• “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

LA Schmoozing – International Film Rights

Salmon ArmSchmoozing in L.A….

So— I had a wonderful time at the Word on the Lake writers festival in Salmon Arm, British Columbia (photos at left and below). Worked like a dog, but that’s normal for such events. <g> I gave two keynote speeches, taught three workshops (on Characterization, How to Make Them Turn the Page (a useful skill, when you write 900-page books), and How to Write (and How _not_ to Write) Sex Scenes. And a panel on how to carve a “writing cave” out of chaos— i.e., making time to write, which is pretty basic, but always fun to hear what everybody’s methods are. (Mine is to work in the middle of the night.)

But then, instead of going home, I flew directly to Los Angeles. And for why?

Salmon Arm gloamingWell, it was “Screening week”— during which international television buyers flock to Los Angeles to see previews of all the new TV shows. Sony (which owns the international rights to “Outlander”) was screening their new lineup, of course, and invited Ron D. Moore (Executive Producer of the new Outlander TV series) and me to come and do “up-fronts” (the hairdresser who came to do my hair prior to an interview told me that’s what they’re called; it just means we go out onstage before the preview is shown, and answer a few questions put to us by a moderator—takes about ten minutes) and attend cocktail party-dinners with the international clients. This is actually somewhat more work than one might think <g>— but it _was_ fun.

A car picked me up at the hotel every afternoon (some days I was doing outside interviews in the mornings, other days, mornings were free. I walked from my hotel to the La Brea tar pits (the Page Museum) on Wednesday morning, and all over downtown Beverly Hills on Thursday), and took me to the Sony lot.

I’d hand my driver’s license to the guard at Gate 3 and tell him I’m going to Stage 22. The driver takes me down a narrow street to where there’s a lane of grey indoor-outdoor carpeting, edged with elegant tables and white umbrellas, with a reception counter at the front. Here I disembark, chat with the nice people manning the counter— their job is to check in visitors, hand out VIP badges, and give people gifts as they leave (the gift is an international power adapter; they gave me one the first day, and keep offering me more— three of the four receptionists are OUTLANDER fans already, having read the book, and the other is a nice young man who compliments my fashion <g>— but I think one adapter is plenty, really), and walk down the lane, either to Stage 22 itself, or to the restrooms, which are in a big trailer discreetly parked behind a hedge at the end of the lane.

The little tables along each side, under the umbrellas, are bountifully equipped with drinks: huge silver samovars of coffee, military ranks of San Pellegrino Aranciata and Aranciata Rosso (delicious carbonated orange and blood-orange juice drinks) in bottles, arrayed with Diet Coke (yay), Coke, and a lot of stuff I didn’t take notice of because I don’t drink it. Between screenings, viewers come out here to enjoy the fresh air (it was pretty fresh on Tuesday and Wednesday; winds high enough that they had to take down the umbrellas) and have a refreshing beverage.

You enter the stage through a sort of refrigerator-style airlock (save that the doors are made of heavy, crude planks painted yellow), and find yourself in a big, dark space. Just ahead is a half-lighted waiting-lounging area, with comfortable small couches along one side, and a table with bags of fresh popcorn along the other. At the far end of this space is the green room— a curtained off chunk of space with two small couches, three tea-coffee samovars, and more substantial snacks: little bags of high-end trail-mix (pistachios, dried figs and white-chocolate disks), a platter of crudités, bags of pretzels, and a big plate of miniature cupcakes. Not wanting to go onstage with cake-crumbs in my teeth, I nibbled daintily on the pistachios and white chocolate.

The main part of the huge room is a viewing theater, curtained off from the waiting area/green room/backstage. It’s the size of a regular theater, but the seating is huge, very comfortable couches, capable of seating six in a pinch—but generally occupied by only two or three people each. Each couch is also liberally supplied with small pillows, and the viewers are given warm, soft blankets, because the place is cold (God forbid any of the potential buyers — because that’s who the viewers are — should get uncomfortable and leave a screening halfway through).

