Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Casting call on Diana's Facebook page

Many of you will have noticed that Diana Gabaldon's Facebook page has been absolutely DROWNING in "Who-would-you-cast-in-an-OUTLANDER-movie?" pictures and comments since Monday morning, when the administrator of her page posted this announcement:
[admin] Who would be in YOUR dream movie cast for the Outlander series? Starting today (and purely for entertainment purposes!), we’ll open nominations for one character at a time—post a picture of your favorite candidate, and we’ll round up the top 10 contenders with the most "Likes" and comments for your final vote. Let’s start with the biggie: who would you cast as CLAIRE?
Naturally, this has unleashed a flood of comments and photos of people's favorite choices for all the roles, not just Claire.  There were more than 2600 comments on that message alone, when I checked just now, and that doesn't include the hundreds and hundreds of photos people have posted since the announcement yesterday.

I can't be the only one who's not really interested in the Endless Movie-Casting Debate, can I? I feel sorry for anyone who had a non-movie-casting-related question or comment today, because there's no chance that Diana will wade through all those hundreds of pictures and movie-casting comments to see it.  She just doesn't have time.

Here's Diana's comment on the "casting call", from Compuserve last night:
[We] did it on purpose--knowing full well what would happen.  Entertains the fans, revs up the traffic (hence the overall visibility), and requires absolutely no attention from me.  (The Random House admin person started the contest and will be responsible for counting up votes--unless she gets overwhelmed and gives up, which is not beyond the reach of imagination.)
If you would rather not see all the movie-casting comments and photos on Diana's Facebook page, just go to the top of her page, directly under the five small photos, and click on "Diana Gabaldon".  (Or click here.)  That will show you only posts created by Diana or the administrator of her page.

There is a thread about movie-casting on Compuserve here if you're interested.  Please note that all these suggestions are just for fun.  Even Diana says she has no say on who they will cast in an eventual OUTLANDER movie or miniseries.  (That's what casting directors are for.)

Oh, and while we're on the subject of a possible OUTLANDER movie, look here on my FAQ page for the most up-to-date information.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Documentary about Spitfire pilots in WWII

For those of you who have read Diana Gabaldon's story, "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", here's a very interesting documentary, 3D Spies of WWII, that aired recently on the PBS series "Nova".



The program goes into great detail about the Spitfire pilots, their role in aerial photo-reconnaissance, how the millions of photos they took were analyzed and interpreted, and how the information contained in those photos helped the Allies defeat the Nazis in WWII.  Fascinating stuff!

I think Jerry MacKenzie would be very proud to know that his fellow Spitfire photo-reconnaissance pilots played such an important part in helping to defeat the Nazis.  And I'm sure Jerry would have been right there with them, had fate and a stone circle not intervened. <g>

Please note, the video embedded above is just a preview.  The full-length video is almost an hour long, but it's well worth watching.  Thanks very much to Marte Brengle on Compuserve for the link!

If you haven't yet read "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", I would highly recommend it.  There's more information about the story here.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Diana's public appearances in 2012

Wondering about Diana Gabaldon's schedule of public appearances in 2012?  Diana hasn't yet had time to update the Appearances page on her web site, but she posted the following on Compuserve yesterday, and I thought I'd pass it along in case any of you want to start making plans.
   Well...very few, to be honest.  I'm trying extremely hard to stay home and write. <g>  Next thing up is the Vilnius Book Fair, Feb. 23-26th in Lithuania, then the Tucson Book Festival, March 10-11--and a quick appearance at the Arizona Rennaissance Faire on March 17th (that's held in Apache Junction, AZ).  And I'm doing a talk (with signing) at a Celtic Tea in Flagstaff, for the Northern Arizona Celtic Heritage Society (I keep trying to get them to change their name from "Society" to "Organization," so I can refer to them as the NACHOs, but so far, they've resisted)--that's March 31st.
   Might go to New York at the end of April for the Edgar Awards banquet, but there's no public appearance connected with that.  _Might_ do ThrillerFest during the summer, but not yet committed--and don't know exactly when it is, for that matter.  
   Younger Daughter is getting married in August--in Scotland--so there _might_ be something minor in the UK.  I know I'm planting a tree given in my honor by the Ladies of Lallybroch, on the grounds of Castle Leod, the Earl of Cromartie having kindly invited me and my husband to stay with him for a couple of days <g>, but no idea when that'll happen.
    _Might_ make it to the Historical Novelists Society conference in London at the end of September, but only if I can inveigle my husband into going to Italy for fun <g>, in which case we could stop over in London on the way.
    I _will_ be at the Surrey International Writers Conference, in British Columbia, October 19-21.  And I think that's about it!
I'm a little disappointed that she doesn't have a trip to NC planned this year, so it's unlikely I'll get to see her in 2012, but on the other hand:
  • She wants to stay home as much as possible this year to concentrate on writing WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD (aka MOHB, MOBY, or Book 8), and I'm all in favor of that! <g>

