rather edgy, and unable to focus on anything (hmmm, maybe I should get a tablet, lol). What are you like to be around when you write? Have you ever been inspired to write at an inoppurtune moment?

When I began to write my first novel, I had 1) two full-time jobs, 2) three children under the age of 6, and 3) a husband who would have begged me to wait until I had “more time” before trying to write a novel (out of fear that I would die of exhaustion), if I’d been incautious enough to tell him what I was doing, which I wasn’t. Consequently, I usually didn’t have a lot of uninterrupted time to write the novel. (I did have time to write; both my jobs involved tremendous amounts of writing, so I was often at a computer.)

The other thing, though, has to do with how I write. Which is to say—I don’t write with an outline, and I don’t write in a straight line. I don’t decide what I’m going to write and then sit down and work on it. What I need to begin working is what I call a “kernel”: a line of dialogue, a vivid image, an emotional ambiance…anything I can sense concretely enough to write a line or two describing it. Once I have that on paper, I stare at it, and I fiddle; put words in, take them out, add clauses, shuffles sentences—so the top of my mind is concerned with the craft of the thing, looking for maximum euphony and clarity and accuracy. That kind of frees up the stuff on the bottom to wander around kicking at the compost piles down there and asking random questions: What time of day is it? How is the light falling? Is it lighting someone’s face? Who just spoke? Are my hands cold? Etc., etc., etc. (as the King of Siam might remark).

The end result of all this is that I learned almost immediately to crystallize a kernel when I got one; to visualize whatever it was as a mental image attached to a few words. Then I could just carry that around in my head until I got to my computer. Once there, I could drop my kernel onscreen like one of those Japanese gel capsules that you drop in boiling water and get Godzilla made out of pink sponge.
 
I can write anywhere, under just about any conditions, except for someone talking directly to me and insisting that I pay attention to them. <g>
 
As to what I’m like when I’m writing, I’m told I make faces.
 
{So she started writing Outlander on the ‘down-low;’ how intimate! And I love that she doesn’t write with an outline or in a straight line. The characters and plots are complex and fragmented, and don’t really conform to a given outline; they deserve to emerge at their own pace, in their own way… In the end, they are all cohesive. That’s one of the things I love most about Outlander, how the characters & plots are so diverse; they branch out on so many different levels and yet stay rooted, like a tree… Their secrets are revealed to us in each piece of bark, each knot and leaf, and flow together hypnotically like a weeping willow swaying in the breeze…
Also I will never look at my kids’ gel capsule/animal sponges in the same light again, lol.}
 
♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦
 
{I hope my husband takes no offense by this next question, lol!}
 

I always say that if I’d read Outlander 20 years ago I’d probably be living in Scotland/married to a Scotsman right now, lol; is there one book/author in particular that has ever moved you to consider a lifestyle change?

 

Sure. All the wonderful books I’ve read since childhood convinced me that I was meant to be a writer. <g>

 

{Alrighty then… next question!}
 
♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦
 
{*Sniff, don’t hurt my baby!  Who else can relate to this next one?}
 

As crazy as this sounds, whenever I loan out any copy of the Outlander series, I feel both happy to be turning on someone new to the series and also a little protective, lol, like I’m trusting them with a family member. As the author/creator, do you ever have protective feelings of the characters? Is there ever even a tiny grain of reluctance to share or ‘entrust’ the characters/story with us ‘perfect strangers,’ lol?

No, I don’t have a reluctance to trust the story to readers. That’s what I wrote it for, after all. <g> That said, I do occasionally roll my eyes when obliged to listen to some of the less thoughtfully considered reactions people sometimes have to the story or characters.

Now, everyone brings his or her own background, perceptions, experience, and expectations to a book—that’s why each re-read of a complex book is different; you’re a different person each time you come to it. But that also means that some readers with a limited world-view, or who have had a very strong life experience of some kind, will read a book with a personal bias that, um, I don’t share. <cough>
 
The deeply moving, maternal letter of farewell that Claire writes to her daughter before departing into the past? Two letters from women upset that this tender physician put a P.S. on the letter saying, “P.S. Stand up straight and don’t get fat.” Distorted Body Image! How dare I cause young women to worry about their bodies?!? How could I do such a thing?
 
Having been through stuff like that before, I wrote back with a polite letter, asking whether perhaps each reader had had someone in her life with an eating disorder or other serious emotional issue connected with body image? Both of them admitted that, well, yes, in fact they did. I sympathized, but pointed out that no one else had had that reaction to the letter, and while their reaction was of course valid, it didn’t mean that it was universal, or correct.
 
Then there are the very young men and women who have grown up in a post-feminist world with not much exposure to history—not any history in particular, but just the notion that historical periods were different from the present, and not just different in terms of not having electric waffle-makers or tampons, but different in terms of how people thought, and the conditions and concerns that shaped that thought. You know…the concept of a frame of reference.
 
Lacking that concept, they tend to get seriously bent over events in the books that would <be> Unacceptable (that ultimate word of power <cough>) to Modern Enlightened Thought. Older readers almost never respond that way to the same events, but are inclined to find them moving, funny, or sexually arousing.
 
{How true, everyone brings their own frame of reference/life experience/perceptions to the story. I personally was not offended by the passage in Outlander where Jamie ‘disciplined’ Claire for almost getting them all (Jamie, Murtagh, Dougal, Rupert etc) killed upon her rescue from Captain Randall/Fort William. While such an act seems unreasonable in 2012,  I understand that in 1743, things were a little different; Jamie had his reasons which I won’t go into here, but relative to his upbringing in the Scottish Highlands in that time period, he did what he believed was necessary, for Claire’s own good.  However, I am aware of other Outlander fans who were indeed offended, and while I completely understand and sympathize why someone would be, I just personally don’t see the two as the same.  (At the risk of sounding callous, I did find it a little funny, and it led to one of my favorite scenes ever in the series, you can see it on the Need a Jamie Fix? page, it’s #2.)}
 
♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ 
 
{I’ve been dying to ask this last question, ever since I became a true Outlander fan.}

Throughout my daily life, I find (as do many of my fellow Outlander friends) that I often notice things/people that remind me of something from the books (a dragonfly, mortar and pestle, etc.) Is it like that for you? For example, if you were to see a tall redhead say, at the grocery store, would your mind go automatically to Jamie? Or is it maybe something you try to turn off when you’re about your daily life/with your family?

This is a corollary to the “where do you get your ideas?” question. <g> The answer being, “everywhere. All the time.” Stuff just washes through me all the time—sights, sounds, smells, thoughts, visions, conversations, figures of speech, you name it—and some of it crystallizes into kernels and some of it doesn’t.

The automatic sifting of Stuff naturally stops (or retreats so far into the subconscious that I don’t notice it) if I’m concentrating on something, but otherwise, it’s just there all the time, like breathing.
 
{So it’s not just us, she thinks about it all the time too! That’s reassuring, especially when you consider that MOBY is in the works :)}
 
♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦
 
Well, this experience was truly a pleasure for me, and one that I’ll always be thankful for!  I want to thank Diana again for taking the time to share with us her insights into her creative process.  I had so much fun doing this, and I hope you enjoyed reading it! What do YOU guys think of  Herself’s insights? ♥