Wednesday, April 25, 2018

What would you ask Diana, if you could?

So this happened today, on, which is the new online home of the former Compuserve Books and Writers Community....

Diana Gabaldon was talking about the questions she's been asked by interviewers over the years, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to mention something I've been thinking about for a long time:  I'd love to interview her myself some day.  And I was thrilled to see this response from Diana. (Click on the image for a bigger view.)

Wow! "Extremely Perceptive and articulate" is high praise indeed, coming from Diana, and the sort of comment I'll treasure for a long time.

So, clearly she'd be happy to answer any questions I can come up with, within reason. <g>  As for what to ask...?  That's the hard part, and I plan to spend some time thinking about it.  I have a few ideas, but I'm not going to share them ahead of time.

Instead, I thought I'd ask the rest of you:  What would you like to ask Diana Gabaldon, if you could?

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Happy Birthday, Mandy!

Wishing a very happy birthday to Amanda Claire Hope MacKenzie, aka Mandy, who was born on April 21, 1776.

That would make her 242 years old, which is rather mind-boggling to contemplate, considering that she was only a toddler when last seen in WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD.

Here are some of my favorite quotes by and about wee Mandy.  Hope you enjoy them!

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *

If you haven't read all eight of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER books, up to and including WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD, there are Major Spoilers below. Read at your own risk! 

1) Roger holds his baby girl for the first time.
Roger had never felt so terrified as he did when his newborn daughter was placed in his arms for the first time. Minutes old, skin tender and perfect as an orchid’s, she was so delicate he feared he would leave fingerprints on her--but so alluring that he had to touch her, drawing the back of his knuckle gently, so gently, down the perfect curve of her fat little cheek, stroking the black cobweb silk of her hair with an unbelieving forefinger. 

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 114, "Amanda". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
2) We get our first hint that baby Mandy may have inherited her parents' time-travel gene:
Jamie Fraser took his father’s ruby ring, and held it over the face of his granddaughter. Amanda’s eyes fixed on it at once, and she stuck out her tongue with interest. He smiled, despite the heaviness of his heart, and lowered the ring for her to grab at.

“She likes that well enough,” he said, skillfully removing it from her grip before she could get it into her mouth. “Let’s try the other.”

The other was Claire’s amulet--the tiny, battered leather pouch given to her by an Indian wisewoman years before. It contained assorted bits and bobs, herbs, he thought, and feathers, perhaps the tiny bones of a bat. But in among them was a lump of stone--nothing much to look at, but a true gemstone, a raw sapphire.

Amanda turned her head at once, more interested in the pouch than she had been in the shiny ring. She made cooing noises and batted wildly with both hands, trying to reach it.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 114, "Amanda". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
3) Roger and Claire, not long before the MacKenzies returned to the 20th century.
"Mandy's got my mother's hair."

"Oh, good," Claire said dryly. "I'd hate to think I was entirely responsible for it. Do tell her that, when she's older, will you? Girls with very curly hair invariably hate it--at least in the early years, when they want to look like everyone else."

Despite his preoccupation, he heard the small note of desolation in her voice, and reached for her hand, disregarding the fact that she still held a plant in it.

"I'll tell her," he said softly. "I'll tell her everything. Don't ever think we'd let the kids forget you."

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21, "The Minister's Cat". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) Jemmy and Mandy at Lallybroch:
"But Mama! Mandy hit me!” came an indignant report from the top of the stairs. Looking up, she could see the top of his head, the light from the window glowing on his hair.

“She did? Well—”

“With a stick!”

“What sort of—”

“On purpose!”

“Well, I don’t think—”

“AND …”--a pause before the damning denouement--“SHE DIDN’T SAY SHE WAS SORRY!”


“MANDY,” she bellowed. “Say you’re sorry!”

“Non’t!” came a high-pitched refusal from above.

“Aye, ye will!” came Jem’s voice, followed by scuffling. Brianna headed for the stair, blood in her eye. Just as she set her foot on the tread, Jem uttered a piercing squeal.

“She BIT me!”

“Jeremiah MacKenzie, don’t you dare bite her back!” she shouted. “Both of you stop it this instant!"

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, Epilogue I, "Lallybroch". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) This scene from ECHO hit me like a gut-punch the first time I read it. Mandy may be only a toddler, but I think she does an amazing job of telling her parents what's wrong and communicating the urgency of the situation. Thank God Bree and Roger took her hysteria seriously!
He made it to Amanda’s room a half step before Brianna and scooped the child out of her bed, cradling her against his pounding heart.

“Jemmy, Jemmy!” she sobbed. “He’s gone, he’s gone. He’s GONE!!” This last was shrieked as she stiffened in Roger’s arms, digging her feet hard into his belly.

"Hey, hey,” he soothed, trying to rearrange her and pet her into calm. “It’s okay, Jemmy’s fine. He’s fine, he’s only gone to visit Bobby overnight. He’ll be home tomorrow.”

“He’s GONE!” She squirmed like an eel, not trying to get away but merely possessed by a paroxysm of frantic grief. “He’s not here, he’s not here!”

"Aye, like I said, he’s at Bobby’s house, he—”

“Not here,” she said urgently, and thumped the palm of her hand repeatedly on the top of her head. “Not here wif me!”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 85, "Son of a Witch". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) Many of you will recall that Diana Gabaldon said repeatedly that she wanted an octopus on the cover of WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD. She didn't get that, but I knew there would be an octopus reference in the book somewhere:
Mandy unbuckled her seat belt and popped up on her knees. She’d pulled her arms out of her sweater so they flopped around, and now just her face was poking out of the neckhole.