  • My job as Section Leader of the Diana Gabaldon folder on Compuserve is much easier when Diana is around.  So this means less pressure for me on the forum in 2012, and I'm happy about that.
Please note, all of the information listed above is subject to change.  Keep an eye on Diana's blog and the Appearances page of her web site for the most current information about her public appearances.

Also note Diana's comment about her daughter Jennifer getting married in August in Scotland (and yes, her fiance, Iain, is Scottish!) There's more about that on Compuserve here, if you're interested.

Please pass this information on to anyone else you know who might be interested.  Thanks!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Fun Facts - 1/27/2012

FridayFunFacts

I've decided to try a new meme:  Friday Fun Facts!  This will be a selection of odd, unusual, humorous, or otherwise interesting facts that I've learned from reading Diana Gabaldon's books.

1) Jamie measures short distances with the joints of his left middle finger.  (SCOTTISH PRISONER, chapter 20, "Stalking Horse", p. 263 in the hardcover)

2) Brianna had a Swiss army knife with her in the 18th century.  (ABOSAA chapter 6, "Ambush")

3) Lawrence Stern, the Jewish natural philosopher in VOYAGER, is named after the 18th-century author of TRISTRAM SHANDY, Laurence Sterne.

4) There really was a window tax in Britain in the 18th century.  (Roger mentions it in FIERY CROSS, chapter 100, "Dead Whale".)

5) The passenger pigeons are not the only extinct species mentioned in THE FIERY CROSS.  Just before Claire's encounter with the immense flock of pigeons, Roger sees some "vivid little parakeets" (beginning of chapter 82, "A Darkening Sky"), which are in fact Carolina parakeets -- also an extinct species in our time.



Thanks to Margaret Campbell on Compuserve, who pointed this out to me several years ago.  I didn't actually find the reference until my most recent "re-listen" of FIERY CROSS, just a couple of months ago, but apparently it was Margaret who suggested to Diana that she include the parakeet.  Isn't it beautiful?  Really a shame that they're gone.

I hope you enjoyed these.  I plan to make this a regular blog feature, so please stop by next week for more!

Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What really happened to Stonehenge

I love this!  It combines two of my favorite addictions:  OUTLANDER and Angry Birds.  And besides, I just think it's hilarious.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

An app for Robbie Burns Day

Check this out:

http://www.scotland.org/robert-burns-app/

It's available on iTunes as well as the Android Market.  (And yes, I did download it. <g>)  Thanks to Susan McCreadie (aka @the_bothy on Twitter) for the link!

Happy Burns Day to all of you!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

William and time-travel

Can William time-travel?

A lot of people have asked that question since AN ECHO IN THE BONE came out in 2009.  It's a question that comes up frequently on Compuserve and on Diana Gabaldon's Facebook page.

[UPDATE 1/24/2012 10:33 am: Please note that Diana has not (to my knowledge) ever come right out and said definitively, "No, William can't time-travel", or "Yes, William has the time-travel gene". Different readers are free to draw their own conclusions. And what I wrote in this blog post is only my own opinion, based on the text and on things Diana has said in public since ECHO came out.  If you disagree, that's fine.  Only Diana really knows for sure.]

[UPDATE 2/21/2013 8:04 pm: Diana answered that question definitively on Compuserve in June 2012, here. (She says he's not a time-traveler.)]

