Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

In honor of the holiday, here are some Thanksgiving-themed quotes:


1) Roger and Brianna, hunting turkeys:
"What a thing," he said. He held it at arm's length to drain, admiring the vivid reds and blues of the bare, warty head and dangling wattle. "I don't think I've ever seen one, save roasted on a platter, with chestnut dressing and roast potatoes."

He looked from the turkey to her with great respect, and nodded at the gun.

"That's great shooting, Bree."

She felt her cheeks flush with pleasure, and restrained the urge to say, "Aw, shucks, it warn't nothin'," settling instead for a simple, "Thanks."

(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 20 ("Shooting
Lessons"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I love this scene, both for what it reveals about Brianna's childhood (did Frank really find evidence that she would travel to the 18th century some day?) and for Roger's reaction. He's a little taken aback by her shooting skills, but his ego doesn't seem to be threatened by the fact that she's better at hunting (providing food for the family) than he is.

2) Jocasta and Duncan's wedding feast:

"Can ye not decide where to begin, Sassenach?" He reached down and took the empty wineglass from her hand, taking advantage of the movement to come close against her back, feeling the warmth of her through his clothes.

She laughed, and swayed back against him, leaning on his arm. She smelled faintly of rice powder and warm skin, with the scent of rose hips in her hair.

"I'm not even terribly hungry. I was just counting the jellies and preserves. There are thirty-seven different ones--unless I've missed my count."

He spared a glance for the table, which did indeed hold a bewildering array of silver dishes, porcelain bowls, and wooden platters, groaning with more food than would feed a Highland village for a month.

(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46 ("Quicksilver"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Most major holiday dinners give me this same feeling, although I can't say I've ever seen thirty-seven different varieties of *anything* at one meal before. <g>

3) The "hearth blessing" on Fraser's Ridge:

We blessed the hearth two days later, standing in the wall-less cabin. Myers had removed his hat, from respect, and Ian had washed his face. Rollo was present, too, as was the small white pig, who was required to attend as the personification of our "flocks," despite her objections; the pig saw no point in being removed from her meal of acorns to participate in a ritual so notably lacking in food.

(From Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 19 ("Hearth Blessing"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Considering how successful that little homestead on the Ridge would prove to be, I think there must have been something extra-powerful in that blessing. <g> And I love the mention of the little white piglet, who will grow up to become the infamous White Sow. If this blessing was intended to ensure fertility on the part of that sow, it succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

4) The Selkirk Grace:

[Hamish] glared round the table to insure that everyone was in a properly reverential attitude before bowing his own head. Satisfied, he intoned,

"Some hae meat that canna eat,
And some could eat that want it.
We hae meat, and we can eat,
And so may God be thankit.
Amen."

(From Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 6 ("Colum's Hall"). Copyright © 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I have a great deal to be thankful for this year -- not least, the many new friends I've made in the OUTLANDER fan community, including those of you who've been kind enough to visit my blog and participate in the discussions here.

Happy Thanksgiving! (And to those of you outside the U.S., best wishes for the holiday season.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"The Highlanders" Doctor Who episode

Many of you have heard Diana's story of how she got the idea for the character of Jamie from an old "Doctor Who" episode featuring a young man in a kilt named Jamie. <g>

You can now view detailed information about the episode ("The Highlanders") that introduced this character, here. It's set in 1746 Scotland around the time of the battle at Culloden. And here's a link to a "photonovel" (sort of a slideshow of the episode, scene by scene).

A few things I noticed immediately:


1) The laird in the story is named Colin. That's pretty close to Colum, don't you think? <g>

2) There is a character named Grey, a British solicitor who proclaims himself "His Majesty's Commissioner for the disposal of rebel prisoners." And though he seems pretty unscrupulous, not at all like Lord John Grey, I can't help but wonder if perhaps the name was planted in Diana's subconscious when she saw this episode, long before she wrote DRAGONFLY. Even if that's not the case, I think the coincidence of names is pretty amazing.

3) Watching the scenes that take place in the little cottage, surrounded by British forces, I couldn't help but think of the similar scene in DRAGONFLY, where Claire and the others take refuge in the little church.

Thanks very much to Carlotta, on Compuserve, for providing the link to the BBC archive! I had fun looking through this, and I hope you will, too.

UPDATE 11/22/08 4:12 pm: Oops! It turns out I was wrong in my initial assumption. Diana says this is not, in fact, the same episode that inspired the character of Jamie. The episode she saw was called "War Games". A quick look at the BBC site reveals that this same Jamie was indeed a character in that episode, but he wasn't the main focus of the plot, just a young man in a kilt who happened to be in it. <g> It doesn't matter to me. It's the same character, after all, who inspired Jamie Fraser.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Another Diana Gabaldon podcast

Diana's latest podcast is available on her web site, here:

http://www.its.caltech.edu/~gatti/gabaldon/media/podcasts/episode24.mp3

This one is a real treat for people like me who are fascinated by historically accurate use of language (idiom, slang, and so on).

