• “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

SEVEN STONES in 2017


Book Nine—aka GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE—is coming along nicely, and thank you for your kind inquiries! I think it’s gonna be good.

You may, however, have noticed that the main books of the OUTLANDER series are Rather Large, Somewhat Complex, and Lavishly Furnished with detail, context and other research-dependent appurtenances. All of which take time. So does running around the world talking to people and signing their books…

Now, I mean no moral reproach, but will never understand why people are so insistent on WHEN will this (or any) book be out? Mostly because I’m not like that myself, at all — I have a couple of dozen authors whose work I buy on sight and with joyous anticipation of reading, but never once has it occurred to me to even think about when a new book will be published, let alone go and pester the author about it.

I mean, It’s like standing over the site of a tulip bulb, shouting “When?” at the barren ground. What the heck difference does it make? A book and a flower each bloom in their proper time. That’s just how it works.

Still, I’m sure y’all have your reasons, and far be it from me to denigrate the operations of y’all’s separate and collective minds. People are just wired up differently.

HOWEVER, A) you’re not getting BEES in 2017 because it’s not done yet, but B) you are, in fact, getting a nice, solid book in the coming year.

On June 27th, 2017.

To wit:

SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL

sevenstones-cover1What this is, is a “Collection of Outlander Fiction,” as the cover states. It’s seven novellas, all written by me, and all dealing with the interesting side-stories and lacunae of the Outlander universe.

Five of these novellas were originally published in various anthologies, and in the US/Canada, have then been published singly as ebooks. (Not, however, in the UK/Australia/NewZealand, Germany, etc.)

The final two novellas of SEVEN STONES, though, are brand-new, never seen before by human eyes. <g>

In order, these are the novellas included in this collection, with a brief description of each:

The Custom of the Army

All things considered, it was probably the fault of the electric eel.

In which, Lord John Grey’s encounter with said eel (to say nothing of a belligerent poet and Dr. John Hunter (a real surgeon, known for his great contributions to medicine, but known more colloquially in his own time as “the body-snatcher”) leads to him being sent to the wilds of Canada (pretty wild at the time), where he joins General James Wolfe, has sex on a sandbar (though not with General Wolfe), repels Indian attacks (though not necessarily all Indians…) and (among other things) climbs a sheer cliff at night with a number of Scottish Highlanders, in order to attack the Citadel of Quebec.

The Space Between

He still didn’t know why the frog hadn’t killed him.

In which, the Comte St. Germain explores the mysteries of the universe. Meanwhile, a grief-stricken Michael Murray (middle son of Jenny and Ian Murray) returns to his wine business in Paris, following the death of his father (and the earlier death of his young wife). Given into his charge on the journey is Joan MacKimmie (younger sister of Marsali, younger daughter of Laoghaire), a young woman on her way to join a French convent, in hopes of shutting up the voices in her head. And then there’s Master Raymond…

A Plague of Zombies

There was a snake on the drawing-room table. A small snake, but still. Lord John Grey wondered whether to say anything about it.

In which, Lord John is sent to Jamaica, charged with putting down a slave rebellion. Snakes and slaves are the least of it, and when the Governor of the island is found in his bedroom, dead and partially gnawed, Lord John finds himself the temporary military governor of Jamaica. He also finds himself in the midst of something much more frightening than a slave revolt—something to be faced alone, barefoot and weaponless, in a lightless cave where the dripping of water hides the sussurus of scales.

A Leaf On The Wind of All Hallows

It was two weeks yet to Hallowe’en, but the gremlins were already at work.

In which, the gremlins in the engine of his Spitfire temporarily ground Captain Jerry MacKenzie, but mechanical difficulties and German machine guns are nothing to what awaits him in a circle of standing stones in Northumbria. This is the story of Roger MacKenzie’s parents, Jerry and Dolly; a story Roger never knew.

Virgins

Ian Murray knew from the moment he saw his best friend’s face that something terrible had happened. The fact that he was seeing Jamie Fraser’s face at all was evidence enough of that, never mind the look of the man.

In which we follow the adventures of Jamie Fraser (aged 19) and his best friend Ian Murray (aged 20), as young mercenaries in France in 1740. Neither young man has yet killed a man nor bedded a woman, and they’re both rather worried about going to hell. The possibilities for all three rise abruptly when they’re hired to see a young Jewish bride and the priceless Torah that is her dowry from Bordeaux to Paris, and find much more along the road than they bargained for.

A Fugitive Green

New and previously unpublished.

Minnie Rennie had secrets. Some were for sale and some were strictly her own. She touched the bosom of her dress and glanced toward the lattice-work door at the rear of the shop. Still closed, the blue curtains behind it drawn firmly shut.

In which, a 17-year-old apprentice dealer in rare books is sent from Paris to England by her father, to obtain incunabula and medieval books of devotion—and whatever secrets of political intrigue or finance may come to hand in the process. In the course of her business, though, Minnie meets Harold Grey (Lord John’s elder brother), the newly-widowed (and alarmingly deranged) Duke of Pardloe, and things Fall Out.

Besieged

New and previously unpublished.

Lord John Gray dipped a finger gingerly into the little stone pot, withdrew it, glistening, and sniffed cautiously.

“Jesus!”

“Yes, me lord. That’s what I said.” His valet, Tom Byrd, face carefully averted, put the lid back on the pot. “Was you to rub yourself with that stuff, you’d be drawing flies in their hundreds, same as if you were summat that was dead. Long dead,” he added, and muffled the pot in a napkin for additional protection.

“Well, in justice,” Grey said dubiously, “I suppose the whale is long dead.” He looked at the far wall of his office. There were a number of flies resting along the wainscoting, as usual, fat and black as currants against the white plaster. Sure enough, a couple of them had already risen into the air, circling lazily toward the pot of whale oil. “Where did you get that stuff?”

In which Lord John, anticipating a voyage home to England after his brief stint as military Governor of Jamaica, instead finds himself on his way to Cuba, where the British navy is preparing to lay siege to Havana-—and where the Dowager Duchess of Pardloe (aka John’s mother) is a guest (and potential hostage) of Governor Juan de Prado.

