Thursday, January 25, 2018

Happy Burns Day!

Today is the 259th anniversary of the birth of Scotland's most famous poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796).

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









Here's the quote that led Roger, in VOYAGER, to pinpoint Jamie's exact location in the past.  It comes from the final stanza of a poem called "The Author's Earnest Cry and Prayer", which Robert Burns wrote in 1786.
Scotland, my auld, respected mither!
Tho' whiles ye moistify your leather,
Till, whare ye sit on craps o' heather,
Ye tine your dam;
Freedom an' whisky gang thegither!
Take aff your dram!
As Roger explained to Claire:
"Here it is”--his racing finger stopped suddenly on a phrase-- “‘for as has been known for ages past, “Freedom and Whisky gang tegither.” ’ See how he’s put that Scottish dialect phrase in quotes? He got it from somewhere else.”

“He got it from me,” I said softly. “I told him that--when he was setting out to steal Prince Charles’s port.”

“I remembered.” Roger nodded, eyes shining with excitement. “But it’s a quote from Burns,” I said, frowning suddenly. “Perhaps the writer got it there--wasn’t Burns alive then?"

"He was," said Bree smugly, forestalling Roger. "But Robert Burns was six years old in 1765."

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21, "Q.E.D.". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Here's Karen Matheson and Paul Brady performing "Ae Fond Kiss". The lyrics come from a poem written by Robert Burns in 1791. You may remember that Diana used "Ae Fond Kiss" as the title of Chapter 19 of AN ECHO IN THE BONE, in which Claire encounters Tom Christie.

And here's "The Sheriffmuir Fight", performed by the Corries. The lyrics come from Burns' poem, "The Battle of Sheriffmuir". I think this version of the song sounds exactly as Roger recalled it in WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD, including the bodhrans:
“Oh, that’s braw, man!” Fraser exclaimed. “Though yon poet’s got the devil of an accent. Where’s he come from, d’ye ken?”

“Er . . . Ayrshire, I think.”

Fraser shook his head in admiration and sat back.

“Could ye maybe write it down for me?” he asked, almost shyly. “I wouldna put ye to the trouble of singin’ it again, but I’d dearly love to learn the whole of it.”

“I--sure,” Roger said, taken aback. Well, what harm could it do to let Robert Burns’s poem loose in the world some years in advance of Burns himself? “Ken anyone who can play a bodhran? It’s best wi’ the drum rattlin’ in the background.”

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 31, "The Shine of a Rocking Horse's Eyes". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Diana Gabaldon's reaction when I posted the link to this video several years ago:
I especially like the recording/video of "The Sheriffmuir Fight," by the Corries (this is my favorite version of the song--and the one I had in mind when I wrote the scene in MOBY that Karen quotes from).
Happy Burns Day to all of you!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Watching Diana write

Here's a little video demonstrating how Diana Gabaldon writes.

I saw Diana do this same "watch me write in 90 seconds" bit in person once, at an appearance a few years ago.  But I really enjoyed the animation in this video, because it's easy to imagine Diana moving words or phrases around on her computer screen in exactly that way.  "Fiddling", as she calls it.

Imagine 800 pages full of sentences constructed with that much careful attention to detail, and you begin to see, as Diana says, "This is why it takes me a long time to write a book."

Sunday, January 21, 2018

January 21st

Today is January 21st.   

If you don't recall the significance of this particular date in the OUTLANDER books, or if you haven't read at least as far as the end of A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES (Book 6 in the OUTLANDER series), there are Major Spoilers below! Read at your own risk.









I'm sure I'm not the only one who can't think of today's date without remembering the newspaper clipping about the fire that was supposed to take place on January 21, 1776.
It is with grief that the news is received of the deaths by fire of James MacKenzie Fraser and his wife, Claire Fraser, in a conflagration that destroyed their house in the settlement of Fraser’s Ridge, on the night of January 21 last. Mr. Fraser, a nephew of the late Hector Cameron of River Run plantation, was born at Broch Tuarach in Scotland. He was widely known in the colony and deeply respected; he leaves no surviving children.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "Spark of an Ancient Flame". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
And it was certainly a memorable day, even though things didn't turn out as they expected.
January 21 was the coldest day of the year. Snow had fallen a few days before, but now the air was like cut crystal, the dawn sky so pale it looked white, and the packed snow chirped like crickets under our boots. Snow, snow-shrouded trees, the icicles that hung from the eaves of the house--the whole world seemed blue with cold. All of the stock had been put up the night before in stable or barn, with the exception of the white sow, who appeared to be hibernating under the house.

