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 TheLitForum.com, 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.