The Evidence

Here's the original scene in ECHO that started all the speculation:
He’d heard the rocks talking to themselves on the fells at Helwater. The Lake District, his maternal grandparents’ home. In the fog. He hadn’t told anyone that.
[....]
He’d heard his mother--his real mother--whisper to him, too. That was why he’d gone into the fog. They’d been picnicking on the fells, his grandparents and Mama Isobel and some friends, with a few servants. When the fog came down, sudden as it sometimes did, there was a general scurry to pack up the luncheon things, and he had been left by himself, watching the inexorable white wall roll silently toward him.

And he’d swear he’d heard a woman’s whisper, too low to make out words but holding somehow a sense of longing, and he had known she spoke to him.

And he’d walked into the fog. For a few moments, he was fascinated by the movement of the water vapor near the ground, the way it flickered and shimmered and seemed alive. But then the fog grew thicker, and in moments he’d known he was lost.

He’d called out. First to the woman he thought must be his mother. The dead come down in the fog. That was nearly all he knew about his mother--that she was dead. She’d been no older than he was now when she died. He’d seen three paintings of her. They said he had her hair and her hand with a horse.

She’d answered him, he’d swear she’d answered him--but in a voice with no words. He’d felt the caress of cool fingers on his face, and he’d wandered on, entranced.

Then he fell, badly, tumbling over rocks into a small hollow, bruising himself and knocking out all his wind. The fog had billowed over him, marching past, urgent in its hurry to engulf things, as he lay stunned and breathless in the bottom of his small declivity. Then he began to hear the rocks murmur all around him, and he’d crawled, then run, as fast as he could, screaming. Fell again, got up and went on running.

Fell down, finally unable to go further, and huddled terrified and blind on the rough grass, surrounded by vast emptiness. Then he heard them calling out for him, voices he knew, and he tried to cry out in reply, but his throat was raw from screaming, and he made no more than desperate rasping noises, running toward where he thought the voices were. But sound moves in a fog, and nothing is as it seems: not sound, not time nor place.

Again and again and again, he ran toward the voices but fell over something, tripped and rolled down a slope, stumbled into rocky outcrops, found himself clinging to the edge of a scarp, the voices now behind him, fading into the fog, leaving him.

Mac had found him. A big hand had suddenly reached down and grabbed him, and the next minute he was lifted up, bruised and scraped and bleeding but clutched tight against the Scottish groom’s rough shirt, strong arms holding him as though they’d never let him go.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 36 ("The Great Dismal"). Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
And here's the same incident from Jamie's point of view, in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER:

“William!” he bellowed, plunging into the fog.

“Willie! Willie!” The women’s higher voices obligingly took up the call, regular as a bell on a ship’s buoy, and serving the same purpose. "Willie! Where are youuuu?”

The air had changed quite suddenly, no longer clear but soft and echoing; sound seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere.

“William!” The sound bounced off the stones and the short, leathery turf. "William!”
[....]
He went higher, among the tumbled stones. Staggered from one to another, feeling round their bases, stubbing his toes. The fog was cold in his chest, aching. His foot came down on something soft--Willie’s jacket--and his heart leapt.

“WILLIAM!”

Was that a sound, a whimper? He stopped dead, trying to listen, trying to hear through the whisper of the moving fog and the distant voices, cacophonous as a ring of church bells.

And then, quite suddenly, he saw the boy curled up in a rocky hollow, the yellow of his shirt showing briefly through an eddy in the fog. He lunged and seized William before he could disappear, clutched him to his bosom, saying, “It’s all right, a chuisle, it’s all right now, dinna be troubled, we’ll go and see your grannie, aye?”

“Mac! Mac, Mac! Oh, Mac!”

Willie clung to him like a leech, trying to burrow into his chest, and he wrapped his arms tight around the boy, too overcome to speak.

(From THE SCOTTISH PRISONER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 39 ("The Fog Comes Down"). Copyright© 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Argument

A lot of people seem to think that William "hearing the stones" in the scene in ECHO means he can time-travel.

I understand why people think so.  It does seem that Diana deliberately wrote that scene in ECHO in such a way that many readers would be left with that impression.  He heard something in the rocks (or thought he did); that much is clear.  And was obviously frightened out of his wits as a result.  Both of those things could be taken as evidence that he sensed the presence of a time-portal, and therefore, that he can time-travel.

Counter-Argument

Now, I understand the temptation to jump to conclusions here, and assume that because William heard something in the rocks, he must therefore be able to time-travel.  But I'm not at all convinced.

