Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Revised and Updated OUTLANDISH COMPANION Vol. 1 is out!

Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDISH COMPANION Volume One (Revised and Updated Edition) is now available!

For those of you who are not familiar with the original OUTLANDISH COMPANION, first published in 1999, Diana Gabaldon described it this way, in a post on Compuserve on January 14, 2015:
[It's] a non-fiction book, with a lot of information about the first four books of the series:  OUTLANDER through DRUMS OF AUTUMN.   It has detailed synopses of those books, for the use of people who can't remember what happened and want to catch up before reading the next book, but don't have time (they think) to go back and re-read the earlier novels.

It has numerous essays by me, about how I came to write the books, where characters come from, doing historical research and a few other things, an annotated Bibliography of all the references I used while working on those four novels, a Gaelic Glossary, a few fun things like professionally-cast horoscopes for Jamie and Claire, and so on.  My husband describes it as "the perfect bathroom book," since you can pick it up and open it anywhere. <g>
Please note that word "non-fiction"! This is NOT one of the OUTLANDER novels.

What's new in the Revised and Updated edition?

The sections on "Work In Progress" and "Outlandish Websites and Online Venues", which had become badly outdated, have been removed, and obsolete material has been removed from some of the other sections as well.

As for what has been added, Diana Gabaldon posted this on Facebook on February 18, 2015:
I put _in_ four new essays, and a new Section dealing with the TV show. The essays are: Jamie and the Rule of Three (about the hows and whys of Wentworth Prison), Book-Touring for Beginners (for those who think this is a glamorous thing to do ), A Brief Disquisition on the Existence of Butt-Cooties, and "The Shape of Things" (an essay on How I Write, and what the internal geometry of each book looks like to me).

Now, these essays have all appeared in one place or another on the internet, though the first three were originally done as blog-posts, and thus have been formalized and tidied up a bit for their appearance in the OC I. ("The Shape of Things" appears as a back-matter add-in to the 20th Anniversary edition of OUTLANDER.)

The new TV section has several pieces, describing the book-to-screen process (how we got from an option to a TV show), the adaptation process in theory and in practice, the actors and what they do, and an account of "My Brief Career as a TV Actor." Also a section including photos from the show kindly supplied by Sony.
For the full explanation in Diana's own words, look here

THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION Volume Two (pictured above), covering THE FIERY CROSS, A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, AN ECHO IN THE BONE, and WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD, will be published on October 27, 2015.

For more details about both OUTLANDISH COMPANION books, see my OUTLANDISH COMPANION FAQ page.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Episode 101-108 Recaps

With the mid-season premiere of OUTLANDER only a few days away now, and the series FINALLY available in the UK, I thought this would be a good time to repost my reactions to Episodes 101-108:

Episode 101: "Sassenach"
Episode 102: "Castle Leoch"
Episode 103: "The Way Out"
Episode 104: "The Gathering"
Episode 105: "Rent"
Episode 106: "The Garrison Commander"
Episode 107: "The Wedding"
Episode 108: "Both Sides Now"

These are my initial impressions of each episode.  I plan to do similar posts for Episodes 109-116.  Hope you enjoy them!

Monday, March 23, 2015

UK OUTLANDER premiere!!

Today is the official UK premiere of the OUTLANDER TV series! Events will be held in London and Glasgow tonight, with the first 8 episodes available via Amazon Prime Instant Video starting on Thursday, March 26.

Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe will be attending the UK premiere, but Diana Gabaldon will not. She's traveling in France this week.

I'm delighted that fans in the UK will finally be able to watch the show!  I understand that many of you were disappointed that OUTLANDER will not be shown on broadcast TV, but let's try to focus on the positive side of things.  It's a wonderful adaptation, and I'm sure fans in the UK will enjoy it just as much as the rest of us have.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

2,000 followers on Twitter!

I've reached 2,000 followers on Twitter!  THANK YOU ALL!!

If you want to check out my tweets, you can follow me at @karenh3a.

