Sunday, April 28, 2019

Diana Gabaldon's appearance in Burlington, NC

My mom and I had a wonderful time at Diana's appearance in Burlington, NC, yesterday. I really couldn't be more pleased with the way it worked out! The weather was perfect, clear skies and about 73F. It was a small crowd for a Diana Gabaldon event, especially by the standards of recent years, maybe 350 people in the theater, not counting those who bought tickets for the book-signing only, so it had a very intimate feeling to it.

We chatted for a while before the talk started with an acquaintaince of mine from the NC OUTLANDER Fans Facebook group. Here's a selfie I took while we were waiting.

I enjoyed Diana's talk very much. She talked about Book 9, GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE ("should be out later this year"), and the TV series (she said she's starting to see dailies from Season 5 and it looks good so far), and read an excerpt from BEES. I normally am a very strict "excerpt-avoider", but I will gladly make an exception for anything she reads when I'm in the audience. <g>

Since this was a North Carolina crowd, she spent some time talking about why the books focus on NC. ("I love North Carolina," she said, but the pollen in the air at this time of year really aggravates her allergies.) She said they can't film the TV show in NC because the entire production team (including some 250 people who work behind the scenes) would have to join a union, or else they would have to hire a whole new production crew. It's just not feasible, when the main studios are in Cumbernauld, Scotland. I knew this, but it was good to hear the explanation in her own words.

Diana also spoke about what it was like to visit Alamance Battleground many years ago when she was writing THE FIERY CROSS, when the site of the battlefield was marked only by a tiny sign that was easy to miss. All of the proceeds from her events on this 3-day visit to NC are going to support maintenance and preservation of these historical sites, and it was clear that the people who run the battlefield visitor's center are just delighted by the attention OUTLANDER is bringing to what was, after all, a fairly obscure battle of the pre-Revolutionary War era. They are hoping for an "OUTLANDER Effect" on NC tourism similar to what has happened in Scotland since the TV show premiered.

I didn't really hear anything in Diana's talk that I hadn't known about before, but I don't mind. It's a real pleasure for me just listening to her speak!

When it was time for the book-signing, they escorted my mom and me, along with another person who was using a wheelchair, around the outside of the building to the stage door, so we wouldn't have to go up the stairs to the stage where the signing was taking place. That worked out really well, and we ended up right at the front of the signing line. It was great to see Diana again, and I had a chance to tell her everything I had planned.

I brought the 25th anniversary editions of DRAGONFLY and VOYAGER for Diana to sign. I asked for an inscription that said, "To Karen, thanks for 10 years of bumblebee-herding." This is a reference to my role as Section Leader, aka moderator, in the Diana Gabaldon section of, formerly the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. Diana refers to what I do on the forum as "herding the bumblebees", and the image always makes me smile.

She looked at me in surprise. "Has it really been ten years already?" I nodded and said, "A little more than that, actually." <g> (Counting from September 2008.) And you can see she took that into consideration when she wrote the inscriptions.

The whole time we were talking and Diana was signing my books, the designated picture-taker was snapping away with my phone. I came away with some really terrific photos! I'm delighted to have not one but two excellent photos of me and Diana together. <g>

It was a wonderful day and I'm really glad I had the opportunity to go.

OUTLANDER seasons 1 and 2 coming to Netflix US on May 27!

Netflix announced this week that OUTLANDER Seasons 1 and 2 will be available for subscirbers in the US starting on May 27, 2019.

Here's an interesting article with some speculations about what the Netflix deal might mean for the possibility of a (still hypothetical) Season 7.
After the first six or seven seasons, television shows tend to get a little bit pricier. That’s why a deal like this for Netflix matters. In finding a new mechanism to bring in viewers and potentially drive more profits over at Starz, then maybe there’s a way that we can see a stronger viewership and then a season 7 renewal beyond that. This is at least the hope, but it may take some time still for this hope to manifest into anything more solid like an announcement.

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Making of OUTLANDER (Seasons 3 and 4) coming Oct. 15!

THE MAKING OF OUTLANDER: The Official Guide to Seasons Three & Four will be published on October 15, 2019.

Just like the first volume, covering Seasons 1 and 2, which came out in 2016, this will be a "coffee-table" book, filled with behind-the-scenes info, photos and interviews with the cast and production team. I enjoyed the first book very much and I'm looking forward to this one.

You can pre-order here:

Barnes & Noble

For more information about THE MAKING OF OUTLANDER: The Official Guide to Seasons Three & Four, and a sneak preview of the chapter that deals with Episode 301 ("The Battle Joined"), look here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Culloden anniversary

Today is the 273rd 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.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Notre Dame quotes

Like so many of you, I was shocked and saddened to hear about the devastating fire that broke out today at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. I was lucky to be able to see it for myself many years ago, as a nineteen-year-old college student on my first overseas trip.

