Saturday, October 6, 2018

New opening title sequence for Season 4!

STARZ has posted the new opening title sequence for OUTLANDER Season 4!

As usual, they've changed the music somewhat, to give it a more Southern/Appalachian sort of feel. It's going to take a little time to get used to the singer's attempt at a Southern accent, but I'm really much more interested in the images.

The cabin looks perfect, very much as I've always imagined it! I laughed when I saw the Highland dancers.  And I like the bath scene. <g>

The shot of the gorgeous North Carolina scenery at the end made me go, "Ooooohhhh!!" and immediately put me in a good mood.  Then I looked closer, and what I saw made me like it even more! If you look really closely at the view of Fraser's Ridge at the end, you can make out Jamie and Claire in the center of the shot, looking out over the ridge, Jamie's arm around Claire, and Claire leaning in affectionately toward him.  I like that a lot, as a sort of evolution of the famous shot of the two of them riding across the Scottish landscape from Season 1.

I'm interested to hear what the rest of you think of the new opening sequence. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

OUTLANDER on the cover of Entertainment Weekly!

OUTLANDER is on the cover of this week's issue of Entertainment Weekly magazine!  The special issue features a look at OUTLANDER Season 4, including a photo shoot with Sam and Cait.

My reactions, in no particular order:

"Some like it Scot" -- really, is that the best they could do? Recycling a tagline from STARZ's Season 1 advertising from 2015?  How unoriginal. <sigh>

From their clothing and the background in some of the shots, this seems to be Jamie and Claire at Jocasta Cameron's plantation, River Run.  Talk about giving a misleading impression of what Season 4 will be all about!

Of the three covers shown above, I like the first one (with the two of them together) the best. On the other hand, I was really struck by the lifeless expressions on Sam and Cait's faces in many of these photos, as if to say, "We've spent the entire day posing for this ridiculous photo shoot, we're tired and bored, and we want to go home!"

I'm kind of underwhelmed, but that's all right. I don't think the diehard fans are the target audience for these covers.  The EW people who put this photo shoot together are trying to sell magazines and/or get clicks for their website, and to that end, they'll do whatever they think will appeal to casual readers/viewers, whether it bears the slightest relationship to the actual contents of Season 4 or not.

At least they got to keep their clothes on for these pics, unlike the very controversial EW cover which some of you may remember from 2016.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Which new character are you most looking forward to seeing in Season 4?

Less than five weeks to go now until OUTLANDER Season 4 premieres!

Which NEW character (excluding Jamie, Claire, Roger, Brianna, etc.) are you most looking forward to seeing in Season 4?  There are number of very important characters that will be introduced this season, and I'm excited to see all of them.

Please take a moment to vote in the October poll on Outlandish Observations. If your most-anticipated character isn't listed, you can always vote "Other" and write him/her in. Thanks!

September poll results

Here are the results of the September poll, which asked the question, "What are you doing to pass the time until the OUTLANDER TV series resumes?"
  • 29.88% - All of the above.
  • 16.99% - Reading (or re-reading) Diana Gabaldon's books.
  • 11.33% - Watching Seasons 1-3 again.
  • 10.74% - Reading books by other authors.
  • 6.05% - Listening to the OUTLANDER audiobooks.
  • 5.08% - Devouring any information I can find (trailers, photos, interviews, etc.) about the TV series.
  • 3.91% - Pursuing other hobbies or interests not related to OUTLANDER.
  • 3.71% - Following various OUTLANDER fan-sites, including Outlandish Observations.
  • 3.13% - Focusing on family, work, or other commitments.
  • 1.95% - Trying to get other people to read the books or watch the TV series.
  • 1.95% - I'm not interested in the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 1.76% - Hanging out on Diana Gabaldon's Facebook page or
  • 3.52% - Other:
Here are the responses for "Other":
  • most of the above
  • watching, reading, devouring information
  • all of the above
  • Watching and re-reading the books and scouring the internet for Season 4 news
  • .attending the Fraser Ridge Homecoming in NC in two weeks!
  • Re-reading and re-watching and devouring any all information I can find about t
  • haven't seen the series, yet
  • 2, 5, and 10. Mostly 2.
  • Reading other histories from the same time period - both fiction and non-fiction
  • re-reading outlander books & re-watching outlander tv seriees
  • Travelling in UK - Especially Scotland September
  • Watching other series such as The Crown, Poldark,
  • Watching the series and reading the series
  • both choices 1 & 2.
  • Heading to Scotland for a three week holiday
  • Camping and canning!
  • Watching,reading,FBooking, Litforuming Outlander
  • I am re-reading some of books and listening to others.
There were 512 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

Please take a moment to vote in the October poll, which asks, "Which NEW character are you most looking forward to seeing in OUTLANDER Season 4?"

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

11,000 followers on Facebook!

I'm celebrating a blogging milestone today: My Outlandish Observations Facebook page now has more than 11,000 followers!!

THANK YOU ALL!! I really appreciate your support!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

My trip to Yorktown and Jamestown

My mom and I just returned from a trip to Yorktown and Jamestown, Virginia. The weather was great the whole time, much to our relief. It felt good to be out in the sun after all that rain with Florence!

We stayed in the same hotel as on our last visit in the spring of 2017, literally across the street from a small beachfront along the York River (more about that below), and ten minutes down the road from the American Revolution Museum (formerly known as the Yorktown Victory Center).

On Thursday we spent the day touring the American Revolution Museum, which was very interesting. They had a special exhibit on 18th century artillery (cannons, mostly), which I found absolutely fascinating!

I've been interested in 18th century weaponry since I first read OUTLANDER, and this was my first chance to really get a close look at how a cannon operates and what makes it so powerful.  And now I finally understand what, exactly, Lord John and the gun crew were doing during the Battle of Crefeld in BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE:
"Load!” he barked, and snatched the linstock from the bombardier, motioning the soldier to replace the man who had fled. Sponger and rammer fell to their work at once, with no more than a hasty glance at Grey, blood-soaked and vicious. The erstwhile bombardier was clumsy, but willing. Grey barked them through the maneuver, once, again, forcing them, guiding them, and then felt them begin to drop back into the accustomed rhythm of the work and pick up speed, gradually losing their terror in the encompassing labor of serving the gun.

His throat was raw. The wind whipped away half his words and what was left was barely intelligible--but he saw the crew respond to the lash of his voice, and kept shouting.

Cannon were firing close at hand but he couldn’t tell whether they were friend or foe; clouds of black powder smoke rolled over them, obscuring everything.

His soaked clothes had gone cold again, and it was raining. He had taken the coil of smoking slow-match from the bombardier and tied it in its bag to his own belt. His fingers were stiff, clumsy; he had difficulty forcing the lighted fuse into the linstock, but forced himself to keep the rhythm, shouting orders in a voice that cracked like broken iron. Sponge. Vent. Load cartridge. Ram. Load wadding. Ram. Check vent. Powder. Fall back! And the hissing small flame at the end of the linstock coming down toward the touchhole, sure and graceful, with no sense at all that his own hand guided it.