I peered dubiously at the small, melted hole in the crust of snow that marked the sow’s entrance; long, stertorous snores were audible inside, and a faint warmth emanated from the hole.

“Come along, mo nighean. Yon creature wouldna notice if the house fell down atop her.” Jamie had come down from feeding the animals in the stable, and was hovering impatiently behind me, chafing his hands in the big blue mittens Bree had knitted for him.

“What, not even if it was on fire?” I said, thinking of Lamb’s “Essay on Roast Pork.” But I turned obligingly to follow him down the trampled path past the side of the house, then slowly, slipping on the icy patches, across the wide clearing toward Bree and Roger’s cabin.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 111, "January Twenty-First". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I found the image above on  I think it's just perfect for today, given the significance of this date in OUTLANDER history.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

OUTLANDER marathon on STARZ, and a Season 4 preview!

STARZ will be running an OUTLANDER Season 3 marathon today (Sunday, January 14) starting at 9:05 am ET.

At the end of the marathon, at 10 pm ET, they will be showing a scene from Season 4!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Happy Birthday, Diana Gabaldon!

Wishing a very happy birthday to Diana Gabaldon, author of the OUTLANDER series, who turns 66 years old today!

Diana, I hope you have a wonderful birthday, and thank you so much -- again! -- for creating this AMAZING story!!

If you're on Twitter, please use the hashtag #HappyBdayDG.

For those of you on Facebook, we're trying something a little different this year.  When you post your status, click on "Feeling/Activity", then choose Reading, and type OUTLANDER or one of Diana Gabaldon's other books.  (I picked A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, because that's the book I'm listening to at the moment.)

If you want to send birthday wishes directly to Diana, her Twitter id is @Writer_DG, or you can post on her Facebook page.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

OUTLANDER Casting: Colin McFarlane as Ulysses!

More Season 4 casting news: British actor Colin McFarlane will play Jocasta Cameron's black butler, Ulysses.

Look here for details.

Friday, January 5, 2018

OUTLANDER quotes to keep you warm

As many of you know, much of the US is enduring bitter cold and brutal winter weather this week. Here's a selection of quotes from the OUTLANDER books that might warm you up a little!

1) On the Cape Fear River, Jamie and Claire cope with the heat and humidity of their first summer in North Carolina:
“I have heard of melting with passion,” I said, gasping slightly, “but this is ridiculous.”

He lifted his head from my breast with a faint sticky sound as his cheek came away. He laughed and slid slowly sideways.“God, it’s hot!” he said. He pushed back the sweat-soaked hair from his forehead and blew out his breath, chest still heaving from exertion. “How do folk do that when it’s like this?”

“The same way we just did,” I pointed out. I was breathing heavily myself.

“They can’t,” he said with certainty. “Not all the time; they’d die.”

“Well, maybe they do it slower,” I said. “Or underwater. Or wait until the autumn.”

“Autumn?” he said. “Perhaps I dinna want to live in the south, after all. Is it hot in Boston?”

“It is at this time of year,” I assured him. “And beastly cold in the winter. I’m sure you’ll get used to the heat. And the bugs.”

He brushed a questing mosquito off his shoulder and glanced from me to the nearby creek.

"Maybe so," he said, "and maybe no, but for now..." He wrapped his arms firmly around me, and rolled. With the ponderous grace of a rolling log, we fell off the edge of the rocky shelf, and into the water.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 2, "In Which We Meet a Ghost". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

2) Claire's secret to getting through cold winter nights in Paris: a nice warm bed with a very warm-blooded Scotsman in it! <g> (The bed pictured here is from the Château de Fontainebleau)
It was still sleeting, and tiny particles of frozen rain rattled against the windows and hissed into the fire when the night wind turned to drive them down the flue. The wind was high, and it moaned and grumbled among the chimneys, making the bedroom seem all the cozier by contrast. The bed itself was an oasis of warmth and comfort, equipped with goose-down quilts, huge fluffy pillows, and Jamie, faithfully putting out British Thermal Units like an electric storage heater.

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 11, "Useful Occupations". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

3) The barbeque at River Run in honor of Flora MacDonald (pictured above, circa 1744) took place in the hottest part of the summer:
The Major was watching Flora MacDonald now with a proprietary eye, noting with approval the way in which people clustered round her.

“She has most graciously agreed to speak today,” he told me, rocking back a little on his bootheels. “Where would be the best place, do you think, mum? From the terrace, as being the point of highest elevation? Or perhaps near the statue on the lawn, as being more central and allowing the crowd to surround her, thus increasing the chance of everyone hearing her remarks?”

