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…

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{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}

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{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.}
 
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{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!}
 
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{*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.)}
 
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{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 :)}
 
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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? ♥
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I Love Ron Moore for ‘Faithfully’ Adapting Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander to a Cable TV Series…

“Jamie Fraser” by Captivated2 @ deviantart.com (http://captivated2.deviantart.com/#/d56lung)

Think I’m putting the cart before the horse?

After all, “Essential Entertainment” toyed with Outlander fans for years; EE optioned the books for a movie or tv series back in 2008.  They worked with “Randall Wallace” (who wrote the movie “Braveheart”), and “Ann Peacock” (screenwriter for ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ 2005 ) who actually  wrote a screenplay for a feature film.

We waited, and waited, and EE did nothing.

Part of me was hoping it was taking so long because they were deciding to do a cable tv series vs. a feature film, but I had doubts as to whether any project would be completed in my lifetime, or ever.  (Granted, there is a camp of Outlander fans who would just as soon not see the books translated to film, believing no actor could ever do ‘James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser’ justice.  And while I’m the first to admit that Jamie is a complex character with many, many layers of emotion, I believe it can be done.)

Plus it was so  frustrating to see a cable series like HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ which I ADORE (based on “George R. R. Martin’s”  ‘A Song of Ice & Fire’ books) have so much success, knowing with every fiber of my being that Outlander could achieve that same level of success and more, if only EE  would DO something!  In the end, they did nothing, ‘Essentially’ depriving the world of Jamie & Claire and there was no help for it.  UNTIL that is, Ron Moore took an interest in it…

It was the ‘squeal’ heard round the world:

Diana Gabaldon posted on facebook July 17th, 2012:

“WELL, ALRIGHTY, THEN…
Yes! It _is_ true; while final contracts aren’t yet signed, we do have a deal with Sony Pictures for development of a cable-TV (as in HBO, Netflix, Starz, Showtime, whatever…that kind of thing) series.”

And when it was announced on July 17th, 2012 that Ron Moore closed a deal for the rights to Outlander and would be pitching it  to cable networks the following week, I was EXCITED!   I mean REALLY excited, ESPECIALLY when he tweeted this:

“Big fan of  Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books for many years, excited for the opportunity to do a FAITHFUL interpretation!”  

Big fan?  Faithful interpretation?  Tell me more!

“Ronald D. Moore” is best known for his Emmy nominated work on ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ (a show close to my heart- I wanted Jean-Luc Picard to be my father, had a crush on “Number One” William Riker & wanted to BE the empath-counselor Deanna Troi) & most recently ‘Battle Star Galactica,’ where he did get an Emmy in 2008 while serving as Executive Producer (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0601822/bio)

Star Trek: The Next Generation?  Battlestar Galactica?  EMMY?  I mean, really- could this get any better?  You bet your kilt it could!  Diana Gabaldon said THIS later that week on the Compuserve forum:

“Actually, Ron and his chief production assistant came out and spent a weekend (not an hour, not a day <g>) with me last month, discussing the books, the characters, various approaches, structural principles–i.e., where it might be best to break the content of a book for a season, an episode, etc.–the background from which I wrote the books, asked if I had any out-takes or background material written for any of the minor characters that might be useful, etc., etc. He’d read everything, including THE EXILE. <g>.”

Well I’m sold.  Am I putting the cart before the horse?  Maybe, but I don’t think so;  Ron is backing up his words with action- that shows integrity, and Outlander deserves no less. I have complete faith in him.  He’s obviously committed to making this happen and has proven to be MORE than qualified to handle the task of adapting our beloved Outlander books to a cable tv series.
And Ron, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU.  I know that you’ll do the best you can and I can’t WAIT to see your handiwork.  ♥

Book 9?

I’ve been feeling pretty anxious lately, desperate even, thinking about Book 8 / Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (MOBY).

I know the Outlander saga began 21 years ago in 1991, but for me it only began in October 2010;  I was spoiled by reading each consecutive book as fast as my little fingers could download them onto my Kindle. I devour MOBY Daily Lines from Diana Gabaldon’s facebook page like they’re Scooby snacks and I want more more more!