UPDATE 3/23/2015: Thanks very much to the Heughligans (@Heughligans) for helping to get the word out about my presence on Twitter. Since their announcement on Saturday night, I've gained almost 200 additional followers!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Interesting comments by Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon posted some very interesting comments on Facebook and Twitter last night, explaining what she meant when she told Sam Heughan (in the very first OUTLANDER panel discussion back in January 2014), “I trust you’ll take this in the spirit intended, Sheugs--but I really want to see you raped and tortured.”

I remember Diana's original comments on that panel discussion very well indeed, and I understood what she meant at the time, but I'm glad she posted this explanation for the benefit of people who may have missed it, or not understood why she said what she did.

Some of you may recall that my comments after that panel discussion in 2014 inadvertently inspired what Diana referred to as the "Necessary (Horrible) Thing" in WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD. <g>  (Hint: see chapter 133.)  What I was thinking at the time was very much along the same lines as what Diana said here:
the reason why Bad Things happen to people in my books is [....] to reveal the true nature and deep character of the person to whom the bad thing happens—in a way that you simply don’t get when a person is responding to the normal vicissitudes of life.
This is something that took me a long time to understand.  Actually, no, that's not accurate.  It took me a long time, and multiple re-reads/re-listens, to be able to see past my own very intense emotional response to these traumatic events (Wentworth, or J&C's separation in DRAGONFLY, or Roger's hanging), to view the story with enough objectivity that I could even begin to consider why Diana Gabaldon would put her characters through such ordeals.
It's not an easy thing to come to terms with, as a reader, especially when you've become so invested in the characters that you think of them as real people. <g> And I think the TV viewers who have not read the books will be in for one hell of a shock, to put it mildly.  I'm really looking forward to seeing their reaction.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I don't have a drop of Irish blood myself, but I'm reliably informed that everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day!  So, in celebration of the day, here are my top 10 most memorable Irish characters from Diana Gabaldon's books, in alphabetical order:

1) Bernard Adams.  You may remember that Lord John gouged his eye out at the end of BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE.  He later confessed to the murder of Lord John's father, the Duke of Pardloe.

2) Stephen Bonnet. One of Diana's most memorable villains.  I think Brianna gave him a more merciful death than he deserved.

3) Father Donahue, the priest who baptizes Germain, Jemmy, and Joan in FIERY CROSS.  He seemed a very pragmatic, adaptable sort of person, perfectly willing to baptize the children with whisky instead of water if that was the only option available.  (And IMHO he gets extra points for managing to keep a straight face while listening to Jamie's confession involving Claire and the butter churn. <g>)

4) Father Michael FitzGibbons, abbot of Inchcleraun monastery, Ireland.  The abbot is a decent man (despite his desire to get Jamie involved in the Jacobite scheme), with a curiosity about the natural world that I was surprised to see in a priest.

5) Jeffries, the Dunsanys' coachman in VOYAGER.  Besides Jamie, and Lord and Lady Dunsany, he's the only other eyewitness to the death of the Eighth Earl of Ellesmere.  I wonder if we'll see him again in a future book?

6) Aloysius O'Shaughnessy Murphy.  Ship's cook aboard the Artemis, in VOYAGER. He makes a truly memorable (or should we say infamous?) turtle soup! <g>

7) The O'Higgins brothers, Rafe and Mick, who helped to smuggle Percy Wainwright out of prison near the end of BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE.  They played only a relatively minor role in that book, but I thought they were pretty entertaining.

8) Tobias Quinn.  He was certainly a memorable character in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, although I found him somewhat irritating and a nuisance most of the time.  I liked his sense of humor.

9) Finbar Scanlon. The apothecary in LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER.  Among other things, he cured Maria Mayrhofer of syphilis by deliberately infecting her with malaria.

10) Gerald Siverly.  He saved Lord John's life in "The Custom of the Army", but that's his only redeeming quality, as far as I'm concerned.  He was a very memorable villain in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER!