1) We know that Jamie does not have the time-travel gene, and it seems awfully unlikely that Geneva Dunsany would have it.  Theoretically possible, but very unlikely.  (I could be wrong about this, but I don't think I am.)

2) I don't see anything in these two scenes that indicates that there's a stone circle nearby.  A pile of "tumbled stones" could be any random rock formation; it certainly doesn't sound like a ring of standing stones marking a time-portal.  (And Jamie surely would have noticed a stone circle -- or the remains of one -- on the Helwater estate.  Given his reaction when the abbot told him there was a stone circle near Inchcleraun (SCOTTISH PRISONER, p. 257) -- I can't imagine that he would have failed to recognize a circle of stones when he saw it.)

3) William was so young at the time, can his memories of the event really be trusted?  Isn't it possible that he was simply hearing the fog-distorted voices of the women (Isobel, Lady Dunsany, and Betty) calling to him, and he only imagined that the voices were coming out of the rocks?  That's always been my impression, and seeing the scene from Jamie's point of view in SCOTTISH PRISONER helped to reinforce that.

4) Finally, consider Diana Gabaldon's own comments on this subject.  Here's what she said on Facebook today (January 24), in response to a similar question:
Well, we don't know that he's actually hearing the rocks; he's only three (he thinks he was five at the time, but it was a bit earlier than he recalls) and was lost in the fog and imagining he heard his mother's voice. He may very well have imagined hearing the rocks as well.
Diana has also commented on this in a discussion on Compuserve:
I don't _think_ Willie heard the stones scream--he thought they were talking to him.
And a bit later in that same thread on Compuserve (here), she mentions "red herrings".  I think that's what this is: deliberate misdirection.  Or, to put it another way:  she's messing with our minds -- something that Diana readily admits that she enjoys doing.  She once told me, "Hey, that's one of the chief perks of this job. <g>"

Conclusion

I think it's highly unlikely that William has the time-travel gene, and I don't think the incident where he was lost in the fog as a small boy proves that he can travel.  But that's just my opinion.  Until and unless Diana gives us some definitive proof one way or the other (for example, having the adult William walk up to a ring of standing stones so we can see how he reacts), we just don't know for sure.  But it's fine to speculate about it if you want to.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year!



Happy Chinese New Year!  This is the Year of the Dragon, something I couldn't help noticing, being a Dragon myself. <g>

In honor of the day, here's a bit from VOYAGER:
"Bloody man!" I said, exasperation mingled with pity--and a slight feeling of alarm.  The ten hours of a Channel crossing were one thing; what would his state be like after two months of this?

"Head of pig," Mr. Willoughby agreed with a lugubrious nod.  "He is rat, you think, or maybe dragon?"

"He smells like a whole zoo," I said.  "Why dragon, though?"

"One is born in Year of Dragon, Year of Rat, Year of Sheep, Year of Horse," Mr. Willoughby explained.  "Being different, each year, different people.  You are knowing is Tsei-mi rat, or dragon?"

"You mean which year was he born in?"  I had vague memories of the menus in Chinese restaurants, decorated with the animals of the Chinese zodiac, with explanations of the supposed character traits of those born in each year.  "It was 1721, but I don't know offhand which animal that was the year of."

"I am thinking rat," said Mr. Willoughby, looking thoughtfully at the tangle of bedclothes, which were heaving in a mildly agitated manner.  "Rat very clever, very lucky.  But dragon, too, could be.  He is most lusty in bed, Tsei-mi?  Dragons most passionate people."

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 41 ("We Set Sail"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My reactions to the SCOTTISH PRISONER audiobook



I finished listening to the audiobook of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER for the first time last night.  For those of you who don't know, this audiobook has two narrators: Jeff Woodman, who reads the parts from Lord John's point of view, and Rick Holmes, who reads the parts from Jamie's point of view.  (Jeff Woodman is the narrator for the other Lord John books.)

Here are some of my reactions:

S

P

O

I

L

E

R

S

Overall, I thought it was quite enjoyable.  I think they were right to go with dual narrators for a two-person book like this, and it was interesting to see how they switched back and forth.