So, those of you with a calendar obsession can circle JUNE 27th, 2017. The rest of you can just enjoy it whenever you happen to find it. <g>

-Diana

Obtaining Your Copy of SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL

Check with your local independent bookstore about ordering this book from them. Or to order online, readers in the U.S.A. may pre-order this book in hardback or ebook from the usual online sources (here are a few):

If you would like a copy signed by Diana Gabaldon, click here to pre-order it from the Poisoned Pen Bookstore. The staff of the Pen will ship anywhere in the world! And they carry signed copies of all of Diana’s titles. More information.

For more information about buying the book in publishing areas outside of the U.S.A., click here for general information.


This information was initially posted by Diana on her official Facebook page on November 22, 2016.


Share This

November 5 and 10 Launch Parties


The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona, is organizing two upcoming events:

Sat., Nov. 5 Launch Party – THE HIGHWAY KIND

2016-10-thehighwaykindI’ll be signing this new anthology, THE HIGHWAY KIND, Tales of Fast Cars, Desperate Drivers, and Dark Roads, along with authors C.J. Box, Gary Phillips, and James Sallis, at a release party on Saturday, November 5, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore, 4014 N Goldwater Blvd #101, in Scottsdale, Arizona 85251.

Edited by the Poisoned Pen’s own Patrick Millikin, THE HIGHWAY KIND contains NEW original short stories by Michael Connelly, George Pelecanos, C. J. Box, Ace Atkins, and myself. This book is also presigned by Michael Connelly, and Patrick Millikin. Authors also in attendance, but not signing the book, will be Hank Phillippi Ryan and Linwood Barclay.

The event is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

My other titles will be available at the Pen for purchase at this event. (And yes, I will sign other books, too—but the store requests that I only sign books bought from the Poisoned Pen—this is a way to help them stay in business as an independent bookstore—and one that does more author events than any other store in the world!)

More detailed information is on this and other events are listed on my official Appearances page.


Thursday, Nov. 10 Launch Party With Tara Bennett

2016-09-makingofoutlanderI’ll also be at a launch party celebrating the new book, THE MAKING OF OUTLANDER, SEASONS ONE AND TWO, on Thursday, November 10th, at 7 p.m., with Tara Bennett (who actually wrote and assembled this lovely book) at the Hilton Resort, 6333 N Scottsdale Road, in Scottsdale, Arizona 85250.

(I wrote the Foreword to THE MAKING OF OUTLANDER, is how I get in on it. I’m also in it, here and there.) This book has lots of great behind-the-scenes details on the making of the STARZ Outlander series.

Plenty of copies of this book will be available for purchase at the event ($50), pre-signed by Tara Bennett and myself. If you purchased your book already from the Pen, please bring your receipt.

If you want a personalization written by me or Tara in your copy of this new book, such as "To [Yourname]," there will be a special signing line. One personal book from home not purchased at the Pen is allowed in the special signing line in addition to the book purchased from the Pen. (If you purchased your copy in advance from the Pen, please bring your receipt.)

This event is free and open to the public. No tickets are required. Free valet parking and a cash bar are offered by the Hilton. Doors will open at 6 p.m.

More detailed information is on this and other events are on my Appearances page.

I look forward to seeing you!


BTS Photos From Maril

For those who might like a special peek inside THE MAKING OF OUTLANDER book—here are five behind-the-scenes photos with comments from Maril Davis:

http://www.ew.com/article/2016/10/17/making-of-outlander-photos-maril-davis


"Virgins" Novella In Hardcover

virgins-hardcoverSome time in November, copies of “Virgins” (Century $26), an Outlander novella, will arrive at the Poisoned Pen. Each copy will be signed by me. (There will not be a launch party for this book.)

The Pen suggests that you order your copy of “Virgins” soon to avoid disappointment. Note that added inscriptions besides my signature must be limited to no more than five words and cannot be guaranteed.

This special edition of my VIRGINS novella as a standalone hardback book is an international edition printed only in the U.K., and is not available through the usual sources in the U.S.A. "Virgins" originally appeared in the DANGEROUS WOMEN anthology edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.)

The Poisoned Pen carries all of my books (U.S. versions), and they ship anywhere in the world.


More Information:

If you have questions about the November 5th and 10th events or about ordering signed copies of these new books by mail, please contact the staff of the Poisoned Pen:

Phone: (480) 947-2974
Toll free: (888) 560-9919
Email: mailto:sales@poisonedpen.com


Want To Watch Me Write?


Social media hashtags: #DailyLinesWithBusiness, #MinnieAndHalsNovella, #Outin2017

2015-diana-workingThis blog entry is actually part of a longer piece called "Want to Watch Me Write?" that I’m putting together in desultory fashion, between other things. It’s a modest example of what-all goes on my head while I’m writing, including all the thinking that happens before, during and after the writing of a single scene.

Our scenario is that it’s 1743, Harold Grey is struggling to raise his father’s defunct regiment, and has just shot a man named Nathaniel Twelvetrees, who had seduced Hal’s wife (she’s just died a month ago, along with the child to whom she gave birth—and Hal doesn’t know whether it was his or not). Hal’s not very stable emotionally at the moment, and his anxious friend, Harry Quarry, is sticking close by him as Hal goes to call on an officer with a good reputation, whom he’d like to recruit for his new regiment. The man lives in a Georgian terrace—a line of upscale townhouses, facing a common fenced park. Hal and Harry pause by the park, opposite the house they intend to visit. This is the thinking-while-I-write versions of the scene’s beginning; I’ll show you what the (more or less) finished version looks like at the end:

Hal reached through the iron bars of the fence and tweaked a leaf [carefully broke a twig] from one of the bushes [a small tree].

“What are you doing?” Harry demanded, stopping in mid-stride. “Picking a bouquet for your button hole? [ck. Period use of “bouquet” for this, though pretty sure I’m right]

[What does the leaf look like? I want it to be something either striking or aromatic… flip over to Google, “English shrubs,” and within a few clicks get “Seven Fuss-Free Shrubs for your Garden,” with pictures, the first of which is Crataegus persimilis, ‘Prunifolia’—the cockspur thorn, which has “few but very long and sharp thorns” and the instant I read that I know what’s going to happen…]

“No, I wanted to see if this is what I thought it was, but it is.”