That moment of suspended animation and the crash and buck of the gun. The first one left him deafened; he knew he was still shouting only because his throat hurt.

(From LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 29, "Dawn of Battle". Copyright© 2007 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

If I'm not mistaken, the cannon that exploded during that battle and seriously injured Lord John was a 24-pounder, which is a very large cannon.  According to the information I saw in the museum exhibit, a cannonball shot from a 24-pound "siege cannon" like the ones used at Yorktown during the Revolutionary War would have the same amount of energy (1.3 million joules) as a truck going 75 mph.  So whatever it smashed into, it would do a lot of damage!

The ornately-carved handles on the large cannon shown above are called "dolphins". If you've read "Lord John and the Haunted Soldier", you may remember the piece of the dolphin that Lord John took from the remains of the destroyed cannon, part of the evidence of the cannon explosion.

The rest of the exhibits were interesting, too, but our favorite was the "immersive" theater showing a recreation of the Battle of Yorktown, complete with realistic sound effects and "cannon smoke" rising knee-deep inside the theater! (The smoke took us totally by surprise. Very effective!)

After lunch, we went to see the outdoor "living history" part of the museum: a Continental Army encampment (including a musket-firing demonstration) and a small 18th-century farming community. I had fun examining everything, from the cooking equipment to the surgeon's supplies. I asked to see the bayonet affixed to the musket the re-enactor used for the demonstration, and was disappointed to find that the blade wasn't sharp. I assume the real ones would be, though! (Lethally so, if the bayonet wound Jamie suffered at Culloden is any indication.)

The next morning (Friday) we drove to Jamestown Settlement, and spent the morning exploring the museum there. It was well done, but not as interesting as Yorktown, in my opinion. Still, I learned a few things.  Example: one reason the original colonists had such a hard time that first year was that the water sources nearby were brackish (too salty to drink), and they didn't have good access to fresh water.

The most interesting artifact I saw at Jamestown was this 17th-century bandolier, or ammunition belt. The little bottles all have individual corks. Each of the vials would have been filled with enough powder and shot to fire a musket.

Again, there was an outdoor "living history" area, which probably would have been more interesting if I hadn't seen the one at Yorktown just the day before. Also, we didn't have a lot of time to explore the outdoor areas in detail, since we wanted to get back to the hotel in time for our boat ride at 2pm.

We headed back to Yorktown, arriving just in time to make our way over to the dock (literally a 5 minute walk from our hotel!) where the schooner Alliance (pictured above) was waiting. They do sightseeing cruises three times a day through November. We had seen the ship the  last time we were there, in the spring of 2017, but didn't realize it was an actual cruise until we were leaving, so this is something we really wanted to try the next time we visited.

It was worth the wait.  This was definitely the highlight of our trip! The 2-hour cruise up the York River was a lot of fun.  The Alliance is a 105-foot, 3-masted sailing ship (the tallest mast is 64 feet), built in the style of ships used during the Age of Sail in the 18th century.   It was an unforgettable experience, watching at close range as the crew (two young guys who apparently live on board the ship) raised the huge sails, and carefully adjusted the ropes as needed to turn the ship as the wind changed.  The sails are raised and lowered sort of like ENORMOUS window-blinds, fifty or sixty feet tall. <g>

It was a gorgeous day to go sailing, sunny with just enough of a breeze to fill the sails.  Very peaceful and relaxing.  There were only about 15 or 20 people on board.  I used a folding manual wheelchair to get from the hotel to the dock, and they stowed the chair on board with no problem at all.  All in all, a lovely experience that was well worth doing!

You can see more of my trip photos in my public Facebook album here. (I think the link should work even if you're not on Facebook.) Most of the photos are of things that would be of interest to anyone who enjoys the historical details in the OUTLANDER books. <g>

I would definitely recommend the American Revolution Museum to anyone visiting the Yorktown or Williamsburg area!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hurricane quotes from the OUTLANDER books

Most of you have probably heard that Hurricane Florence is heading for the Carolinas this week, a very powerful storm that is expected to do major damage.  As those of us in the path of the storm (I live in Raleigh, NC) complete our preparations and hunker down in anticipation of Florence's arrival, I couldn't resist a few hurricane-related quotes from the OUTLANDER books.

1) This first quote comes from the final scene in VOYAGER, in which Jamie and Claire learn where they've ended up after the storm.
"Of course, you were cast away by the storm. My husband was saying last night that he’d never seen such a dreadful blow at this time of year. What a mercy it is that you were saved! But you came from the islands to the south, then?”

The south. This couldn’t be Cuba. Might we have come as far as St. Thomas, or even Florida? We exchanged a quick glance, and I squeezed Jamie’s hand. I could feel the pulse beating in his wrist.

Mrs. Olivier smiled indulgently. “You are not on an island at all. You are on the mainland; in the Colony of Georgia.”

“Georgia,” Jamie said. “America?” He sounded slightly stunned, and no wonder. We had been blown at least six hundred miles by the storm.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 63, "Out of the Depths". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Imagine being carried six hundred miles by a very powerful hurricane (say a Category 4 or 5, in today's terms), in a tiny, fragile wooden sailing ship. It really is a miracle that they survived.

2) I like this bit, and I was glad to see they included it in Episode 313 ("Eye of the Storm"). To me, Jamie's last line just proves how terrified and desperate he was. And the way he says it always makes me laugh a little, even in the midst of this life-and-death situation.
A sense of lassitude and utter peace stole gradually over me. I couldn’t feel my feet or legs, and only Jamie’s crushing grip on my hands reminded me of their existence. My head went under water, and I had to remind myself to hold my breath.

The wave subsided and the wood rose slightly, bringing my nose above water. I breathed, and my vision cleared slightly. A foot away was the face of Jamie Fraser, hair plastered to his head, wet features contorted against the spray.

“Hold on!” he roared. “Hold on, God damn you!”

I smiled gently, barely hearing him. The sense of great peace was lifting me, carrying me beyond the noise and chaos. There was no more pain. Nothing mattered. Another wave washed over me, and this time I forgot to hold my breath.

The choking sensation roused me briefly, long enough to see the flash of terror in Jamie’s eyes. Then my vision went dark again.

“Damn you, Sassenach!” his voice said, from a very great distance. His voice was choked with passion. “Damn you! I swear if ye die on me, I’ll kill you!"

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 63, "Out of the Depths". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

3) This is one of my favorite bits linking parts of the story together:
Then a bolt crashed down beside the ship, lightning and thunder together, close enough to hear the hiss of boiling water in the ringing aftermath of the thunderclap. The sharp reek of ozone flooded the air. Innes turned from the light, his tall, thin figure so sharply cut against the flash that he looked momentarily like a skeleton, black bones against the sky.

The momentary dazzle and his movement made it seem for an instant that he stood whole once more, two arms swinging, as though his missing limb had emerged from the ghost world to join him, here on the brink of eternity.

Oh, de headbone connected to de … neckbone. Joe Abernathy’s voice sang softly in memory. And de neckbone connected to de … backbone … I had a sudden hideous vision of the scattered limbs I had seen on the beach by the corpse of the Bruja, animated by the lightning, squirming and wriggling to reunite.