Jeff Woodman did an excellent job, as usual.  Such a pleasure hearing him do Lord John, Tom, Hal, Harry, and Stephan von Namtzen's voices again. <g> 

Woodman's co-narrator, Rick Holmes, did reasonably well.  His Jamie-voice is too high-pitched (I think of Jamie as having a deep voice) and at times it was difficult to distinguish Holmes' narrative voice from the voices of the other characters, but I'm not really complaining.  I thought his narrative voice was rather soothing, especially in the beginning of the book.

My favorite scene from John's half was Jamie's outburst in Chapter 31:  "You dare to speak to me of honor?"  I thought that was extremely well done.  And my favorite John-and-Jamie scene was the one in chapter 35 where they discuss Twelvetrees' death.

I loved the "Amplexus" chapter.  Somehow it's easier for me to picture the scene when I can close my eyes as it's being read, envisioning the two men walking through the woods at night, with the sound of frogs all around them.  That was fun.  And spooky!

I was pleased to hear Rick pronounce "Keren" exactly the way I say my own name. <g>  That made me giggle.  (For those of you who haven't seen Diana's explanation in the Acknowledgements to SCOTTISH PRISONER:  the "Keren-happuch" character is named after me.)

A couple of nits:  At the very beginning of the book, Rick says the title of Section I incorrectly as "The Fate of the Fuses", where it should be just "The Fate of Fuses".  And I was disappointed to find that John's line on p. 337 ("the boy has a little small fever but, with the blessing, all will be well in a day or two") was not, in fact, spoken with an imitation of an Irish accent, as I hear it in my head.  (Oh, well.  That could just be me, though.)

I liked Jeff's take on Quinn better than Rick's -- more emotion in his voice, or something.  On the other hand, I liked Rick's Lord Dunsany much better than the high-pitched old-man's voice Jeff used for him.

By the end, I found that I liked Jeff's attempt at a Scottish accent better than Rick's.  (Though neither of them sound much like the Jamie I hear in my head. <g>)  I also thought Jeff did a better job at conveying a range of emotions than Rick did. 

I enjoyed the audiobook quite a bit, and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who liked SCOTTISH PRISONER.  You can download it from audible.com here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Plague of Zombies" nominated for an Edgar!

Congratulations to Diana Gabaldon, whose novella, "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies", has just been nominated for an Edgar award by the Mystery Writers of America.

You can see the full list of Edgar award nominees here.  The winners will be announced on April 26.

Thanks to Lynne Perednia on Compuserve for letting us know about this.  (Even Diana didn't know until Lynne posted it on the forum this morning.)

If you've been waiting for an excuse to read "Plague of Zombies", this seems like a good opportunity to check it out for yourself.  For more information about the story, look here.  I really enjoyed it (and I'm definitely not a fan of zombie or horror stories normally!) and I think the rest of you will, too.

There's a thread on Compuserve here if you want to send congratulations or good luck messages to Diana directly.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SCOTTISH PRISONER vocabulary



I always enjoy learning new words when I read Diana Gabaldon's books, and THE SCOTTISH PRISONER is no exception.  Here are some of the words I encountered for the first time in this book. (Click on the links to see the definitions.)

amplexus (title of Chapter 28) - I always pick up the oddest bits of trivia reading Diana's books, and this is one of my favorite examples from SCOTTISH PRISONER.

baulk
(p. 356) - When I asked Diana if she meant "bulk", she said, "No, I really did mean 'baulk'.  It's a somewhat obscure word, meaning a nondescript chunk of something.  Almost the only place you see it in modern English is references to 'baulk(s) of timber,' meaning some random piece of ungraded wood, length and shape unspecified."

crepuscule (p. 345) - Anyone else would simply say "twilight", don't you think?  But we're in Lord John's point of view in this scene, so it's no wonder my vocabulary's being expanded.  His lordship's fondness for unusual words is one of his most endearing traits, at least to me.  Like Brianna, I love the way he talks! :-)

cui bono (p. 336) - I had never heard this expression before.  To me, it sounds like some sort of legal term, but maybe I'm getting it confused with "pro bono". :-)

defalcations (p. 16) - compare this to peculation, which is also used in the book (p. 176) but which I don't count as a new word because I first saw it in "The Custom of the Army", in reference to Major Siverly's activities.

embranglement (pp. 171-72) - also spelled imbranglement.  Diana explains this word in the Author's Notes at the end of the book: "period colloquialism; an onomatopoetic word that means just what it sounds like: complicated and involuntary entanglement, whether physical, legal, or emotional."

fridstool (p. 174, also title of chapter 14) - see Diana's explanation on Compuserve here.

hockogrockle (p. 190) - the sound of this word makes me smile.

stocious (p. 106) - I love Nessie's way with words.