“And what’s that, pray?” Harry gave the [wait a minute—have just thought maybe it isn’t a leaf he picked—that’s not the most interesting bit of that plant. Quick shufti beginning with “What does hawthorn smell like” (having picked up that cockspur thorn is a hawthorn, and hit paydirt in several directions. “Hawthorn” is one of the oldest words in English, has a great history in terms of English landscaping, the leaves are said to taste like bread and cheese (at least they’re edible), and (best of all) “the flowers have a scent that is said to be that of a woman sexually aroused.” O, serendipity…]

“And what’s that, pray?” Harry came back a step to look at the twig in Hal’s hand. [go back up and change “tweaked a leaf”] The foliage was cool in his hand; it had rained a bit earlier and the leaves and flowers [this had better be set in springtime, so I can have flowers] were still damp [no “wet” is better, he feels the water on his palm], were still wet, water droplets sliding down his wrist [the inside of his wrist?], disappearing into the cloth of his cuff [frill of his cuff? He’s a dressy man, but “cloth” is alliterative, and would he have a frilled shirt-cuff with his uniform? I like the visual of “frill,” let’s go look (I have a book of British uniforms of the 18th century in my office that would answer this instantly, but as usual, it’s in Arizona and I’m in Ontario, so…)]

[Hiatus of four days, owing to working non-stop at the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games, flying back from Toronto, and then dealing with all the stuff that piles up here when I’m gone for more than 24 hours…]

[Not that I have written nothing in those four days; I’ve done four bloody email interviews, sixteen complicated emails dealing with business; printed, read and signed three different contracts (for the artwork in “I Give You My Body…” which came out yesterday! And arrived as an Amazon #1 Bestseller, which is gratifying. For reasons best known to Amazon, they listed the category as “memoirs”…), for a novella/short story collection, and for a short piece for an odd anthology of car stories (don’t ask; I’ll tell you about it when it comes out in November). Also wrote small pieces of a Book Nine scene and pulled together both a small chunk of Book Nine and a small chunk of Minnie and Hal.]

Where was I? Oh, frills. On the good side, where I am is back in my office, and as expected, a quick glance at UNIFORMS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION (by John Mollo, Illus. Malcolm McGregor, published 1975 MacMillan) show me that yes, indeedy—infantry officers did wear frilled shirt cuffs—though no other regiments’ officers seem to have. So now we have that settled…

Here’s what I’ve actually got of this scene so far:

“Hal reached through the iron bars and carefully broke a twig from a small tree growing by the fence.

“What are you doing?” Harry demanded, stopping in mid-stride. “Picking a bouquet for your button hole?”

“No, I wanted to see if this is what I thought it was, and it is.”

“And what’s that, pray?” Harry came back a step to look at the twig. The foliage was cool in Hal’s hand; it had rained a bit earlier and the leaves and flowers were still wet, water droplets sliding down his wrist and soaking into the cloth of his frilled cuff.”

This doesn’t look like much—and it’s not—but it is a kernel. It’s my way into the page and into this scene. Hal and Harry are moving and speaking, and it will be pretty easy to pick up this conversation when I come back to work on this scene tonight, because obviously Hal’s going to tell Harry that it’s cockspur thorn, continue with the leaves tasting like bread-and-cheese as they cross the street and go up the steps of the house, and end with the scent of the flowers, Hal handing the twig to Harry while he rings the bell [ck if houses had bells in 1743, or only knockers], and as the door opens [to reveal whom? We don’t know…], Harry is discreetly sniffing the flowers, which he puts in his own buttonhole as he follows Hal inside.

But now you see why it takes awhile to write this stuff…


Selected Social Media Comments:

Below are some reader questions about this post from my Social Media accounts (in bold type) with my replies, selected by my Webmistress. Before anyone asks, no, we can’t copy and paste ALL of the comments. <g>

With so many writing projects going on, how do you keep them all straight and not confuse characters and plot lines?

How do you know you just had lunch with your husband and not your best friend? They’re just different things.

“Life is in the details.” Am I right to imagine that you have a general sense of the plot before you start writing, but the details come to you as you write? You’ve told Sam how the series will end, so you know where the plot needs to go, but getting there seems unmapped. I love that you take the readers along for a ride outside the book as well as in it. THANKS!

No, I have no idea of the plot. I don’t plan books out ahead of time, I don’t work with an outline, and I don’t work in a straight line. <g> I have the end of the series, but it actually isn’t part of the plot, if that makes any sense..…

What a gift! This post is a little mini-movie of the written word which helps those of us struggling to become writers. A process. Insight. It may not be ours, but that’s ok! So exciting to see a process that is unique and you and not a regimental set of steps—to get from first word to last. Thank you!

Have never understood why people think a) that there is “a regimented set of steps” to writing something, nor yet b) why you’d follow such a plan if there was one. <g>

I’ve been reading I GIVE YOU MY BODY and I love it as much as any of your books. If there are any of your books, it’s because I haven’t found them! Including the co-written ones with Sam Sykes!

There aren’t any books co-written with Sam. His novels are entirely his own.

Webmistress’s note: Fantasy author Samuel Sykes is Diana’s son. Check out his home page for more information about his work:

http://www.samsykes.com

I love seeing your process. It makes total sense to me to add those notes (like go back and change x) while you go instead of breaking the train of thought. Thanks for sharing!

But I don’t add those notes; they’re shown here, but in real-time, that’s what I’m thinking—and while I sometimes leave square brackets for a specific piece of missing information—“[tree]”—more often I just go find/check what I need right there—since what I find may well affect what comes next/later.

I have a question related to this, Diana! What does your work with editors look like? Is it very developmental, with constructive feedback shared throughout drafting? More focused on high-level looks at certain checkpoints? Something else entirely? Given your long history as a writer I’m just curious about that part of the process as well. Editor/author dynamics can be so diverse and interesting.

No. <g> I don’t write in drafts, and the way I do write would be impossible for anybody else to have much impact on. I write the book, and when I think it’s finished, I send it (sometimes in chunks, but that depends on the book and how it’s coming together for me) to my U.S. and U.K. editors, and they both send back comments. Some are purely mechanical—catches of repeated passages or imagery, minor confusions of timeline, straightforward typos or minor errors, etc.—and some are asking for clarification of some point or expressing a minor reservation about something—and those are left up to my judgement. But every editor works differently with different writers.

How do you keep these tidbits organized? Do you have multiple pages/tabs? Way back when I had to write papers, we used index cards and outlines. I keep trying to picture your organization as you have said you might write down incidents way ahead of when they fit in into any book. You amaze me ! Love your writing! Thank you for all the enjoyable hours.

