• “The smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting 'Scrooge McDuck' comics.”—Salon.com
  • A time-hopping, continent-spanning salmagundi of genres.”
    —ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
  • “These books have to be word-of-mouth books because they're too weird to describe to anybody.”
    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor

Jamie, or John?

Oookay, then!

Sorry to be so late in getting this post up; I’ve been in New Mexico for the last week, and the internet connection there was Just Abysmal; could barely keep it open long enough to tweet, let alone upload anything longer.
First things first: Upcoming appearances.

I’m flying to New York on Monday, and will be appearing (briefly) at the RWA convention, held at the Marriott Marquis. Appearances will be:

The Literacy Signing, where most of the published authors taking part will be available to sell/sign books—this is from 5:30-7:30 on June 28th, at the Marriott Marquis. This event _is_ open to the public, and I _believe_ that you’re allowed to bring in up to three of your own books from home to be signed, if you like.
The opening panel of the convention, where I’ll be taking part in a discussion with two other Random House authors, Steve Berry and Tess Gerritsen. This is part of the convention and open only to convention attendees. It’ll be from 8:30-10:00 AM on June 29th.

Then on July 5th—publication date for the cool new 20th-anniversary OUTLANDER edition!—I fly to Laramie Wyoming, where I’ll be doing the keynote speech for the Sir Walter Scott conference at the University of Wyoming. The conference program is here http://www.uwyo.edu/scottconf2011/program.html , but I don’t yet have a detailed personal schedule. I _will_ be doing at least one public book-signing, though; will post time and place as soon as I get them.

On July 8th, I fly _back_ to New York, for ThrillerFest, at the Hyatt. There, I’ll be doing a Livestream event with James Rollins (Powell’s Books is supplying books to be sold during this event—and I certainly _hope_ they’ll have the 20th-anniversary edition!) from 2-4:00 PM on July 8th.

On the evening of July 8th, I’ll be doing a joint signing with several other authors for a collaborative mystery novel called NO REST FOR THE DEAD. (This is one of those for-charity efforts—proceeds for this one go to cancer research—where a number of well-known authors take turns writing chapters, and the editor then goes through and kind of smooths things out so the story is coherent. Or so we hope, anyway.)

The signing will be held at 7:00 PM at the Center for Fiction, (17 East 47th Street, New York, NY 10017), and authors attending will include Peter James, Marcia Talley, John Lescroart, RL Stine, Diana Gabaldon,Jeffery Deaver, Gayle Lynds and Andrew Gulli. (Just for my own part, I’m fine with people bringing their own books to be signed, too.) This is open to the public.

Aaaand, on July 9th, I’ll do a Spotlight Interview (at the Hyatt) for ThrillerFest, Kathleen Antrim being the interviewer. That’s from 1:00-1:50 PM. And then I’ll do a book-signing for the convention (open only to convention attendees) from 5:00-6:00 PM at the convention bookstore in the hotel.

Then I rush home on the 10th {g}, and do the Official Launch Party for the 20th-anniversary OUTLANDER on July 11th, at The Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale. 7:00 PM!

Righto. Now, I had promised to show you the two openings I have for SCOTTISH PRISONER. As it stands, I’m opening the book with Jamie’s point of view—but I _could_ open with Lord John’s first chapter instead, and do Jamie’s second.  I did it this way because I’d like people to realize right away that this is Jamie’s book, as much as Lord John’s—but it _is_ a Rather Unusual {cough} way to open a book.

So—those of you who don’t read excerpts should stop Right Here.

Those of you who _do_…here you go, and hope you enjoy them! Let me know what you think: Jamie first, or Lord John?

THE SCOTTISH PRISONER
(Copyright 2011 Diana Gabaldon)
Chapter 1:

Helwater, the Lake District
April 1, 1760

It was so cold out, he thought his cock might break off in his hand. If he could find it. The thought passed through his sleep-mazed mind like one of the small, icy drafts that darted through the loft, making him open his eyes.
He could find it now; had waked with his fist wrapped round it and desire shuddering and twitching over his skin like a cloud of midges. The dream was wrapped just as tightly round his mind, but he knew it would fray in seconds, shredded by the snores and farts of the other grooms. He needed her, needed to spill himself with the feel of her touch still on him.
Hanks stirred in his sleep, chuckled loudly, said something incoherent, and fell back into the void, murmuring, “Bugger, bugger, bugger…”
Jamie said something similar under his breath in the Gaelic, and flung back his blanket. Damn the cold.
He made his way down the ladder into the half-warm, horse-smelling fug of the barn, nearly falling in his haste, ignoring a splinter in his bare foot. He hesitated in the dark, still urgent. The horses wouldn’t care, but if they noticed him, they’d make enough noise, perhaps, to wake the others.

Wind struck the barn and went booming round the roof. A strong chilly draft with a scent of snow stirred the somnolence, and two or three of the horses shifted, grunting and whickering. Overhead, a murmured “‘ugger” drifted down, accompanied by the sound of someone turning over and pulling the blanket up round his ears, defying reality.

Claire was still with him, vivid in his mind, solid in his hands. He could imagine that he smelled her hair in the scent of fresh hay. The memory of her mouth, those sharp white teeth …he rubbed his nipple, hard and itching beneath his shirt, and swallowed.

His eyes were long accustomed to the dark; he found the vacant loose-box at the end of the row and leaned against its boards, cock already in his fist, body and mind yearning for his wife.
He’d have made it last if he could, but he was fearful lest the dream go altogether and he surged into the memory, groaning. His knees gave way in the aftermath and he slid slowly down the boards of the box into the loose piled hay, shirt rucked round his thighs and his heart pounding like a kettle drum.