Dem bones, dem bones, are gonna walk around.
Now, hear de word of de Lawd!

Another clap of thunder and I screamed, not at the sound, but at the lightning bolt of memory. A skull in my hands, with empty eyes that had once been the green of the hurricane sky.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 63, "Out of the Depths". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I was on about my fifth re-read of the series before someone pointed out this connection to me: Claire, in a moment of stunned horror, realizing all at once that the skull she'd held in Joe Abernathy's office in 1968 was in fact the skull of the green-eyed Geillis -- whom Claire herself had killed in the cave at Abandawe. I think I would have screamed, too.

4) And here's a little taste of what it must be like on Ocracoke Island, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, during one of these storms. (This photo from shows Cape Hatteras, near Ocracoke, during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.)
It had been raining for days, and the footing was uncertain, slippery and boggy by turns.  The wind was high, and the storm surge pounded the beaches; they could hear it, even in the secluded spot where the portal lay.

"We were all scared--maybe all but Rob--but it was way exciting, man," he said, beginning to show a glimmer of enthusiasm.  "The trees were just about layin' down flat, and the sky, it was green.  The wind was so bad, you could taste salt, all the time, because little bits of ocean were flying through the air, mixed with the rain.  We were, like, soaked through to our choners."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 55, "Wendigo". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Wishing everyone in Florence's path good luck! Stay safe.

Monday, September 10, 2018

New Season 4 Trailer!

STARZ released a new Season 4 trailer today, and I think it's terrific!  It includes some scenes from previous trailers, but also a great deal of new material, including our first look at Roger and Bree in Season 4.

Friday, September 7, 2018

What exactly is "telling the bees"?

As many of you know, the title of Diana Gabaldon's upcoming Book 9 in the OUTLANDER series is GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE.

What exactly does it mean to "tell the bees", and where did that custom come from?

Diana Gabaldon explains it this way on her website:
Where did the title come from? Talking to your bees is a very old Celtic custom (known in other parts of Europe, too) that made it to the Appalachians. You always tell the bees when someone is born, dies, comes or goes--because if you don’t keep them informed, they’ll fly away.
Here's an interesting article published earlier this week that takes a closer look at the custom of "telling bees". Thanks to Martha W. for the link!

(The painting above is called "The Bee Friend", by 19th-century artist Hans Thoma.)

Diana Gabaldon at Yankee Stadium Sept. 14

Well, this is unexpected news, and certainly Something Different....

Diana Gabaldon just announced on Facebook that she will be throwing out the first pitch at the Sept. 14th game between the Yankees and Blue Jays, at Yankee Stadium!

Congratulations, Diana! That's very cool, and quite an honor! Apparently the Yankees approached her publisher, Penguin Random House, and asked if she'd be willing to do it.

I just hope she doesn't tell Bree or (especially) Jem about this! Those diehard Red Sox fans might never forgive her. <g>

UPDATE 9/15/2018 9:13 am - Here's the video. Great job, Diana!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

What are you doing to pass the time until Season 4 premieres?

It's been a very long #Droughtlander, but the end is finally in sight!

With only a little more than two months to go until the OUTLANDER TV series resumes on November 4th, I thought a good topic for this month's poll on Outlandish Observations would be what you've been doing to pass the time while we wait. Are you reading (or re-reading) the OUTLANDER books? Watching the DVDs? Constantly scanning social media for the slightest mention of Season 4 news? Or are you focusing on other things right now?

Personally, I'm enjoying these last few weeks of relative peace and quiet before The Great Thread Explosion of 2018-19 (aka the Season 4 discussions) begins on (formerly the Compuserve Books and Writers Community), where I manage the discussions in Diana Gabaldon's section of the forum. It's going to be absolutely insane for a few months, but I'm trying not to think about that too far in advance. ("Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof," as Frank likes to say....)

Please take a moment to vote in the September poll, and feel free to leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page, letting us know how you voted or sharing your favorite coping strategies for getting through #Droughtlander. Thanks!

August poll results

Here are the results of the August poll, which asked the question, "Who is your favorite villain in the OUTLANDER series?"
  • 30.46% - Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall
  • 14.64% - I don't have a favorite.
  • 13.73% - Geillis Duncan
  • 10.72% - Stephen Bonnet
  • 5.75% - Comte St. Germain
  • 5.62% - William Buccleigh MacKenzie
  • 5.62% - The Duke of Sandringham
  • 3.66% - Arch Bug
  • 3.53% - Laoghaire MacKenzie
  • 1.96% - Phillip Wylie
  • 1.83% - Malva Christie
  • 0.52% - Rob Cameron
  • 0.26% - Arvin Hodgepile
  • 1.70% - Other:
Here are the responses for "Other":
  • Captain Richardson
  • Mrs. Bug
  • Hate them all :)
  • I love them all
  • Tom Christie
  • All of the above!
  • Malva's brother
  • Colin MacKenzie, so treacherous & pretending to ca
  • Lord John Grey
  • Not favorite. Most hated. Black Jack!
  • Dougal (Graham McTavish)
  • Geneva
  • All of the above :)
There were 765 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

Please take a moment to vote in the September poll, which asks, "What are you doing to pass the time until the OUTLANDER TV series resumes?"

Friday, August 31, 2018

OUTLANDER Season 4 key art!

STARZ released the official OUTLANDER Season 4 "key art" today! This is the promotional image that will be used to advertise Season 4.

Here are a few of my first impressions:

- The mountains in the background could certainly be North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, though they don't look blue in this light. (For comparison purposes, here's a photo of the mountains near Asheville, NC, not too far from where Fraser's Ridge is supposed to be located.) That's not a complaint. Given the overall effect they were going for, it wouldn't make sense to show the mountains in full sunlight. They are definitely recognizable, though, which counts for a lot, if you ask me.

- Jamie has traded his sword and dirk for a musket. That's very appropriate!

- J&C are holding hands. <g> That signals to me that all's right with their relationship this season, that there won't be so much conflict between them as we've seen in the past. (At least I hope so!)

- The overcast skies are somewhat foreboding. There's danger ahead.  "Brave the New World" gives that impression, too -- settling in North Carolina will be a risky venture, full of unknown dangers and situations they've never faced before. The whole picture does a good job of portraying that.

- My sense is that they're looking toward the future -- but they're also standing on a precipice, and it could collapse at any moment. IMHO that's not a bad image for this point in the story, where they are starting on this phase of their lives with hope and optimism, but also with the knowledge that war will be coming within a few short years.

Kudos to the STARZ team!  I think they did a good job with this. What do the rest of you think?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Interview with Diana Gabaldon, Part 2

Here's Part 2 of my interview with Diana Gabaldon.  (You can see Part 1 here.)

I'm not a writer of fiction, but I love it when Diana explains various writing techniques. So I thought it would be interesting to explore this particular one. I was astounded, and very grateful, that Diana replied in such detail!

Be sure to click on the links about halfway through this post to read the examples from the text.


If you haven't read WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD (Book 8 of the OUTLANDER series), you may encounter spoilers below.

