Monday, September 22, 2008

ECHO's length: "Perceptibly shorter"?

Diana Gabaldon had this to say yesterday on Compuserve on the subject of the length of the upcoming OUTLANDER book, AN ECHO IN THE BONE:

"ECHO should be perceptibly shorter than ABOSAA or FIERY CROSS (both of which were pushing the physical limits of what can be bound between covers)"

"Well, it'll probably be somewhere in the OUTLANDER/DRAGONFLY/VOYAGER size range, is what I mean. Adequate to the purpose. <g>."

My initial reaction to that was disappointment, but on the other hand, she can certainly pack a tremendous amount into a relatively shorter book (like VOYAGER, for example). And as she notes, the book won't get done by the end of the year (and therefore, published on time next fall) if it's as long as ABOSAA or FIERY CROSS.

Thoughts? Opinions? Reactions? (Rampant speculation is always welcome, too. [g])

7 comments:

Antigonos said...

I think the time span of this book is going to be relatively short. We know that the Battle of Saratoga is in it, and that occurred in 1777. Do Jamie and Claire make the round trip to Scotland before or after it? Since DG has already made it plain there will be a book 8, and possibly more, it doesn't strike me as odd that ECHO is shorter.

Also, as they get older, at some point Jamie and Claire are going to have to stop leaping from adventure to adventure. I liked FC and ABSOAA precisely because the pace wasn't so frantic--by the end of DOA I was simply exhausted.

My guess is that there will, apart from the battle, be less action, and more input from other POVs, such as Frank's, more recollections, more commentary on things which have gone before. And Roger and Bree's story. It would not surprise me in the least if they return to the 18th century. Another prediction: Either Willie, or Willie and LJ, will die.

Karen Henry said...

Antigonos:

I think the events of ABOSAA left *everybody* emotionally exhausted. Not least, Claire and Jamie. [g] But I do agree with your point about the slower pace, particularly in FIERY CROSS.

I'll go out on a limb here with a prediction (wild speculation, actually): I agree that somebody's going to end up dead at the end of ECHO. I agree that Willie and Lord John are possible candidates. But if there is "a three-pronged grappling hook at the end", as Diana put it last week when describing the shape of ECHO at this point, then I think whatever happens will be something that will affect Jamie, Lord John, and William equally.

My wild theory (and I do hope I'm wrong!) is this: what if Jamie kills William -- accidentally, or because he's forced into a situation where he has no choice (self-defense, or a battle where they are on opposing sides, maybe). What would that do to Jamie? To Lord John, who after all raised Willie from the age of six?

I could be 100% totally, completely wrong about this. And I hope I am. But that's my speculation for the day. For what it's worth. [g]

frances said...

Karen,
I agree that a logical dramatic conflict in Echo may possibly come down to Jamie and Willie meeting on the battleground (on opposing sides) and the emotional turmoil that will create in Jamie. Since Willie, at the end of ABOSAA, is not aware of the truth of his biological father, we must assume that Echo will have them entering the fighting with only Jamie and LJ knowing the truth of his parentage, or at some point in the story he will find out the truth. I don't know if DG has given us any hints about this because I try not to read anything about future storylines and excerpts (unless, of course, it's just speculation and lively discussion of possibilities.)

I'm also not too upset about the "perceptibly shorter" ECHO because she can pack more punch in one page of print than any other writer I know!

Mitzi said...

Gosh, I hope it isn’t Lord John or William. Didn’t Diana say that although Echo will involve a death, that it would not be a major character? (Although she grins when she says it) I know William is not a major character yet, but I was hoping to see him become one.

Diana’s future book (after Echo) will more than likely take up where Echo leaves off…in the middle of the Revolutionary War and I think William and Lord John will be around till then.

I suspect that Echo will end kind of like Dragonfly…Where we are all left hanging out there thinking, “Is he/she dead or could he/she still be alive?? Or maybe something like “Where the devil are they“??? Or maybe both type endings…After all, she did say she was going to end this book with many unanswered questions, leaving no doubt that there will be an 8th book to follow this one.

As far as the size of the book, I must admit (for me) the more the merrier. But then again, if she finishes with Echo sooner rather than later, then she will have book 8 out that much quicker. And who knows, there could always be a book 9?

Tossing my penny into the wishing well and hoping my wish will come true.
Mitzi

TessJ said...

I think that ~3 pronged grappling hook~ Diana mentioned will most likely have one of those hooks reach into the 20th C to snag the MacKenzies in some way.

Tess

Jane said...

I am thinking that Diana figures out exactly how much of the story she wants to tell in any particular book. I know she writes the beginning (and doubtless the beginning of the next book...after all she has promised us a book 8!). Somewhere along the way she figures out where it will end and creates her magic in the unforgettable way she has, brings us all the wonder that will take us to that end that makes us all as obsessed as we all are about all her books.
Jane

Jane said...

I am thinking that Diana figures out exactly how much of the story she wants to tell in any particular book. I know she writes the beginning (and doubtless the beginning of the next book...after all she has promised us a book 8!). Somewhere along the way she figures out where it will end and creates her magic in the unforgettable way she has, brings us all the wonder that will take us to that end that makes us all as obsessed as we all are about all her books.
Jane