• “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

Season 2 Week – Live Chat On April 7


My deepest thanks and gratitude to everyone for all their kind prayers and good wishes. The surgery (for a family member this week) looks to have been very successful, and we’re all completely exhausted, but doing well!


Live Chat With USA Today on Thursday, April 7

USA-Today-chat-RHAs one of the Season Two festivities (I suppose you can call it a festivity… maybe I’ll have a dram of whisky while doing it, to insure being adequately festive), I’ll be doing a live Q&A chat sponsored by USAToday, on Thursday, April 7th, at 7 p.m., Eastern Time, which is 4 p.m., Pacific Time. The link to the chat is here:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2016/03/25/chat-live-author-diana-gabaldon/81959474/

The chat may only be viewed using a desktop browser. You may submit questions for me (for the Live Chat) in advance at the USA Today link above.

(Webmistress’s Note: You can watch a replay of the Live Chat if you click on the link above.)


s2-pr-NYC-cast-crew1-crop

Season 2 Red Carpet Premiere In New York City

S2-prem-Cait-Sam-1-cropHUGE congratulations to the cast, crew, and production of OUTLANDER! I hear the advance Red Carpet premiere in New York City was wonderful, and I totally believe it. <g>

So… if you were there, what did you think? Did you have a good evening? And most importantly—did you enjoy the show? Add your comment to this blog post!

Note that I read and review all blog comments before they are posted. So it may take a day or two before your comment can be seen, depending on my schedule.

Remember that the U.S.A. broadcast premiere of Season 2 of the Outlander TV series is this Saturday, April 9, on Starz!

Click on any of the Red Carpet images to see a full-sized version…


List of Season 2 NYC Festivities

S2-prem-tobias-1-crops2-prem-bear1-cropHere is a list of some Season 2 Premiere festivities in New York City this week:

http://www.dianagabaldon.com/other-projects/outlander-tv-series/s2-premiere-fests/

If you’re not in New York, some can be viewed live (via web streaming) from anywhere, or you can participate using Twitter or Facebook!


Cast and crew image above, left to right: Tobias Menzies, Caitriona Balfe, Terry Dresbach, Ron D. Moore, Maril Davis, Sam Heughan. Image at lower right: Bear McCreary.

These announcements were also posted on my official Facebook page.

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Tartan Week – NYC


2016-04-01-flower-box-DGI won’t, alas, be with the Starz gang in New York this week for the premiere of Season Two (of the Outlander TV series) and the Tartan Week festivities.

I have a family member undergoing surgery on Monday, April 4, and need to be there.

So— have a great time if you will be in New York City, and enjoy the new episode of the Outlander TV show on April 9 (it’s fabulous!).

And if y’all have a moment, any prayers or good thoughts would be appreciated!

-Diana


Details of This Week’s New York City Events (New!)

My Webmistress has compiled a list for you of events from April 4th through the 9th to celebrate the broadcast premiere of Season 2 of Outlander, including red carpet events and panel discussions (featuring the cast and crew of Outlander), Tartan Week, and finally the broadcast premiere of Season 2 on April 9!

You can participate in events this week LIVE via the Facebook, Twitter, and the web! Or in person if you are in NYC! Click here for more information!


Tartan Week in New York City

samheughanfullNew York’s Tartan Week will run from April 2nd to the 10th in New York City and includes a diverse range of events, from the Scotland Run through Central Park, to lunch-time concerts, business seminars, a Pre-Parade Ceilidh and much more. Check out the Tartan Week website:

http://nyctartanweek.org/

Scottish actor Sam Heughan, star of the Starz Outlander TV series (and plays main character Jamie Fraser) will be the Grand Marshal of the New York Tartan Day parade on Saturday, April 9. Beginning at 2 p.m., bands, Pipers, Dancers, and Clans from Scotland throughout the United States and Canada are joining the Parade along with dozens of Scottish and West Highland Terriers.

"As Grand Marshal of the New York Tartan Day parade 2016," Sam said, "I am honored and proud to serve the city and its ancestral ties. I love the city, the people, and the vibe. Please join me in toasting all who live and visit there with a whisky and a toast!"

Heughan joins the illustrious alumni who have led the Parade, including Sir Sean Connery, Alan Cumming, Cliff Robertson, Brian Cox, Kevin McKidd, and most recently in 2015, fellow Outlander star Graham McTavish.

Note: A Ceilidh (“kay-lee”) is a social event at which there is Scottish or Irish folk music and singing, traditional dancing, and storytelling.

Link: "Outlander" Star Sam Heughan Named Grand Marshal Of The 2016 NY Tartan Day Parade, by Kyle Dawson, for New York City Tartan Week.


This post originally appeared on my official Facebook page on April 1, 2016. Image at upper right is one of my flower boxes.

You are welcome to add your comment about this post. Please note that all comments are read and approved by me; depending on how crazy my schedule is, it may be a few days before your comment appears. Thanks!

Season Two & “Nobility Problems”

S2-at-table-banner2Season Two of the Starz Outlander TV series premieres on the Starz network in the U.S.A. on April 9! For trailers and lots of other information, check out the Starz Outlander webpage at:

http://www.starz.com/originals/outlander/

If you live outside the U.S.A., click here for information on some viewing regions and countries around the globe.


And here is a short excerpt (aka "Daily Lines") from Book Nine:

"Nobility Problems"

Facebook Hashtags: #DailyLines, #BookNine, #HalAndWilliam, #WhenYouCantQuitYourJob, #NobilityProblems

"Miss England?" Hal asked abruptly.

"Sometimes," William answered honestly. "But I don’t think about it much," he added, with less honesty.

"I do." His uncle’s face looked relaxed, almost wistful in the fading light. "But you haven’t a wife there, or children. No establishment of your own, yet."

"No."

The sounds of the camp were still audible, but muted by the rhythm of the surf at their feet, the passage of the silent clouds above their heads.

The trouble with silence was that it allowed the thoughts in his head to take on a tiresome insistence, like the ticking of a clock in an empty room. Cinnamon’s company, disturbing as it occasionally was, had allowed him to escape them when he needed to.
"How does one go about renouncing a title?"