It’s just in my head. I do “organize” my scenes, insofar as I give each scene a unique filename so I can find it when I want it. <g> A file name consists of a word signifying which book it is (all the main Outlander novel are called “JAMIE” — JAMIE, JAMIE2, JAMIE3, etc.; we’re now on JAMIE9. Whereas THE SCOTTISH PRISONER was called “PRISON” and BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE, “BROTHER.” Each new book has its own folder/directory, into which all its files go.

The filename then has a symbol indicating the year of creation, followed by a dot and a 2-3 digit extension that indicates the date on which I began work on that scene/file. So a scene that I began today, for instance, in BEES, would be called JAMIE9@.91 .One started tomorrow would be JAMIE9@.92, and so on. Files for BEES from 2015 were all called JAMIE9!.(date).

The other component of this very crude organizing system is a file (there’s one for each book) called the MFILE (for “Master File”). This is just a list of the filenames, each being followed by several keywords:

JAMIE9@.313 – coon hunt, Bluey

JAMIE9@.818 – Smokeshed, Brianna and Fanny

etc.

So when I write what comes after “Smokeshed,” I can open the MFILE and do a quick search for “One an officer” and I’ll find JAMIE9&.92 (because that’s what I’ll be working on tomorrow).

As to putting the pieces together… I think in shapes. Geometrical shapes. And so sometimes the pieces flow together because of their content (“Root cellar” follows “Smokeshed,” for instance), but sometimes because of the way they fit together, which wouldn’t be easily describable in words, but which is intuitively obvious to ‘em.

What size hard drive do you need for that? Do you have a backup system?

Text/document files really take very little room (though I think I have a 2-gig hard disk in this machine). I have all my writing folders embedded in Dropbox, so when I save to my hard disk, the same file goes automatically to Dropbox (which not only serves as backup, but is accessible from any other of my devices, so I can retrieve the file I made on my Alien (which is huge and weighs nine pounds) to the Mac Air that I travel with—or, in a pinch (if called on unexpectedly to read an excerpt somewhere) I can pull something into my iPad and take it on stage.

That said, I do also back up the most important files once a week to both a thumb-drive and the external Time Machine backup for the Mac. I also print out the scenes as I finish them, for my husband to read, and I throw the annotated copies (after I’ve read them <g>) into a storage box—just in case of EMP’s.

Your writing is very tight. When you include a detail, it is likely to be important or significant later. How far ahead do you look when writing? Did you know that John Grey was going to reappear so many times in so many books? You bring back so many characters when we think we have seen the last of them. Is there a big picture somewhere?

The bigger picture just emerges as I work. People think this or that is clever foreshadowing— when all it is, is that I looked back from some further vantage point and said, “Oh, I could use that bit here, couldn’t I?” <g> (A story doesn’t run in only one direction.)

I think your mind works a lot like mine does. It’s highly nonlinear thought processes that you’re showing here, but there’s a logical flow down each side-path. I wonder if that’s the scientist in us… At any rate, I enjoyed the walking tour of your method, and it is even clearer to me now what a labor of love your writing is. Every scintilla of detail, down to the degree of moisture on the plant, is finely crafted. Thank you for being such a conscientious creator of your world!

Linearity is by no means the only model of logic. <g>

How do you separate fiction from reality? When I am engrossed in one of your books, I feel that I’m looking at the moment through the characters of the book, if that makes sense. The characters seem so real but not. Yet you are living it daily. Probably thinking about the next scene or paragraph of any given project at the time.

Fiction is just a different reality.

I love your brain! Just how many of YOU are in that head?

I’ve never tried to count…

Thank you so much for sharing. I have an idea for something I’d like to write about. I’ve begun the research process but have been lamenting about how to write it. Seeing your process made me realize that my approach is similar to yours and so it begins… Thanks for the inspiration.

All you gotta do is start—and then don’t stop. You’ll figure out the how (or rather, which “how” works for you) as you go.

Everybody’s brain is wired up differently; the key to succeeding (as in, get words on paper <g>) is to figure out how your own brain works best, and work with it, rather than trying to force it into some preconceived notion of “how it’s done.”

You always type your writing? And never write it out in longhand?

If I wrote in longhand, it would be illegible within seconds; I change words, sentences, paragraphs, clauses, pretty much nonstop.

“Desultory” was not in my vocabulary before I read the OUTLANDER series. <g> Nor was “peremptory.”

Stick with me, kid… I can teach you a lotta words…


This blog was first posted on my official Facebook page on September 1, 2016, and appears here with a few selected social media questions/comments and my replies.

“Mark Me” (Dragonfly in Amber)


ep213-dragonfly-in-amber-cropMark me…. or, you know…. don’t….

I’d thought of posting this bit from DRAGONFLY before the TV show’s finale for season two, and warning you that the show wasn’t doing it this way, lest finding this particular bit omitted might cause some of you (you know who you are…) to become Disgruntled and thus miss the real beauty and intensity of Jamie and Claire’s farewell.

But then I decided that I shouldn’t do that; not only would it be a spoiler, it might well rile some people a priori and not only spoil the ending for them, but also cause any amount of hopping up and down and general agitation that I didn’t think would serve anyone going into what’s really a spectacular ending.

But I did want to show the original to you, both as a solace to the book-fans, and a small gift to the TV-show-only fans.

(BTW… one of the writers was chatting with me before a Writers Bloc interview in LA and said, "We’re not going to do the cutting initials, but you’ll love what we’re doing instead!" I didn’t say anything (out of shock) but the expression on my face must have given a general impression of not being proactively thrilled. I got a grip and asked calmly what that was, only to be told that they were going to have Claire give Jamie the chunk of amber with the dragonfly, prior to going through the stones.

I won’t recount the entirety of my comments to Ron and Maril in the wake of this conversation, but I recall saying, "…there’s a massive emotional distance between, ‘I love you so passionately that I want you to shed my blood and scar me forever so I can remember your touch,’ and ‘Here, darling, take the ugliest wedding present ever to remember me by for the forty-five minutes before you die.’"

They admitted the essential truth of this <cough>, but insisted that they couldn’t do the cutting because it would be messy (they had all kinds of trouble with the blood-knife at the wedding, and were envisioning blood dripping everywhere and smearing and what it would do to the costumes, which had to last through multiple takes) and take too long and interrupt the pacing of the scene.

In all of which contentions, they were indubitably right, but STILL. The only thing I was able to do was extract a promise that they’d speak to the props department about making a new chunk of amber that didn’t look quite so much like a piece off a broken telephone pole transformer.)