So now I’ve set the scene, and it’s 4:16 a.m.— which is my normal bedtime. So I’ll leave you here for the moment and tomorrow, will tell you what it was like to see the complete first episode of OUTLANDER on a movie-sized screen, complete with Bear McCreary’s soundtrack (and enough amplification that you could feel the bodhrans in your bones).

Click here to continue and read part 2 of this blog,”Schmoozing in LA, Part 2 – Episode 1!”

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14 Responses »

  1. Thanks for sharing, Diana.
    Waiting for your opinion regarding the first episode!
    Ivona

  2. The details you include put us right there with you in the viewing room! Brava, Ms. Gabaldon! Can’t wait to hear more!

  3. Don’t stop! I love every little detail. Thank you for sharing it all.
    Irene

  4. What an amazing experience! Thanks for the minute details, it makes me -and surely other readers- feel as though we were walking with you on this incredible journey. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s sequel.
    On a side note, anything notably humorous occurred at your keynote lecture on How -Not- to Write in sex scenes ?
    Get some well-deserved rest!

  5. After reading your post there is absolutely NO doubt in my mind that you were the absolutely right person to carry off a workshop on “how to make a reader turn the page.” You make me feel and see it, even taste it (I’m a sucker for cupcakes, crumbs notwithstanding).

    I await more tantalizing descriptions of your experience at the screening, and am especially looking forward to your take on the final cut!

  6. Looking forward to the next installment! Imagining I am there. Love the way you share all aspects of this business with your fans and you take just as much care in writing this story as you do with the novels.

    You can write about anything in an absorbing way. I still fondly remember a post about your favorite turkey sandwich one year after Thanksgiving with gorgonzola cheese and pear. And your stuffing with carrots. And the knee surgery. And about your glock 9. And the walk to church at Christmas with flasks containing assorted contents. And the housekeeper announcing the hombre at your porta. And why you do your own research- franks and beans! And recipes. And your 3 priorities- health, family, work.

    Sorry if that sounds like a creepy stalker! I just lead a pretty tame life myself, kids, work, husband, garden, house- and so find much of what you have to say interesting and memorable.

    Challenge- an interesting dialog about…. ear wax!

    Can’t wait for MOBY next week and Outlander on Starz! Thank You!

    • Mary – spot on! I hope Diana doesn’t think of us all as creepy stalkers… From what I’ve read in her posts and replies, I don’t believe she would (with respect to the majority of us). It really is delightful to follow an author who is as engaged with her fans as Diana is.

      Diana – I echo Mary’s thank you and excitement for MOBY and seeing Outlander come to life! Congratulations on your continued success. I never thought of writing in the wee hours of the night… So, that’s how you do it all… God bless you for your stamina!

  7. Very exciting. I am looking forward to hearing more about the first episode.

  8. Dear Diana,
    I am also so excited about MOBY that I check your website simply to commune with others who share the same spectrum of my feelings! Very few of my friends or family have read your series (despite my buying them copies) and non-readers of the series refer to it as ‘The Time-traveling Boink Books’ which is only a small part of the story!!!!
    You have had an action-packed year with the TV series and now Hollywood producers – they sound like they treat you well, and yet you write clearly as if it doesn’t go to your head. Do you worry about losing artistic control? Or have they been gracious about that as well? Is it hard to keep your balance?
    Thank you for all the wonderful hours I’ve spent curled up with Jamie, Claire and John Grey. And the history of medicine, herbalism, Scotland, the British Empire and the American Revolution.
    Mina ++++

  9. As I am in Ausrtalia, I don’t seem to be able to find out if the television series of the outlander series,so how do I find out how many series are already made.
    I would really appreciate any information…Thank you……….Pat Phillis

  10. Holy cow! We need to hear more! I can hardly wait. Is it August yet? : )

  11. Thanks for sharing I have goose bumps!!

  12. The August 9th date is on our office schedule as you have many fans here at the hospital. Fantastic writing!
    I’m a little frustrated with my iPad. Says the book is downloading ……….still downloading

  13. HELP PLEASE!!!!!!

    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 to, that Jenny new about her past.
    I have no such memory of Jenny knowing of Claire being there from the future. If this did happen could someone please tell me approximately about where I could find this, I’m assuming its in the last book?
    Thanks for all help,
    Lucille

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