Thursday, September 29, 2011

Can you read SCOTTISH PRISONER as a standalone novel?

With the November 29 release of Diana Gabaldon's THE SCOTTISH PRISONER only two months away now, a lot of people have been asking whether you have to have read the other Lord John books and stories in order to enjoy the new book.

I asked Diana earlier this week on Compuserve if she would respond to that question in public, and she's now done just that.  She posted the following on her blog today:
The Lord John novellas and novels are sequential, but are built to stand alone; you don’t need to read them in order.

In terms of their relationship to the larger Outlander novels: These books are part of the overall series, but are focused for the most part on those times in Lord John’s life when he’s not “onstage” in the main novels. This particular book (THE SCOTTISH PRISONER) focuses also on a part of Jamie Fraser’s life not covered in the main novels.

All of the Lord John novels take place between 1756 and 1766—SCOTTISH PRISONER is set in 1760—and in terms of the overall Outlander novels/timeline, they thus occur more or less in the middle of VOYAGER. So you can read any of them, in any order, once you’ve read VOYAGER, without getting lost.
So there you have it.  I hope Diana's comments will be helpful to some of you.

If you do want to read the other Lord John books and stories in preparation for SCOTTISH PRISONER's release, I would recommend reading BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE, at least.  It's a very engaging story that gives a lot of insight into Lord John's character, how he thinks, and what motivates him.  I found him much easier to understand after I read that book.

You can find the order of all the Lord John books and stories here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

No book-tour for SCOTTISH PRISONER

Some disappointing news yesterday, for those of you who were hoping to see Diana Gabaldon in person following the November 29 release of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER.

Diana posted the following comment on her blog yesterday:
No, I’m not doing any touring for this book--none of the publishers want to do it (probably largely the thought of Hideous Expense in these days of recession {g}), and frankly, neither do I. I want to stay put and work on WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD!
There will be a launch party at the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ (watch for details about that on Diana's blog as the date gets closer), but that's about it.

I'm somewhat ambivalent about this news.  On the one hand, I would have loved to get a chance to see Diana again in person, assuming they sent her anywhere near North Carolina.  On the other hand, she's been traveling so much in the last two years that she really deserves to take a break for a while, to stay home and focus on writing WRITTEN (or MOHB, or Book 8, or whatever you want to call it <g>).

And purely on a personal note, I would add that it's easier for me, as Section Leader of the Diana Gabaldon folder on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community, when Diana is home and able to help answer questions and respond to comments.  So I am really not disappointed to hear that she'll be staying put for a while.

Anyway, I just wanted to pass this along, so that those of you wondering about Diana's travel plans don't get your hopes up for a SCOTTISH PRISONER book-tour.  You can always check the Appearances page on Diana's web site for the latest updates on her travel plans.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Diana Gabaldon's official Facebook page!

Diana Gabaldon unveiled her "official" Facebook page last week.  You can go here to see it.

Already she's posting some very interesting little tidbits on that page.  For example:

Now that is very exciting, if it proves to be true! <crossing fingers>  I like the symmetry of a "trilogy of trilogies" very much.

My suggestions:  a goblet of red wine for PRIVATE MATTER (this was actually suggested by someone on Compuserve, but I like the idea), a cannon for BOTB, and a compass (for "true north" and all that) for HAND OF DEVILS.  Feel free to post your suggestions here.

I already knew most of this, but it's nice to have official confirmation that they are at least still working on a possible movie.

Finally, Diana made this comment on Compuserve the other day and I thought it was worth repeating:
If you see a post with my photo on it, it's from me--UNLESS it says "[admin]" next to it, in which case it's one of the Random House people addressing a technical issue.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A little news

OUTLANDER: The Musical on iTunes!

OUTLANDER: The Musical is finally available for purchase on iTunes!  The songs are $0.99 each and can be purchased individually.

My personal favorites from the album are "I am Ready", "Is tu fuil o mo chuislean", "Could I Surrender My Heart", "Such a Fool", "Why Did I Marry a Fraser" and "Say the Words".  You can see my detailed review of the songs here.  For more information about OUTLANDER: The Musical, see the official web site at

SCOTTISH PRISONER in Amazon's Top 100 Books

I noticed yesterday that Diana Gabaldon's upcoming novel, THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, has made Amazon's Top 100 in Books already!  That's pretty impressive, I think, when you consider that the book won't even be published until November 29, more than two months from now.  Apparently a lot of people have been pre-ordering the book! :-)

For more information, see the SCOTTISH PRISONER FAQ.

