• “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

26 Years Ago Today…

Outlander blue cover

I get the occasional question as to how I came to write OUTLANDER, and given that today is the 26th anniversary of my doing so, thought I’d maybe post this explanatory message—which I wrote a few years ago in thanks to the Compuserve folk who Witnessed the Creation , now updated.

Dear All–

On March 6, 1988, I started writing a novel. I wasn’t going to tell anyone what I was doing, let alone ever try to publish it. I just wanted to learn how to write a novel, and had concluded—having written All Kinds of nonfiction at that point—that the only way to do that was actually to write one. (I was not, btw, wrong in this assumption.)

Now, as a (rather convoluted) side-effect of my day-job, I’d become an “expert” in scientific computation (really easy to be an expert, if there are only six people in the world who do what you do, and that was my position, back in the early ’80′s), and as an even weirder side-effect of that, I became a member of the Compuserve Books and Writers Community (then called the Literary Forum), somewhere in late 1986.

Well, when I decided to learn to write a novel by writing one, I also decided a few other things:

1) I wouldn’t tell anyone what I was doing. Aside from the feeling of sheer effrontery involved in doing so, I didn’t want a lot of people telling me their opinions of what I should be doing, before I’d had a chance to figure things out for myself (as I said, I’d written a lot of non-fiction to this point, and nobody told me how). Also didn’t want a lot of busybodies (in my personal life) putting in their two cents, asking when I’d be done, and when it would be published, etc.—since I had no idea whether I could even finish a book.

2) I would finish the book. No matter how bad I thought it was, I wouldn’t just stop and abandon the effort. I needed to know what it took, in terms of daily discipline, mental commitment, etc. to write something like a novel. (I had written long things before—a 400-page doctoral dissertation entitled “Nest Site Selection in the Pinyon Jay, Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus,” (or, as my husband says, “Why birds build nests where they do, and who cares anyway?”), an 800-page monograph on “The Dietary Habits of the Birds of the Colorado River Valley,” etc.—but I’d never written fiction, other than lame short stories for English classes.) And

3) I’d do the absolute best that I could with the writing, every day. Even though this was a practice book that I’d never show anybody, it didn’t matter. If I wasn’t trying my best, how would I ever know if I was any good, and more importantly, how would I get better?

(In this regard, I had some evidence to go on. I’ve read all my life—hugely—and noticed that in most cases, while I’d enjoy all of an author’s books, including the first one, the books got noticeably better as the writer kept on writing. So, I concluded, with perfect logic, writing was like ballet dancing or piano-playing; if you practiced, you got better at it. I was not wrong in this conclusion, either.)

So, anyway, the book I wrote for practice was OUTLANDER, and here we are, 26 years and (almost) 14 books later. I just wanted to acknowledge the role of the Forum and my friends there, in that process.

How did that work, since I’d decided not to tell anybody what I was doing? Well, I stuck to that decision (I didn’t even tell my husband), but about six months into the writing, I was logging on intermittently late at night, picking up messages and posting replies—and found that I was having a argument with a gentleman (named Bill Garland, RIP) about what it feels like to be pregnant.

“Oh, I know what that feels like,” Bill assured me. “My wife’s had three children!” [pause here to allow the ladies to roll on the floor for a moment]

“Yeah, right,” I said. “_I’ve_ had three children, buster.”

So he asked me to describe what that was like.

Rather than try to cram such a description into a thirty-line message slot (all we had back in the old 300-baud dial-up days), I said, “Tell you what—I have this…piece…in which a young woman tells her brother what it’s like to be pregnant. I’ll put it in the data library for you.”

So—with trembling hands and pounding heart—I posted a small chunk (three or four pages, as I recall) of the book I was calling CROSS STITCH. And people liked it. They commented on it. They wanted to see more!

Aside from a few private moments associated with my husband and the birth of my children, this was the most ecstatic experience I’d ever had. And so, still trembling every time I posted something, I—very slowly—began to put up more.

Now, I don’t write with an outline, and I don’t write in a straight line, so my chunks weren’t chapters, weren’t contiguous, and generally weren’t connected to anything else. But they did have the same characters –and people liked those characters.