I was listening recently to the section of MOHB that deals with the Battle of Monmouth. It must be quite a challenge to write a complex series of scenes like that, with so many moving parts and different characters involved. Are there specific techniques that you use in writing battle scenes in particular, to give a sense of immediacy or heighten the dramatic tension?

Managing a complex situation in fiction comes down essentially to Point of View.  You have to know whose head you’re in, and stay firmly there. Until you change to a different point-of-view character, that is…

Who the point-of-view character is determines what kind of detail will be available to you, and guides the shape and flow of those periods of the text that belong to that specific character.

For example (as you mention the Battle of Monmouth section of WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD), the first thing I considered was whose viewpoint(s) to use in depicting it.  I’d read several accounts of the battle, including a very detailed step-by-step description provided by one of Osprey’s Men-at-War books, so I knew the general character of the battle:  it was a huge military encounter, involving more than 10,000 troops on either side, multiple commanders, and a ragged, rolling terrain that didn’t accommodate the standard eighteenth-century military formations and positioning At All.

(No one chose the ground on which to fight; that particular stretch of farmland was just where Washington’s troops caught up with General Clinton’s troops, who were retreating from Philadelphia with a large number of fleeing Loyalists (and their property) under the army’s protection.)

It was also a very long battle, fought from slightly before daybreak until well after dark, on one of the hottest days known (temperatures were estimated--ex post facto--at over a hundred degrees during the hottest part of the day). And it was an indecisive battle: neither side “won”--the British withdrew with their dependents and baggage trains and retired toward New York (which is what they’d been doing when the Americans attacked), and the Americans staggered back to their camps to recover, tend the wounded, and bury their dead. The significance of the battle, though, was subtle but Very Important--the Americans didn’t lose. This discomfited the British extremely, and heartened the Americans to an equal degree, enabling Washington to pursue his campaign.

OK, so we have a very complex mess to describe. Obviously, no one person could possibly see enough of the battle to have any idea how it was going, let alone what strategy was in use. So I knew from the start that I’d need more than one viewpoint character, and could then switch among them as needed to give their separate takes on what was happening to them, and the reader would get both the necessary information as to what was happening overall, and the sense of chaos and struggle that marked the day.

Obviously, Jamie Fraser had to be one of those characters; he’s a central figure of the story, and he’s a trained and very experienced soldier. So I contrived a way for him to be in command of a sizable (though informal) company of militia during the battle. Militia companies were normally fairly small bands of thirty to fifty men, who signed up for short enlistments and returned to their farms or businesses when the enlistment period ran out, and a great many militia companies joined the American army just before this battle--not all of them were documented, and thus it was entirely plausible for the temporarily-appointed General Fraser to be in command of several.

So, Jamie would naturally see combat, both personally and as a commander. He’d be in communication with other commanders, and would know the proposed strategy, as well as specific moving goals as the battle was going on. And he’d be interacting with the soldiers under his command and responding to emergencies.  [NB:  Notice, through these examples, the sort of details that each character is conscious of and how they respond to them.]

Example #1 (Jamie in the cider orchard)

Then, of course, I wanted Claire. Both because she’d never leave Jamie on a battlefield alone again, and because as a surgeon, she’d have a completely different view of the battle. She’d be handling the wounded who came off the field, in a series of medical procedures/emergencies, but would also have a general sense of the battle as a whole, gained from the things the wounded men told her while she was treating them.

Example #2 (Claire tending the wounded at Tennent Church)

But we can’t overlook the other side of the conflict. What’s going on, on the British side? Well, we have a choice of POV characters on that side:  William, Lord John, and Hal. I used both William and Lord John (Lord John’s thread has been running through the whole book and the punch in the eye Jamie gave him at the beginning is affecting what happens to him throughout the battle and its aftermath). But while Jamie and Claire are carrying out fairly orthodox roles in the battle--a general in command/soldier on the field and a combat medic at a static aid station on the edge of the conflict--William and Lord John aren’t.

William’s been relieved of duty and Lord John is essentially trying to stay alive long enough to reach the British lines. Both of them, in storytelling terms, can drop in or pass through just about any situation I need or want. They aren’t compelled to follow orders or fight through a set conflict; we get a revolving set of pictures of the British side of the conflict and its various personalities from them.

And finally, there’s Ian Murray, Jamie’s nephew. He’s a scout for the American side, so is not fighting on the ground, but--like William and Lord John--can occur just about anywhere during the battle. And like William and Lord John, he’s fighting a personal battle (whereas Jamie and Claire are fighting the more usual kind of battle involving troops and military movements).

So Jamie and Claire are providing a more or less structured view of things, while William, John and Ian are giving us the smaller, vivid glimpses that add both to the overall picture of the situation and to the encompassing sense of chaos. Or at least we hope that’s what happened…

And to close this exegesis <g>--note that each character involved in this battle has his or her own arc within the battle: how they enter the battle, what happens to them, what decisions they make and what actions they take--and finally, how (and how altered) they emerge at the end of the fight.

Many thanks to Diana Gabaldon for taking the time for this very interesting interview! I really appreciate it.

Part 1 of the interview is here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Outlandish Observations is 10 years old!

Outlandish Observations turns 10 years old today!!

I started this blog on August 28, 2008, with two goals in mind. The first was simply to learn about blogging. The second was to create a central repository for news and information for OUTLANDER fans, a place where people could go to find answers to commonly asked questions, links to other OUTLANDER-related sites, and the latest information on Diana Gabaldon's new and upcoming releases.

To say that this blog has succeeded far beyond my wildest imaginings is a severe understatement! In the beginning, I never expected anyone to visit my site except a few dozen of my friends from the Compuserve Books and Writers Community (now and the Ladies of Lallybroch fan-site.  I didn't talk about it on Compuserve for the first couple of years, because I was very reluctant to draw attention to it where Diana Gabaldon could see -- which seems silly in retrospect, but it's true.  Suffice it to say that I did get over that shyness, eventually. <g>

Special thanks to all of my followers on the Outlandish Observations Facebook page! Last year at this time I had 9,604 followers on Facebook. Today that number is 10,876, an increase of 13.24%! I'm delighted that so many new people have found my site in recent months. Welcome! I hope you take some time to look around and see what else is available here.

Outlandish Observations was one of the first successful OUTLANDER-related blogs. These days there are dozens and dozens of fan-sites, Facebook groups, and so on. The more the merrier, as far as I'm concerned! <g> I'm proud to be a part of such a thriving, creative, and enthusiastic worldwide community of fans, united in our passion for these books and characters and this amazing story Diana Gabaldon has created, that is now being brought to life on TV.

I'm delighted to see so many new people discovering OUTLANDER as a result of the TV series!  In case you're wondering, yes, I will be posting weekly recaps of the Season 4 episodes once the show resumes in November, just as I've done for the first three seasons. Look here for my episode recaps.

In celebration of this 10th anniversary, I have a special treat for all of you: my first-ever interview with Diana Gabaldon! I did my best to come up with questions that are somewhat different from the sorts of things that everybody always asks her, and I am just DELIGHTED with her responses! (The photo above is from our first meeting, at a book-signing in Maryland in 2009.)