What about the rest of you?  Do you have a favorite new word or two that you picked up from THE SCOTTISH PRISONER?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions

I have updated the main Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page here on my blog, to include the latest information about Diana Gabaldon's new and upcoming releases, and also to add a few new items.

If you think of anything else you'd like to see added to this FAQ, please let me know. I try to keep it as up-to-date as possible.


UPDATE 1/16/2012 7:02 am: I put the link to the revised FAQ page up on Diana Gabaldon's Facebook page yesterday, and Diana posted the following comment in response:

"Thanks so much, Karen! Your site is always a pleasure to read. <smile>"

Naturally, I was delighted to see that!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Release Dates FAQ has been updated

I have updated the Release Dates FAQ page to include the very latest information on Diana Gabaldon's upcoming books and stories. 

Please note, this information is subject to change, so watch for further updates in the coming weeks and months as I find out more.

Feel free to pass this on to anyone else who may be interested.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jamie vs. Frank

Check out this great blog post from Theresa at Outlander Kitchen!

Jamie Fraser vs. Frank Randall, playing a high-stakes game of checkers. :-)

I love the selection of quotes, and the photos are wonderful.  Thanks, Theresa, I really enjoyed that!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Happy Birthday to Diana Gabaldon!

Happy Birthday

Happy 60th Birthday to Diana Gabaldon! I hope she has a wonderful day.

If you're on Twitter, please join us in tagging your tweets today with #HappyBdayDG to celebrate Diana's birthday.  (If you want to see all the #HappyBdayDG tweets, look here.  Make sure you select the option to view All.)
Here is my tribute to Diana on her birthday: a selection of quotes from the books that remind me of her. These sorts of "authorial intrusions" are very rare in Diana's books, but I always enjoy the little glimpses of her own personality or writing habits coming out in her novels. I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you.

1) Roger and Bree, looking at one of Claire's letters. Diana loves parentheses, and has been known to nest them three levels deep, in posts on Compuserve -- which never fails to make me laugh.  (Look here for a particularly entertaining example of what I mean.)
“It’s okay,” he said, turning to kiss her cheek. “It’s your mum, and she’s in an especially parenthetical mood. She doesn’t normally do that unless she’s feeling happy.”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 34 ("Psalms, 30"). Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
2) Diana is very much a night owl. She does most of her writing from about midnight to 4 am.
Evidently, the whole household was now wrapped in slumber--save him.

He rather liked the feeling of solitude, like this, he alone wakeful, lord of the sleeping world.

(From THE SCOTTISH PRISONER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 13 ("By Darkness Met"). Copyright© 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
3) Diana doesn't write in a straight line; she doesn't use an outline; and she often doesn't know where the beginning of a book is until she's well into the writing of it.
I closed my eyes in reflex, then opened them again. Where ought I to begin?

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop. The line from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland drifted through my mind, and I smiled. Good advice, I supposed— but only if you happened to know where the beginning was, and I didn’t quite.

I twiddled the quill a bit, thinking.

Perhaps I should have an outline? That seemed sensible--and a little less daunting than starting straight in to write. I lowered the quill and held it poised above the paper for a moment, then picked it up again. An outline would have a beginning, too, wouldn’t it?

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 74 ("Twenty-Twenty"). Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) Some observations about what it's like to be an author on a book-tour.  (Really.  If you don't believe me, look here.)
Grey's days were a blur of activity, rushing from Whitehall offices to shipping offices, holding daily councils of war with the other officers, receiving and reviewing daily reports from the captains, writing daily summary reports for the colonels, reading orders, writing orders, hastily donning dress uniform and dashing out to leap on a horse in time to take his place at the head of a column to march through the London streets in a guildhall procession to the cheers of a crowd, then throwing the reins to a groom and brushing the horsehair from his uniform in a carriage on his way to a ball at Richard Joffrey's house, where he must dance with the ladies and confer in corners with the gentlemen, the ministers who ran the machine of war, and the merchants who greased its gears.