There were (and are) a lot of very kind and encouraging people who inhabited the Forum—some of them still there: Alex, Janet, Margaret, Marte… and many who aren’t, like Karen Pershing and John Kruszka (RIP), Mac Beckett, Michael Lee West–and Jerry O’Neill, whom I count as my First Fan and head cheerleader; always there to read what I posted and say the most wonderful things about it, one of the kindest people I’ve ever known.

So, over the course of the next year or so, these people kept egging me on. Asking questions, making comments*, urging me—eventually—to try to publish This Thing (it started out as a perfectly straight-forward historical novel, but then Things Happened, and what with the time-travel and the Loch Ness monster and all, I had no idea what it was).

*(Just to clarify—these were not critiques, just interested comments. I’ve never had a critique group nor ever would; nothing against them at all—I just don’t work that way. But regardless, I’d never put up _anything_ for public viewing that I didn’t think was completely ready for human consumption.)

Some of these people were published authors themselves and very kindly shared their own stories, and advice regarding literary agents and the publishing process (thank you, Mike Resnick, and Judy McNaught!), and in the fullness of time, John Stith very kindly introduced me to his own agent—who took me on, on the basis of an unfinished first novel. And…I finished it, to the supportive cheers of the Forum. A couple of weeks later, my agent sold it, as part of a three-book contract, to Delacorte, and bing!—I was a novelist.

Not saying I’d never have written a book without y’all—but man, you guys _helped_. Thank you!

–Diana

124 Responses »

  1. Diana,
    As like many of the other fans on this page I have read, and re-read this series at least once. It helped me get through some very difficult days. There were many. I hope someday to find myself in the Scottish Highlands, as well as other places that you have written about. I have always been fascinated with Gaelic history, custom and folklore – even taking a college course on the subject. I tell my family that if I ever win the lottery, they will find me in Scotland. I really mean that!
    I look forward to the next book. I will be waiting at the bookstore door when it opens on release day! I will also buy the TV series when it is released on DVD. I am sure that my family will be exiled while I watch it the first time…They are welcome to join me the second (third and fourth…..) viewings.
    Thank you for writing the best stories ever!
    Linda McG.

  2. Diana,

    Congratulations on 26 years of writing!

    I’m a very new fan and have to say I’ve never been pulled into a story as quickly as I have with your world of Jamie and Claire, et al. I picked up “The Scottish Prisoner” at my local mall bookstore in December, flipped it open to read the front flap and was instantly intrigued. Whenever this occurs with a book, I will immediately check to see if it is part of a series or if there are other books by the author. I wandered around the store and found “Outlander” and noticed a lot of books, all of them very BIG. Historical setting? Check, check, check! Time-travel? I love science fiction so check! A Highlander? Oh yeah, big check. So commenced a Happy Dance in the Aisles. I promptly purchased the entire 7 book series and “The Scottish Prisoner”. Half way through “Voyager” I absolutely fell in love with Lord John Grey and promptly ordered all the Lord John books (he is actually my favorite character now). “Outlander” is also the only reason I signed up for Starz and I am now one of your readers waiting for the 8th book (pre-ordered of course) and feel very fortunate indeed that I need only wait until June!

    Thank you!

  3. Sorry if this seems impertinent, but you are extremely youthful looking. To Australian eyes you look in your thirties. (Us Australians do age quickly though, too much sun) Thank you for the books, and my 86 year old mother says can you please get on as she would like to finish the Outlander series before she dies, ditto for George Martin, perhaps you could have a word to him? All the best.

  4. I just hopped on to this site to find out about the next book, so that I can plan my summer reading – geeky yes, but I look forward to the books almost as much as the holiday! I realised that I have been reading your books for half my life. I was sixteen when I first read Cross Stitch, which was sixteen years ago.

    It’s been 13 years since my girlfriends and I devised our incredibly scientific, not to mention reliable, Jamie Scale. Many a man has been dissected and rated, with the last question on the scale carrying the most weight. That question is: could he carry off a kilt? My lovely husband knows he only rates a 7 on the scale, but is willing to work on it. Ok, extracting tongue from cheek now.

    So thanks! Can’t wait for the journey to continue.