He hadn’t actually been intending to ask that just yet, and was surprised to hear the words emerge from his mouth. Uncle Hal, by contrast, didn’t seem surprised at all.

"You can’t."

William glared down at his uncle, who was still looking imperturbably out to sea, the wind pulling strands of his dark hair from his queue.

"What do you mean, I can’t? Whose business is it whether I renounce my title or not?"

Uncle Hal looked at him with an affectionate impatience.

"I’m not speaking rhetorically, blockhead. I mean it literally. You can’t renounce a peerage. There’s no means set down in law or custom for doing it, ergo, it can’t be done."

"But you—" William stopped, baffled.

"No, I didn’t," his uncle said dryly. "If I could have at the time, I would have, but I couldn’t, so I didn’t. The most I could do is stop using the title of "Duke," and threaten to physically maim anyone who used it in reference or address to me. It took me several years to make it clear that I meant that," he added off-handedly.

"Really?" William asked cynically. "Who did you maim?"

He actually had supposed his uncle to be speaking rhetorically, and was taken aback when the once and present Duke furrowed his brow in the effort of recall.

"Oh… several scribblers—they’re like roaches, you know; crush one and the others all rush off into the shadows, but by the time you turn round, there are throngs of them back again, happily feasting on your carcass and spreading filth over your life."

"Anyone ever tell you that you have a way with words, uncle?"

"Yes," his uncle said briefly. "But beyond punching a few journalists, I called out George Washcourt—he’s the Marquess of Clermont now, but he wasn’t then—Herbert Villiers, Viscount Brunton, and a gentleman named Radcliffe. Oh, and a Colonel Phillips, of the 34th—cousin to Earl Wallenberg."

"Duels, do you mean? And did you fight them all?"

"Certainly. Well—not Villiers, because he caught a chill on the liver and died before I could, but otherwise… but that’s beside the point." Hal caught himself and shook his head to clear it. Evening was coming on, and the offshore breeze was brisk. He wrapped his cloak about his body and nodded toward the town.

"Let’s go. The tide’s coming in and I’m dining with Sir Henry in half an hour."


Click to go to my Book Nine webpage for more excerpts…


Excerpt originally posted on my official Facebook page on February 19, 2016.

Your brief comments are welcome about this post! But please note that they are subject to my approval; I read them all. So it may take a while for your comment to appear, depending on my schedule.

Two Covers


Outlander-list-coverThis blog is also a post on my official Facebook page, in response to a spirited debate there:

Well, let’s see now. What you’re looking at are the cover of a free giveaway edition of OUTLANDER, at left, and the cover of a recent edition of Entertainment Weekly,  further down on the right, featuring a shot of Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan as Claire and Jamie Fraser.

(BTW, the cover on the left was written by me. Random House, a few years ago, decided to do targeted giveaways of OUTLANDER by street teams at public events, and they asked me what I thought about the cover for this promo edition. I didn’t like any of the sketches they’d shown me. They got fed up with me/ran out of time and asked me what I’d like on the cover, so I wrote that little thumbnail run-down of the contents, and the resident genii of the art department promptly turned it into an appealing cover.)

2016-EW-Cover-risqueOK.

1. What I’m seeing in the comments from folks about this on (my Facebook page) is a pretty sharp divide over the EW cover, at right, with a lot of people charmed or excited by it, and a lot of people disconcerted or displeased by it. (Make Note of this; we’ll be coming back to this point….)

2. Of the latter group, a large number object on moral or aesthetic grounds, considering the photo to be "smut," "soft porn," "raunchy" or otherwise unsuitable for public consumption by right-minded people.

3. Another large subgroup objects on commercial grounds, expressing the fear that a) this photo is a serious misrepresentation of both the Outlander TV show and the books it’s based on, and b) that viewing this cover will cause the uncommitted public to forever shun Outlander in all its forms because the photo is not properly representing the depth, complexity, historicity, and (as one person put it), "the appeal of married love and lives well-lived." (Stop and think for a minute. Cover blurb: "A gripping story of married love and lives well-lived!" Ooo, I must have that….)

4. Am I perceiving things correctly? (Let me know if I’m misrepresenting anyone’s views here…)

The Romance Issue


OK. Before we get started here with My Thoughts (That sounds pretty pompous, doesn’t it? <g> Still, it is my book, and this is my webpage, so I think I get to have an opinion…). Let me briefly address the Romance issue (since "It looks like a cheesy romance novel!" is one of the oft-expressed negative opinions on the EW cover).

A. I like well-written romance novels. I enjoy reading them, and have no hesitation in recommending them to people—you’ll find several romance authors on the Methadone List on my website (If you haven’t been over there, it’s under the "Resources" tab, you’ll find "The Methadone List:"

http://www.dianagabaldon.com/resources/the-methadone-list/

which is a list of books I feel comfortable in recommending to anyone who asks me "So what am I supposed to read while I’m waiting for the next Outlander book?!?").

B. I don’t write romance novels. Besides being roughly four times the size of the usual romance novel, my books are not (with the exception of OUTLANDER itself) courtship stories, and romance novels are. (Romance novels do not have sequels; when the main characters are mated, that’s The End.) The two unbreakable genre "rules" of a romance novel are that the story should be mostly concerned with the relationship of the two main characters, and that it should have a happy ending (though this term is slightly elastic). Well… sometimes you might get an optimistic ending from one of my books. Sometimes not so much… And while there are all kinds of relationships going on in my books (any novel has relationships), they often aren’t that sort, nor are they the main focus of the story.

C. All of this notwithstanding, I have seen my books sold as Romance fairly frequently over the years. (I’ve seen them sold as Literature, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Mystery, Military History, Gay and Lesbian Fiction, and Horror— all with reasonable accuracy.) Largely as a counsel of desperation by marketing people unable to think of any other way to draw anyone’s attention to enormous books that can’t be described. "Romance" is the single easiest aspect of a story to evoke, which is why you see couples on movie posters, TV ads, and book covers, no matter whether the film or book in question really is primarily a romance, or not.

gabaldon-outlander-kr1What I mean to say here is— I have a LOT of experience in having my books called bodice rippers and seeing them published (in countries where I don’t have any personal control over the covers) with Really Strange covers. (The Korean one with the pink soap bubbles, at right, was one of the weirder ones, though I admit it didn’t have a heterosexual couple gazing into each other’s eyes….) Cover image courtesy of the Ladies of Lallybroch.