Part 1 of the interview is here.  Part 2 is here. Hope you enjoy it!

Many, many thanks to all of you who've visited Outlandish Observations over the past ten years. It's been an amazing journey, and I'm so glad you've come along for the ride.


Interview with Diana Gabaldon, Part 1

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Outlandish Observations, I'm very pleased to bring you my first-ever interview with Diana Gabaldon!

Frankly, the idea of interviewing Diana Gabaldon was a little nervewracking for me at first, even though I've known her online since 2007 and we interact almost daily on (formerly the Compuserve Books and Writers Community).  I've never interviewed anyone before, and it took me a while to decide what questions to ask. I did my best to come up with questions that are somewhat different from the usual things people always ask her.  I'm just DELIGHTED with her answers, and I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I did!

(The photo above is from my first meeting with Diana, at a book-signing in Maryland in 2009.)

You've published a number of novellas and shorter pieces in the last few years. What do you see as the advantages of the shorter format, for you as a writer?

They're shorter. <g> I.e., I can finish one in much less time than the four to five years it takes for one of the Big Books. Basically, it's a bit of a mental vacation to deal with something that's very interesting, but on a smaller scale--and offers a quicker gratification in completing it. The novellas offer me the opportunity to go explore the byways of minor characters and interesting storylines that lie outside either the temporal or the logistical reach of the Big Books.

Do you still write in "pieces" when you're working on a novella or short story, or is it more of a straight-line process?

I always write in disconnected pieces, no matter what I’m writing; that’s just how my mind works. (I had one interviewer recently pause for a long moment after I’d answered one of her questions--obviously thumbing down her list--and then say, “I had a lot more questions, but you seem to have answered most of them already, while you were answering the one I asked you.” I apologized <g>, and explained that I inherited my digressive story-telling from my father--he’d begin (usually at the dinner table) with a recollection of someone from his past, and would start telling you a story about them--but every second paragraph or so, something he’d said would start a digression that added social context or personal opinion or associated history or data on location, and then without missing a beat, the story would swerve back onto its main track--until the next digression a minute later.) As I always tell people, “There’s a reason why I write long books; it’s because I like digression.”

You've made very effective use of Twitter and Facebook in recent years, and many fans are addicted to your #DailyLines. How has the rise of social media affected the way you interact with your readers and fans? With your busy schedule, where do you find the time?

Well, social media has sort of grown up around me. Back in 1985, I first went “online” (a concept that really didn’t exist in the popular consciousness yet) when I got an assignment to write a software review for BYTE magazine, and they sent with the software a disk for a trial membership with CompuServe (aside from government services like DARPA, “online” in the mid-80’s basically consisted of three “information services”: Delphi, Genie and CompuServe), so I could poke into the support forum the software vendors had set up there, and mention it in my review.

After writing the review, I had a few hours of free connect time left (in a time when you were charged $30 an hour for using CompuServe—at 300 baud, dial-up), and so I started poking around to see what else was available. I stumbled into the CompuServe Literary Forum.

This was not (as people sometimes assume) a writer’s group. It was a group of people who liked books. There were a few writers there, of course, both established and aspiring, but the main focus was simply on books: reading, impact, thinking in response to reading--and it was also just a fertile ground in which enormous, digressive and fascinating conversations could flourish (there was one truly remarkable conversation that became known as “the Great Dildo Thread,” that went on for months…).

Anyway, that was where social media (which didn’t exist as a concept yet, though plainly it existed in fact) and I met. The next step was my website, established in 1994 (I think I was the first author to build a website for readers--and my eternal thanks to Rosana Madrid Gatti, who generously did the hard work of making and running the site; I sent her material and she’d post it for me (this was a looong time before WordPress and other blogging software made it possible for anybody to communicate directly with the world online).

I did the website mostly in response to reader’s enthusiasm; I got a LOT of mail (regular letters) about the books, from people being complimentary, asking questions, taking issue with various aspects--but all of them wanted to know more: why did Claire do this, where did I find out about botanical medicine, did people really do that…and most particularly--when was the next book coming out.

So the website was a means of answering reader questions--both for the readers who had asked those questions, and for the entertainment of other readers who perhaps hadn’t thought of those questions, but would be interested in the answers. The benefit of only having to type an answer once (many people naturally ask the same questions) was obvious--as was the benefit of being able to inform people of pub dates, book-signings, etc.

So, knowing the benefits of such a channel, when other channels became available--AOL, for instance--I’d use them, at least briefly, and see whether they seemed helpful. Some were, some weren’t--I never bothered with MySpace, and in fact, it took some time for me to try Facebook (which I still use sparingly; I never go anywhere on Facebook other than my own page, and it’s what they call a “celebrity” page, which means that I don’t take “friend” requests. Nor, I’m afraid, can I read the private messages that people kindly leave me there--at the moment, the page has more than 700,000 members (or whatever you call regular visitors), and if only one percent of them send me messages…that’s 7,000 messages. There’s no way I can even read that many messages, let alone respond to them.

Twitter also proved to be very useful; it provides instant access to a lot of people--and more valuable than that, it provides organic replication. If you post something interesting, many, many more people will see it, beyond the people who actually follow you. And it’s very good for making short-term announcements or asking urgent questions, because somewhere in the world, the person who can answer that question is awake and reading Twitter. <g>

What's the most challenging, or frustrating, or difficult part of your role as consultant on the TV series? (I understand there are things you can't talk about, but can you comment on this in general?)

Well, frustrations are of two types: 1) when a scriptwriter has done something that I think is not consistent with a character’s…er, character, and I can’t get them (“them” meaning not just the scriptwriter, but the production team in general) to change it, and 2) when they’ve shot something absolutely beautiful, in terms of acting, honesty, emotion, etc.--and then cut it out of the finished episode.

What's the most fun part?

The fun lies in seeing something remarkable evolve from a huge number of component parts, day by day by day. It’s like watching a forest grow in stop-motion time that speeds everything up.

Would you be interested in writing another script for the TV show, after BEES is done?

Yes, I would. It was a deeply interesting (if occasionally frustrating) experience. Script-writing is a very collaborative process, in which the script writer ultimately does not have complete control over the final product, which may have been rewritten several times by different people. That’s a very different experience from being a solitary god, as novelists are. <g> But it’s a fascinating experience, both in the consultation and writing (and revision and revision and revision…) and in the eventual final result: the filming. Filming is long, tedious, hard work--but very entertaining.

As the OUTLANDER TV series approaches its fourth season, we're starting to see many more readers who've found your books as a result of the TV show. Aside from the effect on book sales (which must be considerable <g>), I'm interested to hear what you think about that. Do you find that people who found the TV show first tend to have different expectations, or different reactions to the books?

People who’ve read the books first definitely have different reactions to the show <g>, but I don’t think the reverse is really true. I haven’t heard a lot of show-first people express any sense of shock or disapproval as to things happening in the books--they expect to see an expanded version of the story, with a lot more detail and more storylines, and that’s what they get.