  5. This was such a lovely post — thank you so much for sharing it. With the buildup to the show, I’ve begun to (very slowly) re-read the series. I thought my own writing ambitions had abandoned me long ago, but am rediscovering the “kernels” of stories and characters I’d put aside for too long. I’ve been using this re-read to dig in and dissect what I think it is that has made these books, this story, these characters, so unforgettable to so many people in hopes that it will help me focus and hone my own writing skills.

    Thanks, Diana.

  6. Dear Diana and Fellow Fans;

    I don’t remember the year I first picked up “Dragon Fly in Amber” (it was in paperback), but from then on I was hopelessly lost! I have every book and a couple years ago decided that I would invest in signed copies so slowly but surely have gathered them all and not so patiently am awaiting MOBY! I was lucky enough to find my own Jamie although late in life. While Jamie isn’t perfect, your glimpses into his character and what shaped him are seriously valid, especially in today’s world. Thank you more than I can express for stories that not only entertain but teach!

    Ci

    • diana, i discovered the outlander after my daughter rebecca past away 6 years ago and i was hooked. I was out of writers and the ones i read where boring, and there you where the cover drew me in,bought it and put it 0n the shelf for a while. with help of your first book i started to climb out of my dark silent hole. I love the characters, the humor, love the discreption of children and history coming alive.thank you. lost year visiting germany i read them all in german and i was thrilled when i made to book 3 i had to think which language i was reading.hurry for the translater. your books helpd my to deal with my loss. love gabi

      • Dear Gabi–

        I’m so sorry for your loss. [hug] I’m glad if the books could give you a little escape when needed, though. [smile]

        –Diana

    • My god…Diana I remember the occasion well because I was pregnant with my first child and it was a difficult one at that. So my doctors said I had to stay home and rest. So I spend most of pregnancy reading. I came across with your book after reading a few books like A Knight and Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux, and a novel Series by Kathleen Woodwiss. and the Skye O’Malley Saga by Beatrice Small. I will admit I nearly gave birth before my time due to all the excitement and ordeal both Claire and Jamie suffered and continue to suffer. I awaited anxiously for the next book to be published then as I continue to await today for the release of the next book. I never get bored. I can not tell you how many times I have reread the books and I continue to find little things here and there and I wonder. I recently visited Scotland and stopped by Castle Doune. I am in love with the place and I can’t wait to return to Scotland.

  7. Dear Diana, I met you about 20 years ago at Dr. Kathi Fry’s office in Scottsdale. I was her nurse Ellie. I have always been a voracious reader, and when I read Outlander, I was hooked for life. Your books are like family to me, and sit second only to my Bible in importance to me. I have read and re-read them till the covers fall off. I loved all the nursing, homeopathic, and later doctoring that Claire did. My ancestors are Scottish, so all the better, and they came from North Carolina. I even have a wooden snake that Jamie spoke of that his brother gave him, and keep it with the books. I have NEVER known an author that could weave words into poignancy as you do. Beside my deceased Mother’s picture, I have the words you wrote in a preface about feeling a gentle wind pass you and you can believe it is your Mother. Best wishes on 26 years, and know what a true gift you have given to us all. I am excited and fearful about what Claire & Jamie will look like on film, because, the characters are so real in your mind, how could anyone do justice to them? Your devoted fan, Ellie Skon

    • Ellie!

      How lovely to “see” you again! [g] So glad you still enjoy the books–and I’m _sure_ you’ll enjoy the TV series; from what I’ve seen, it’s going to be fabulous!

      –Diana

  8. Just one more gushing fan here! My adventure into your books began when I was trying to convince a new friend that Elmore Leonard was the most awesome author. Every day it seemed I pushed the name and she would say try Diana Gabaldon. I finally wrote your name down on a sticky note. That sticky note survived
    several seasons of purse-changing. One day I swear an angel sat on my shoulder and whispered your name and on my lunch break at work I went online and ordered THE SCOTTISH PRISONER. I wanted to start the book right after I finished the Elmore book I was reading. I told my friend I bought the book and she exclaimed you have to read Outlander FIRST! So I ordered it online and after the first or maybe the second chapter I ordered the rest of the series…devouring each one. I then ordered lord John series and EXILE and the companion. After I finished all of those I pre ordered written in my own heart’s blood. I told my husband I can’t wait…I craved more Jamie & Claire! So I started with Outlander again…you have a special God-given talent; PLEASE keep writing. – Eva

  9. Four years ago, I began researching my paternal genealogy. So far, I’ve traced back to John Berryhill, 1509, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. In the 1700s, my ancestors left an Ulster, Ireland Scot plantation for America. They settled in Mecklenberg, NC. William Berryhill was an officer in the American Revolution.