As usual in times of stress, I reach for Diana Gabaldon's books, hoping they can provide some comfort, or at least distraction. So I thought I'd share this pair of quotes about Notre Dame.

1) Here's the Comte St. Germain, standing before the massive stone walls of the Cathedral:
Notre Dame de Paris rose black above him, solid, obliterating the light of the stars, the beauty of the night. Very appropriate. He’d always thought that the church blocked one’s sight of God. Nonetheless, the sight of the monstrous stone creature made him shiver as he passed under its shadow, despite the warm cloak.

Perhaps it was the cathedral’s stones themselves that gave him the sense of menace? He stopped, paused for a heartbeat, and then strode up to the church’s wall and pressed his palm flat against the cold limestone. There was no immediate sense of anything, just the cold roughness of the rock. Impulsively, he shut his eyes and tried to feel his way into the rock. At first, nothing. But he waited, pressing with his mind, a repeated question. Are you there?

He would have been terrified to receive an answer but was obscurely disappointed not to. Even so, when he finally opened his eyes and took his hands away, he saw a trace of blue light, the barest trace, glowing briefly between his knuckles. That frightened him, and he hurried away, hiding his hands beneath the shelter of the cloak.

(From "The Space Between" by Diana Gabaldon, in SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL. Copyright© 2013 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

2) The photo above shows the Easter vigil at the Cathedral of Notre Dame.  It looks very much as Jamie remembers:
"The church was all dark,” Jamie continued, “but the folk coming for the service would buy small tapers from the crones at the doors. It was something like this”--I felt, rather than saw, his motion at the sky above--“a great space above, all ringing wi’ the silence, and folk packed in on every side.” Hot as it was, I gave an involuntary shiver at these words, which conjured up a vision of the dead around us, crowding silently side by side, in anticipation of an imminent resurrection.

“And then, just when I thought I couldna bear the silence and the crowd, there came the priest’s voice from the door. ‘Lumen Christi!’ he called out, and the acolytes lit the great candle that he carried. Then from it they took the flame to their own tapers, and scampered up and down the aisles, passing the fire to the candles o’ the faithful.”

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 2, "In Which We Meet a Ghost". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Very sad to think that this happened the week before Easter.

My thoughts are with the people of France tonight. I can't imagine what they must be feeling, watching the images on TV of Notre Dame in flames.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

OUTLANDER Season 5 filming has begun!

OUTLANDER Season 5 filming is officially under way! Filming began yesterday, April 8, 2019.

Here's a tweet from Matt Roberts, executive producer of OUTLANDER:

Sam Heughan posted a few of the highlights on Instagram, from the beginning of his day....

to the end....

Wishing the entire cast and crew the best of luck as they begin Season 5!

Monday, April 1, 2019

What is your favorite episode of OUTLANDER Season 4?

What's your favorite episode of OUTLANDER Season 4? Please take a moment to vote in the April poll, and feel free to leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page.

In case you missed them, here are my Season 4 episode recaps:

Episode 401: America the Beautiful
Episode 402: Do No Harm
Episode 403: The False Bride
Episode 404: Common Ground
Episode 405: Savages
Episode 406: Blood of My Blood
Episode 407: Down the Rabbit Hole
Episode 408: Wilmington
Episode 409: The Birds and the Bees
Episode 410: The Deep Heart's Core
Episode 411: If Not For Hope
Episode 412: Providence
Episode 413: Man of Worth

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?"
  • 64.12% - Absolutely! I will gladly devour any excerpt or #DailyLine I can find.
  • 10.88% - No, I would rather wait and see those bits of the story in their proper context, when the book comes out.
  • 6.46% - Sometimes.
  • 6.46% - Yes, and I wish Diana Gabaldon would post them more often!
  • 3.40% - I used to read them, but I don't anymore.
  • 2.89% - No, I am trying hard to avoid the excerpts and #DailyLines.
  • 1.87% - I'm addicted to the #DailyLines!
  • 1.70% - What excerpts? Where can I find them?
  • 0.68% - I read excerpts, but only for certain books or stories.
  • 0.68% - What are #DailyLines?
  • 0.85% - Other
There were 588 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

I didn't vote in the poll myself, but I fall into the second category above. I have been an excerpt-avoider since 2008, though I certainly don't mind if others enjoy them!

Please take a moment to vote in the April poll, which asks, "What is your favorite episode of OUTLANDER Season 4?"