And last but definitely NOT least, here's to our favorite Irish actress, the amazing Caitriona Balfe!!

Have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day, everybody!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Signed copies of the updated OUTLANDISH COMPANION

If you're thinking of ordering (or have already pre-ordered) an autographed copy of the updated version of the OUTLANDISH COMPANION Volume One (due out March 31, 2015) from the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Arizona, here is something you need to be aware of.

Diana Gabaldon will be out of the country on the day this book is published.  When she returns home in early April, she will sign copies of the new book at the Poisoned Pen.  However:
I'll _just_ sign them, rather than inscribe names and messages.  Both in the interests of time and volume (it takes more than four times as long to do inscriptions as it does to do signatures), but principally because I'll be hosting an event for Susanna Kearsley's A DESPERATE FORTUNE on April 6th.
Look here for Diana's full explanation in her own words.

So if you are looking for a personalized inscription ("To xxxxx, Hope you enjoy your trip to Scotland!", etc.) in your copy of the new OUTLANDISH COMPANION Volume One (Revised and Updated Edition), unfortunately that won't be possible right away. You can, however, still get a signed copy of the book.  (Look here for ordering information.)  If you have questions about this, please contact the Poisoned Pen.

For more information about the updated and revised OUTLANDISH COMPANION Volume One, see my OUTLANDISH COMPANION FAQ page.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

PaleyFest, and a new trailer!

Diana Gabaldon, Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, Tobias Menzies, and Ronald D. Moore will be appearing at PaleyFest in Los Angeles on Thursday, March 12.

If you can't be there in person, you can watch the live stream of the event here.

In the meantime, here's the latest OUTLANDER trailer, featuring a "smoldering" Sam Heughan and scenes from upcoming episodes.  Three and a half weeks to go!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The "extras" on the Blu-ray Collector's Edition (Disk 2)

Here is Part 2 of my reactions to the OUTLANDER Season 1 Vol. 1 Blu-ray Collector's Edition. This post covers the "extras" on Disk 2 only. (You can see Part 1 here.)

On Location: Castle Leoch and the Magic of Scotland
I enjoyed this segment quite a bit. The scenery is amazing! And yes, Scotland absolutely IS a character in the show, just as it is in the books. <g> I'm so glad I got to see it for myself in 2012. Every time I see that scene at the end of the opening credits with J&C riding toward the mountains in the distance, I remember how incredibly green it was in Scotland, especially in the area around Glencoe -- exactly as it's shown in that shot. I had never seen a landscape that green before, probably because I've never lived anywhere where it rains as much as it does in Scotland.

I liked seeing the contrast between Castle Leoch in 1945 and 1743. I also liked seeing how they replicated Castle Doune's stone walls. The Great Hall set is amazing -- it's even bigger than I thought it was! -- but seeing all those candles reminded me of Diana Gabaldon's story of what it was like to film her cameo on that set, with people practically collapsing from heatstroke (in February!)

And I liked Diana's comment that "You really can't write about the culture [of the Highlands] without evoking the landscape."

Emerging a Scot: Cast Goes to Bootcamp
This segment was a lot of fun! And fascinating to watch. I didn't realize that Sam's fight scenes were quite so "martial-artsy"; I'll have to watch for that in future episodes. I liked Grant O'Rourke's comments about riding horses. <g> I loved the Gaelic bits, especially Adhamh's explanation of the sounds, and watching the cast members practicing their Gaelic.

