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    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor

Travels and Travails

Sorry to have taken so long to update here! Having declared that I meant to stay home as much as possible this year, in order to Get Things Written, I have in fact done so—but that meant that _all_ this year’s public appearances (almost) were crammed into July.
I had a wonderful time, doing the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in North Carolina, the Flagstaff Celtic Festival (in Flagstaff, natch), and CONestoga, a great sf/f con in Tulsa—plus all the less-public things I did in those places (I took two extra days to do research in North Carolina, since Grandfather Mountain is smack in the middle of Fraser’s Ridge country [g]—and am now in a position to tell you (if you are one of the people who obsesses about such things, and judging from the mail, many of you _are_…) that Fraser’s Ridge probably lies within about ten miles of Blowing Rock, NC. Couldn’t tell you which way, though, I having no particular sense of direction unless the sun happens to be setting flagrantly in front of me with full technicolor effects—then I know that way is West).

It rained like Noah and the ark during the opening ceremonies at the Grandfather Mountain Games, but I had been assured that it usually _does_, and the participants would conduct their complete program, including the famous Calling of the Clans. Which indeed they did, the various clan chiefs and representatives being thoughtfully equipped with kerosene-fueled tiki torches. [G]
The kindly people at Black Bear Books in Blowing Rock, who had invited me, had told me that it was likely to rain (“That mountain is a weather-maker,” they said—a phrase I carefully filed away for later use), and also informed me that I should bring a blanket to sit on the grass, as there were not really any bleachers as such; merely a grassy hillside next to MacRae Meadow, where the games are held.
I did bring a small blanket, but instead of hunting for a perch on the grass, elected to stroll casually down Clan Row, where the tents of all the clan societies are located, and see whether anyone recognized me. [Cough] (I do a fair number of Highland Games, what with one thing and another, and the nice people who support the clan societies do, too. You get to know people.)
Fortunately, I was spotted by a hospitable bunch of Buchanans, and kindly invited to come and sit in the shelter of their tent for the ceremonies. And a good thing, too; had I been sitting on the grassy knoll, I would have been washed right down the mountainside, rather than allowed to enjoy the events while peacefully eating meat pies and Diet Coke. (Was also royally entertained by the Frasers, the next day, who gave me shelter in which to eat my hot dog in peace—and the odd dram of whisky. I signed 73 _cases_ of books (at 24 trade paperbacks per case) that day, and had my picture taken with just about every single person who bought a book, too. I needed that whisky.)
Unfortunately, neither clan Fraser nor clan MacKenzie had arrived in time to have a representative take part in the Calling of the Clans, because I was all ready to shout “Tulach Ard!” or “Caisteal DHUUUUUUN!” as required, but just as well, as this might have startled the Buchanans.
I also drove down to Greensboro, where I spent a delightful afternoon wallowing in the Guilford Courthouse Battlefield and Visitors Center. Walking battlefields and listening for the echoes is one of my favorite things, and the Visitors Center there is excellent, with a really good film explaining the battle (they used very talented re-enactors for it, and they did a great job. I will note for the record, though—I see a lot of these kinds of films, what with one thing and another—that while the actors’ clothes and uniforms are artfully daubed with mud, blood, and powder-smoke, they still have a sense of unreality about them, because the clothes stand away from the actors’ bodies, having been freshly made and put on for the occasion. To have an actual sense of reality, the people would need to have been living and sleeping in those uniform for weeks, so the fabric goes limp and clings to the contours of the body. But I admit that there are limits to what one can expect an actor to do for his or her art (or the National Park Service), and these people did a fine job).
More tomorrow, perhaps, about CONestoga and Just What Goes on at a Con, Anyway (if anyone invites you to “get fuzzy,” don’t do it, is all I can say).

I did mention travails, though. I’m sorry we haven’t been able to update the website of late; my webmistress, Rosana, has recently lost her father after a short illness, and has been spending time in New Mexico, taking care of her mother and settling things. Our profound sympathies to Rosana and her family—and our prayers are always with them.

In the meantime, I’ll put update stuff here on the blog, to be posted to the website later.

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26 Responses »

  1. Diana,

    Do you travel with a troupe of minions to carry all the boxes of books you sign at these festivals? God, I can’t imagine signing so many in 6 months, never mind 1 festival. I’m going with clan Donnachaidh Saturday to the Maine Highland Games. I’ll be smiling foolishly if I walk out having signed and sold 20 of my books!

    All the power to you, girl! Perhaps someday we’ll meet at one of the Games. I’d be smiling foolishly then, too. For now I seem to be confined to New England.



  2. Diana,
    I’m planning on submitting a non-fiction piece! My first crack at anything of the sort. Perhaps you’ll have a look, even though you won’t be a judge.
    Was is difficult to write in the Scot/Gaelic? It was difficult reading Outlander, but now I’m used to it. It must have been the same for the writing? How do you remain consistent?
    I know you had come to Kingston (Ont., not Jamaica)last year for a signing, but I hadn’t gotten into the books then…shucks!

  3. Dear Mary–

    _I_ don’t supply the books I sign at events. [boggling at the thought] Normally, the organizers of the event make an arrangement with a local bookstore, who supplies both books and minions [g]. I show up with my Sensa pens and a smile. The bookstore makes a profit, the event gets more (we hope) and happier attendees, the readers get their books signed, and I (eventually) get royalties on those books. It’s all good. [g]

  4. I followed a link posted by Lizabeta on Compuserve today and was interested to see your account of visiting Guilford Courthouse Battlefield. I'm so glad you got to visit there! We lived in Greensboro for one year, only a few blocks from the battlefield and it was our favorite place to walk, picnic, attend all the events and see the reenactment. Imagine my surprise a few years later to learn that I had an ancestor in that battle. So Guilford Courthouse is where my interest in the southern campaign started. I was particularly interested in the role of the sharpshooters in the battle. You can especially see it in the reenactment as the actors are careful to make the work of the sharpshooters clear and distinct from the rest of the soldiers

    Karen (aka wynnleaf)

  5. I've been (re)reading my Outlander series lately as I finally just purchased A Breath of Snow and Ashes (yes I know, I'm behind). I was looking up areas in NC out of curiosity when I found this. I was wondering where Fraser's Ridge might be ~ and I am delighted to hear that you think it's near Blowing Rock. We have family that live very near there and visit every couple of years. Even considered moving there for a while (to Blowing Rock). That's the area I always envision while reading the books. I've also always wanted to visit Grandfather Mountain during the Highland Games but we are never there at the right time. One of these years perhaps. It's worth the visit to the mountain even without the games, but that would be a bonus.

    Absolutely love your books, and adore Jamie and Claire!

  6. Reading Fiery Cross, I came upon the man from Granite Falls and about fell out of my chair. I was already engrossed in the series when you moved the story to NC. I grew up in NC, though closer to “Old Salem.” 16 years ago we moved to the tiny, 2-stop-light town of Granite Falls because their Christmas parade brought me to sentimental tears (it still does.) It was a shock to see my little burg mentioned in your book.
    I never knew that Granite had it’s name in the 1770s. Your books are so wonderful I want to believe the events and places are all true, even if the characters were created around them – It’s hard to separate when I am completely drawn in. I need to research the history around here! Thank you for the nod and for the inspiration to find out more.

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