So. Let me say upfront that everybody sees things through the lens of his or her own experience, background, prejudices, and expectations. That includes me. I do, however, Just Possibly have a little more experience in this arena than do most of y’all (who commented on Facebook). So what I’m saying here is not intended to disrespect anyone else’s opinion, nor yet do I intend to come off as condescending, Marilyn <g> (a person who commented on Facebook)— it’s just that I probably have a wider perspective on the issues than most of y’all probably do, just by virtue of having been in these trenches for the last twenty-five years.

What I Think—The EW Cover

Awright. So here’s what I think, anent the EW cover:

a) I think I’ve seen racier underwear ads (mostly in Vogue).


b) If you honestly think this cover is "smut" or "soft porn," then all I can say is that y’all should maybe get out more. If you’ve ever watched television in the U.K., you’ve seen more explicit things than this three or four times in an evening. If you’ve been watching the TV version of "Outlander," (as theoretically you have) you’ve seen much more explicit sexual encounters on several occasions. Were these not "smut?" Is it OK to watch "soft porn" in the privacy of your home, but intolerable that other people should glimpse it on a magazine cover?

c) Starz promoted Season One with "The Kilt Drops (date)," in print ads, ads on the sides of busses and ads the height of ten-story buildings. I didn’t see a word of protest that this was "cheapening” our beloved story, or reducing it to the "level of a Harlequin Romance?"* Why were you totally OK with that bit of sexual innuendo, while the words "Bodice-ripper" (on the cover of a single magazine) makes you foam at the mouth? Is it OK to enjoy male-directed sexual innuendo (and grope kilt-wearing men), while it’s All Wrong to see female-directed sexual references in print?

Jamie-Claire-TV-STARZ
d) For that matter… look at the Facebook post under (previous to) the one we’re discussing. This is from the EW site, but it shows a still from the show, at right, that I’ve seen reproduced all over the internet since last year. It shows Jamie and Claire in a pose that’s explicitly either pre- or post-sex, and (apparently) totally naked. Did I hear a word of protest about this? Why, no, I didn’t. I heard mass swooning and sighing. So—

e) Evidently (for some) it’s the juxtaposition of "bodice-ripper" and "kilty pleasure" with the photograph on the EW cover that gripes you. Well, I’m totally with you, there— but as I say, that’s been happening to my books ever since the first publication of "Outlander." For a great many people (and virtually all marketing people…), "historical romance" equals "bodice-ripper," and they don’t see or intend anything negative by that term; they just figure that’s what you call "that" sort of book. Stubborn resistance will gradually wear them down, but you have to keep at it— take it from one who routinely rewrites the cover copy on her ads and books…


f) For those complaining that the EW cover doesn’t properly express the depth, complexity, etc. of the story (books or show)… well… no. It doesn’t. Would you like to suggest a pictorial cover that a) would express that, and b) would appeal instantly to a wide audience? It’s one image; there’s no conceivable way for a single image to encompass this story, or a fraction of it. A magazine cover is meant to do one thing: attract eyeballs. With luck, said eyeballs will zip to Jamie and Claire, but will also see the word "Outlander."

g) The giveaway cover that does more or less describe the contents accurately is not one that would work on a magazine like EW. The Atlantic Monthly, maybe, but not EW. Question of style and audience, aye?


h) It’s one magazine cover. To assume on the basis of this that the whole world will gasp in horror and make a note circled in red to Avoid Watching Outlander, at all costs, is… perhaps a trifle over-reactive.

i) (Returning to Point 1, above…) God bless those of you who did express outrage, concern, or dissatisfaction, whatever your motives for doing so. <g> Because nothing— and I do mean nothing— makes more effective publicity than controversy. By objecting and writing blog posts and heated comments, you’ve done more to stimulate interest in the show (and by extension, the books) than the EW piece could ever have achieved had it been received with universal approbation by fans. So thank you!

*Pretty sure none of you who’ve used this particular disparagement regarding the EW cover have ever seen a Harlequin Romance, nor do you know what they are. I have, and I do. (Besides being a lifetime member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA)— and the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA), and the Author’s Guild, and a few other organizations— I used to judge finalists in the Historical Fiction category for the RITA Awards (the RWA’s award for excellent romance fiction **)). One of the best historical romance novels I found was THE PRISONER, by Cheryl Reavis. It’s a Harlequin Historical, (published in 1992) and it’s a great book; if you ever find a copy on Alibris or Abebooks, I recommend you grab it. Harlequin romances have very strict guidelines as to length and content. So do sonnets and villanelles. Neither length nor guidelines have anything to do with the quality of writing or story.

** When OUTLANDER was published in 1991, it was nominated in four different RITA categories (it was also nominated for the Nebula ballot, FWIW). I told my husband at the time that it wouldn’t win any of the categories, and I was right: at the time, RITA judging ballots had numbers from 0-6, with 6 being, "This is the best book I’ve ever read; I wish I’d written it myself," and 0 being "This isn’t a romance." Back in the day, they showed entrants what their scores were: mine were evenly divided between 0′s and 6′s. I did win the "Best Book of the Year" award— that was an award voted on by the membership at large (rather than judged), and at the time, there were no genre limitations; any book could be nominated.

Feel free to share your brief comments about this entry or any of my other blog posts. Note that ALL comments are subject to my review for suitable content and approval, which may take several days or longer, depending on my schedule. (In other words, your comment may not appear immediately.) Thanks!


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This blog was originally posted on my official Facebook page on March 4, 2016.


A Stubborn Mind (Book Nine)


Facebook Hashtags: #DailyLines, #BookNine, #AStubbornMind

"But you told Frances—you promised her that no one would take advantage of her. And I could have sworn she believed you!"

"Aye," Jamie said quietly. He picked up the piece of rock maple and his knife, and began mechanically cutting slivers. "Aye, I thought so, too—hoped so, at least."

I sat still, watching him.

