Sunday, May 31, 2009

Scottish Memories interview, part 1

Some of you may have heard about a two-part interview with Diana Gabaldon that was recently published in Scottish Memories magazine. Due to changes on the magazine's web site, it is no longer possible for non-subscribers to read the full text of the articles online. However, the author, Jean Brittain, contacted me via email when she learned of my interest, offering to provide a text-only version of the articles for posting on OUTLANDER fan-sites, including this one.

The first part of the interview, titled "The Outlander Lady", appeared in the May 2009 issue of Scottish Memories magazine. Many thanks to Jean Brittain and Diana Gabaldon for giving me permission to reprint the text of the article here!

UPDATE 6/26/2009 6:21 am: The second part of the interview, "Looking for Lallybroch", is now available here.

Please note, this is the text of the article as it was submitted to the magazine, prior to editing. The actual wording in the published version of the article (as printed in the magazine) may be a little different.

"THE OUTLANDER LADY" - Jean Brittain interviews author Diana Gabaldon about Scotland

Originally published in Scottish Memories magazine, May 2009 issue.

Copyright © Diana Gabaldon & Jean Brittain 2009. Reprinted with permission.

"I am delighted that Diana is joining us in Edinburgh for The Gathering 2009 where I have no doubt she will enchant everyone who meets her," Lord Sempill says of his invitation to historical novelist Diana Gabaldon, who will feature beside Alexander McCall Smith at a major event of this year's Homecoming.

"I believe Diana's 'Outlander' series has been instrumental in raising awareness of the clan system which has been beneficial in complementing the hard work done by the clan commissioners to increase their membership in North America," Lord Sempill continues. "One of the great appeals of the clans is the romantic element of their history, and Diana's work captures that in a similar way to Dorothy Dunnett in The Lymond Chronicles."

The 'Outlander' series of novels has over 17 million books in print and is available in 24 countries. Her books average a thousand pages and each takes around two years to complete. "... I digress. (That's why I write such long books; I like digressions.)" – as the lady says herself, adding the interesting bracketed extra that has become a trademark of her written chat.

The books are set in the years of the Jacobite Uprising, the blood of the Battle of Culloden, the brutality of the Highland Clearances and their aftermath in Scotland and America. Diana's fictional hero Jamie Fraser is a man of honour, that defining essence of a true Scotsman, the word he lives by and would die for. Fraser also has a fine Scots turn of phrase and a dour sense of humour, both captured rather well by an author who began as an outlander herself. Diana has no Scots ancestry whatsoever. It is purely her merit as a writer that has led to a personal invitation to The Gathering, and to investiture as a Lady of the Garrison by the 78th Fraser Highlanders in Quebec City.

Readers are pulled to the facts behind the fiction, to the country and clans of the characters, and to visit Scotland on specially-designed 'Outlander Tours'. Yet her choice of 18th Century Scotland as a setting came about only by a chance viewing of actor Frazer Hines playing the kilted Jamie MacCrimmon in a re-run of Doctor Who.

"I didn't really know anything whatever about Scotland at the time", Diana told me, "save that men wore kilts, which seemed plenty to be going on with. When I began writing, I had no plot, no outline, no characters, and knew nothing about Scotland and the 18th century. All I had was the rather vague images conjured up by a man in a kilt. Which is, of course, a very powerful and compelling image! Scotland grew on me quickly, as I did research and began to sense the personality of the place and its people."

From this standing start, Dr. Gabaldon wrote her first novel in 1989 whilst bringing up three young children and working full-time as a university professor. A PhD in ecological science, coupled with a brain the size of Benbecula and a schedule that left little time for sleep, stormed her through an encyclopaedic amount of fact-finding needed for authenticity.

When one of her characters was burned at the stake twenty years later than the last recorded witch-burning in Scotland, she fretted about deviating from historical accuracy. Considering that many novelists re-invent the history of the Scots, how much of a sense of responsibility does Diana feel about keeping the background facts true?

"Bear in mind that I fretted about dates and such when I didn't think anyone would ever read the book; I was writing it for practice," Diana said. "It seems to me that a historical novelist has considerable responsibility for accuracy – not merely to the contemporary readers, but to the people and times of the past. (And I was also a scientist by profession when I began writing, and had been one for some time; accuracy, clarity, and meticulous documentation were reflexive skills, not a struggle.)