Many OUTLANDER fans, including myself, have re-read (or re-listened to) your books many, many times. Do you have a favorite author or authors whose books you re-read often, and if so, what is it about those books that makes them stand up well to re-reading?

Yes, dozens. Right now, I’m re-reading all of Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey novels, for probably the twentieth time. (I continue to enjoy them, but to be honest, I’m re-reading them now because I can put them down easily in order to work.)

James Lee Burke would be another one, though I haven’t re-read his Dave Robicheaux novels as often as Sayers.

And then there are Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels--I’ve read the series maybe three times, but listened to it on audio probably twenty times, at least--the reader, Patrick Tull, is fantastic, and the story always holds my interest while dog-walking or gardening.

Like these, all the books I feel are worth re-reading depend on unique and engaging individuals. I like to spend time with these people (and on a lower level, I enjoy seeing just _how_ the author did what they did; knowing as much now as I do about the craft of writing, it’s hard to avoid seeing the techniques in use--a book that can suck me in sufficiently that I _don’t_ notice the engineering is definitely one I can re-read).

Many thanks to Diana Gabaldon for taking the time to answer my questions! Part 2 of this interview, in which Diana explains her writing process in more detail, is here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

OUTLANDER panel at NY Comic Con Oct. 6

STARZ announced yesterday that the OUTLANDER panel at NY Comic Con will take place on Oct. 6 at 5:30 pm.

The panel will include Ronald D. Moore, Maril Davis, Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, Richard Rankin, and Sophie Skelton.

Diana Gabaldon will not be attending. Apparently she wasn't invited, although she's attended these events every year since the series began in 2014.

It does seem pretty rude that they didn't even let her know she wouldn't be included on this year's panel.

Have they lost sight of the fact that without Diana Gabaldon, there would be no OUTLANDER, books or show?

UPDATE 8/23/2018 7:10 pm: Here's a follow-up tweet from Diana Gabaldon:

I'm sure there will be a video of this panel, for those of us who can't be there in person.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Interview with Diana Gabaldon coming soon!

A couple of months ago, I asked Diana Gabaldon if I could interview her for Outlandish Observations, and she said, "Sure! I'm sure you'd have great questions."

Yesterday afternoon I got an email back from her with very detailed answers to my questions! I am just delighted with her responses, and I can't wait to share them with all of you! It's going to take some time to organize the material in a format that's suitable for posting -- I'll probably have to split it into several parts -- but I'm planning to post it the week of August 28th, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Outlandish Observations. Stay tuned!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL is out in paperback!

Diana Gabaldon's story collection, SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL, is now available in trade paperback format (that's the large size paperback) in the US!

You can order here:

Barnes & Noble
Poisoned Pen (autographed copies)

SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL is a collection of seven novellas that take place in the OUTLANDER universe:

"The Custom of the Army"
"A Plague of Zombies"
"A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows"
"The Space Between"
"A Fugitive Green"

The first five of these stories were previously published in other anthologies and as standalone e-books, but "A Fugitive Green" and "Besieged" are available only in this collection.

For more information about this book, see my SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL FAQ page.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

OUTLANDER Season 4 premieres November 4!

STARZ released a new promo video on Facebook yesterday, similar to the Season 4 trailer we saw a few days ago. At the very end of the video, it clearly shows a premiere date of November 4.

We have known for a long time that Season 4 would premiere in November, but the exact date has been a matter for speculation until now.  I should point out that this date has not yet been confirmed in a press release or any other official announcement by STARZ, and nothing has been announced on the official OUTLANDER Facebook or Twitter accounts. The only evidence we have of this date is in the video on the STARZ Facebook page.

But assuming that this does turn out to be the real premiere date, that means we only have three more months to wait until #Droughtlander will finally be over!

Friday, August 3, 2018

STARZ TV tie-in paperback edition of DRUMS OF AUTUMN will be out Oct. 16

The STARZ TV tie-in paperback edition of DRUMS OF AUTUMN will be released in the US on October 16, 2018.

Like the previous STARZ tie-in editions, this paperback features the actors from the TV series on the cover, but the text of the book will be the same.

You can pre-order here:


Barnes & Noble

Poisoned Pen (autographed copies -- this is Diana Gabaldon's local independent bookstore, and they ship all over the world)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Who is your favorite villain in the OUTLANDER series?

The August poll on Outlandish Observations asks the question, "Who is your favorite villain in the OUTLANDER series?"

Please note, by "favorite", I don't necessarily mean the one you like the best. It could be a character you love to hate, or the character who makes the most effective antagonist in the story, or the one who makes you mutter, "Go AWAY!" when you see him on the screen in the TV series. (That last reaction is how I feel whenever Black Jack Randall appears.) You get the idea, I'm sure.

Please take a moment to vote, and feel free to leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page explaining your choice. Thanks!

July poll results

Here are the results of the July poll, which asked the question, "What do you think of the Lord John books and stories?"

There were 604 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!
  • 30.79% - I love them!
  • 17.72% - I enjoy them, but I prefer to read about Jamie and Claire.
  • 11.26% - They add a lot of depth to his character.
  • 11.09% - They're an integral part of the overall series.
  • 6.95% - I started reading them after seeing what a major role he played in the main OUTLANDER series.
  • 5.46% - I'm not interested in reading them.
  • 5.13% - I haven't read any of them yet, but I'm planning to.
  • 3.31% - I think they're boring.
  • 2.81% - I like seeing a different side of 18th century life than we get in the OUTLANDER books.
  • 0.99% - I wish Diana would quit writing about him.
  • 0.99% - I'm not interested in reading about a gay character.
  • 0.66% - I'm new to OUTLANDER and haven't encountered Lord John yet.
  • 2.84% - Other
Here are the responses for "Other":
  • I want to finish the outlander series before i'll consider lord johns series
  • He and Jamie are my favs.
  • They add depth to all of the characters and their relationships
  • 3, 4, 5, 6
  • I haven't read them and don't know if I will.
  • I love them/him AND they add a lot of depth to his character.
  • I loved Scottish Prisoner but the others are just a soso like.
  • liked some, not others as much
  • I LOVE HIM !!!! Way better than Jamie and Claire. He's outstanding! The Best!!!
  • Read some, don't care for them
  • another view into choices of human sexuality
  • insight into his character...and integral part ❤️
  • Fell in love with the character from the get-go.
  • Just never picked them up.
  • Absolutely love them! Wish there were more!!!
  • I love them, the added depth & want more LJ!
  • I only read the ones with Jamie in them.
Please take a moment to vote in the August poll, which asks, "Who is your favorite villain in the OUTLANDER series?"

Monday, July 30, 2018

New Season 4 trailer! (SPOILERS)

At long last, here's a brand-new OUTLANDER Season 4 trailer!

There are SPOILERS in this trailer if you haven't read DRUMS OF AUTUMN (Book 4 of the OUTLANDER series).

I think it looks great, very intriguing, promising plenty of action and suspense. I liked seeing Otter-Tooth's skull.

Season 4 premieres in November and I can't wait!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Finished the series...again!

I finished listening to the audiobook of Diana Gabaldon's WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD last night, wrapping up my latest "re-listen" of the OUTLANDER series.