A Walk Through the Sets and Stages with Ronald D. Moore
I was very happy to see this feature included on the Blu-ray. When Diana visited the set in February 2014, her descriptions of what "OutlanderWorld" was like made me intensely curious to see for myself, and I suggested that they do a guided tour just like this for the DVD. It's really amazing to see all the behind-the-scenes work that goes on in a production like this. The attention to detail in every aspect of the production is just incredible. I liked seeing the artist hand-decorating the jar of "slaters", for example. And the armoury was really interesting, particularly the working firearms and the process of "antiquing" swords. I remember that Diana said the armoury was her favorite part of "OutlanderWorld", and you can see why. <g>

Here are my reactions to the deleted scenes for Episodes 105-108:

EP105 ("Rent")

Deleted Scene #1: "Scots Will Never Flee"
"No, I do understand, I saw it happen in France." I understand what they were trying to do here, but I think the significance of this comment might have been lost on viewers who don't know where exactly Claire was stationed during WWII. As for "Their answer is to flee their land. The Scots will never flee," it sounds good in theory, but of course we know that many thousands of Scots did just that, in the years after Culloden and during the Clearances in the 19th century.

Deleted Scene #2: "Guest of the Clan MacKenzie"
I didn't like the added voiceover as they rode away. Yes, it's a parallel to the poem that opens the episode, but I thought it was unnecessary and rather distracting. And this whole scene works much better with the cliffhanger ending! In the version we see here, the dramatic tension of the moment is sort of drained away by the recitation of that poem, IMHO. I'm glad they changed it.

EP106 ("The Garrison Commander")

Deleted Scene #1: "An Affair of the Heart"
The major change here seems to be the voiceover of Claire's reaction to BJR. I'm glad they cut it. It seems to be a classic case of "telling" rather than "showing", and it really wasn't necessary.

Deleted Scene #2: "The Idea of Marriage"
This is a terrific scene! All of it. I wish they'd been able to keep some of this in the final version of the episode, although I do like the ending in the actual episode very much. This scene does an excellent job of showing how conflicted Claire is (with dialogue taken word-for-word from the book <g>) and I thought the flashback scene with Frank was very sweet.

EP107 ("The Wedding")

Deleted Scene #1: "Why Jamie?"
This is a great scene! I love the exchange between Murtagh and Dougal: "Are ye insulting my integrity, you bastard?" "Oh, no. That would require ye to have some for me to insult." Jamie's reaction is spot on, too.

Deleted Scene #2: "Tell Me About Your Family"
Wow. This scene is a keeper, definitely! <g> Sam does an outstanding job throughout. I liked Claire's explanation for her parents' deaths ("A car crash. A carriage....a carriage overturned on the road.") Jamie is a wonderful storyteller, and I liked the bit with the cups, as he gently teases Claire.

Deleted Scene #3: "Give Us Peace"
This seems almost the same as the original, with just a couple of extra lines. I'm not really surprised Willie's lines got cut, but it was good to see Murtagh's line from the book added here.

Deleted Scene #4: "Jamie and Claire's Wedding"
I'm so glad to have a clip of the whole ceremony!! I liked the way Claire paused a long time before saying her vows, and also the way she reacted to the line "to be meek and obedient". (Ha! I hear a much older Jamie in my head saying, "I've never seen you do ANYTHING meek, Sassenach.") And the kiss is exactly as described in the book. <g>

Deleted Scene #5: "Blood Vow"
I love that we finally get to hear the "Respect has room for secrets, but not for lies" exchange between Jamie and Claire! I really wish this had been included in the final episode, but I guess there just wasn't time.

EP108 ("Both Sides Now")

Deleted Scene #1: "Bound by Society's Rules"
The discussion of wigs would be interesting under different circumstances, I think. As it's shown here, it's a distraction, and decreases the dramatic tension, IMHO, instead of letting it build up. But I do like Claire's opinion of 18th c. men's wigs. <g> I thought the rest of the exchange between BJR and Claire was very good.


The Blu-ray Collector's Edition is very well done and I would certainly encourage you to buy a copy if you can.

For more about the OUTLANDER Season 1 Volume 1 DVD/Blu-ray, look here.

The "extras" on the Blu-ray Collector's Edition (Disk 1)

Here is Part 1 of my reactions to the OUTLANDER Season 1 Vol. 1 Blu-ray Collector's Edition.