    Historical fiction is my favorite genre, so while browsing Audible.com, I happened upon Outlander. I thought it would be a fun way to learn about the time and locations of the Berryhill family. Little did I know that not only was this true, but I had also stumbled upon what is now my absolute favorite series of books.

    Thank you for breathing a life of detail into my own family history and writing books to relish again and again.

  10. Diana-

    I have purchased your books, read and re-read them until the covers tear and fall off (due, I am certain, to clutching, strongly clutching and possibly choking the book during scenes) and replaced them as I loaned them out to others and never received them back. I’ve purchased hardcover versions to help alleviate the clutching issue, although the dustcovers did take a moderate amount of damage before I simply removed them. I look for them at thrift stores and yard sales so that I can “loan” them out without risking my copies. I follow your site and lurk at the Ladies of Lallybroch. I could go on and on about how your books have a very definite place in my life and how I pick them up whenever I feel the need for Jaime and Claire’s company, or wish to share mine with them. But the most interesting to me is that rather than just scrolling down to leave a congratulatory message on the 26th anniversary of this beloved series, I read every message left by others and found myself smiling and nodding and feeling a kinship with absolute strangers based on nothing more than your words.

    Thank you. So very much. :)

  11. Diana,
    Thank you for such wonderfully rich stories and thank you for taking your time to “finish” it to your satisfaction.

    And thank you for the audiobooks and the casting of Davina Porter as the narrator. I am making the assumption that perhaps you have sole control or at least a say in who narrates your books, and if you do, please excuse my impertinence in asking that there never be a change from Davina Porter. The first time I read Outlander, I started reading it but I stopped after just a few chapters, because I was so enthralled with your story I wanted to fully experience it and to do that I thought I should hear the Gaelic, Latin and French, especially the Gaelic, since I was fairly certain of the Latin and French pronunciation, but I had no idea of how the Gaelic was pronounced. I got the audiobook of Outlander and I was amazed at how the Gaelic words were pronounced and was even more amazed at the performance Davina Porter gave with each narration. Just as actors perform Shakespeare’s words far better than most readers of his works, I think Ms. Porter narrates your novels to such perfection, each is a performance not to be missed. I don’t want to imply that it is necessary to listen to the audiobooks to understand your books or to enjoy your books, I am saying that listening to a professional actress (Davina Porter) narrate your books is truly a performance not to be missed, just as readers of Shakespeare’s works should hear professional actors perform Shakespeare’s works. Ms. Porter is so good that I forget that it is a woman speaking as grown man or a wee child as in Jaime and Hamish.

    There is another reason your books in audiobook format are so wonderful. I had praised your series to my sister as well as to other family members and friends, but my sister firmly declared she had no time for books and wasn’t a reader of novels. On a road trip home to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family, I listened to an audiobook, by C. Harris, in my car and my sister was a captive audience. She loved the book and asked for more book recommendations. I was doubtful that she would listen to your books, because she had been so opposed to books I thought she would see the number of CDs and baulk. But she became an avid fan of your books and your audiobooks have been a blessing for her. First she found that by listening to your books she was willing to stay in one place to finish some of her paintings that she then sold and now your audiobooks are a comfort to her. She is now fighting an aggressive cancer and your audiobooks through the library’s Playaway device which are small and light enough to carry and listen to as she goes through her radiation and chemotherapy treatments. She is looking forward to “reading” your latest book.