“I’m an ottopus!” she said, and shook herself so the sweater’s arms danced. Jem laughed, in spite of himself. So did Mam, but she waved Mandy back down.

“Octopus,” she said. “And put your seat belt back on right now. Octo means eight in Latin,” she added. “Octopuses have eight legs. Or arms, maybe.”

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 99, "Radar". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) In spite of the seriousness of the situation, Mandy's counting makes me laugh.
"Go, Mandy. Right now. Mummy will be there before you can count to a hundred. Start counting now. One...two...three..." She moved between Cameron and Mandy, motioning firmly with her free hand.

Reluctantly, Mandy moved, murmuring, "Four... five... six... seven..." and disappeared through the back kitchen door.


"Think fast,” he shouted up at her. “Your wee lass will hit a hundred and be back any second!”

Despite the situation, Brianna smiled. Mandy had very recently been introduced to the idea that numbers were infinite and had been enchanted by the concept. She wouldn’t stop counting until she ran out of breath or someone stopped her.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 26, "A Step Into the Dark". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
8) I love the way Jem is so protective of his little sister.
There was a lot of screaming and crying going on inside the Buchans’ house, and he felt his chest go so tight he couldn’t breathe.

“Mandy!” He tried to call, but her name came out in a whisper. The front door was hanging open. Inside, there were girls everywhere, but he picked Mandy out of the muddle in the lounge instantly and ran to grab her. She wasn’t crying, but she latched on to him like a leech, burying her black curly head in his stomach.

“It’s okay,” he told her, squeezing the stuffing out of her in relief. “It’s okay, Man. I gotcha. I gotcha."

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 38, "The Number of the Beast". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
9) I don't have words to express how relieved and grateful I am that the MacKenzies found each other at last.
"Think ye might have lost something,” Buck said gruffly, and handed Mandy carefully down to him. She was a heavy, lively weight in his arms--and smelled of goats.

“Daddy!” she exclaimed, beaming at him as though he’d just come in from work. “Mwah! Mwah!” She kissed him noisily and snuggled into his chest, her hair tickling his chin.


Roger was crying again, couldn’t stop. Mandy had burrs and foxtails stuck in her hair and in the fabric of her jacket, and he thought she might have wet herself somewhere in the recent past. Buck twitched the reins, as though about to turn and go, and Roger reached out a hand and grabbed his stirrup.

“Stay,” he croaked. “Tell me it’s real.”

Buck made an incoherent noise, and, looking up through his tears, Roger could see that Buck was making an inadequate attempt at hiding his own emotion.

“Aye,” Buck said, sounding almost as choked as Roger. He looped his reins and, sliding off into the road, took Jem very gently into his own arms. “Aye, it’s real."

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 108, "Reality is That Which, When You Stop Believing in It, Doesn't Go Away". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Happy Birthday to our favorite time-traveling toddler and "feisty wee baggage", Mandy MacKenzie!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Culloden anniversary

Today is the 272nd anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, which took place on April 16, 1746.

I like this video very much. (The song is "The Ghosts of Culloden", performed by Isla Grant.)

Diana Gabaldon noted in her blog post about her 2008 visit to Culloden that she saw the place where Jamie woke after the battle, thinking he was dead.  When I asked her on Compuserve if she recalled where that was, exactly, she said,
Jamie made it almost to the second government line.  He woke in a little swale or dip (you recall he was lying in water), about forty feet off the path that leads from the Visitors Centre--maybe a couple of hundred yards beyond the VC itself.
The photo below shows the area where the government lines were, marked with a red flag.

I was lucky enough to be able to visit Culloden in 2012, and again in 2016.  It's an amazing place, and the Visitors Centre is very well done.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

OUTLANDER Season 3 Blu-ray and DVD now available in the US!

The OUTLANDER Season 3 Blu-ray and DVD is finally available in the US!

You can find it wherever DVDs are sold, or order from Amazon here:

Collector's Edition Blu-ray

Look here for a detailed description of the three editions.

I'm well aware that many of you outside the US have had the Season 3 Blu-ray/DVD for a month or more, but it's been a long wait for American fans. I haven't actually seen any of the "extras" or deleted scenes yet, and I'm looking forward to seeing them for myself when my copy arrives on Wednesday.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

March poll results

Here are the results of the March poll, which asked the question, "Do you read excerpts or #DailyLines from Diana Gabaldon's upcoming books or stories?"
    There were 1114 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!
    • 67.15% - Absolutely! I will gladly devour any excerpt or #DailyLine I can find.
    • 10.86% - Yes, and I wish Diana Gabaldon would post them more often!
    • 7.00% - No, I would rather wait and see those bits of the story in their proper context, when the book comes out.
    • 6.64% - Sometimes.
    • 1.89% - No, I am trying hard to avoid the excerpts and #DailyLines.
    • 1.44% - I'm addicted to the #DailyLines!
    • 1.26% - I used to read them, but I don't anymore.
    • 1.17% - What excerpts? Where can I find them?
    • 0.63% - What are #DailyLines?
    • 0.54% - I read excerpts, but only for certain books or stories.
    • 1.44% - Other
    I didn't vote in the poll myself, but I fall into the third category above. I've been an excerpt-avoider since 2008, but I certainly don't mind if other people devour them! I think it's fascinating that people have different levels of tolerance for reading excerpts.

    Please take a moment to vote in the April poll, which asks, "Which of Diana Gabaldon's books are you currently reading or listening to?"