"Beyond a sense of ethics, though, there's a very pragmatic reason for being as accurate as possible; maintaining a high degree of accuracy in the recognizable details of the story induces a high degree of belief in the reader. Which means that you lead them along by the hand, lull them into a willing suspension of disbelief – and when you jump off a cliff, they'll happily go right along with you. I can make people believe in the plausibility of time-travel and the inherent 'truth' of this particular story, in good part because the historical background and the smaller details of daily life are meticulously rendered."

Editor George Forbes and I often wonder why the history of our wee country should have such global uniqueness. Diana, without the bias that Scottish blood might bring, had a perceptive answer for us.

"It has very tough, very stubborn people with a vibrant social and oral tradition, would be my guess! Which is to say that I'm sure all cultures are unique in their own ways. However, one unique aspect of Scottish history is the massive emigrations of its people that took place in the 18th and 19th centuries. Despite the hardships, a huge number of those emigrants survived, and thus also insured the survival and global spread of their traditions, their stories, their culture, and their history – to all of which they clung tenaciously – in a way that few other cultures could match."

Interest in the worthies of Scots history grows year upon year. Diana's home city of Scottsdale in Arizona has its own Caledonian Society, one of the many organisations around the planet who keep alive the culture and customs of Scotland's people. Why do Scots heroes and villains of times past have such enduring appeal?

"Well, the kilts have a lot to do with it, of course..." Diana said, "No, really, it's the high-stakes conflict, I think (most of the Really Interesting heroes and villains of Scottish history were not in fact kilt-wearers, being Lowlanders for the most part). Conflict is the heart of any story, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a place with more historical conflict per square inch (both on the collective and the individual level) than Scotland. Nowadays, everyone thinks of kilts and Highlanders as 'Scotland' – but of course this is not the case. The Lowlands and Highlands were very distinct cultural entities, and – 'Braveheart' and Mel Gibson notwithstanding – William Wallace did not wear a kilt, let alone woad. Ditto Robert the Bruce.

"Whether Highlands or Lowlands, though, Scots have always exhibited a flair both for individuality and color – they're story-telling cultures, both in terms of the Highlands' rich oral tradition, and the Lowlands' remarkable literary heritage of the 19th and 20th centuries. In this regard, I must tell a story about a trip to Edinburgh, soon after my third book had been published. I went into a Menzies' bookshop, and was delighted to find that my books were prominently displayed in the "Scottish Fiction" section. Scots being justifiably proud of their literary heritage, Scottish bookshops have 'Fiction'—and then they have 'Scottish Fiction.' Anyway, (having introduced myself) I said to the manager that I was very gratified at this propinquity to Sir Walter Scott, Lady Antonia Fraser, and Robert Louis Stevenson. To which he replied, "Well, GuhBALDun is such an odd name, we thought it might quite well be Scottish!"

"It's actually a Spanish name—and my own, not my husband's. The point, though, is that if you did anything at all notable in Scotland, chances were that someone would immortalize you in song or story.

"Beyond that… I think it may have something to do with two prominent aspects of Scottish culture (particularly Highland culture) through the ages, these being Kinship and Doom. The clan system itself is particularly compelling, with its tradition of loyalty and self-sacrifice (and its interesting parallels to the Native American tribal cultures; there's a reason why Scottish immigrants often lived with and intermarried with Indians)—people are always intrigued by the notion of people living for something greater than themselves. At the same time—vide 'Conflict,' above—owing to the aforementioned stubbornness inherent in the national character, Scots have historically been unable to subordinate their own interests in order to work together. Consequently, the history of Scotland is rife with treachery, betrayal, murder, and a lot of other unpleasant things that make for excellent story-telling."

Diana's first 'Outlander' novel begins in the Highlands after World War II and in the year 1743. It's always a surprise to new readers that the author did not actually visit Scotland until the manuscript was accepted by a publisher. I asked Diana if anything in that book would be different had she come to Scotland before its completion.