So anyway…. here you go!

Social Media Hashtags: #DailyLines, #DRAGONFLYinAMBER, #MarkMe

dragonfly in amber coverA wave of anguish broke through me, so acute that I must have made some sound, for he opened his eyes. He smiled when he saw me, and his eyes searched my face. I knew that he was memorizing my features, as I was his.

"Jamie," I said. My voice was hoarse with sleep and swallowed tears. "Jamie. I want you to mark me."

"What?" he said, startled.

The tiny sgian dhu he carried in his stocking was lying within reach, its handle of carved staghorn dark against the piled clothing. I reached for it and handed it to him.

"Cut me," I said urgently. "Deep enough to leave a scar. I want to take away your touch with me, to have something of you that will stay with me always. I don’t care if it hurts; nothing could hurt more than leaving you. At least when I touch it, wherever I am, I can feel your touch on me."

His hand was over mine where it rested on the knife’s hilt. After a moment, he squeezed it and nodded. He hesitated for a moment, the razor-sharp blade in his hand, and I offered him my right hand. It was warm beneath our coverings, but his breath came in wisps, visible in the cold air of the room.

He turned my palm upward, examining it carefully, than raised it to his lips. A soft kiss in the well of the palm, then he seized the base of my thumb in a hard, sucking bite. Letting go, he swiftly cut into the numbed flesh. I felt nothing more than a mild burning sensation, but the blood welled at once. He brought the hand quickly to his mouth again, holding it there until the flow of blood slowed. He bound the wound, now stinging, carefully in a handkerchief, but not before I saw that the cut was in the shape of a small, slightly crooked letter "J".

I looked up to see that he was holding out the tiny knife to me. I took it, and somewhat hesitantly, took the hand he offered me.

He closed his eyes briefly, and set his lips, but a small grunt of pain escaped him as I pressed the tip of the knife into the fleshy pad at the base of his thumb. The Mount of Venus, a palm-reader had told me; indicator of passion and love.

It was only as I completed the small semicircular cut that I realized he had given me his left hand.

"I should have taken the other," I said. "Your sword hilt will press on it."

He smiled faintly.

"I could ask no more than to feel your touch on me in my last fight— wherever it comes."

Unwrapping the blood-spotted handkerchief, I pressed my wounded hand tightly against his, fingers gripped together. The blood was warm and slick, not yet sticky between our hands.

"Blood of my blood…" I whispered.

"…and Bone of my Bone," he answered softly. Neither of us could finish the vow, "so long as we both shall live," but the unspoken words hung aching between us. Finally he smiled crookedly.

"Longer than that," he said firmly, and pulled me to him once more.

&&&

"Frank," he said at last, with a sigh. "Well, I leave it to you what ye shall tell him about me. Likely he’ll not want to hear. But if he does, if ye find ye can talk to him of me, as you have to me of him— then tell him… I’m grateful. Tell him I trust him, because I must. And tell him—" His hands tightened suddenly on my arms, and he spoke with a mixture of laughter and absolute sincerity. "Tell him I hate him to his guts and the marrow of his bones!"

We were dressed, and the dawn light had strengthened into day. There was no food, nothing with which to break our fast. Nothing left that must be done… and nothing left to say.

He would have to leave now, to make it to Drumossie Moor in time. This was our final parting, and we could find no way to say goodbye.

At last, he smiled crookedly, bent, and kissed me gently on the lips.

"They say…" he began, and stopped to clear his throat. "They say, in the old days, when a man would go forth to do a great deed—he would find a wise-woman, and ask her to bless him. He would stand looking forth, in the direction he would go, and she would come behind him, to say the words of the prayer over him. When she had finished, he would go straight out, and not look back, for that was ill-luck to his quest."

He touched my face once, and turned away, facing the open door. The morning sun streamed in, lighting his hair in a thousand flames. He straightened his shoulders, broad beneath his plaid, and drew a deep breath.

"Bless me, then, wisewoman," he said softly, "and go."

I laid a hand on his shoulder, groping for words. Jenny had taught me a few of the ancient Celtic prayers of protection; I tried to summon the words in my mind.

"Jesus, Thou Son of Mary," I started, speaking hoarsely, "I call upon Thy name; and on the name of John the Apostle beloved, And on the names of all the saints in the red domain, To shield thee in the battle to come… "

I stopped, interrupted by a sound from the hillside below. The sound of voices, and of footsteps.

Jamie froze for a second, shoulder hard beneath my hand, then whirled, pushing me toward the rear of the cottage, where the wall had fallen away.

"That way!" he said. "They are English! Claire, go!"

I ran toward the opening in the wall, heart in my throat, as he turned back to the doorway, hand on his sword. I stopped, just for a moment, for the last sight of him. He turned his head, caught sight of me, and suddenly he was with me, pushing me hard against the wall in an agony of desperation. He gripped me fiercely to him. I could feel his erection pressing into my stomach and the hilt of his dagger dug into my side.

He spoke hoarsely into my hair. "Once more. I must! But quick!" He pushed me against the wall and I scrabbled up my skirts as he raised his kilts. This was not lovemaking; he took me quickly and powerfully and it was over in seconds. The voices were nearer; only a hundred yards away.

He kissed me once more, hard enough to leave the taste of blood in my mouth. "Name him Brian," he said "for my father." With a push, he sent me toward the opening. As I ran for it, I glanced back to see him standing in the middle of the doorway, sword half-drawn, dirk ready in his right hand.


I originally posted this excerpt and comments on one of my social media accounts on Sunday, July 10, 2016, about episode 213 (titled "Dragonfly in Amber") of the Starz Outlander TV series.

Top image credit: Starz.

“More Important Than Food” (Book Nine)


From Book Nine of my OUTLANDER series. Note that this excerpt may contain spoilers:

Facebook hashtags: #DailyLines, #BookNINE, #ImWorkingOnIt, #AllInGoodTime, #JamieAndClaire, #SomeThingsNeverChange

"…the night we made Faith."

I lifted my head in surprise.

"You know when she was conceived? I don’t know that."

He ran his hand slowly down my back, fingers pausing to rub circles in the small of it. If I’d been a cat, I would have waved my tail gently under his nose.

"Aye, well, I suppose I could be wrong, but I’ve always thought it was the night I came to your bed at the Abbey."