Despite what it says on her web site, this podcast does NOT contain an excerpt from AN ECHO IN THE BONE. Instead, Diana reads an excerpt from the upcoming Lord John story, "Custom of the Army."

I enjoyed this podcast quite a bit and I hope you will too!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

OUTLANDER tour of Scotland

If you've ever wondered what it's like to go on the "OUTLANDER Tour" of Scotland, take a look at this article, about the experiences of a group that recently went on this tour.

More information can be found here: Celtic Journeys

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with these tours in any way. In fact, I've never even been to Scotland, though I'd love to visit some day. Just passing on the information that I happened to see on the Ladies of Lallybroch site. I hope it's useful to you.

Autumn musings

The middle of November in Raleigh, North Carolina, where I live, is just past the peak of the fall foliage season. So I went out this morning for the start of the annual fall ritual of raking pine straw from my back yard -- a seemingly endless task, as every time it rains or the wind blows, thousands more pine needles rain down over my lawn, from the handful of 40-50 foot tall pine trees at the back of my property. And once the pine needles land, they don't blow away, either, they just lie there until someone comes along to rake them up.


In the course of this yard work, I started thinking about some of the beautiful descriptions of the seasonal foliage in the OUTLANDER books. And that inspired me to go looking for some pictures to share with you.

For example:


Autumn in the Scottish Highlands
The sun was coming down the sky, but hadn't yet reached the row of pines that topped the ridge on the west side of Lallybroch. It was still late afternoon, and the world glowed with the colors of late autumn.
The fallen beechmast was cool and slippery under me, but a good many leaves still clung, yellowed and curling, to the tree above. I leaned back against the smooth-barked trunk and closed my eyes, dimming the bright glare of ripe barley fields to a dark red glow behind my eyelids.
(From Dragonfly In Amber by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 31 ("Mail Call"). Copyright ©1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


Fall Foliage in the North Carolina Mountains
I looked up to find Jamie leaning against a tree on the other side of the streamlet. The bold colors of his dress tartan and white linen sark stood out bright against the faded autumn foliage; face and hair, though, made him look like some denizen of the wood, all bronze and auburn, with the wind stirring his hair so the free ends danced like the scarlet maple leaves above.
(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 1 ("Happy the Bride the Sun Shines On"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

We climbed a granite ledge, thick with moss and lichen, wet with the omnipresent flow of water, then followed the path of a descending freshet, brushing aside long grass that pulled at our legs, dodging the drooping branches of mountain laurel and the thick-leaved rhododendrons.

Wonders sprang up by my feet, small orchids and brilliant fungi, trembling and shiny as jellies, shimmering red and black on fallen tree trunks. Dragonflies hung over the water, jewels immobile in the air, vanishing in mist.
(From Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 16 ("The First Law of Thermodynamics"). Copyright © 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.
This quote is from one of my all-time favorite chapters in the whole series, the scene where Jamie and Claire discover the site of Fraser's Ridge. I love the imagery Diana uses here. These tiny details, so beautifully expressed, are the sort of thing you miss completely if you skim through the books, or read too fast. (Both of which I freely admit to doing the first few times I read the series -- mea culpa. <g>)
Before you ask: No, I didn't take these photos! (Well, except for the first one, which is indeed a picture of my back yard <g>, as it looked this morning.) Aren't they gorgeous, though?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

ECHO's cover design

It looks as though Diana has settled on a cover design for AN ECHO IN THE BONE. Here is what she said on Compuserve last night:

Well, I believe we're basically set here. ECHO will follow the same basic pattern of the series--deep jewel tone cover (I picked the color already--#222 on this chart), with a gold caltrop as icon. Don't know exactly what the caltrop will look like, or whether they'll add embossing, Celtic ornament, or what--I'll leave that to the book designer.

But it'll match your existing set, no problems.

You can see the full discussion on Compuserve here.

I am delighted with this news, since I was really hoping for a caltrop on the cover, and also that they would stick with the jewel-tone covers. (I really love the look of the matched set!)

Does anyone else think this particular color is a bit like the color of dried blood? <g> Compare the color 222 on Diana's chart above to this color, for example.

Caltrops, blood, war, "mortality" as a possible theme...this is all starting to sound rather ominous, to me at least. But I guess we'll all just have to wait and see.

UPDATE 12/6/08 9:03 am: Diana posted a picture this week on her blog of the proposed UK cover design for ECHO, which is quite different from the US cover design. Look here for more information.

UPDATE 2/6/09 6:30 pm: Well, it's going to be a jewel-tone cover with a caltrop on it, but the background color will be black, not dark red. Look here for a picture of the proposed cover art. I think it looks fantastic! If you want to comment, my latest blog entry on the subject is here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New poll about the OUTLANDER movie

I'm still occasionally playing around with Blogger, seeing what new features I can add to this blog. So, last night I figured out how to create a poll. <g> This one is about the possibility of an OUTLANDER movie.