"Well, I'd know what Loch Ness smelled like!" was Diana's intriguing answer. "With the advent of modern travel, Scotland is fortunately very accessible as well as very beautiful. Consequently, there's a huge quantity of visual as well as textual material easily available. So finding out what Scotland looks like – in great detail – isn't really difficult. By the same token, owing to the rugged terrain and relatively sparse population, Scotland's appearance really hasn't altered all that much over the centuries, with a few notable exceptions such as the hydroelectric dams and lochs done in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the reforestation projects. It's not that hard, in other words, to find out what Scotland probably looked like in the 18th century. Still, most 18th century accounts, such as Dr. Johnson's famous journal of his visit to the Highlands, don't go into much detail regarding the olfactory components, with the exception of noting that most crofts are smoky; still less, the modern tourism material. And there are always going to be things that you find out on the ground (as it were) that you wouldn't think to look for in the research.

"That being so, when my agent sold 'Outlander' to a UK publisher, I said to him, 'For God's sake, tell them to get a Scot to read it; I've never actually been there!' So they got Reay Tannahill – a marvellous historical novelist in her own right, as well as an excellent historian. Reay kindly read the manuscript and drew my attention to several small errors – nothing major, thank goodness – including my description of the smell of Loch Ness, which I'd based on the general impressions of bodies of water I was familiar with. Reay had, of course, actually been to Loch Ness, and was able to tell me what it really did smell like. Luckily, I was able to insert most of her corrections into the US version of the manuscript, though it had already gone through the copy-editing process.

"One error that I wasn't able to correct was the starting date of the book. In my general ignorance at the time of writing, I'd just checked for the official end of WWII, and plugged that date in at the beginning of the book: 1945. But as Reay pointed out, 'That may have been the end of the war for you Yanks, but the British armed forces didn't all just demobilize and go home the day after.' She told me that war-time conditions, with rationing, etc. actually lasted for quite some time after the conclusion of hostilities, and that the conditions I was describing in the beginning of the book would have been much more characteristic of 1946 than of 1945. 'Great!' I said, and called up the US editor with my list of changes. They let me make all the changes, except that one...

"Anyway, when my agent called to tell me that he'd sold my book and had got a three-book contract for me, I said to my husband, 'Well, I think I really must go and see the place.' So we parked the kids with my parents, flew to London, rented a car and drove north. I still remember standing on the Bar, in front of a white stone monolith that has 'England' carved on one side, 'Scotland' on the other, looking out over this vast, undulating green countryside, rolling up and up before me, and thinking simply, 'Home'."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Random Art

Here's a little something just for fun, that a number of us on the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum have been playing with for the past few weeks. (Thanks to Janet McConnaughey, who found the site.)

Go to www.random-art.org and you can create artwork based on any text you type in. The pictures are created, and the colors, shapes, lines, curves, etc. are determined, totally at random based on a complicated formula (it's explained on the site, if you're interested) which makes it impossible to tell in advance what a picture will look like. So, you just type in a word or phrase, wait a couple of minutes, and see what the program comes up with.

It's addictive, and I'm finding it a lot of fun. (Especially as I have no particular artistic talent myself.) Take a look at some of the best pictures people have created recently, to get an idea of what's possible.

Some people find that just typing in their name results in a pretty (or at least interesting) picture. Mine (Karen Henry) came out rather bland and boring, unfortunately:



But I was quite pleased with this one, which I created earlier this week for Diana:



That's "fuirich agus chi thu", which is Gaelic for "wait and see", one of Diana's favorite phrases.

If you want to try it for yourself, go here to create your own artwork.

Have fun! <g>

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Some thoughts for Memorial Day

In honor of Memorial Day in the U.S. on Monday, here are a few quotes from the books honoring those who fell in battle:

The first is from DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, after the battle of Prestonpans:
I found them at length some distance up the hill behind the church. Jamie was sitting on a rock, the form of Alexander Kincaid cradled in his arms, curly head resting on his shoulder, the long, hairy legs trailing limp to one side. Both were still as the rock on which they sat. Still as death, though only one was dead.

I touched the white, slack hand, to be sure, and rested my hand on the thick brown hair, feeling still so incongruously alive. A man should not die a virgin, but this one did.

"He's gone, Jamie," I whispered.