First, a few quick comments about the Collector's Edition box and packaging:
  • Looking at the introductory booklet, I have to say, that's the most careful, legible signature of Diana Gabaldon's that I have ever seen <vbg>, with the possible exception of the one on my first-edition hardcover that she signed way back in July 1991.
  • I didn't understand what a "lenticular" was before I opened the package, but I like this very much!  I'm fascinated by the way Jamie turns into Frank and vice versa. <g>  It's sort of mesmerizing.
  • The packaging is very tastefully done.  I was expecting the booklet to be a separate, flimsy little thing that could easily be lost or misplaced (or shared with other fans).  Much to my surprise, the booklet turns out to be an integral part of the package.
  • I think they did a good job choosing quotes and photos to illustrate all eight episodes.
Here are my reactions to the "extras" on Disk 1. First, the "featurettes":

OUTLANDER: An Epic Adventure
I thoroughly enjoyed this. <g> Even though I've heard almost all of it before, it was fun to see people talking about the books interspersed with clips from the show (and a few of Diana Gabaldon's personal photos, too!)  I liked Maril Davis's comment about half of the writing staff being fans, half of them being new to the books: "We wanted to do that so we'd get both perspectives."  I had a smile on my face at the end of this segment. Well done!

Authentic in Design: The Dresses and Kilts of OUTLANDER
This was fascinating to watch, even though I had heard a lot of this before, in the podcasts.  I didn't realize there were four different tartans.  I especially liked the part where Sam talks about wearing the kilt, and the bit where Annette (Mrs. Fitz) shows us her pocket.

I loved this segment, even though I'd heard it all before.  It's hard to remember now that it took so long to find Claire.  I thought this comment of Ron's was interesting: "It had to be somebody that you could watch think."  It was fun to see Sam and Cait and Tobias talk about their roles.

Now, the deleted scenes from Episodes 101-104.

EP101 ("Sassenach")

Deleted Scene #1 - "A Word to the Wise"
I think they were right to move the voiceover about Frank to later in the episode.  It doesn't really fit here, when we've barely gotten into the story.  I loved hearing Mrs. Baird tell the story of Mountgerald's ghost (especially remembering Stephen Bonnet's version of what happened, in DRUMS OF AUTUMN chapter 39), but I can understand why this was cut. Did we really need to spend that much time climbing the stairs of the B&B, just so we could hear this story?

Deleted Scene #2 - "Who are You?"
I liked the extra bit with BJR and Claire, which is taken straight from the book. I think the part where she screams into his ear, and then manages to get away briefly, makes Claire seem more resourceful, not as weak and helpless, and I wish they'd left that in.

EP102 ("Castle Leoch")

Deleted Scene #1 - "Now You're Ready"
This whole scene was fascinating to watch!  I love the details of the many layers of 18th century clothing, and seeing how long it takes to put everything on.  Mrs. Fitz's reaction to Claire's 20th century clothing was just priceless. <g>

Deleted Scene #2 - "Five Days"
The grand tour of the castle interior was interesting, but I can understand why they cut this. There's just not enough time to show everything.  I liked the added bits in the scene between Colum and Claire very much.

Deleted Scene #3: "There's a Price on My Head"
I love this scene! <g> It's just as I have always imagined from the book.  I wish they'd had time to include the whole thing in the actual episode.

Deleted Scene #4: "It Could Be Worse"
Rupert is terrific, but I think they were right to cut this scene where they did in the actual episode. I think the bit at the end with Rupert by himself is cute, but not necessary.

Deleted Scene #5: "A Simple Routine"
The first bit, with Claire talking about her "shadows", seems redundant and I think they were right to cut it.  I liked the scene with Frank and Claire in the castle, though.