"I suppose it was foolish," I said at last. "To think that reassurances and promises would be enough. I imagine we don’t know the half of what she saw, being raised in a brothel like a—a prize calf."

"And one knowing it was bound for slaughter?" he put in quietly. "Aye."

We lapsed into a strained silence, both thinking of Fanny. After a few moments, Jamie’s hands resumed their work, slowly, and a few moments later, he glanced at me.

"How many times did ye tell me Jack Randall was dead, Sassenach? How many times did I tell myself that?" The wood shavings fell in small, fragrant curls around his feet. "Some ghosts dinna leave ye easily—and ye ken fine that it’s her sister who’s haunting wee Frances."

"I suppose you’re right," I said unhappily. It wasn’t quite a shiver that I felt at mention of Jane—but a cold sadness that seemed to sink through my skin. "But surely there’s something we can do to help?"

"I expect there is." He set the cleaned stick of wood aside, and bent to sweep the shavings onto a sheet of paper. "Were we in reach of a priest, I should have a Mass said for the repose of her sister’s soul, to start with. If I can find one in Wilmington, we’ll do that. But otherwise… I’ll speak to Roger Mac about it." His mouth twisted wryly.

"I daresay Presbyterians dinna believe in exorcism, or prayers for the dead, either. But he’s a canny man, and he kens the heart; he may call it something else, but he’ll know what I mean—and he can speak wi’ Frances, and pray for her, I’m sure."

He shook the wood shavings into the fire, where they caught at once, curling into brightness and sending up a clean, sweet smoke. I came to stand behind him, watching them burn, and put my hands on his shoulders, warm and solid under my fingers. He leaned his head back against me and sighed, closing his eyes as he relaxed in the warmth. I bent my head and kissed the whorl of the cowlick on his crown.

"Mmphm," he said, and reached up a hand to take mine. "Ken, it works the other way, too."

"What does?"

"The stubbornness of a mind that willna let go." He squeezed my hand and looked up at me. "While we were parted, how many times did ye tell yourself I was dead, Sassenach?" he asked softly. "How often did ye try to forget me?"

I stood motionless, hand curled round his, until I thought I could speak.

"Every day," I whispered. "And never."


Go to my Book Nine webpage for more excerpts (Daily Lines)!


Originally posted on my Facebook page on February 8, 2016.


New German eBook Release in April


brotherhood-blade-1Good news for German fans!

We changed German publishers last year, which caused a slight lag in the publication of some books, with the previous publisher no longer publishing one title and the new publisher not yet having released it again. But now LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE (I don’t recall the German title, but I’m not looking it up, because I don’t like it and hope to persuade them to change it) is about to be released as an ebook again! It will also be released in a new print version, but that will happen a little later.

We’ve had a lot of inquiries about it from readers, so I’m very pleased to be able to tell you that the new ebook (by Droemer-Knaur) will be released in April—hope you enjoy it!

Hula Hoop (Book Nine)


Below is an excerpt from Book Nine of my OUTLANDER novels. Note that there are SPOILERS…

Facebook Hashtags:
#DailyLines, #BookNine, #WorkingPeacefullyThisWeek, #SoreFootButOK

Madagascar-sapphire-wikipediaIt was a sapphire, a raw one. A misty, cloudy blue little thing, half the size of his little finger’s nail. He shook it free of its wrappings and it landed silently but solidly in the hollow of his hand.

"Ye said it maybe doesna matter whether it’s cut or not," Buck said, nodding at it.

"I think not. I hope not. I wish I could say I can’t take it." Roger closed his fingers gently on the little rock, as though it might burn him. "Thank you, a charaidh. Where did ye find it?"

"Ach…" Buck said vaguely, with a slight wave of his hand. "Just saw it and picked it up, ken?"

"Holy Lord," Roger said, squeezing the little pebble involuntarily. Too late, he remembered the castle in Strathpeffer, him talking with the factor about Jemmy and Rob Cameron—the earl being away from home—and Buck gone, disappeared with a handsome young housemaid. And the factor offering to show him Cromartie’s collection of agates and rare stones… he’d declined, thank God. But—"

"You didn’t," he said to Buck. "Tell me ye didn’t."

"Ye keep saying that," Buck said, frowning at him. "I will, if ye want me to, but I shouldna think a minister ought to be encouraging folk to tell lies. A poor example for the bairns, aye?"

He nodded toward the stable-yard, where Jem was playing with a boy who had a hoop, the two of them trying to drive it with sticks over the bumpy ground, with a marked lack of success. Mandy was throwing pebbles at something in the dry grass—probably some hapless toad trying its best to hibernate against the odds.

"Me, a poor example? And you their own great-great-great-great-grandfather!"

"And should I not be lookin’ out for their welfare, then? Is that what ye’re sayin’ to me?"

"I—" His throat closed suddenly and he cleared it, hard. The boys had left their hoop and were poking at whatever Mandy had found in the grass. "No. I’m not. But I didn’t ask ye to steal for them. To risk your bloody neck for us!" That’s my job, he wanted to say, but didn’t.

"May as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb." Buck gave him a direct stare. "Ye need it, aye? Take it, then." Something that wasn’t quite a smile touched the edge of his mouth. "With my blessing."

On the far side of the yard, Mandy had picked up the hoop and put it about her solid little waist. She waggled her bottom, in a vain attempt at getting it to spin.

"Look, Daddy!" she called. "Hula hoop!"

Jem froze for a moment, then looked at Roger, his eyes big with concern. Roger shook his head slightly — don’t say anything — and Jem swallowed visibly and turned his back to his sister, shoulders stiff.

"What’s a hula hoop, then?" Buck asked quietly, behind him.


Go to my Book Nine webpage for more excerpts (Daily Lines)!


Originally posted on my Facebook page on January 19, 2016. About the #SoreFootButOK hashtag: Had minor surgery recently to remove a bone spur. It’s doing fine; get the dressing off Wednesday! (So I can shower again….)

Myth and Mountain Birthdays (Repost)


US-ENTERTAINMENT-GOLDEN-GLOBE-ARRIVALS
My birthday was always the coldest day of the year. If not literally true, it was family legend, and everyone knows that myth is much stronger than meteorology, even in the north country, where the snow lies deep on the mountaintops, and houses are built to keep the heat in, not out.