(From Dragonfly In Amber by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 36, "Prestonpans". Copyright ©1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The next quote is also from DRAGONFLY, from the scene in the beginning where Roger and Brianna visit the battlefield at Culloden:
"Heather," Roger said. "It's more common in the summer, when the heather is blooming--then you'll see heaps like that in front of every clan stone. Purple, and here and there a branch of the white heather--the white is for luck, and for kingship; it was Charlie's emblem, that and the white rose."

"Who leaves them?" Brianna squatted on her heels next to the path, touching the twigs with a gentle finger.

"Visitors." Roger squatted next to her. He traced the faded letters on the stone--FRASER. "People descended from the families of the men who were killed here. Or just those who like to remember them."

(From Dragonfly In Amber by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 4, "Culloden". Copyright ©1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here is a bit from the battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, in ABOSAA:
Major Donald MacDonald floundered, rising halfway in the water. His wig was gone and his head showed bare and wounded, blood running from his scalp down over his face. His teeth were bared, clenched in agony or ferocity, ther was no telling which. Another shot struck him and he fell with a splash--but rose again, slow, slow, and then pitched forward into water too deep to stand, but rose yet again, splashing frantically, spraying blood from his shattered mouth in the effort to breathe.

Let it be you, then, lad, said the dispassionate voice. He raised his rifle and shot MacDonald cleanly through the throat. He fell backward and sank at once.

(From A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 113, "The Ghosts of Culloden". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
And this is from Lord John's visit in "Haunted Soldier" with the parents of a lieutenant killed at the battle of Crefeld:
"I saw your son for the first time only moments before his death," he said, as gently as he could. "There was no time for talk. But I can assure you, sir, that he died instantly--and he died bravely, as a soldier of the king. You--and your wife, of course--may be justly proud of him."

(From Lord John and the Hand of Devils by Diana Gabaldon, Lord John and the Haunted Soldier, Part I, "Inquisition". Copyright© 2007 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Interesting article

Check out the June 2009 issue of Scottish Memories magazine, which features the second in a series of interviews with Diana Gabaldon.

Topics include:
  • how the books have influenced Scottish tourism, including a look at several of the "Outlander Tours" currently available (look here and here for more information)
  • Diana's description of what it's like to visit Culloden
  • Some discussion of the possible OUTLANDER movie (though I don't think there is any new information there)
The first article in the series, titled "The Outlander Lady", is available here.

I thought it was a terrific article and well worth reading!

UPDATE 5/23/09 5:55 am: Well, unfortunately, the people who run the site appear to have caught on to the fact that some of us were reading the full articles for free. They fixed the lack of paragraph breaks (which is good) but they have also changed the site so that only the first page of the article is now available to non-subscribers. So, if you're reading this outside of the UK, as I am, you've missed your chance to see the article. Really a shame, that.

Do check out the site regardless. It's worth it if only for the wonderful photo of Diana in the June issue, taken by Barbara Schnell, Diana's German translator.

For those of you who didn't get a chance to see the full article: if you want to see Diana's comments about the OUTLANDER movie, look here for some similar remarks she made on her blog in November 2008. And here is Diana's blog entry describing her visit to Culloden in April 2008.

UPDATE 6/2/2009 7:00 pm: I should mention that I have received permission from the articles' author, Jean Brittain, to post the text of the first article here on my blog. The second part will be available here as well, toward the end of June, so please check back later.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Clarification

Diana posted a message on Compuserve this morning clarifying what she meant about the ending of ECHO (see my blog entry from yesterday), and telling me to tone it down a little (ouch! but I probably deserved that). Please read what she says in her own words, and my reply, here.

I'm sorry for stirring things up yesterday; it really wasn't my intention to have people start to panic!

UPDATE 8/8/09 9:02 am: Diana posted this on Compuserve the other day: "And you shouldn't read the last page [of ECHO] first NOT because it's shocking (the last page isn't shocking at all) but because you'll ruin something wonderful for yourself if you do."

Monday, May 18, 2009

A warning from Diana

For those of you who like to peek ahead when you get a new book, or read the ending first, you should be aware that Diana has been dropping some rather ominous-sounding hints lately about the ending of ECHO.

Here's what she said today on Compuserve:

Well, at least until the book is out, you can't peek at anything I don't want you to see. <g> After that...well, all I can say is, if you read the last page of ECHO first, You Will Regret It.