The one redeeming aspect of such affairs was that food was served, often his only opportunity to eat since breakfast.

(From LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 16 ("An Engagement is Broken"). Copyright© 2007 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) I have no idea if the following scene is based on Diana's own experience, when she was just starting out as a writer with three young children, but I've always imagined it must be. (No wonder she started writing in the middle of the night!)
Brianna stepped out into the corridor and slammed the door behind her. It was a solid door, and the resultant boom temporarily halted the outcry. On the other side, Jemmy began to cry, but she ignored him for the moment.

She drew a deep breath, prepared to wade into the melee, but then thought better of it. She couldn't face the thought of the interminable wrangling that would come of dealing with them as a group. Divide and conquer was the only way.

"I am writing," she declared instead, and looked narrow-eyed from face to face. "Something important." Mrs. Aberfeldy looked impressed; Mrs. Chisholm affronted; Mrs. Bug astonished.

She nodded coolly to each one in turn.

"I'll talk to each of you about it later. Aye?"

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 30 ("Spawn of Satan"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) Flora MacDonald's appearance in ABOSAA seems to be very similar to what Diana goes through in her public appearances.
I had to admire her; she was besieged on all sides by people wanting a word, but she kept her poise admirably, being kind and gracious to everyone--though this meant sitting sometimes for ten minutes, a forkful of food suspended in air as she listened to some interminable story.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 54 ("Flora MacDonald's Barbecue"). Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) And finally, one of my favorite "authorial comments" from the whole series -- Jamie and Lord John, at Ardsmuir, discussing the merits of Very Long Books:
"I have heard the point made, though, that the novelist's skill lies in the artful selection of detail. Do you not suppose that a volume of such length may indicate a lack of discipline in such selection, and hence a lack of skill?"

Fraser considered, sipping the ruby liquid slowly.

"I have seen books where that is the case, to be sure," he said. "An author seeks by sheer inundation of detail to overwhelm the reader into belief. In this case, however, I think it isna so. Each character is most carefully considered, and all the incidents chosen seem necessary to the story. No, I think it is true that some stories simply require a greater space in which to be told."

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 11 ("The Torremolinos Gambit"). Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DIANA!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Diana's interview with Skip Prichard

Check out this interview with Diana, recorded on the day THE SCOTTISH PRISONER was released in November.  Diana put the link up on Facebook today, but I know that some of you don't follow her page.

Notice the photo of the bookshelves in Diana's office.  (I think that's Otis the pug guarding them. <g>)  It's always interesting to see what's on her research shelves.

Help us celebrate Diana's birthday!

Diana Gabaldon's birthday is Wednesday, January 11th.  She will be 60 years old.

For those of you on Twitter: you can help celebrate Diana's birthday by tagging your tweets on the 11th with #HappyBdayDG. We did the same thing last year, and it was a lot of fun. Let's see how many people we can get to participate this time! You can address your tweets to Diana directly if you want -- she uses the id Writer_DG.

If you want to see all the #HappyBdayDG tweets, look here.  Make sure you select the option to view All.

If you're not on Twitter, or you want to leave a longer message, you can post on her Facebook page
It would be great if all the OUTLANDER bloggers out there would join us in this effort.  Let's see if we can get #HappyBdayDG trending on Wednesday!  Thanks.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My mom's reaction to OUTLANDER



So I finally got my mom to read OUTLANDER, and what was her reaction?

"It's not really my cup of tea."

"Oh?  Why not?"

"Well, there's a LOT of sex!"  (I just nodded, trying not to laugh.)  "And it's very violent.  Wife-beating and all that."

Before I could say something coherent about different cultural perspectives between the 18th and 20th centuries, and how Jamie's actions only seem outrageous from our modern point of view, she went on, not missing a beat:

"What's the name of the next book?"

"DRAGONFLY IN AMBER," I said, a little surprised.  "Should I bring you a copy?  You want to keep reading?"

"Yes," she said.  "I want to read all of them before we go." (Before our trip to Scotland in July, she meant.)