"The Space Between"

Diana mentioned recently that she hopes to finish writing "The Space Between" in November.  This is the story about Young Ian's brother Michael and Marsali's sister Joan (two characters we met in ECHO), that Diana started writing in 2010.  Some of you may recall that this story was originally titled "Terror Daemonium", but it sounds like Diana has now settled on "The Space Between" as its working title.

For more information about this story, including excerpts, look here for the discussion on Compuserve.

We still have no information on a publication date for the anthology in which this story will appear, but I'll post here if I find out anything further.  I'm guessing we will see this story sometime in 2012, but I don't know for sure.

Diana's New Facebook Page

Some of you may have noticed that Diana Gabaldon's Facebook page has been updated.  I asked her about it on Compuserve today and she said, "Yep, this is the Official Diana Gabaldon Facebook page."  All the other Diana Gabaldon "fan pages" on Facebook are being merged into this one.

Take a few minutes to explore what's available on the new page.  Notice the links on the left-hand side.  If you click on Extras, you'll see much more, including links to excerpts, trivia quizzes, and Diana's blog and Twitter updates.  (Important note:  the Extras link requires turning off Facebook's secure browsing.  You'll get a prompt asking if you want to turn it off in order to proceed.)

Diana also had this to say on Compuserve about the new Facebook page:
I won't be monitoring it, no--neither world nor time enough to deal with 100,000+ people (it started at 832 this morning, was 36,000 or so this afternoon, and when I just checked, was well over 100,000--they're "migrating" the other DG Facebook pages to this one, they tell me)--but I will contribute material to it regularly and will certainly stop by now and then.
Check out the new page here.

UPDATE 9/22/2011 2:22 pm:  Diana has now posted an announcement about the new Facebook page on her blog.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Characters changing over time

I posted the following on Compuserve yesterday, in response to a number of people who'd been asking for a "serious topic" to discuss while we wait for "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies" and SCOTTISH PRISONER.  It's generated some very interesting discussion on Compuserve already, so I thought I'd put it out here on my blog as well, and see what the rest of you think.

Characters Changing Over Time

Anyone who has been reading Diana Gabaldon's books for long will surely notice that the major characters (and many of the minor ones) change over time.  Diana made a comment about this on Compuserve back in 2007 (here), and it's stuck with me:
Anyway, part of the challenge of doing what I do _is_ the problem of reimagining Jamie and Claire with each new book--because while certainly the core of their characters remains the same, they do change, both within themselves and in their relationships--not only with each other, but with other people.  But that's what makes it fun. <g>

For me personally, seeing how the characters change over time, grow older, learn from their mistakes, etc., is one of the most interesting aspects of the series as a whole.  But I'd like to hear what the rest of you think.  So here are a few questions, just to get the discussion going:

  • Which character do you think has changed the most during the course of the series?  The least?
  • Are there any characters whose changes have surprised you, or caused you to change your opinion of the character (whether positive or negative)?
  • Can you think of any exceptions to this general concept of characters changing over time?

Feel free to expand on this, add your own ideas, etc.  If you want to join in the discussion on Compuserve, the thread is here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

ABC's of Jamie Fraser

Here's something a little different, just for fun.  I borrowed the idea from the Writer's Exercises section on Compuserve, where they did a similar character-development exercise earlier this month.

The idea is to list one word pertaining to the character for each letter of the alphabet, along with a brief explanation.  Here's my alphabet for Jamie Fraser.

All quotes from the OUTLANDER books are copyright (c) Diana Gabaldon, of course.

A - Ardsmuir. As difficult as those three years in prison were for Jamie, caring for the other men gave him something to live for.

B - Boats. Sheer torture, for someone who suffers from seasickness as acute as Jamie's.  "I hate boats," Jamie said through clenched teeth. "I loathe boats. I view boats with the most profound abhorrence." (DRUMS, Chapter 6, "I Encounter a Hernia")

C - Claire
, of course. And his children -- all of them, whether they're born of his blood or not.