For a moment, I groped among my memories. That time at the Abbey of Ste. Anne, when he’d come so close to self-chosen death, was one I seldom revisited. It was a terrifying time of fear and confusion, despair and desperation. And yet when I did look back, I found a handful of vivid images, standing out like the illuminated letters on a page of ancient Latin.

Father Anselm’s face, pale in candlelight, his eyes warm with compassion and then the growing glow of wonder as he heard my confession. The abbot’s hands, touching Jamie’s forehead, eyes, lips and palms, delicate as a hummingbird’s touch, anointing his dying nephew with the holy chrism of Extreme Unction. The quiet of the darkened chapel where I had prayed for his life, and heard my prayer answered.

And among these moments was the night when I woke from sleep to find him standing, a pale wraith by my bed, naked and freezing, so weak he could barely walk, but filled once more with life and a stubborn determination that would never again leave him.

"You remember her, then?" My hand rested lightly on my stomach, recalling. He’d never seen her, or felt her as more than random kicks and pushes from inside me.

He kissed my forehead briefly, then looked at me.

"Ye ken I do. Don’t you?"

"Yes. I just wanted you to tell me more."

"Oh, I mean to." He settled himself on one elbow and gathered me in so I could share his plaid.

"Do you remember that, too?" I asked, pulling down the fold of cloth he’d draped over me. "Sharing your plaid with me, the night we met?"

"To keep ye from freezing? Aye." He kissed the back of my neck. "It was me freezing, at the Abbey. I’d worn myself out tryin’ to walk, and ye wouldna let me eat anything, so I was starving to death, and—"

"Oh, you know that’s not true! You—"

"Would I lie to ye, Sassenach?"

"Yes, you bloody would," I said, "You do it all the time. But never mind that now. You were freezing and starving, and suddenly decided that instead of asking Brother Roger for a blanket or a bowl of something hot, you should stagger naked down a dark stone corridor and get in bed with me."

"Some things are more important than food, Sassenach." His hand settled firmly on my arse. "And finding out whether I could ever bed ye again was more important than anything else just then. I reckoned if I couldn’t, I’d just walk on out into the snow and not come back."

"Naturally, it didn’t occur to you to wait for a few more weeks and recover your strength."

"Well, I was fairly sure I could walk that far leaning on the walls, and I’d be doin’ the rest lying down, so why wait?"

Links to more excerpts (aka "Daily Lines") from Book Nine are on my Book Nine webpage.


This excerpt was first posted on my official Facebook page on June 9, 2016.

A Brief Lesson…


A Brief Lesson in Content, Courtesy and Not Jumping to Conclusions…

There was a certain amount of comment prior to Episode 8 (from Season Two of the Starz Outlander TV series) about my having referred to a script element as "jumping the shark" and a lot of speculation as to where and what that was. I didn’t want to go into this prior to the episode’s airing, because I didn’t want anyone to be distracted from the virtues of the episode, which was very enjoyable in itself.

But I thought I’d take a moment now to explain just how all that speculation came about. It might be enlightening to some of you with less experience in the Ways of The Internet.

Now, I love to explain things to people (you may have noticed) and share experiences and perceptions. Working with and on the show has been a fascinating experience, and one I know many fans are deeply interested in. Ergo, I’m always willing to explain or discuss things about the show that aren’t confidential or spoilers.

I first came online in 1985, long before the internet as we now know it existed. I was doing a software review for Byte magazine, who provided me with a trial membership to something called Compuserve, so I could include mention of the software’s "online Support Forum" (this being the coolest, sexiest thing anyone ever thought of at the time….). I wrote the review, and while poking around Compuserve, stumbled into a group called the Literary Forum—basically, a 24-hour cocktail party of people discussing books (and for someone with two full-time jobs and three children under six, the ideal social life).

I signed up with Compuserve and have basically regarded the Forum (in its various iterations) as my electronic hangout ever since. For quite a long time, Compuserve was a members-only place; you had to subscribe to get in (it didn’t cost anything, but you did need to be a real person with a real name—not an avatar, a handle or anything of that sort). This meant that it was also a pretty private place, with a relatively small population.

Well, the Internet evolved, and so did Compuserve. It’s open to the web now, like everything else, and has grown somewhat in size. At the same time, the forum (now called the Books and Writers Community) has kept its character as a place where well-organized discussions and conversations take place. We actually have rules of civil discourse, and while discussions are honest and occasionally heated, we rarely have trolls and when they appear, they don’t last long.

So, naturally when the show became a reality three years ago (that’s when the contracts for it were signed), people in my folder on Books and Writers started asking questions about it, which I’ve answered and discussed as I could, ever since.

Since I was writing an episode for this season—my first foray into scriptwriting—naturally people were interested in that; the nuts and bolts of the scripting process, my own feelings about it, the how and why of the show’s content, and so on. So, I explained how the Writers Room works, and the collective/collaborative nature of the material that ends up in scripts, what happens to them then, and so on.

Someone asked if I always agreed with things that were done on the show (because they sure didn’t!), and I explained (not for the first time) about adaptation, how I regard the process, why I’m fine for the most part with changes made for television, why you can’t do some things that the books do, and you can do some things the books can’t, and so on. I said that of course there were some things I didn’t agree with, but that when they occurred, I’d mention them to Ron and Maril and the scriptwriters, we’d discuss them and usually something could be worked out.

Someone asked, did some things not work out, did they ever do stuff I really didn’t like? I said—quite casually—sure, that’s bound to happen and it’s not a big deal. But I added (since it was fresh in my mind) that they had insisted on doing one thing that I’d told them I thought was "jumping the shark"— adding that they’d laughed when I said that. (I was actually in the Writers Room at the time.)

Now, a brief digression—I don’t actually watch television. (I love TV; it’s just too addictive for me to watch anything on a regular basis and still get enough work done. And I do watch the show’s daily footage, which takes up any time I might spend on regular TV.)

After a major book or other project is finished, I’ll take a few weeks and binge-watch a show, a couple of episodes a night. But I don’t watch television the way most people do, and frankly, while I did know the term "jumping the shark" and what it referred to (the incident with Fonzie and Happy Days), I’d always taken it in the sense of "something exaggerated and/or strikingly unlikely in context"; something that goes too far or is inappropriate.”