“I think she’ll have a sunstroke, if you put her out on the lawn in this weather,” I said, tilting my own broad-brimmed straw hat to shade my nose. It was easily in the nineties, in terms both of temperature and humidity, and my thin petticoats clung soddenly to my lower limbs.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 54, "Flora MacDonald's Barbecue". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

4) William collapses from heatstroke in the middle of the Battle of Monmouth (June 1778). Thank God Ian found him in time to save him!
William was still alive; his face twitched under the feet of a half-dozen black flies feeding on his drying blood. Ian put a hand under his jaw, the way Auntie Claire did, but, with no idea how to find a pulse or what a good one should feel like, took it away again. William was lying in the shadow of a big sycamore, but his skin was still warm--it couldn’t help but be, Ian thought, even if he was dead, on a day like this.

He’d risen to his feet, thinking rapidly. He’d need to get the bugger onto the horse, but maybe best undress him? Take off the telltale coat, at least? But what if he were to take him back toward the British lines, find someone there to take charge of him, get him to a surgeon? That was closer.

Still need to take the coat off, or the man might die of the heat before he got anywhere. So resolved, he knelt again, and thus saved his own life. The tomahawk chunked into the sycamore’s trunk just where his head had been a moment before.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 78, "In The Wrong Place at the Wrong Time". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

5) Jamie and Claire return home to the Big House after it failed to burn down as predicted on January 21, 1776.
The house loomed before us, its quiet bulk somehow welcoming, in spite of the darkened windows. Snow was swirling across the porch in little eddies, piling in drifts on the sills.

"I suppose it would be harder for a fire to start if it's snowing--wouldn't you think?"

Jamie bent to unlock the front door.

"I dinna much mind if the place bursts into flame by spontaneous combustion, Sassenach, provided I have my supper first."

"A cold supper, were you thinking?" I asked dubiously.

"I was not," he said firmly. "I mean to light a roaring fire in the kitchen hearth, fry up a dozen eggs in butter, and eat them all, then lay ye down on the hearth rug and roger ye 'til you--is that all right?" he inquired, noticing my look.

"'Til I what?" I asked, fascinated by his description of the evening's program.

"'Til ye burst into flame and take me with ye, I suppose," he said, and stooping, swooped me up into his arms and carried me across the darkened threshold.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 111, "January Twenty-First". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Hope this helped distract you from the cold, at least for a little while. Stay warm!

P.S. to those of you in the Southern Hemisphere: No, I haven't forgotten about you! Here's a collection of OUTLANDER Quotes to Cool You Off.

Monday, January 1, 2018

December poll results

Here are the results of the December poll, which asked the question, "What is your favorite gift from the OUTLANDER books?"
    There were 1259 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated.
    • 22.56% - Fergus's last name
    • 18.27% - Claire's silver wedding ring
    • 16.04% - The pearl necklace Jamie gave Claire on their wedding day.
    • 10.33% - Adso the kitten
    • 9.85% - The medicine box Jamie gave Claire for their anniversary
    • 6.35% - Brianna's photos
    • 5.64% - The poison ivy bouquet
    • 3.26% - The cherrywood snake Jamie's brother made for him
    • 2.78% - The vrooms Roger made for the children
    • 2.54% - The rosary Jamie gave Willie as a farewell gift
    • 0.48% - The dachshund puppy Stephan von Namtzen gave Lord John.
    • 1.91% - Other
    I was surprised to see that so many people chose "Fergus's last name", but I'm sure that was influenced by Sam Heughan and César Domboy's portrayal of that bit in OUTLANDER Episode 311, "Uncharted", which was just as I'd always imagined from the book.
    Here are the responses for "Other":
    • all of the above, with the attending circumstances This is the perfect list .
    • all of them
    • How could I choose from this list of wonderful gifts all given with love.
    • All of the above? You betcha!
    • All those are good, but the initials are best
    • All of the above.
    • Brianna's silver bracelet: Je t'aime ...
    • hand fitting knife in Breath Snow
    • The buffalo robe
    • black coral and pearl necklace
    • All of the Above
    • Dragonfly
    • When Jamie touches Greys face -total gift of words
    • The protection if his clan and HIS BODY
    • It's so hard to pick just one!!!
    • The J and C they carved in each other's hands
    • LOVE
    • Fergus's last name, especially after episode 311, but also love the poison ivy
    • Brian Frasers ring Jamie gave to Claire
    • How can I choose? These are all great gifts!
    • ALL but the puppy!!!
    • All of the above
    • Because my husband brings me wildflowers too
    • The boars tusk bracelets

    Please take a moment to vote in the January poll, which asks the question, "Have you ever been to Scotland?"