This is approximately my 20th time through the OUTLANDER books since November 2006.  I mostly listen to the audiobooks rather than reading print or e-book editions, because the audio versions force you to really slow down and pay attention to the details. I pick up new little details on every re-listen.  And besides, Davina Porter is a wonderful narrator! She does a terrific job with all the voices and accents.

It takes me a long time to get through the whole series, but this last re-listen took much longer than usual.  Looking through my iTunes library, I see that I started listening to OUTLANDER on August 4, 2016, so it's taken me almost exactly two years.

I took a long break from late August-November 2016 (my dad passed away in September of that year), and again in the fall of 2017 while Season 3 was in progress, but otherwise I maintained my habit of listening for 30 minutes to an hour most days.

In between the Big Books, I also listened to THE SCOTTISH PRISONER and all of the stories in SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL.

That's at least 400 hours of listening, spread over two years.

I will probably take another break from the audiobooks before I start over again with OUTLANDER. I always need some time to decompress after I finish the series.

What about the rest of you?  Any other audiobook-addicts or compulsive re-readers of the OUTLANDER books out there?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Costume designer Terry Dresbach is leaving OUTLANDER after Season 4

OUTLANDER's costume designer, Terry Dresbach, announced on Twitter today that Season 4 will be her last on the show.

Her replacement has not yet been announced, but...

I'm sorry to hear this, but Terry's health and well-being come first. Life is just too damn short to kill yourself making a TV show, no matter how dedicated you are!

UPDATE 7/16/2018 6:01 am: Here's Diana Gabaldon's reaction to the news, on Facebook.

UPDATE 7/19/2018 7:50 am: And here is Terry's response to the fans. Definitely worth reading!

Many thanks to Terry for her hard work and dedication! She will definitely be missed.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Emmy nomination!

Congratulations to OUTLANDER's costume designer, Terry Dresbach, and her team for their Emmy nomination in the category of "Outstanding Period Costumes", for Episode 305, "Freedom & Whisky".

Terry does a wonderful job with the costumes and I'm glad to see her recognized for her efforts.

So, why did they choose this particular episode?  I suspect it was because this was the episode that introduced Claire's "batsuit", the multi-layered outfit that she wore, in one form or another, for the rest of the season.

I thought the "batsuit" was a very clever idea, even if Claire seemed to magically put it together overnight. On re-watching Season 3, it's interesting to watch the way that costume evolves, changes, and eventually disintegrates, over the course of Claire's adventures -- first in Edinburgh, then on the Artemis, the Porpoise, and in the Caribbean. By the time Jamie and Claire wash up on that Georgia beach at the end of Episode 313, there's almost nothing of the original costume left.

Congratulations, Terry! I'm looking forward to seeing what she does with the costumes in Season 4.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

BBC Alba tells the story of OUTLANDER (in Gaelic!)

My friend Cathy MacGregor sent me the link to this very interesting hour-long video from BBC Alba that tells the story of OUTLANDER, in Gaelic! (With English subtitles, of course.)  It's fascinating to hear the rhythms and sounds of the Gaelic language, even if you don't understand most of the words.

If you're in the UK, use this link instead.

The program, filmed in 2016, features interviews with Diana Gabaldon, herbalist Claire MacKay, the Earl of Cromartie (current chief of Clan MacKenzie), and others, discussing the history, customs, and folklore of the period -- everything from changelings to witch-trials to the infamous Black Watch. And there are lots of gorgeous views of Scottish scenery!

At about 48 minutes into the video, Diana Gabaldon talks about walking battlefields. "Most of them are not haunted. One is." And then she visibly starts to choke up, saying she can't talk about it or she'll cry.

I thought this program was very well done and I would definitely recommend it to OUTLANDER fans!

UPDATE 7/12/2018 12:34 pm: If you're having problems with the video, all I can tell you is that it worked for me in the US. Some people have reported that the link goes to a porn site, but that didn't happen for me. If you're having issues like that, I'm sorry to hear it!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Last day of filming for OUTLANDER Season 4!

It's the last day of filming for OUTLANDER Season 4!

Here's a tweet from Executive Producer Maril Davis:

It's been a long nine months since filming began on October 9, 2017, but they finally did it!

CONGRATULATIONS to Sam, Caitriona, and the entire cast and crew of OUTLANDER! Thanks very much for your hard work and dedication! Enjoy the well-deserved break, and we'll look forward to seeing Season 4 starting in November!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

REPOST: "1776", the Musical

Wishing all of you in the U.S. a very happy Fourth of July!

As I do every year, I'm taking this opportunity to put in a plug for my favorite Revolutionary War movie: "1776", which is a musical about the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.

If you've never seen "1776", I highly recommend it. It came out in 1972 (based on the Broadway musical of the same name) and I think I've seen it almost every year since I was nine or so. That tradition continues to this day; my family always watches it on DVD every July 4th, and we will do so again this year.

Diana Gabaldon likes it, too; I've heard her describe it as "hilarious, moving, and very singable". I asked her specifically about the costumes, because I'm fascinated by the details of the 18th century clothing in this movie, and she said they're pretty accurate.

Evidently Matt Roberts, executive producer and one of the writers on the OUTLANDER TV series, is also a "1776" fan. If you've seen Episode 303 ("All Debts Paid"), you may recall Frank's line in the breakfast scene near the beginning of this episode about "Tudors, Stuarts, and Plantagenets". Matt has said that he added that line as a deliberate homage to the very similar phrase used by John Dickinson in "1776".

Here are a couple of my favorite songs from the movie:

1) "The Egg" - Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson choose America's national bird.

2) "Sit Down, John" - This is the movie's opening number.

If you're a fan of "1776", what's your favorite song?  Mine is the one where they argue about who's going to write the Declaration of Independence.

You can get "1776" via Amazon. If you're in the US, it will be shown on TCM at 10:15pm today, July 4th.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

June poll results

Here are the results of the June poll, which asked the question, "How did you discover the OUTLANDER books?"

There were 686 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!
  • 29.88% - I started reading the books as a result of watching, or hearing about, the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 26.53% - A friend or family member recommended the books to me.
  • 21.57% - I stumbled across them while browsing in a bookstore or library.
  • 5.25% - A friend or family member gave me a copy of OUTLANDER, saying, "Read this, you'll love it!"
  • 2.62% - I read a review in a newspaper, magazine, or online.
  • 1.60% - Someone on Facebook, Goodreads, or another online site recommended them.
  • 1.46% - Someone at my book club mentioned them.
  • 1.46% - I haven't yet read any of Diana Gabaldon's books, but I've watched the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 1.17% - A librarian or bookstore employee recommended them.
  • 0.87% - I saw OUTLANDER on a "Recommended for You" list on Amazon or elsewhere online.
  • 7.58% - Other
I didn't vote in the poll myself, but I fall into the third category above.  I found OUTLANDER completely by accident, browsing in Barnes & Noble in 2006. The full story of how I found OUTLANDER is here.

I think it's interesting to see how the percentage of people who found the OUTLANDER books as a result of the TV series has been increasing, as the show has become more popular. Here are the results from polls I've done in 2015-2018 where I included that as an option. (Click on the image for a bigger view.)