I hope you'll take a moment to participate in the poll. And if you don't like any of the choices, feel free to let me know what option you would have picked instead.

The poll will be open until the end of November, or until I think of something better to replace it with. <g>

Monday, November 10, 2008

Diana's comments on a possible OUTLANDER movie

Diana Gabaldon has posted a new blog entry with her response to all the rumors and speculations that have been flying around lately regarding the possibility of an OUTLANDER movie.

You can read what she says here. Very interesting stuff, and I would urge you to take a look at it. (Feel free to comment here, if you want.)

My take on it: She's right that the project is still at a fairly early stage, and people shouldn't assume that it will definitely happen. Also, we have Absolutely No Idea at this point who they are considering for the major roles. All the talk about Gerard Butler, Keira Knightley, and James McAvoy notwithstanding, the fact is that everyone is speculating, and no one but the casting director actually knows who they have in mind.

I'm actually relieved that Diana doesn't want to get too involved with the movie. It would take away far too much time from her writing, and that would be bad for all of us.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Searching Inside the Books: The Complete List

I discovered this evening that the Amazon "search inside this book" function for HAND OF DEVILS is now available. And for those of you who've been wondering, the search function for FIERY CROSS seems to be working again, after a few weeks when it wasn't available.

Just to put them all in one place, here is the complete list of Diana Gabaldon's books in searchable format, available on Amazon.com:

OUTLANDER

DRAGONFLY IN AMBER

VOYAGER

DRUMS OF AUTUMN

THE FIERY CROSS

A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES

LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE

LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER

LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS

OUTLANDISH COMPANION

Hope you find these links as useful as I do! I believe they're all accurate, but if you find any problems, let me know.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Today's OUTLANDER news

A couple of interesting developments today:

1) Diana posted a new blog entry asking for our opinions and suggestions on a possible redesign of the OUTLANDER book covers when AN ECHO IN THE BONE comes out next year.

So if you have any ideas, please post them either on her blog or on Compuserve (here).

And if you have a good idea but you are too nervous to suggest it directly to her, post it here and I will be more than happy to pass it on to Diana on your behalf.

2) Some news about the upcoming OUTLANDER movie, courtesy of The Scotsman.

This is a very interesting article and I would encourage you to take a look at it. James McAvoy and Keira Knightley are mentioned as possible casting choices, but I hasten to add that I have no idea whether they're really being considered or not.

And in case you're wondering, Diana has absolutely no influence over the casting of the OUTLANDER movie. She commented today on Compuserve, "They might ask what I thought, just to be polite, but I don't have any power to affect whom they cast, at all."

Thoughts? Opinions? Speculations? What do you think of the idea of an OUTLANDER movie?

Personally I am very skeptical that any feature-length film could possibly do justice to the story, or the characters -- so many movie adaptations of popular books end up disappointing those who loved the books -- but I will certainly go see an OUTLANDER movie if one does get made.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Diana's latest podcast: "Where Scenes Come From"

The latest in Diana Gabaldon's new series of podcasts has been posted on her web site at www.dianagabaldon.com. This one is titled "Where Scenes Come From".

You can download it here:

http://www.its.caltech.edu/~gatti/gabaldon/media/podcasts/episode23.mp3

Since this particular podcast deals so specifically with the details of ECHO, I probably won't listen to it myself. I'm still trying to avoid finding out any more than I absolutely have to about what happens in ECHO. But of course there's no reason why the rest of you should stay away from it!

P.S. To everyone in the U.S., I hope you go out and vote today.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Problems on Compuserve Forum

For those of you who visit the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum where Diana hangs out, you probably have noticed that the site has been having problems today, with major changes to the look and feel of the screens, and possibly other issues that I'm not aware of.

Please don't email me asking for help with this. I don't know any more about the changes than you do, and I have absolutely no power to fix anything on Compuserve outside of the posts in Diana's section of the forum itself. Things are in a state of flux over there today, and changes are continuing to take place as the powers that be (whoever they are) find and fix bugs.

Any updates will be posted on the General Forum on the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum as we learn more. Until then, please be patient, and remember I'm just as baffled by the sudden changes as the rest of you.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

UPDATE: Searching inside the books

I just discovered this week that some more of Diana's books are now searchable via Amazon:

A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES

LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE

LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER

I am delighted to see the ABOSAA search, in particular, as this will make it much easier to track down specific quotes from that book.

The search for HAND OF DEVILS doesn't appear to be quite functional yet, but they are clearly working on it. I will post the link here if I see that it's actually functioning.

And if you don't know what the Amazon search is or why it's so useful, look here.

Enjoy!