    Diana, when you allowed your books to be done as audiobooks, you probably never dreamed that a different format could have such a powerful impact but I have to tell you what a true godsend it is to be able to listen to your books when one is too ill to hold a book or even concentrate on reading words on a page and the device provided by the libraries is a part of that gift, since it’s a way to listen without the bulk of a CD player or the expense of a smartphone or mp3 player. And Thank you or your publisher or whoever chose Davina Porter as the narrator. Most of all, thank you for your devotion to your craft. Your words are so well chosen they make the senses feel and smell and see the stories you tell. A true gift.

  12. Hi Diana

    Congratulations from me too.. I’ve been around and with you since Cross Stitch first made it into the UK shops and have enjoyed every step of the way you and your characters. I’ve started MOBY and my husband says he now has to book an appointment for any contact until it’s finished!

    Still awaiting news of a UK station taking up the series.. getting desperate to know what we will do over here now! US get it on my birthday and I was so wishing it was here so it would be a nice birthday treat but I’m going off to the Yorkshire dales for the weekend to walk the hills instead now.. 2nd prize!

    I saw that BBC were asked by a fan on a forum somewhere and they said they didn’t think there would be enough interest.. don’t they know how popular your books are!!!! I love the BBC and only really watch BBC channels most of the time but when I think of some of the stuff that makes it on there.. Jeremy Clarkson and his Top Gear boys to mention but one, it makes my blood boil.

    Anyway, rant over but a big thank you for all the enjoyment so far……..?

    Diane

  13. DEAR DIANA:

    FIRST, I WANT TO THANK MY DAUGHTER WHO INTRODUCED ME TO OUTLANDER. AND THEN, I THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART FOR THE MOST FANTASTIC READ OF MY LIFE. SORRY FOR THE CAPS, BUT I CAN READ THEM BETTER.

    YOU, MY DEAR LADY, ARE MY MOTHERS’ DAY GIFT FROM MY DAUGHTER. SHE INFORMED ME THAT I WOULDN’T GET MY MOTHERS DAY GIFT UNTIL JUNE 24. WHEN I ASKED WHY, SHE TOLD ME THAT SHE HAD PURCHASED YOUR LATEST BOOK FOR ME. I WAS THRILLED! THEN SHE INFORMED ME THAT I WOULD HAVE TO GO TO DALLAS IN ORDER TO PICK IT UP. WHEN I ASKED WHY, SHE INFORMED ME THAT I WOULD HAVE HAVE TO IF I WANTED TO MEET YOU AND HAVE YOU AUTOGRAPH IT FOR ME. YOU HAVE NO IDEA JUST HOW ECSTATIC I WAS TO HEAR THAT. LOL I CAN HARDLY WAIT.

    NOW AN OPINION FROM AN OLD LADY WHO HAPPENS TO BE ONE OF YOUR BIGGEST FANS. LADY, YOU HAVE ONE OF THE MOST BRILLIANT MINDS I HAVE COME ACROSS IN MY ALMOST 77 YRS. I AM AN AVID READER, AND HAVE BEEN ONE ALL MY LIFE.

    I AM PREDOMINANTLY A MYSTERY READER AND HAVE READ MANY AUTHORS. HOWEVER, I HAVE NEVER READ ANY BOOK MORE THAN TWICE BEFORE I WAS INTRODUCED TO THE OUTLAND SERIES. I HAVE READ THE FIRST 5 BOOKS 6 TIMES, AND IF I LIVE LONG ENOUGH, WILL READ THEM AGAIN.

    EVERY OPPORTUNITY I HAVE, I TELL SOMEONE (ANYONE WHO WILL LISTEN) ABOUT THE SERIES. I HAVE EVEN BOUGHT THE SERIES IN PAPERBACK FORM FOR ONE OF MY DEAREST FRIENDS, JUST SO SHE COULD READ IT. HER FUTURE SON-IN-LAW WAS BORN AND RAISED IN SCOTLAND, AND IS A LORD. LOL

    WHEN I TRY TO TELL PEOPLE ABOUT THE SERIES, I TELL THEM THAT IS IS LISTED AS A ROMANCE, WHICH IT IS, BUT IT IS SO VERY MUCH MORE. THERE IS A LITTLE SCIFI, AND LOT OF ACTION AND A LOT OF HISTORY (I LOVE HISTORY). THEY SAY THEY ARE NOT INTO SCIFI. I TOLD THEM I AM NOT EITHER, BUT THERE IS SO LITTLE THAT YOU ALMOST DON’T EVEN KNOW IT’S THERE. IT’S JUST A MATTER OF GOING THRU THE STONES BACK INTO HISTORY.