This particular legend had its origin—reasonably enough—on the date of my birth, January 11, 1952. My family lived in Flagstaff, but the family doctor had been having a difference of opinion with the hospital board, and had moved his practice to the Williams Hospital. So, when my mother went into labor early in the morning, my twenty-one-year-old parents were obliged to drive thirty miles over a two-lane ice-slick road, through the teeth of a driving blizzard, in order to get to the doctor.

2012-12-15-DG-GrandCanyonWhen I was finally born, just at dark, my father was so unnerved by the entire experience that he went out to a nearby restaurant and ordered ham and eggs for dinner—forgetting that it was Friday. (Way back when, Catholics didn’t eat meat on Fridays.) Driving the thirty miles home through snow and black ice, he ran off the road twice, got stuck in the drifts, and—as he later recounted—managed to free himself only because he couldn’t stand the thought of freezing to death and leaving my mother with a one-day-old child.

At the age of two days, I too made the perilous trip through the dark pines of the frozen landscape, to become a third-generation native of Flagstaff. There aren’t a lot of us, if only because Flagstaff isn’t that old.

Among the early founders of the town were my great-grandparents. Stanley Sykes was born in Yorkshire, England, but at the age of fifteen, was diagnosed with consumption. The only chance, his doctor told him, was to leave England; go to Arizona, where the warm, dry air was good for the lungs (well, it was 1868, after all; the midwesterners hadn’t got here with their damn mulberries and bermuda grass yet). Stanley heeded this advice, and with his elder brother Godfrey, set sail for the New World and the healing balm of the desert air.

San-Fran-peaks-capLike many another outlander—my husband, for example—who thought Arizona was a desert, Stanley was startled to find that the northern third of the state sits atop the Colorado Plateau, and that the San Francisco Peaks are covered with the largest forest of Ponderosa Pine in the world. In search of desert, Godfrey went south… but Stanley stayed, seduced by the rush of wind through the pines and the clear dark skies of the mountain nights, thick with stars.

Great-grandmother Beatrice Belle Switzer came from Kentucky, along with her seven brothers and sisters, when the family farm was flooded out. It must have been a flood of biblical proportions, because once the Switzers started moving, they didn’t stop until they came to Flagstaff, which—at 7000 feet—they evidently considered high enough ground to be safe.

The air in Flagstaff may not have been hot, but apparently it was dry enough, since Stanley lived to be 92, finally dying on a vacation to San Diego (that fog will get you every time). I was four when he died, and still have a vivid memory of him in his armchair, the smoke from his pipe drifting in the lamplight, as he taught me the delicate art of building houses out of cards—a skill that’s stood me in good stead since.

His son, Harold—my grandfather—became the mayor of Flagstaff—and thereby hangs another family tale.

It was a scandal, in fact—or so everyone said—when my mother, Jacqueline Sykes, the mayor’s daughter, descendant of one of the First Families of Flagstaff, fell in love with Antonio Gabaldon. Tony was smart, handsome, athletic, hardworking—and a Mexican-American, born in Belen, New Mexico. In 1949, in a small Arizona town, this was miscegenation—or so everyone said.

My mother’s friends said so. Mrs. X, her English teacher, said so, telling her firmly that she couldn’t possibly marry a Mexican; her children would be idiots. The parish priest who refused to marry them said so; such a marriage would never last. The “interested parties” who took out a public petition against the match said so; it was a scandal. Her parents said so—and at last she was persuaded, and reluctantly broke the engagement.

My mother’s parents sent her south, to the University of Arizona in Tucson, to leave the scandal behind; to forget. But she didn’t forget, and six months later, on a dark December night, she called Tony and said, “I still want you. If you still want me— come and get me.”

He drove down from the snow-covered mountain to the desert and brought her back the same night—and they were married at 6:30 the next morning, by a priest from another parish.

It was a long and happy marriage—dissolved only by death—and thirteen months after the wedding, I arrived, the third generation born on the mountain.

DG-Flagstaff-winter-viewWe (and the fourth generation) live in Scottsdale, but I still keep the family house in Flagstaff, and escape there regularly to write; to me, the ideal weather for writing involves a gleaming portcullis of icicles to keep out all intruders, soft white drifts on the pines and the sidewalks, and the muffled grind of cars in the distance, crushing cinders into the slippery packed snow as they labor uphill. No salt on these roads; the San Francisco peaks are in fact one mountain, the remains of an extinct volcano—or least we hope it is extinct; the U.S. Geological Survey is not so sure.

It’s 72 on this Christmas Day, and the dogs are swimming in the pool. My husband gives me warm slippers, though, knowing I’ll need them soon. My birthday, after all, is always the coldest day of the year.

(Oh… Mrs. X? You were wrong.)

Arizona Diary Essay (Copyright © 1999 by Diana Gabaldon. All Rights Reserved.)


Top image: Arriving on the Red Carpet at Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills on January 10, 2016. (Getty Image). Second image: At the Grand Canyon in 2012. (Photo by my husband.) Image of the San Francisco Peaks is from summit.org. Lower image: 2012 winter view from a household deck in Flagstaff, Arizona. (Photo by me.) This page is also located under the "About Diana" menu.

Golden Globes!


From the Los Angeles area this week with Ron, Maril, and the stars, staff and crew from the Outlander series…

The Outlander TV series is nominated for three Golden Globes for its first season! MASSIVE congratulations to everyone—cast, crew, and fans <g>who’ve made the show the wonderful thing that it is! Wish us Luck!

Ron-Maril-DG-BAFTA-webThere’s Stuff going on every day: the TCA (Television Critics Assn.) (and a zillion follow-up interviews) on Friday, the STARZ pre-Golden Globes party Friday night, the BAFTA Tea on Saturday (that’s me above with Maril and Ron, on the red carpet). And the awards ceremony will be broadcast live TODAY at 5 p.m. (Pacific Time), with red carpet coverage beginning at 4 p.m. (More information below).