D - Duty.
Jamie takes his duty seriously, even when it means doing things he doesn't want to do, like raising a militia company to fight against the Regulators in FIERY CROSS.

E - Eloquence.
Jamie's way with words takes my breath away sometimes. "And when my body shall cease, my soul will still be yours. Claire--I swear by my hope of heaven, I will not be parted from you." (DRUMS, Chapter 16, "The First Law of Thermodynamics")

F - Finger.
Jamie's much-abused fourth finger on his right hand, which caused him so much pain and trouble for years, and now lies buried at Lallybroch, with Ian. "I'll keep it safe 'til ye catch me up." (ECHO, Chapter 81, "Purgatory II")

G - God.
Jamie's Catholic faith is very important to him, even if he's rarely in a position to go to Mass or have a priest hear his confession. And sometimes God answers his prayers. ("Lord, that she may be safe. She and the child.")

H - Humor.
I love Jamie's sense of humor, especially when he teases Claire. "I'll gie ye the rest when I'm ninety-six, aye?" (FIERY CROSS, Chapter 40, "Duncan's Secret")

I - Intelligence.
Jamie is a very smart man, and a logical thinker. And he learns very fast!

J - Jenny.
Say what you will about her, but Jamie loves his sister as deeply as he does Claire. What will she make of her new life in America?

K - Killing.
Jamie kills when he must, in self-defense or in defense of his family or loved ones. But it bothers him. "I am a violent man, and I ken it well," he said quietly. He spread his hands out on his knees; big hands, which could wield sword and dagger with ease, or choke the life from a man. (DRUMS, Chapter 13, "An Examination of Conscience")

L - Lallybroch.
I don't think you can fully understand Jamie's character without appreciating how much Lallybroch influenced him. It's sad to think that he might never go back there.

M - Memories.
Will Jamie ever recall more of Culloden, and what happened with Jack Randall?

N - Nephew.
Jamie bonded with Young Ian when he was only minutes old, and they've been through quite a lot together.

O - Outdoors.
Where some of Jamie and Claire's most memorable "mmmmphmm" moments have taken place. :-)

P - Prestonpans.
The location of Jamie's fateful encounter with the sixteen-year-old Lord John Grey.

Q - QED.
Three letters that symbolize Jamie's short-lived career as a printer in Edinburgh. Will he take up printing again in Book Eight, now that he's gone to all that trouble to retrieve his printing press?

R - Red-heided.
All teasing about "the nameless and abominable colour of his hair" aside, this is one of the things I liked best about Jamie from the beginning, because I'm also a left-handed redhead. :-)

S - Stubbornness.
"Jamie was a sweet laddie, but a stubborn wee fiend, forbye." Jenny's voice by her ear startled her. "Beat him or coax him, it made no difference; if he'd made up his mind, it stayed made up." (DRUMS, Chapter 34, "Lallybroch")

T - Tone-deaf.
One of Jamie's more endearing traits, in my opinion, and proof that he's not perfect.

U - Uxorious.
Roger refers to Jamie as "deeply uxorious" in ABOSAA. It's an archaic word that according to Diana means "a man who was clearly and obviously in love with his wife."

V - Vows.
The blood vow at Jamie and Claire's wedding, for one. Jamie's promise never to beat her again, for another. "I don't make idle threats, Sassenach," he said, raising one brow, "and I don't take frivolous vows." (OUTLANDER, Chapter 22, "Reckonings")

W - Will-power.
Jamie has an amazing strength of will. Whether it's submitting to rape and torture at the hands of Jack Randall without fighting back, or not reacting to the presence of a pair of naked Indian girls in his bed in ABOSAA, his self-control is impressive.

X - eXample.
Jamie doesn't lead by sitting back and giving orders. He leads by example, as when he takes the punishment for Angus MacKenzie's possession of a scrap of tartan at Ardsmuir.  No wonder his men will follow him anywhere.

Y - Youthful.
It's hard to remember just how young Jamie was in OUTLANDER, barely 22. Even in his mid-50's, he still looks remarkably good for his age.  As Claire remarks, "Do you know, you haven't got a single gray hair below the neck?" (ECHO, chapter 8, "Spring Thaw")

Z - Zippers
, and other oddities of 20th-century life that Claire has had to explain to Jamie over the years.