I have a lot of questions that need answers, like will Jamie & Claire overcome their immediate-vicinity-challenged relationship?  Will they grow old peacefully somewhere or die tragically-but-oh-so-romantically?  Will Jem & Roger be reunited with Brianna & Mandy?  Will Jenny & Claire rekindle their close friendship?  Will Jamie & Willie bond now that he knows Jamie’s his father?   What about Ian & Rachel?  I hope they get married, poor Ian deserves to be happy.  And don’t even get me started on ***MOBY SPOILER (skip ahead 2 lines if you don’t want to see)*** Roger turning up @ Lallybroch when Jamie was a little boy!

SO  many storylines to tie up and, silly me, I assumed that I’d get all of  the answers when MOBY is released sometime in 2013.  (I can just hear Herself  saying, “Ha!  That’s what you think…”)

Check this out:

  • February 1st 2012, DG said in her blog post ‘State of the Wicket’:

“I don’t know yet if WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD is the last book in this series!!”  (http://www.dianagabaldon.com/2012/02/the-state-of-the-wicket-february-2012/)

  • March 14th 2012, someone asked on Diana Gabaldon’s facebook page:

“I thought that I read on this page that MOBY would be the the last book of this series. Can anyone confirm or deny?”   Herself replied:  “I deny it categorically. <g> That is–I don’t yet _know_ for sure whether Book 8 (MOBY) is the last or not…but I’m beginning to think there might just be a Book 9.”  (https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDianaGabaldon/posts/347439301965579)

I don’t even want to consider that Jamie & Claire might NOT manage to live together under the same roof (or at least sky?) yet.  And what would this mean for our other favorite characters’ predicaments?  I know what it would mean for me:  TORTURE.  But also:  ELATION.  As much as I want everything to be wrapped up neatly and Jamie & Claire to have their happy ending, I admit I would like a 9th book  a wee bit more.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d probably still whine about how long Book 9 was taking, and how hard it is to wait, but it would be worth it.  Oh aye, Jamie Fraser is always, worth the wait, sigh.  I need a Jamie fix…

My Outlander-Appreciating Husband

My husband Craig SO gets my Outlander obsession.  Here’s my proof-  lookie what he got me for Christmas!

The wine glass charms are my favorite.  On the front are the American book releases and on the back are the UK versions!  That’s GENIUS, and duly appreciated by this Outlander fan.  Plus, they combine 2 of my favorite hobbies,  Outlander & vino  = )

The coffee mug is awesome, it just doesn’t get much better than starting off your day with a little Outlander java- am I right?

The T-shirt says it all:  “Jamie and Claire make Edward and Bella look like casual acquaintances.”  In your face twihards! (just kidding, I love Twilight too lol)

I hope Outlander fans everywhere had happy holidays too.  Happy New Year everyone!

Enter to win a SIGNED, GIFT-WRAPPED Outlander 20th Anniversary Edition!

Don’t forget to enter the OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary holiday giveaway!  And best of all it’s signed by Herslef, Diana Gabaldon.

Here’s the link:  https://apps.facebook.com/dianagabaldon/Giveaways/Enter/2145

They”ll be announcing winners on Friday/Dec 15th, so you have until the end of the day tomorrow to enter. Good luck to the lot of ye!

Kindle

I love to read.

And I love to own the books that really resonate with me.  The big pine bookshelf in our bedroom is completely stuffed and underneath our bed is a sea of storage containers full of even more books.  (The books under our bed are mostly Craig’s- he tends to like murder mysteries and I refuse to have that be the last thing I see before I fall asleep.)

We were running out of room in our house to store any more books and  I’d been hearing about Kindle this, Nook that, Kobo yada yada yada…  I liked the idea of storing thousands of books in the amount of space only one book would use.  Ultimately I went with a Kindle because I like Amazon.com, I always use it to find used books & they have great customer service.