One of my more culturally-informed offspring, hearing about the subsequent controversy, told me kindly that I should really have referred to what the writers had in mind as "screwing the pooch," as "jumping the shark" had to do with some outre move introduced to get eyeballs for a failing show—which was clearly not the case here (Outlander’s overall ratings have put it at #1 on the Neilson Twitter list more than once, and it’s Starz’s lead show). I have no idea whether that’s right, either, but I really don’t use that kind of language…

Still, that’s what I said, and no harm done, though a few of the people I was talking to naturally wanted to know what this striking element might be. I said that I wasn’t going to say more about it, because—spoilers aside (and I don’t give away things ahead of time) people being as variable in their tastes and responses as they are—probably not everyone would see the element in the same light I did, and I didn’t want to influence anyone’s response ahead of their actually seeing the episode in question.

So… imagine my surprise, a couple of weeks later, to find that a Scottish newspaper (with a website and Twitter feed) had published an article in which "Outlander Author Denounces ‘Shark Jumping’ in Show"— or something similar. This headline was followed by an article in which I reportedly "announced," "insisted," "iasserted," (and other silly verbs) my objections to this unspecified shark-jumping.

Now—having been online since 1985, I understand very well how the internet works. It’s All About Content, because that’s all there is. Consequently, bloggers and news outlets are in a constant competition to grab (or make up) anything that looks faintly like "content."

I’ve pretty much been "content" for the last ten years or so, and this perception of my online value kind of sky-rocketed with the advent of the TV show. This is all well and good; the content business works (generally) to the benefit of both sides. The media gets the content that makes people look at their ad-clogged sites, and the actual creator of said content gets free exposure for whatever their product or association is.

I’m accustomed to having anything I say in public online picked up and repeated in all kinds of quarters. Usually this is fine; sometimes it leads to careless (or silly, or unscrupulous) misquotings and misunderstandings, but I have a website, a Twitter account, and a Facebook page, and can always post a clarification—which is what this is.

Quoting something I’ve said is fine. Deliberately misrepresenting something I’ve said (as in making it appear that I "went public" with my thoughts on shark-jumping, and went so far as to give this publication an interview in order to say so)… not so much.

God knows, I don’t expect them to ask my permission to use anything—but for something this noticeable, I think it’s a trifle discourteous to neither inform me that they were using it, or ask me for my own comments.

I was mulling over what I might say to the news outlet in question (you’ll notice that I don’t name them)— I wanted to make it clear that I didn’t like what they’d done, but acknowledge that it’s good for both sides if we maintain a good working relationship, and suggest ways in which this might be improved—when I got an email from an editor at this publication, with whom I’m familiar:

Hi Diana

Hope you are well. I have been alerted to the chat thread about your ‘jump the shark’ comments and the story [news outlet] carried yesterday which has gathered some interest.

The original version of this story actually came from [unscrupulous blogger whose name I won’t mention because damned if I’ll give them any exposure] who contacted us and asked us to carry our own version with links back to their original story— which we did (see below for the source they sent us).

We don’t monitor the many Outlander chat forums (and also don’t want you to think we are stalking you!!) however we are always grateful when a fan group alert us to a potential story.

Although it does look like this one has backfired if your comments have been used out of context.

Should I explain myself on the AOL forum?

Hope it hasn’t caused you too much upset.

Many thanks

This was very thoughtful of the editor, and I’ll chat with them and get things on a better footing for future stories that might emerge (as in, "if you get a good story, ask me if I actually said it, and chances are good you’ll get a better one").

But I did want to point out to all and sundry that if you ever see a headline or article stating vehemently that I "revealed" something (especially in the U.K. press, whose style this frequently is)… I probably didn’t say it, and/or I sure didn’t say it to them. (Especially if the article is posted with a particularly unflattering photo. <g>)

[I do want to add that there are many excellent, conscientious online-media outlets—mentioning specifically vulture.com, access.hollywood, ewonline, and threeifbyspace—who not only ask for legitimate interviews, but who also check quotes, and come and ask for followup comments, if needed.]


This blog content was first posted on my official Facebook page on Saturday, June 4, 2016.

My Writing Process


March 20, 2016

Over the years, I’ve done hundreds (literally) of interviews, and frankly, most of them consist of the same six or seven questions, over and over (and over and overandoverandover)—with the excuse, "Of course, I know you’ve probably (oh, you think?) answered some (ha) of these questions before, but these are things we think our readers would like to know." (Perfectly legit assumption. That’s why all those answers are in the "FAQ" section of my website… and on my Wikipedia page (or at least I hope they’re still there)… and in THE OUTLANDISH COMPANIONS.)

"So…. how did you get the idea to write these books?"

But never mind; they have their job and I have mine. (Yes, I admit that these interviews give the books visibility, and I appreciate the attention. That’s why I go on answering those six or seven questions with a reasonably convincing appearance of gracious enthusiasm (I’ve seen myself do it several times on video, that’s how I know…). Still, once in awhile you get an interesting interviewer, who makes you think—and that’s a great thing, both for me and the people who read the interview. The NPR interviewers are absolutely wonderful; it’s great fun (both for me and—I hope—the listeners) to work with one of them. But there are quite a few good print journalists, as well, and I thought I might post a few excerpts from some of those interviews here. Feel free to ask your own questions, too <g>—I’ll answer what I can.

So—these questions are from a wattpad interview done with Molly Rogers, about five years ago. The complete interview is probably still available on wattpad, but I thought some of the later questions and answers were more interesting (and it’s a looong-ish interview; too long for a good post).

12. Your books require a large amount of research. How did you do that in the beginning when you were just starting out and how is it different now that you are a full-time writer? Do you plan out what research you will need to do for a scene you are writing or do you just write until you need to look something up and then stop and hit the books?

Since I generally have no particular idea what’s in a scene until I finish writing it… Well, let’s see. It’s not a very tidy process, let’s put it that way.

Speaking just generally, I read several "overview" books or accounts covering the general period (of years) and/or particular events (like battles) that I know will be of relevance. Doing any kind of research is like grabbing the end of a long piece of yarn and pulling— you don’t know what the other end is attached to, and you may end up in convoluted tangles—but you can be sure there’s something there. I find a lot of something. There is logic to it—and sometimes I really am looking for a specific bit of information—but for the most part, the writing and the research are done concurrently; they feed off each other.