Blue Suede Shoes

blue-suede-shoesEither Sam and Catriona have grown, or I’ve shrunk… Actually, I just took my shoes off at last night’s STARZ pre-Golden Globes party. I’d bought some pretty new pointy-toed blue suede shoes (yesterday was Elvis’s birthday…), which do in fact fit very well, but they’re not best suited for standing for hours in conversation. So I ditched them next to a divan (this party happened at the Chateau Marmont, a classic old Hollywood hotel, and they had decorated the party venue on a patio that looked like a sheik’s boudoir—enbroidered divans and pillows everywhere, with little round Turkish-looking tables a foot high. I suppose we were meant to sit on the divans, but they looked so much like beds (and were so low) that no one did, so we stood up all evening). When I retrieved them, I found that someone had spilled a drink in one of them—poured it out when I went out to find my driver; no harm done. But it did mean I was about two feet shorter than everyone at the party! Comfortable, though…

2016-Cate-DG-Sam

Outlander TV Show’s Nominations

Frank-headshotOutlander’s Golden Globe Nominations are:

  • "Best Television Series – Drama" Update: The winner of this category is "Mr. Robot."
  • Catriona Balfe (above, with Sam Heughan and I) is nominated for "Best Performance By An Actress In A Television Series – Drama,” for her portrayal of Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser. Update: The winner is Taraji P. Henson, from Empire.
  • Tobias Menzies (at right) is nominated for "Best Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role In A Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television" for his portrayal of Black Jack Randall and Frank Randall. Update: The winner of this category is Christian Slater.

The Starz network received six Golden Globe nominations in total, with Outlander garnering half of them.


Live Schedule:

globes-signs-webNBC’s live broadcast schedule of the Golden Globe Awards is:

4 p.m. (PT): NBC’s red carpet pre-show begins. Coverage of stars, producers, and authors in their glamourous gear walking by on the Red Carpet! On the east coast, this live program begins at 7 p.m. (ET).

5 p.m. (PT): 2016 Golden Globe Awards – the main awards begins, a three-hour show. It will be broadcast live from the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. On the east coast, the live show will begin at 8 p.m. (ET). Check your local schedule to confirm.

In the U.S.A., you have paid cable or satellite TV, look for NBC in your channels guide. Or, if you use an HD antenna to access free TV broadcasts, look for the broadcast NBC affiliate in your area.

If you live in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, or San Francisco and subscribe to Playstation Vue, you may be able to legally stream NBC online. Other than that, NBC is not streaming the show. Some cable networks are streaming shows covering just the red carpet before the show, though.


Where to Watch – Outside the U.S.A.

Some cable subscribers outside the U.S. will be able to see the show. Foxtel in Australia will show the event. In Canada, CTV will broadcast it. However, watching the show won’t be available in the United Kingdom, even though the event host, Ricky Gervais, is from there. To be sure, wherever you live, CHECK with your local provider to see if and when the awards show will be shown in your area.

The main NBC site for the broadcast of the awards show is:

http://www.nbc.com/the-golden-globe-awards

Starzfamilybottle


Happy Holidays!


2015-DG-treeMERRY CHRISTMAS, CHAG SAMEACH, JOYFUL KWANZAA, BLESSED SOLSTICE and/or a DELIGHTFUL EID-AlUdha to all of you!

[Excerpt from DRUMS OF AUTUMN.]

Jamie’s hair and shoulders were lightly dusted with snow, and flakes were settling on the exposed backs of his legs. I pulled the hem of his cloak down, then brushed the snow away from his face. His cheek was nearly the same color as the big wet flakes, and his flesh felt stiff when I touched it.

Fresh alarm surged through me as I realized that he might be a lot closer to freezing already than I had thought. His eyes were half closed, and cold as it was, he didn’t seem to be shivering much. That was bloody dangerous; with no movement, his muscles were generating no heat, and what warmth he had was leaching slowly from his body. His cloak was already heavy with damp; if I allowed his clothes to become soaked through, he might very well die of hypothermia right in front of me.

"Wake up!" I said, shaking him urgently by the shoulder. He opened his eyes and smiled drowsily at me.

"Move!" I said. "Jamie, you’ve got to move!"

"I can’t," he said calmly. "I told ye that." He shut his eyes again.

I grabbed him by the ear and dug my fingernails into the tender lobe. He grunted and jerked his head away.

"Wake up," I said peremptorily. "Do you hear me? Wake up this moment! Move, damn you! Give me your hand."

I didn’t wait for him to comply, but dug under the cloak and seized his hand, which I chafed madly between my own. He opened his eyes again and frowned at me.

"I’m all right," he said. "But I’m gey tired, aye?"

"Move your arms," I ordered, flinging the hand at him. "Flap them, up and down. Can you move your legs at all?"

He sighed wearily, as though dragging himself out of a sticky bog, and muttered something under his breath in Gaelic, but very slowly he began to move his arms back and forth. With more prodding, he succeeded in flexing his ankles— though any further movement caused instant spasms in his back— and with great reluctance, began to waggle his feet.

He looked rather like a frog trying to fly, but I wasn’t in any mood to laugh. I didn’t know whether he was actually in danger of freezing or not, but I wasn’t taking any chances. By dint of constant exhortation, aided by judicious pokings, I kept him at this exercise until I had got him altogether awake and shivering. In a thoroughly bad temper, too, but I didn’t mind that.

"Keep moving," I advised him. I got up with some difficulty, having grown quite stiff from crouching over him so long. "Move, I say!" I added sharply, as he showed symptoms of flagging. "Stop and I’ll step square on your back, I swear I will!"

I glanced around, a little blearily. The snow was still falling, and it was difficult to see more than a few feet. We needed shelter— more than the rock alone could provide.

"Hemlock," he said between his teeth. I glanced down at him, and he jerked his head toward a clump of trees nearby. "Take the hatchet. Big… branches. Six feet. C-cut four." He was breathing heavily, and there was a tinge of color visible in his face, despite the dim light. He’d stopped moving in spite of my threats, but his teeth were clenched because they were chattering— a sign I rejoiced to see.