And a bit later in the same thread, when someone speculated on appropriate theme music to go with this warning, Diana suggested:

like the French horn/tympani soundtrack to "JAWS." <eg>

The <eg> is Diana's "evil grin", which she delights in using to torment her readers on Compuserve. (But not in a malicious way; she just likes to play with our minds. <g>) In this context, it gives me shivers!

She's serious, folks. [UPDATE 5/20/09 8:21 am: Well, maybe not entirely serious; see the clarification at the bottom of this post.] She's been saying things like this about the ending of ECHO since at least last September (as you can see if you go to the link above and read the thread (discussion) from the beginning, paying particular attention to post number 33). Whatever you do, DON'T read the ending of ECHO first! If you are one of those readers who likes to peek, or if you know someone who does, please pass on this warning. Thanks!

UPDATE 5/20/09 8:21 am: Diana posted a message on Compuserve this morning clarifying what she meant, and telling me to tone it down a little (ouch! but I probably deserved that). Please read what she says in her own words, and my reply, here.

I'm sorry for stirring things up yesterday, it really wasn't my intention to have people start to panic!

Hope this makes some of you breathe a little easier. <g>

UPDATE 8/8/09 9:02 am: Diana posted this on Compuserve the other day: "And you shouldn't read the last page first NOT because it's shocking (the last page isn't shocking at all) but because you'll ruin something wonderful for yourself if you do."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Time travel stories

I have been a fan of time-travel stories since I was a child. In the spirit of Diana Gabaldon's "Methadone List", to help pass the time while we wait for AN ECHO IN THE BONE, here are a few of my favorites, in no particular order:

1) REPLAY, by Ken Grimwood



This is the story of a man who wakes up one morning to find himself 25 years in the past, living in the body of his 18-year-old self, with full knowledge of the future. Like the movie "Groundhog Day", the cycle repeats over and over again, but each time with a slightly different twist. Highly entertaining!

2) THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE, by Audrey Niffenegger


I read this book, and loved it, several years before I'd ever heard of Diana Gabaldon's books. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, this is the story of the relationship between Henry, a time-traveler, and Clare, a young girl who will eventually become his wife. Henry's time-traveling abilities are totally out of his control; he "travels" without warning, never knowing where or when he will end up. The time-travel angle in this book is well-thought-out and plausible, and I loved the relationship between Henry and Clare. (Warning: the ending will break your heart.)

3) IF I NEVER GET BACK, by Darryl Brock


Baseball fans will appreciate this one. It's the story of 20th-century journalist Sam Fowler, who finds himself transported back to the year 1869, where he encounters the Cincinnati Red Stockings, America's first professional baseball team. The historical details in this book are fascinating, and the book itself is well-written, with lots of wry observations about the time period.

4) CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES, by Penelope Farmer



This one is on my list for sentimental reasons. It's the very first time-travel story I ever read, one of my favorites as a child. CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES is the story of an 11-year-old girl who travels back in time to World War I-era England. If you know a child in this age group who enjoys reading about what it's like to live in another time, I would certainly recommend this book.

Other Recommendations?

What about the rest of you? Do you have a favorite book or movie with a time-travel theme? If so, I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

PHOENIX NOIR

Diana mentioned on Compuserve yesterday that the PHOENIX NOIR anthology, which contains her short story titled "Dirty Scottsdale", will be released in November:

The editor of PHOENIX NOIR told me (recently) that the pub date Akashic gave _him_ is November of this year--but he's hoping that he can arrange for early copies to be sent to bookstores that will be on my US (and possibly Canadian) book-tour. I hope so, too!
You can pre-order PHOENIX NOIR on Amazon.com by clicking on the link below:



For those of you who aren't familiar with it, "Dirty Scottsdale" is a contemporary mystery, set in present-day Arizona, and featuring a detective named Tom Kolodzi. You can read an excerpt on Diana's blog here, and another excerpt on Compuserve here.

I am not normally a reader of mystery stories, but from what I've seen of "Dirty Scottsdale" so far, it's going to be truly hilarious! Definitely a change of pace from Diana's typical writing.

There are a number of other books in the "Noir" series, by the way -- each featuring a different city. Check out the publisher's web site at www.akashicbooks.com/noirseries.htm for more information.