Let me know what you think, and feel free to post your own suggestions!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Some news about the SCOTTISH PRISONER audiobook

I noticed today that the Recorded Books site is now showing Diana Gabaldon's upcoming novel, THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, as available for pre-order on CD, with a release date of November 29, the same day the book will be published in hardcover and e-book format.

Here is the direct link to the SCOTTISH PRISONER page.  If it doesn't work for you, go to, click on "Direct to Consumer", and search for "Scottish Prisoner".  (For some reason, the book is still listed under its old title of "Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner" on the Recorded Books site.)

They are estimating 13 CDs with a total time of 15.5 hours.  Just by way of comparison, LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE was also 13 CDs, and 15.75 hours.

In case you're wondering, Diana has said the SCOTTISH PRISONER audiobook will also be available on, probably on or soon after the November 29 release date.  It's not yet listed there, but keep checking audible's site for further updates.

Interestingly, the SCOTTISH PRISONER page on the Recorded Books site doesn't specify who will be narrating this audiobook.  So I asked Diana, on Compuserve, if she knows the answer to that, and here is what she wrote back:
I'd suggested to [Recorded Books] that they consider doing two narrators for this, as half of the book is in Jamie's viewpoint, and it seemed incongruous to have his viewpoint done in Lord John's voice.  The producer agreed with me, and went to great lengths in auditioning actors for the second (Jamie) voice--we both were sure we wanted Jeff Woodman to do the Lord John half of the book; he just _is_ Lord John. <g>

Anyway, the actor doing Jamie's half of the story will be Rick Holmes, and his name is absolutely all I know about him.
I think this is good news...provided that this Rick Holmes can manage a decent Scottish accent. <crossing fingers>  All due respect to Mr. Woodman, but many fans (including me!) really disliked his Jamie-voice in BOTB.  I'm delighted, however, that he will be doing Lord John's part of the book.

If anyone out there has heard any audiobooks narrated by Rick Holmes, please let us know what you think of him as a reader.

Never Forget

In memory of those who died on September 11, 2001.....words cannot express what I'm feeling today.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Many of you will have noticed that there have been several different versions of the new title for Book 8 floating around on various sites this week, on Diana's blog and elsewhere.

This is causing a fair amount of confusion:  is it "IN" or "WITH"?  "HEART'S OWN" or "OWN HEART'S"?

I asked Diana about this yesterday on Compuserve, and here is her verbatim reply, which I am posting here in an attempt to get the word out.
   After living with it for a few days (and talking to my husband about it over a few glasses of wine), I think it's settled down into


   I like the internal percussion of the "in" sound between "written/in," which also gives you a natural brief pause before the last phrase--"my own heart's blood"--which then comes all of a piece.   And I think "own heart" rather than "heart's own" for several subtle reasons.   1) the internal rhythm of the sentence sounds better to me with that placement, 2) it puts a rhythmic emphasis on "own," thus making it seem more personal/passionate, and 3) it puts ownership of both blood and emotion <g> onto the speaker, rather than the heart.  Oh, and 4) it sounds more like an Appalachian ballad's phrasing--such ballads deriving from the Highlands of Scotland.
So there you have it. <g>  WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD. I like it, particularly because you can see lots of different layers of meaning in it.

A number of people on Compuserve and various fan-sites have been wondering how to abbreviate it.  I think Diana has settled on WRITTEN as a logical shorthand for the title, and I personally will be happy to go along with that.  It has the advantage of being brief, easy to spell, and easy to remember.  But I think it's much too early to come up with a standard that fans everywhere will use.  If you want to refer to this book as WIMOHB, or HEART'S BLOOD, or whatever, that's fine with me.  I'm just glad that we can call it something other than the generic "Book 8".

By the way, if you're wondering who is speaking this line, Diana said on Compuserve, "It's just the voice of the book, not a particular character's."  But it's fun to speculate, certainly.  To me, it sounds like Jamie's voice.

Finally, because a lot of people have been asking me this lately:  To the best of my knowledge, Diana intends to finish writing WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by the end of 2012, so presumably that means we will see it sometime in 2013.  It's much too early to set a specific release date yet.  If and when I hear anything more definite, I will post it here.