[end section]

(more stuff in this chapter, of course)

Chapter 2: The Fate of Fuses

London
Argus House

Lord John Grey eyed the ribbon-tied packet on his knee as though it were a bomb. In fact, it couldn’t have been more explosive had it been filled with black powder and equipped with a fuse.
His attitude as he handed it to his brother must have reflected this knowledge, for Hal fixed him with a gimlet eye and raised one brow. He said nothing, though, flicking loose both ribbon and wrapping with an impatient gesture and bending his head at once over the thick sheaf of densely-written sheets that emerged.

Grey couldn’t stand to watch him read through Charles Carruthers’s post-mortem denunciation, recalling each damning page as Hal read it. He stood up and went to the window of the study that looked out into the back garden of Argus House, ignoring the swish of turning pages and the occasional blasphemous mutterings behind him.

Hal’s three boys were playing a game of tigers and hunters, leaping out at each other from behind the shrubbery with shrill roars, followed by shrieks of delight and yells of “Bang! Take that, you striped son of a bitch!”

The nurse seated on the edge of the fish-pool, keeping a tight grip on baby Dottie’s gown, looked up at this, but merely rolled her eyes with a martyred expression. Flesh and blood has its limits, her expression said clearly, and she resumed paddling a hand in the water, luring one of the big goldfish close so that Dottie could drop bits of bread to it.

John longed to be down there with them. It was a rare day for early April, and he felt the pulse of it in his blood, urging him to be outside, running bare-foot through young grass. Running naked down into the water… The sun was high, flooding warm through the glass of the French windows, and he closed his eyes and turned his face up to it.

Siverly. The name floated in the darkness behind his eyes, pasted across the blank face of an imagined cartoon major, drawn in uniform, an outsized sword brandished in his hand, and bags of money stuffed into the back of his breeches, obscene bulges under the skirt of his coat. One or two had fallen to the ground, bursting open so that you could see the contents–coin in one, the other filled with what looked like poppets, small wooden doll-like things. Each one with a tiny knife through its heart.

Hal swore in German behind him. He must have reached the part about the rifles; German oaths were reserved for the most stringent occasions, French being used for minor things like a burnt dinner, and Latin for formal insults committed to paper. Minnie wouldn’t let either Hal or John swear in English in the house, not wanting the boys to acquire low habits. John could have told her it was too late for such caution, but didn’t.

He turned round to see Hal on his feet, pale with rage, a sheet of paper crumpled in one hand.

“How dare he? How dare he?”

A small knot he hadn’t known was there dissolved under John’s ribs.

“You believe Carruthers, then?”

Hal glared at him.

“Don’t you? You knew the man.”

He had known Charles Carruthers–in more than one sense.

“Yes, I believed him when he told me about Siverly in Canada–and that–” he nodded at the papers, thrown in a sprawl across Hal’s desk, “–is even more convincing. You’d think he’d been a lawyer.”
He could still see Carruthers’s face, pale in the dimness of his attic room in [town], drawn with ill-health but set with grim determination to live long enough to see justice done. Charlie hadn’t lived that long, but long enough to write down every detail of the case against Major Gerald Siverly, and to entrust it to him.

He was the fuse that would detonate this particular bomb. And he was all too familiar with what happened to fuses, once lit.

[end section]

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364 Responses »

  1. Jamie First! It is most compelling and heart wrenching to see his devotion and longing. Question, who would you pick to play him in a movie?

  2. Either would be fine. If you start with Jamie you really would get off on a rocket, but if you start with John you slide us into the story and then bang away we would go with Jamie at it again! Really love all your books and have not had any ill feelings towards John, he really adds another dimension to Jamie’s dilemmas in life. Keep Writing can’t wait for the next books.

  3. Entering this belatedly, I know of at least one person who’s only read the Lord John books; I think that she (and perhaps others like her) would prefer John’s POV as a start, to gently ease them into Jamie’s narrative and maybe make them want to tackle the main Outlander series. Me, I’m going to buy and read it in any case.

    I’ve loved your stories since the winter of 1992/1993 when I first read Outlander in translation (Swedish). My favourite thing about the tale as a whole is that it defies easy description and genre pigeon-holing. Also, I enjoy the unpredictable and many-voiced nature of your universe. So, thank you.

  4. Jamie, Jamie, Jamie! Please! Jamie’s section draws you immediately into the visceral love story, whereas John’s section is more of a mystery, an intellectual intrigue.

    Yeah! I cannot wait!

  5. John, I just have to go with John. It seems a better opener to have it start with a good bit of intrigue than a shaky, sad, lonely scene with Jamie.

  6. I suggest tossing a coin. If John’s intro comes up and you feel disappointed, you’ ll know you really want to start with the Helwater barn scene.

    I always wanted to know more about the Helwater time and am really looking forward to both character’s views and stories. Beginning with the Jamie chapter could serve to explain to readers not only his history, but, possibly also what he is doing there and WHO put him there, thus introducing John’s role and secret passion from a different perspective (still about John, creates more interest in john’s motives, more suspense, ie. What could be behind him sending Jamie there? Wow, what an interesting multi-faceted character, what is he up to? Etc)

    Hope you are not in indecision too long – very keen for the continuation of both wonderful series! Love your work!

  7. Dear Diana,

    I have sent the questions to your address.

    Take your time answering.

    Sincerely Yours,

    Maurizio

  8. while i always love jamie, the lord john excerpt has a better story opener feeling to it. unless the jamie bit was called “preface”, rather than “chapter 1″ – for some reason that seems to make a difference to me.

  9. Jamie for sure!