    I PREFER THE AUDIO BOOKS BECAUSE I LIKE TO MULTITASK. I LET THE MARVELOUS DAVINA PORTER READ TO ME WHILE I CROCHET BABY BLANKETS FOR A LOCAL HOSPITAL, OR FRAME KNIT CAPS FOR DELL CHILDRENS HOSPITAL. I LIKE DOING GOOD THINGS FOR OTHERS WHILE I AM DOING GOOD THINGS FOR MYSELF (READING YOUR BOOKS). NOT ONLY THAT, BUT AS I GET OLDER, IT IS GETTING HARDER FOR ME TO HOLD THE BIG BOOKS, BUT I WILL JUST HAVE TO DO IT ANY WAY.

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. I TRULY CANNOT THANK YOU ENOUGH, FOR YOUR BRILLIANT WORK. WOULD GIVE MY EYE TEETH IF I HAD JUST ONE TENTH OF YOUR TALENT. PLEASE DON’T STOP WRITING ABOUT CLAIRE AND JAMIE DURING MY LIFETIME. I WOULD BE LOST WITHOUT YOUR SERIES. I’M NOT SAYING I DON’T READ OTHER BOOKS, BECAUSE I DO, BUT NONE CAN COMPARE TO THE CAST OF CHARACTERS IN THE OUTLANDER SERIES.

    I AM SO LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING YOU IN DALLAS ON THE 24TH.

    GOD BLESS & ^j^ ^j^ ANGELS TO WATCH OVER YOU AND YOURS.

    SHERRY

  14. PLEASE HELP DIANA,

    Could someone please tell me if I misinterpreted what I read in MOBY, or perhaps I’m losing my memory, much sooner than I would have thought. Claire speaks and refers that Jenny new of her past. I have no such memory of Claire or Jamie telling Jennie that she came from the future. If this did happen could someone tell me approximately about where I could locate this , I’m assuming its in the last book
    Thank you for the help
    Lucille

  15. Thank you for deciding to write. I adore this series. I have been a fan since Outlander first became published. It touches the heart, mind, passion for history, adventure, infinite possibilities in so many ways. Inspiring.

  16. Started with a clearance copy of Voyager purchased at Lloyd’s Smoke Shop in Wiarton, Ontario, followed by immediate purchase of the first two books in paperback and the one just out in hardcover. One lasting little thing I carry around in my memory is Claire’s discovery of Bayberry Candles. I make a total hash of describing the series to anyone who will listen, there is just so much I run out of breath. I was thinking of getting the series for my e-reader (never used), but perhaps Audible might be fun and different. Planning a 4 night mini vacation in Niagara Falls, Maid of the Mist, hiking the south end of the Bruce Trail, butterfly house, botanical gardens, all the things I never could do when I was the host to my English, Irish and American visiting kin. I always seemed to be the one stayed with the one who got seasick or was too old or infirm (in one case too pregnant) to boat into the thundering mist or to go down the power tunnel or on the Spanish Aerocar over the whirlpool. I have always wanted to do that – 35 years ago I worked for the firm that serviced the Aerocar, new cables every 7 years and quite interesting to ‘string’ them over the whirlpool. Legally the cable car is considered to be an elevator and is subject to the safety standards that apply to an elevator. Ooh La’ I hope you enjoy the scenery as I listen. Hubby will be occupied with 5 different golf courses while I get to be a tourist. But it is about a four hour drive to the Falls from where we live now so maybe he will listen to Outlander on the way. When Hubby turned 60 (64 now) he treated himself to a trip to Scotland, played 9 courses in 8 days including the Old Course at St. Andrews and Carnoustie, and I stayed home with the dog and a few good books while he was outa’ my hair.