So, we'll see.  I did assure her that the last part of OUTLANDER is about as intense as it gets in the whole series, and the next book is quite different.  I am hoping that she'll continue with the series at least through VOYAGER, but I'm not going to pester her about it.  It will be interesting to see what her reaction is to DRAGONFLY, though.

Have any of you had this experience, where a friend or family member didn't get addicted right away?  Just wondering.

(Judy L., if you're reading this, please note that my mom is at least making a good-faith effort to read the books before we go.  And that's progress. <g>  She's looking forward to the trip, regardless.)

By the way, my mother does not read this blog, so I figured it was OK to talk about her reaction here.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

SCOTTISH PRISONER pictures

I'm always fascinated by what the places and things mentioned in Diana Gabaldon's books actually looked like.   Here are some pictures and links related to Diana's latest novel, THE SCOTTISH PRISONER.  (Click on any of the pictures to get a better view.)

* * * SPOILER WARNING! * * *

You may encounter SPOILERS below.  If you haven't yet finished THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, you may want to be careful reading this post!


Leighton Moss, in the Lake District, England (mentioned on p. 51)


The Fells at Derwentwater, in the Lake District (near where Helwater is supposed to be located)


Lough Ree, Athlone, Ireland


Athlone Castle, Ireland.  (If you take away the very modern boats and the cars parked near the dock, I think it looks very much as Diana described it in the book.)


Inchcleraun monastery, Ireland

And here are some miscellaneous pictures and links relating to things that were mentioned in SCOTTISH PRISONER:

How to make bran mash for horses

The rules of picquet, the card game that Lord John, Hal, and Harry were playing in Chapter 4 ("Not Good").


Bog butter - mentioned by Abbot Michael on p. 241.

Lindow Man  - body preserved in a bog, mentioned in the Author's Notes at the end of SCOTTISH PRISONER.


An Iroquois war club.  Diana said on Compuserve that this looks like the one Siverly used on Jamie.


The photo above shows a young child's corset from the 18th century.  Here's an article explaining the practice of corseting young children, and a set of child's stays from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


Bridle with snaffle.  No wonder two-year-old Willie nearly strangled himself when Jamie left him alone for a few minutes with one of these!

I hope you enjoy this collection.  I had a lot of fun putting it together!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A very young reader reviews OUTLANDER

Check out this blog post.  I thought it was hilarious!  And quite unlike most other reviews of OUTLANDER you've ever seen.

Thanks to Tracey at My Outlander Purgatory for the link. :-)

Diana's newest story

Those of you who follow Diana Gabaldon's #DailyLines on Twitter or Facebook may have noticed that she's been posting bits from a new story about Jamie and Ian, that takes place when they were very young men in France (before Jamie met Claire).

I know only two things about this story:

1) Diana says the title is "Virgin Sacrifice".

2) It's a short story for an anthology called DANGEROUS WOMEN.  (No, I don't have any idea when it will be published!  But as soon as I find out more details, I'll post an announcement here.)

If you want to talk about this story, there's a discussion on Compuserve here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

December poll results



Happy New Year everyone!

Here are the results of the December poll:

What's your favorite way to read or listen to Diana Gabaldon's books?
  • 20.76% - Reading the books in hardcover.
  • 19.24% - Reading the books in paperback.
  • 14.18% - Reading on my Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader.
  • 12.91% - Listening to the audiobooks on my iPod or other portable device.
  • 7.59% - It depends on the situation, or what mood I'm in.
  • 4.81% - Listening to the CDs.
  • 3.04% - Reading on my iPhone, iPad, or similar device.
  • 14.94% - All of the above.
  • 0.25% - I haven't yet read any of Diana Gabaldon's books.
  • 2.28% - Other
There were 395 votes in this month's poll, and I think the results are very interesting. I was surprised by the number of people who voted "all of the above".

I didn't vote in the poll, but my favorite is listening to the audiobooks on my iPod.  (I'm going to put SCOTTISH PRISONER on it today, as a matter of fact.)

Thanks so much to everyone who participated!  Please take a moment to vote in the January poll, which is all about excerpts:  do you read them or avoid them?
    One other thing I wanted to share with you:



    The chart above shows the number of monthly visitors (in yellow) and page views (red and yellow combined) for Outlandish Observations in 2011.  You can see why I've been delighted with the results in the last few months!  This is a very positive trend, and I hope it continues through 2012.