I was SO excited to get one.  I was going to request it for my birthday in December, but  didn’t want to wait the two months (I’m impatient like that).  So I went ahead & bought the Kindle 3G (free 3G & Wi-Fi) from a local store where I had some store credit.  I’m not a techie AT ALL  (please, I still need help with my ipod) so I was relieved to discover how user-friendly the Kindle was.  The very first thing I did after it was charged was purchase Pillars of the Earth, by “Ken Follett.” (I’d wanted to read it ever since I saw Oprah talk about it on her show years ago).

It was so easy to do, literally just a few clicks and *poof*  it magically appeared on my Kindle.  I immediately loved the story & finished it in a few days.  I was hungry for more historical fiction, and as I was browsing Amazon/Kindle’s list of free titles (they routinely list the top 100 purchasable & free titles) Outlander caught my eye.  What the heck, it was free so I had nothing to lose.  I was up until 2:00 am almost every night until I finished the book, I just couldn’t put it down!  And somewhere along the way I realized that it was a series, and there were 6 more books to read!!  (And Diana Gabaldon is currently writing the as-yet-untitled eighth book due for release in 2013).

Needless to say all I asked for on my birthday was Amazon.com gift cards.  I finished the seventh book in January, and have been in Outlander (ok Jamie Fraser) withdrawal ever since.  I try to stay connected to the story & characters by sharing the books with my friends.  I got my sister hooked, and currently two of our friends are reading the series.  Even my husband has read Outlander, he gets how much I love it.   Now if they would only make an HBO miniseries about it…But that’s for another post.  = )

And so it begins…

I’m forever grateful to “Diana Gabaldon” (http://www.dianagabaldon.com) for writing the Outlander series.

I first discovered it in October 2010 as a free e-book for my Kindle.  (OMG- can I just tell you how much I love my Kindle?  Greatest invention ever.  But that’s for another post.)  The books could be classified as Romance, or Historical Fiction, or even Science Fiction for the time-travel element.  Here’s how Amazon.com describes the plot of Outlander, the first book:

“In Outlander, a 600-page time-travel romance, strong-willed and sensual Claire Randall leads a double life with a husband in one century, and a lover in another. Torn between fidelity and desire, she struggles to understand the pure intent of her heart. But don’t let the number of pages and the Scottish dialect scare you. It’s one of the fastest reads you’ll have in your library.  While on her second honeymoon in the British Isles, Claire touches a boulder that hurls her back in time to the forbidden Castle Leoch with the MacKenzie clan. Not understanding the forces that brought her there, she becomes ensnared in life-threatening situations with a Scots warrior named James Fraser. But it isn’t all spies and drudgery that she must endure. For amid her new surroundings and the terrors she faces, she is lured into love and passion like she’s never known before.

I was lame and sore in every muscle when I woke next morning. I shuffled to the privy closet, then to the wash basin. My innards felt like churned butter. It felt as though I had been beaten with a blunt object, I reflected, then thought that that was very near the truth. The blunt object in question was visible as I came back to bed, looking now relatively harmless. Its  possessor [Jamie] woke as I sat next to him, and examined me with something that looked very much like male smugness.”

Now, I’m normally a nonfiction/spiritual awakening kind of reader (with some exceptions like TwilightSouthern Vampire series), so I surprised myself when I clicked on the book title;  I mean, my closest living example of someone who reads romance novels is my late grandmother who rarely left her home (ok, kitchen chair) & had stacks of them piled up around her house.

The first couple of hundred pages were a little slow, but holy crap once it picked up it RAN!  I was hooked.  Like a druggie. Outlander is like “my own personal brand of heroin,”(Edward to Bella in Twilight).  The characters are so real.  I’m convinced they absolutely must have existed, and Diana Gabaldon somehow channeled their essence into the books.  They’re so real to me.

I laughed, cried, raged,  lusted…Oh yes.  Jamie Fraser.  Cue dreamy sigh…

A funny thing happened as I read the books- I became aware that I was less critical of myself.  And I looked at my husband differently, felt closer to him.  I initiated sex much more often—something about this story affected me in a such a way that I’m not the same.  And I like it (so does my husband!).

Now GO READ THIS BOOK!