    Funny that James Clavel was recommended reading to ‘fill in’ waiting for our next Claire & Jamie fix. Years ago I remember telling me Mum that I was “in bed with my two James’s” while my husband was working shifts – the two James’s were James Mitchnener and James Clavel. Oh, when The Noble House came out I was late for work every day for a week. I think often these awful days of Mitchener’s hopeful ending to The Source and somewhat hopeless ending to The Covenant and how S. Africa and Israel are almost opposite now. When the Russians invaded Afghanistan I was the only one in my group of acquaintances that knew where Afghanistan was, because the first Mitchener I ever read was set there. Caravans?

    Love your work, keep it coming.

  17. I always wondered why you originally called your 1st book Cross Stitch?
    When I was in Scotland, that was the only title I found for your book, Outlander.
    I love the 200 years span for every storyteller I came across started with, “Two hundred years ago…”
    Alex Beaton, a Scottish folk singer on his tour through Scotland, showed us the Clava Cairns and the Culloden battlefield. I mentioned that the Clava Cairns reminded me of your book and our small tour group chimed in as so many of had read it. In search of your book in Scotland for those who had not read it, led me to your original title, Cross Stitch. Now, again my question is why that name?

    • Dear Dawn–

      CROSS STITCH was the working title for my manuscript. It’s not a particularly _good_ title; it’s just what I called the book while I was working on it. We sold it first in the US, and the editors there said, “That sounds too much like embroidery; can you think of something more adventurous?” So I did. [g] Then six months later, we sold it in the UK, and the editors _there_ said, “We love the book, but we can’t call it OUTLANDER; to us, an outlander is someone from South Africa.” So I said, “Well, I _did_ originally call it CROSS STITCH…” and they said, “Oh, lovely!” So there you are. [g]

      Best,

      –Diana

  18. Couldn’t sleep and started “Outlander”. Can’t believe I haven’t heard of you since I am a voracious reader! Anyway, read till my eyes dropped and upon wakening, am heading out onto the back porch to dive into it again. Thank heavens for summer vacation! I love Claire’s spunkiness and courage. After admiring the scenery of the bike race through Glascow in the Commonwealth Games, I just might tune into the tv series that start the end of the month. At least for a few episodes, anyway. I do prefer making my own mind movies! Thank you for opening a new world to me! Looking forward to many more hours getting to know your characters, and some of the writing advice from your blog, I intend to share with my new class of 10 year-olds in the fall (especially about the practicing…love that bit!). Best wishes from Canada!

  19. Hi,

    In a writing landscape filled with conferences and critique groups as far as the eye can see (and some still farther, lying in wait beyond the horizon), I find it refreshing that you embarked on your initial writing venture totally solo.

    A few years back, I began a novel, and I got stuck around 80,000 words in. My approach is similar to yours, in that I would visualize scenes that did not necessarily occur in sequential order. I was enjoying piecing them together like a quilt, but I think I got hung up on the fact that I “needed” an outline. It ruined my inspiration. To date, I sometimes try to sit and pick up the story again, but I am left affronted by the fact that someone at a conference assured me that I needed to know the entire storyline before I wrote the story.

    So, thank you for sharing your experience. I am going to try to shake off the unnecessary advice and get back to my manuscript, in the hopes that one day I will finish my beloved tale (whether anyone knows about it or not, its unfinished state eats away at me).

    I love your writing style, and I am so happy that someone finally caught on to the idea of putting Claire and Jamie on screen!

  20. Hi,

    I feel as if I know you. I have read every book in the series more than three times at least. I was starting over when my husband was hospitalized for cancer. I feel as if I know Claire and Jamie. Their love for each other echos the love my husband and I had for each other and often I find myself wishing real life was like fiction in that Clair and Jamie always find each other even after death. In my heart I know we will always be together just as Clair and Jamie will always be together. Your books have lifted me and sustained me when nothing else could and for that I give thanks.

    I watched the first episode of the series and loved it but I will always love the books more. I hope you continue to write more books in the series. I will watch for each and every one you write and publish. Thank you for sharing your wonderful talent with the rest of us.

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  1. The Laws of JAMMFdynamics | Candida's Musings
  2. Word on the Lake | Candida's Musings
  3. New Outlander Featurette with Diana Gabaldon | Candida's Musings
  4. Outlander musings and preview of episode 6. | Time Slips
  5. Writer Resources – Inspiration to KEEP WRITING! | Red the Writer

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