Again, if you want to tell Diana what you think about this title, feel free to come and join the discussion on Compuserve, or post a comment on her blog.  I'm very excited that we finally have a title for this book!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


In all the excitement about the announcement of a title for Book 8, we shouldn't forget that Diana is also in the final stages of working on SCOTTISH PRISONER (which will be published on November 29, 2011).

Diana posted a detailed explanation on Compuserve today of what remains to be done on SCOTTISH PRISONER before it is finally sent to the printers.  It sounds like she's going to have a very busy couple of weeks ahead!

All that close reading sounds mind-numbingly tedious, doesn't it?  But it's definitely worth every minute of the time she spends on it, if you ask me.  The more typos and other errata that are caught and fixed at this stage, the fewer we as readers will encounter in the finished book.

Once these final edits are done, it sounds like Diana is itching to focus full-time on WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD (aka Book 8).

Monday, September 5, 2011

A title for Book 8!

Diana Gabaldon has announced the title for Book 8!


[UPDATE 9/8/2011 5:17 pm:  The wording of the title has changed slightly since the initial announcement.   I've updated the title here to reflect what Diana is now calling it.  For Diana's latest comments about the title, look here.]

I really like this title.  My first thought is that it has LOTS of potential for multiple meanings. You can see my detailed reaction to the title on Compuserve here.

This title suggests to me that this book is going to be more character-focused than ECHO, with less of an emphasis on external events, and more time devoted to exploring the relationships between the characters.  I hope that proves to be the case.

I think it's a great choice! <g>  Can't wait to see what everybody else thinks about it.

If you want to tell Diana what you think of this title, you can post in the thread on Compuserve here, or on her blog here.  And by all means, feel free to post your reaction here on my blog as well.  (Pro or con.)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The latest from Diana Gabaldon's YouTube channel

Here are three new OUTLANDER-related videos that were posted on YouTube recently. Thanks to Nikki Rowe, who runs Diana Gabaldon's YouTube channel, for letting us know about them!

The first, and most controversial, is a review of OUTLANDER, from a Scottish guy wearing a kilt. :-) Please note, this is NOT a very favorable review, but I thought it was pretty funny, as long as you don't take it too seriously. (The consensus on Compuserve seems to be that he actually liked the book, but he didn't want to admit it.) But watch it for yourselves and see what you think. The visuals accompanying the video are hilarious, even if you don't agree with what he's saying.

Next, here's a fan-made trailer for DRAGONFLY IN AMBER.  I don't usually care for most of the casting videos, but I liked this one.

And finally, here's another review of OUTLANDER, by a young reader who also seems not all that enthusiastic.  (She says Jamie Fraser is "not her type"; she prefers Peeta from Suzanne Collins' HUNGER GAMES trilogy.  All I can say to that is, well, tastes differ, and maybe she'll feel differently in a few years?)

Feel free to post a comment and let me know what you think (pro or con!) about any of these videos.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

August poll results

Here are the results of the August poll:

What do you think of the Lord John books and stories?
  • 29.82% - I enjoy them, but I prefer to read about Jamie and Claire.
  • 25.06% - I love them! I can't wait for "Plague of Zombies" and SCOTTISH PRISONER.
  • 11.03% - I haven't read any of them yet, but I'm planning to.
  • 7.27% - They add a lot of depth to his character.
  • 6.02% - I like seeing a different side of 18th century life than we get in the OUTLANDER books.
  • 5.76% - I started reading them after seeing what a major role he played in ECHO.
  • 4.26% - I'm not interested in reading about a gay character.
  • 4.26% - I wish Diana would quit writing about him.
  • 3.26% - I think they're boring.
  • 3.26% - Other
There were 399 votes in all.  Thanks so much to everyone who participated!  I didn't vote in the poll myself, but I would have gone with the plurality on this one.  I find that I enjoy Lord John's point of view more and more as I re-read the books, but I don't really miss him when he's "off screen", so to speak.

The September poll is all about the upcoming DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS anthology, containing Diana Gabaldon's story, "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies".  The book comes out on October 4 in the US, November 17 in the UK.  For more information about DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS, look here.