I stooped and groped beneath his cloak again, this time searching for the hatchet belted round his waist. I couldn’t resist sliding a hand under him, inside the neck of his fringed woolen hunting shirt. Warm! Thank God, he was still warm. His chest felt superficially chilled from its contact with the wet ground, but it was still warmer than my fingers.

"Right," I said, taking my hand away and standing up with the hatchet. "Hemlock. Six-foot branches, do you mean?"

He nodded, shivering violently, and I set off at once for the trees he indicated.

Inside the silent grove, the fragrance of hemlock and cedar enfolded me at once in a mist of resins and turpenes, the odor cold and sharp, clean and invigorating. Many of the trees were enormous, with the lower branches well above my head, but there were smaller ones scattered here and there. I saw at once the virtues of this particular tree— no snow fell under them; the fanlike boughs caught the falling snow like umbrellas.

I hacked at the lower branches, torn between the need for haste and the very real fear of chopping off a few fingers by accident; my hands were numb and awkward with the cold.

The wood was green and elastic and it took forever to chop through the tough, springy fibers. At last, though, I had four good-sized branches, sporting multiple fans of dense needles. They looked soft and black against the new snow, like big fans of feathers; it was almost a surprise to touch them and feel the hard, cold prick of the needles.

I dragged them back to the rock, and found that Jamie had managed to scoop more leaves together; he was almost invisible, submerged in a huge drift of black and gray against the foot of the rock.

Under his terse direction I leaned the hemlock branches fan-up against the face of the rock, the chopped butt ends stuck into the earth at an angle, so as to form a small triangular refuge underneath. Then I took the hatchet again and chopped small pine and spruce branches, pulled up big clumps of dried grass, and piled it all against and over the hemlock screen. Then at last, panting with exertion, I crawled into the shelter beside him.

I nestled down in the leaves between his body and the rock, wrapped my cloak around both of us, put my arms around his body, and held on hard. Then I found the leisure to shake a bit. Not from cold— not yet— but from a mixture of relief and fear.

He felt me shivering, and reached awkwardly back to pat me in reassurance.

"It will be all right, Sassenach," he said. "With the two of us, it will be all right."

"I know," I said, and put my forehead against his shoulder blade. It was a long time before I stopped shaking, though,

"How long have you been out here?" I asked finally. "On the ground, I mean?"

He started to shrug. Then stopped abruptly, groaning.

"A good time. It was just past noon when I jumped off a wee crop of rock. It wasna more than a few feet high, but when I landed on one foot, my back went click! And next I knew, I was on my face in the dirt, feelin’ as though someone had stabbed me in the spine wi’ a dirk."

It wasn’t warm in our snug, by any means; the damp from the leaves was seeping in and the rock at my back seemed to radiate coldness, like some sort of reverse furnace. Still, it was noticeably less cold than it was outside. I began shivering again, for purely physical reasons.

Jamie felt me, and groped at his throat.

"Can ye get my cloak unfastened, Sassenach? Put it over ye."

It took some maneuvering, and the cost of a few muffled oaths from Jamie as he tried to shift his weight, but I got it loose at last, and spread it over the two of us. I reached down and laid a cautious hand on his back, gently rucking up his shirt to put my hand on cool, bare flesh.

"Tell me where it hurts," I said. I hoped to hell he hadn’t slipped a disc; hideous thoughts of his being permanently crippled raced through my mind, along with pragmatic considerations of how I was to get him off the mountain, even if he wasn’t. Would I have to leave him here, and fetch food up to him daily until he recovered?

"Right there," he said, with a hiss of indran breath. "Aye, that’s it. A wicked stab just there, and if I move, it runs straight down the back o’ my leg, like a red-hot wire."

I felt very carefully, with both hands now, probing and pressing, urging him to try to lift one leg, right, now the other knee… no?

"No," he assured me. "Dinna be worrit, though, Sassenach. It’s the same as before. It gets better."

"Yes, you said it happened before. When was that?"

He stirred briefly and settled pressing back against my palms with a small groan.

"Och! Damn that hurts. At the prison."

"Pain in the same place?"

"Aye."

I could feel a hard knot in the muscle on his right side, just below the kidney, and a bunching in the erector spinae, the long muscles near the spine. From his description of the prior occurrence, I was fairly sure it was only severe muscle spasm. For which the proper prescription was warmth, rest, and anti-inflammatory medication.

Couldn’t get much further away from those conditions, I thought with some grimness.

"I suppose I could try acupuncture," I said, thinking aloud. "I’ve got Mr. Willoughby’s needles in my pouch, and—"

"Sassenach," he said, in measured tones. "I can stand fine bein’ hurt, cold, and hungry. I willna put up wi’ being stabbed in the back by my own wife. Can ye not offer a bit of sympathy and comfort instead?"

I laughed, and slid an arm around him, pressing close against his back. I let my hand slide down and rest in delicate suggestion, well below his navel.

"Er… what sort of comfort did you have in mind?"

He hastily grasped my hand, to prevent further intrusions.

"Not that," he said.

"Might take your mind off the pain." I wiggled my fingers invitingly, and he tightened his grip.

"I daresay," he said dryly. "Well, I’ll tell ye, Sassenach— once we’ve got home, and I’ve a warm bed to lie in and a hot supper in my belling, that notion might have a good bit of appeal. As it is, the thought of— for Christ’s sake, have ye ot the slightest idea how cold your hands are, woman?"

I laid my cheek against his back and laughed. I could feel the quiver of his own mirth, though he couldn’t laugh aloud without hurting his back.

At last we lay silent, listening to the whisper of falling snow. It was dark under the hemlock boughs, but my eyes were adapted enough to be able to see patches of the oddly glowing snow-light through the screen of needles overhead. Tiny flakes came through the open patches; I could see it in some places, as a thin cloud of white mist, and I could feel the cold tingle as it struck my face.

Jamie himself was no more than a humped dark shape in front of me, though as my eyes became accustomed to the murk, I could see the paler stalk where his neck emerged between his shirt and his queued hair. The queue itself lay cool and smooth against my face; by turning my head only a bit, I could brush it with my lips.

"What time do you think it is?" I asked. I had no idea, myself; I had left the house well after dark, and spent what seemed an eternity looking for him on the mountain.