If you're one of those people who found Diana Gabaldon's books as a result of watching the TV series, or hearing about it, I'd like to hear from you!  Please leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page.

Please take a moment to vote in the July poll, which asks, "What do you think of the Lord John books and stories?"

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

I've been interviewed!

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Roma Sars, a fan in the Netherlands who runs the OUTLANDER Home Page fan site. She's doing a series of posts on "the fans who make it", taking a closer look at people who devote a lot of time and effort to OUTLANDER fandom, and she asked if I'd be willing to do an interview.  Naturally I agreed, and the interview was posted today.

All the answers are in my own words. So if you want to know more about me, how OUTLANDER has affected my life, why I created Outlandish Observations in the first place, what I think about the books and the TV series, and much more, check it out here.

You can follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks, Roma!

What are you most looking forward to in Season 4?

The cast and crew of OUTLANDER are currently filming the last block of Season 4. As they prepare to wrap up filming for the season, I thought this would be a good opportunity for the rest of us to look ahead to the new season, which is scheduled to start in November 2018.

What are you most looking forward to in OUTLANDER Season 4?  Are there specific scenes, incidents, or new characters that you're really eager to see on TV?

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *

If you haven't read DRUMS OF AUTUMN (Book 4 of the OUTLANDER series), there are Major Spoilers below! Read at your own risk.









I really want to see:

- Jamie and Brianna meeting for the first time!

- The "strawberry fields forever" scene where Jamie and Claire discover the site of Fraser's Ridge.

- Jamie fighting the bear.

- Claire coming to find Jamie in the snow on the night his back went out.

- Roger and Bree's handfasting night.

- Bree's reaction to the news that Roger has been sold to the Indians.

I'm also looking forward to meeting the new characters, like Jocasta.  (Stephen Bonnet, not so much....)

What about the rest of you?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's Day quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there! In honor of the day, here's a selection of my favorite quotes about fathers and fatherhood from Diana Gabaldon's books.  Hope you enjoy them!


If you haven't read all of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER books, there are Major Spoilers below! Read at your own risk.

"I hadna realized until I saw him just how alone I’d felt there--or how scairt. The soldiers would not give us any time alone together, but at least they let me greet him.” He swallowed and went on.

“I told him I was sorry--about Jenny, I meant, and the whole sorry mess. He told me to hush, though, and hugged me tight to him. He asked me was I hurt badly--he knew about the flogging--and I said I’d be all right.The soldiers said I must go then, so he squeezed my arms tight, and told me to remember to pray. He said he would stand by me, no matter what happened, and I must just keep my head up and try not to worrit myself. He kissed my cheek and the soldiers took me away. That was the last time I ever saw him."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "Reckonings". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.) 

“I wondered a bit,” he said thoughtfully, “whether my father was the sort of father he was because of the way old Simon treated him. I didna realize it at the time, of course, but it’s no so common for a man to show his feelings for his sons.”

“You’ve thought about it a lot.” I offered him another flask of ale, and he took it with a smile that lingered on me, more warming than the feeble autumn sun.

“Aye, I did. I was wondering, ye see, what sort of father I’d be to my own bairns, and looking back a bit to see, my own father being the best example I had. Yet I knew, from the bits that he said, or that Murtagh told me, that his own father was nothing like him, so I thought as how he must have made up his mind to do it all differently, once he had the chance."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 40, "The Fox's Lair".  Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon.  Allrights reserved.)

Willie knew how an earl should behave; he was making a masterful effort to subdue his tears, sniffing ferociously and swiping at his face with a sleeve.

“Allow me, my lord.” Jamie did kneel then, and wiped the little boy’s face gently with his own coarse handkerchief. Willie’s eyes looked at him over the cotton folds, red-rimmed and woeful.

“Have you really got to go, Mac?” he asked, in a very small voice.

“Aye, I have.” He looked into the dark blue eyes, so heartbreakingly like his own, and suddenly didn’t give a damn what was right or who saw. He pulled the boy roughly to him, hugging him tight against his heart, holding the boy’s face close to his shoulder, that Willie might not see the quick tears that fell into his thick, soft hair.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 16, "Willie".  Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.)

“You me Da,” he said. His voice was husky; he stopped and cleared his throat. “If--if ye want to, I mean,” he added diffidently.

“Da,” she said, and felt the smile bloom easily this time, unmarred by tears.

“Da. Is that Gaelic?”

He smiled back, the corners of his mouth trembling slightly. “No. It’s only...simple.”

And suddenly it was all simple. He held out his arms to her. She stepped into them and found that she had been wrong; he was as big as she’d imagined--and his arms were as strong about her as she had ever dared to hope.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 41, "Journey's End".  Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon.  Allrights reserved.)

Roger had sworn an oath to take Jemmy as his own, no matter what the little boy’s true paternity might be; he was an honorable man, Roger, and he meant it. But the speech of the heart is louder than the words of any oath spoken by lips alone.

When I had gone back, pregnant, through the stones, Frank had sworn to me that he would keep me as his wife, would treat the coming child as his own--would love me as he had before. All three of those vows his lips and mind had done his best to keep, but his heart, in the end, had sworn only one. From the moment that he took Brianna in his arms, she was his daughter.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 13, "Beans and Barbecue".  Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.) 

Jem was heavy in his arms, and groggy. He stirred, lifted his head, and blinked, blue eyes glassy with sleep.

“It’s okay,” Roger whispered, patting his back. “Daddy’s here.”

Jem sighed like a punctured tire and dropped his head on Roger’s shoulder with the force of a spent cannonball. He seemed to inflate again for a moment, but then put his thumb in his mouth and subsided into that peculiarly boneless state common to sleeping children. His flesh seemed to melt comfortably into Roger’s own, his trust so complete that it was not necessary even to maintain the boundaries of his body--Daddy would do that. 

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by DianaGabaldon, Chapter 29, "Perfectly Fine".  Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.) 

"For a long time,” he said at last, “when I was small, I pretended to myself that I was the bastard of some great man. All orphans do this, I think,” he added dispassionately. “It makes life easier to bear, to pretend that it will not always be as it is, that someone will come and restore you to your rightful place in the world.”

He shrugged.

“Then I grew older, and knew this was not true. No one would come to rescue me. But then--” He turned his head and gave Jamie a smile of surpassing sweetness.

“Then I grew older still, and discovered that, after all, it was true. I am the son of a great man.”

The hook touched Jamie’s hand, hard and capable.

“I wish for nothing more."

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 18, "Pulling Teeth".  Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.) 

Seized by an urgency greater than any he’d ever known, he turned and ran. Ran heedless of footing, of dark, of Buck’s startled cry behind him.

Jerry heard his footsteps on the grass and whirled round, startled himself. Roger grabbed him by both hands, squeezed them hard enough to make Jerry gasp, and said fiercely, “I love you!”

That was all there was time for--and all he could possibly say.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 101, "Just One Chance".  Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon.  All rights reserved.)
What about the rest of you? Are there other quotes or scenes about fathers in Diana's books that you particularly like?