UPDATE 5/22/09 11:13 am - Fixed link to excerpt on Compuserve. (Sorry about that!)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How did you find the series?

I've been very pleased by the response to this month's poll so far. Thanks to everybody who's already voted!

As a relative newcomer to the series myself, I think it's interesting to hear how others found the OUTLANDER books. Please feel free to share your stories here!

My own experience goes something like this (apologies to those of you who saw this when I posted it on Compuserve a couple of months ago):

I first noticed OUTLANDER while browsing in a Barnes & Noble bookstore sometime in the summer or fall of 2006. It was the small-size (mass-market) paperback version. I remember it was on a rack at the end of one of the aisles, or I probably would never have noticed it. <g>

My eye was caught by the striking blue color of the cover, and I picked it up (a little startled by the size of it, but not at all put off -- I like Big Fat Historical Novels, and always have) and briefly glanced through it. "Time-travel...that's good, I'm always up for a decent time-travel story....Hmm...Scotland...that could be interesting. BUT...it starts in 1945, and the main character is an Englishwoman. Is the author British too? Probably.* I often find British novels hard to get into, especially if they take place that far in the past [and by that I meant the 1940's, not the 18th century!]. Am I going to be able to, you know, relate to these characters? ** "

And so I put it back on the rack. Walked out of the store, and promptly forgot the author's name (quite unintentionally) ***. But I hadn't forgotten about the book, by any means, and I promised myself that if and when I ever saw it again, I'd give it a closer look. A couple of months went by, and then I finally did find OUTLANDER again. I still hesitated (my thought at the time was, it's an awfully big book to buy if you're not sure ahead of time if you'll like it or not).

So I went home without buying it, again, and with the name of the book and the author firmly fixed in my memory this time <g>, looked up the Amazon reviews. (Lots of talk in there about the Wentworth scenes, but I'd already had a bit of warning about that, having flipped through the book in the bookstore. The first bit of a scene I read was the part where Jamie tells Claire about the fortress inside him, so I knew something awful was going to happen to him. But I had no idea just how devastating it would be. Not a clue.)

I was still wavering, undecided, and then I got a B&N gift card for my birthday. And I figured, why not? <g>

* Took me a LONG time to learn otherwise. (For those of you who don't know, Diana was born and raised in Arizona, and currently lives in Scottsdale, AZ.)

** Mea culpa #1 (This particular thought makes me want to go back in time and slap myself. )

*** Mea culpa #2. I would have been hooked two or three months earlier if I'd just bought the darn book the first time I saw it! <wry g>

What about the rest of you? At what point did you find the series, and what made you decide to read the books the first time?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Jamie!

Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday, Jamie Fraser!

First of all, Happy Birthday to our favorite red-heided Scot! James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser was born on May 1, 1721, so today marks the 288th anniversary of his birth.

And to the rest of you, I hope you have a happy Beltane, May Day, or whatever else you may be celebrating today. (Even if it's just TGIF!)

April Poll Results

Here are the results of the April poll:

Who is your favorite villain in the OUTLANDER series?

  • 30.37% - Geillis Duncan
  • 25.92% - Black Jack Randall
  • 25.19% - Stephen Bonnet
  • 8.15% - Phillip Wylie
  • 5.19% - Laoghaire
  • 2.22% - William Buccleigh MacKenzie
  • 1.48% - Harley Boble
  • 0.74% - Richard Brown
  • 0.74% - Other
  • 0% - Arvin Hodgepile (he got no votes, which is very understandable!)
135 people voted in this one, which is the biggest number for any poll I've done so far. Thanks to everyone who participated!

The results turned out much closer than I expected. For the record, I didn't vote in this poll, but if I had, I would have voted for Jack Randall. He's one of the most unforgettable villains I've ever encountered in a work of fiction. Despicable, to be sure -- I don't know if I will ever forgive him for what he did to Jamie -- but unforgettable.

Please take a moment to vote in my new poll for May!

House Painting

I may not be posting as often next week. I'm having the interior of my house painted, all except my computer room and the master bathroom. With all the walls stripped bare, it feels almost as though I'm moving out of the house (and is turning out to be nearly as stressful), though I am not actually going anywhere. With luck, it will all be over by the end of next week. The painters will be working from May 6 - 8.