"Late," he said. "It will be a long time before the dawn, though," he added, answering my real question. "It’s just past the solstice, aye? It’s one of the longest nights of the year."

"Oh, lovely." I said, in dismay. I wasn’t warm, by any means—I still couldn’t feel my toes—but I had stopped shivering. A dreadful lethargy was stealing over me, my muscles yielding to fatigue and cold. I had visions of the two of us freezing peacefully together, curled up like hedgehogs in the leaves. They did say it was a comfortable death, but that didn’t make the prospect any more appealing.

Jamie’s breathing was getting slower and deeper.

"Don’t go to sleep!" I said urgently, poking him in the armpit.

"Agh!" He pressed his arm tight to his side, recoiling. "Why not?"

"We mustn’t sleep; we’ll freeze to death."

"No, we won’t," he said crossly. "It’s snowing outside; we’ll be covered over soon."

"I know that," I said, rather cross in my turn. "What’s that got to do with it?"

He tried to turn his head to look at me, but couldn’t, quite.

"Snow’s cold if ye touch it," he explained, striving for patience, "but it keeps the cold out, aye? Like a blanket. It’s a great deal warmer in a house that’s covered wi’ snow than one that’s standing clean in the wind. How d’ye think bears manage? They sleep in the winter, and they dinna freeze."

"They have layers of fat," I protested. "I thought that kept them warm."

"Ha ha," he said, and reaching back with some effort, grabbed me firmly by the bottom. "Well, then, ye needna worry a bit, he?"

With great deliberation I pulled down his collar, stretched my head up, and licked the back of his neck, in a lingering swipe from nape to hairline.

"Aaah!" He shuddered violently, making a sprinkle of snow fall from the branches above us. He let go of my bottom to scrub at the back of his neck.

"That was a terrible thing to do!" he said, reproachful. "And me lyin’ here helpless as a log!"

"Bah, humbug," I said. I nestled closer, feeling somewhat reassured. "You’re sure we aren’t going to freeze to death, then?"

"No," he said. "But I shouldna think it likely."

"Hm," I said, feeling somewhat less reassured. "Well, perhaps we’d better stay awake for a bit, then, just in case?"

"I wilna wave my arms about anymore," he said definitely. "There’s no room. And if ye stick your icy wee paws in my breeks, I swear I’ll throttle ye, bad back or no."

"All right, all right," I said. "What if I tell you a story, instead?"

Highlanders loved stories, and Jamie was no exception.

"Oh, aye," he said, sounding much happier. "What sort of story is it?"

"A Christmas story," I said, settling myself along the curve of his body. "About a miser named Ebenezer Scrooge."

"An Englishman, I daresay."

"Yes," I said. "Be quiet and listen."

I could see my own breath as I talked, white in the dim, cold air. The snow was falling heavily outside out shelter; when I paused in the story, I could hear the whisper of flakes against the hemlock branches, and the far-off whine of wind in the trees.

I knew the story very well; it had been part of our Christmas ritual, Frank’s and Brianna’s and mine. From the time Bree was five or six, we had read A Christmas Carol every year, starting a week or two before Christmas, Frank and I taking it in turns to read to her each night before bed.

"And the specter said, ‘I am the Ghost of Christmas Past…’"

I might not be freezing to death, but the cold had a strange hypnotic effect nonetheless. I had gone past the phase of acute discomfort and felt now slightly disembodied. I knew my hands and feet were icy, and my body chilled half through, but it didn’t seem to matter anymore. I floated in a peaceful white mist, seeing the words swirl round my head like snowflakes as I spoke them.

"…and there was dear old Fezziwig, among the lights and music…"

I couldn’t tell whether I was gradually thawing or becoming colder. I was conscious of an overall feeling of relaxation, and an altogether peculiar sense of déjà vu, as though I had once before been entombed, insulated in snow, snug despite desolation outside.

As Bob Cratchit bought his meager bird, I remembered. I went on talking automatically, the flow of the story coming from somewhere well below the level of consciousness, but my memory was in the front seat of a stalled 1956 Oldsmobile, its windscreen caked with snow.

We had been on our way to visit an elderly relative of Frank’s, somewhere in upstate New York. The snow came on hard, halfway there, howling down across the icy roads with gusts of wind. Before we knew where we were, we had skidded off the road and halfway into a ditch, the windscreen wipers slashing futilely at the pelting snow.

There was nothing to be done but wait for morning, and rescue. We had had a picnic hamper and some old blankets; we brought Brianna up into the front seat between us, and huddled all together under coats and blankets, sipping lukewarm cocoa from the thermos and making jokes to keep her from being frightened.

As it grew later, and colder, we huddled closer, and to distract Brianna, Frank began to tell her Dickens’s story from memory, counting on me to supply the missing bits. Neither of us could have done it alone, but between us, we managed well. By the time the sinister Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come had made his appearance, Brianna was snuggled sound asleep under the coats, a warm, boneless weight against my side.

There was no need to finish the story, but we did, talking to each other below the words, hands touching below the layers of blankets. I remembered Frank’s hands, warm and strong on mine, thumb stroking my palm, outlining my fingers. Frank had always loved my hands.

The car had filled with the mist of our breathing, and drops of water ran down inside the white-choked windows. Frank’s head had been a dark cameo, dim against the white. He had leaned toward me at the last, nose and cheeks chilled, lips warm on mine as he whispered the last words of the story.

"’God bless us, every one,’" I ended, and lay silent, a small needle of grief like an ice splinter through my heart. It was quiet inside the shelter, and seemed darker; snow had covered over all the openings.

Jamie reached back and touched my leg.

"Put your hands inside my shirt, Sassenach," he said softly. I slid one hand up under his shirt in front, to rest against his chest, the other up his back. The faded whip marks felt like threads under his skin.

He laid his hand against mine, pressing it tight against his chest. He was very warm, and his heart beat slow and strong under my fingers.

"Sleep, a nighean donn,"" he said. "I wilna let ye freeze."


Click here to read excerpts (aka "Daily Lines") from Book Nine, the new book I am working on in the OUTLANDER series.


Also posted on my Facebook Page on Friday, December 25, 2015. The image is of my family Christmas tree for this year.