Deleted Scene #6: "Present Your Case"
I really wish I understood what they were saying in Gaelic in this scene. <sigh> (Although I do understand and agree with the producers' decision not to include subtitles for the Gaelic.)  On the other hand, I don't think the few added bits from Geillis added very much.  This is not really as contradictory as it sounds; what I mean is, I wish the viewers could understand the Gaelic, but I'm glad that Claire does not. <g>

Deleted Scene # 7: "Do You Know Her?"
Interesting to see the leeches!  I remember Ron Moore talking in the podcast for this episode about how they tried and failed to create leeches that worked well enough on camera to be used in the actual episode.  Too bad.  I liked seeing this bit from the book, though.  Especially the look on Claire's face when Mrs. Fitz talks about "it's best if it's gathered up in a full moon".  You can see Claire thinking, "Superstitious nonsense!"  And yet, eventually Claire comes to understand the reasoning behind such practices, and follow them herself, as she explains to Roger many years later in AN ECHO IN THE BONE, chapter 24.

EP103: "The Way Out"

Deleted Scene #1: "A Fellow Practitioner"
The beginning of the scene with Geillis and Claire is filmed from an odd angle, which I thought was very distracting, and I didn't care for it. I think they were right to cut this bit.

EP104: "The Gathering"

Deleted Scene #1: "I Give You My Obedience"
This is a WONDERFUL scene!!  All of it.  I really wish they'd included it in the actual episode.  I think Sam is just mesmerizing here.  I love the look on Jamie's face after Colum's speech, and also the way he says the last line, which is better than the way I've heard it in my head all these years. <g>

Look here for my reactions to the "extras" on Disk 2.

For more about the OUTLANDER Season 1 Volume 1 DVD/Blu-ray, look here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

One month and counting!

One month and counting until the OUTLANDER TV series returns on April 4th with all-new episodes! STARZ released these new promotional images today:

I like these very much!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

OUTLANDER Season 1 Vol. 1 now available on DVD/Blu-ray!

OUTLANDER Season 1, Volume 1 (covering the first 8 episodes) is now available on DVD and Blu-ray!

If you can't find it in your local stores, you can order from Amazon here:


NOTE IF YOU LIVE OUTSIDE THE US:  The links above are for the US version only.  The DVD is, or soon will be, available in several other countries, including Canada, Australia, and Germany, but check with DVD sellers in your country to confirm availability.

Look here for a detailed description of the additional features available with each edition. I love watching the extra features on DVDs of movies and TV shows in general, and I can't wait to see the "goodies" they've included with OUTLANDER!

Please note:  The special "Collector's Edition" Blu-ray box comes with additional storage space designed to hold the DVDs for the second half of Season 1, when they eventually become available, so that you can keep all of the Season 1 episodes in one box.

I'm interested to hear what the rest of you think of the "extras" they've included.  Feel free to post a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page.

For more information about the OUTLANDER TV series, see my FAQ page here.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Results of the February poll

Here are the results of the February poll, which asked the question, "How did you discover the OUTLANDER books?"
  • 28.01% - A friend or family member recommended the books to me.
  • 23.74% - I started reading the books as a result of watching, or hearing about, the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 19.94% - I stumbled across them while browsing in a bookstore or library.
  • 7.98% - A friend or family member gave me a copy of OUTLANDER, saying, "Read this, you'll love it!"
  • 2.85% - Someone on Facebook, Goodreads, or another online site recommended them.
  • 2.33% - I read a review in a newspaper, magazine, or online.
  • 2.29% - I found the audiobooks before reading the print version.
  • 2.11% - I found a used copy at a garage sale, second-hand bookstore, etc.
  • 1.68% - A librarian or bookstore employee recommended them.
  • 1.55% - Doubleday Book Club or other book-of-the-month club.
  • 0.60% - Someone at my book club mentioned them.
  • 6.91% - Other
There were 2317 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated! I was fascinated to see how many people found the OUTLANDER books as a result of watching, or hearing about, the TV series.

I didn't vote in the poll myself, but I found OUTLANDER entirely by accident, browsing in Barnes & Noble in 2006.  You can see my story here if you're interested.

Please take a moment to vote in the March poll, which is all about what you're doing to survive #Droughtlander (as many fans call the long wait before the TV series resumes in April).  Thanks!