Let’s see if I can show you a rough notion of how that works:

I may realize that I need to know quite a bit about, say, the Battle of Saratoga, because I know that takes place during the story. So I go and read Richard M. Ketchum’s excellent book, SARATOGA, and in that, learn that Brigadier General Simon Fraser was killed by a sharp-shooter during one of the battles. Plainly, General Fraser must be a relative of Jamie Fraser’s, and this death would be important to him. I learned also the circumstances of the death—that the General died slowly, over the course of a night. So there would be time for Jamie to come to bid him farewell. And I began to see Jamie at the death-bed of Simon Fraser. But I also saw William—Jamie’s illegitimate son—at the other side of the bed. All right, very dramatic. But how might he have come to be there? So I go back to other references, and trace the major events of the life of Simon Fraser—and find a place where William might have become his aide.

(In the process, I also learn that Simon Fraser was involved in the great adventure prior to the Battle of Quebec, when the Highlanders climbed the impassable cliff at night to make a way for the British army to arrive on the Plains of Abraham at dawn. Now, there’s a cool story <g>— and it (and Simon Fraser) turned up in a novella I wrote, titled "The Custom of the Army.")

An Echo in the Bone coverBut coming back to AN ECHO IN THE BONE… I walked the battlefield at Saratoga three times over the years before I wrote the book, and during one conversation with a park ranger, learned that while General Fraser had told his men he wanted to be buried in the Great Redoubt, and many accounts that I’ve seen say that he was— when the Park Service excavated the Great Redoubt, there was no sign of a body. A couple of buttons, but no imprint or other sign that a body had lain there— and the map of the field showed Gen. Fraser’s grave as being near the river.

I asked where it was, as I’d like to see it, and the ranger said that in fact, they didn’t know. It wasn’t marked; they just had an account saying that the body had been moved near the river—probably as a temporary measure—but nobody knew exactly what had become of it. "Really?" said I to myself. "Well…. what if….?"

Because I knew I needed a way for Jamie to go back to Scotland. He couldn’t just leave the army and go, for no apparent reason. But what if his cousin Simon had asked him to take his body back to Scotland? I knew further from SARATOGA that the negotiations between General Burgoyne and General Gates after the final battle were prolonged and complicated. I also knew that Burgoyne was close to Simon Fraser and saddened by his death. So… what is more reasonable than that General Burgoyne would ask, during these negotiations, that General Gates send Jamie (and his wife, of course) to return Simon Fraser’s body to Scotland? Or that General Gates, tired of the hassle, would want to do this small courtesy for Burgoyne in hopes of easing the negotiations?

So there it was; I knew how and why William came to be at the death-bed (and thus to meet Jamie—briefly—face-to-face, but in traumatic circumstances that would prevent his realizing who he was), and how Jamie got to Scotland.

Later, I was in Scotland, and decided to see if I could find a suitable spot where Simon Fraser might have been buried. So I went back to the research material and found the general area—Balnain—where his family home had been, and my husband and I went driving, poking around there, just to get an idea of the countryside, so I could describe his funeral. But while doing this, I realized that we were near an ancient tomb called Corriemony, and told my husband I wanted to see it.

I was thinking vaguely that Simon might have been buried close enough that Claire could come across the tomb, and I could use it for something atmospheric or poetic— but in reading the explanatory material posted at the site, I learned that:

  1. The original burial (of which there were still traces) had vanished—perhaps stolen—and
  2. When the tomb was opened in modern times, there was a body in it—but it wasn’t an ancient body; it had been placed there sometime in the previous 200 years. "Oh, HO," I said. "So now I know where Simon Fraser was really buried!" <g>

Anyway—this all started because I could see William and Jamie kneeling on opposite sides of Simon Fraser’s deathbed, Jamie knowing, and William not knowing.

This is how books evolve for me; I "see" things, here and there, and I write them, and then many other things gradually come about because of those…. anchors, I suppose you could call them. I do what research I seem to need in the writing of these bits, and then—invariably—find things in the research that stimulate other scenes, either directly or indirectly connected.

13. You’ve said before that your writing style is to write all the scenes and then piece them together in order when you’ve gotten them all done. Do you only do this for novels or does it apply to your short stories and novellas as well? Why is this method so effective for you and do you ever try writing in a straight line just for the fun of it?

What fun would that be? <puzzled look> It would take forever to do it that way, since I couldn’t start writing until I’d figured out the entire story, and if I’d done that, it wouldn’t be fun at all to write it.

Anyway, yes; I write just about everything piecemeal, including nonfiction articles, book reviews and essays. It’s effective because it works; I’m never held up stewing about What Comes Next— I don’t care what comes next, I just care about something I can see happening. The order of the happening has a logic to it (often, more than one), and that will become clear to me as I work.

14. How do you approach the crafting of your characters and manage to get them to a point where they seem like real people? Is there one of your characters that you consider your favorite and why?

What a very peculiar notion of writing—though I do realize it’s a common one. Possibly some people really do that, but I can’t imagine how.

Look. It’s not like Legos. You (well, I) don’t start with a crude outline of a character and then start putting little blocks—alcoholic mother, abused as child, has sister he doesn’t get along with, INTJ personality type (whatever that may mean; I do know writers who use psychological personality tests on their characters, which seems truly bizarre—but probably no stranger than the way anybody else does it; whatever works, I mean…)— together according to this plan, to make a three-dimensional golem which you then zap with electricity.

For me, characters are onions, mushrooms, or Hard Nuts:

  • An onion is a person whose essence I apprehend immediately, but the more I work with him or her (by "work with," I mean, "write stuff involving them"), the more layers they develop, and the more rounded and pungent they become.
  • Mushrooms are the characters who simply pop up out of nowhere and walk off with any scene they’re in.
  • And Hard Nuts tend to be the people I’m stuck with—rather than the ones who just show up in my head—either for plot reasons (I had a woman pregnant at the end of one book, so when I rejoined her twenty years later, obviously I had a young adult in addition to deal with), or because they were real historical people who were present during an event or period. Them I just hammer on until they break open and reveal something of their inner selves to me.

15. What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?

I like complexity. <g>

16. What is the underlying geometric principle that you use when you are writing your books and how do you apply that to your writing? (Interviewer’s note: I’m really curious about this! It sounds so fascinating but I can’t quite figure out how you apply geometry to writing in practice.)

Well, it’s not a geometric principle— it’s just that I think in geometric shapes. Let’s see <groping for a decent metaphor>…

You know how a kaleidoscope works, right? (To save any of your readers having to Google it— essentially, you have a tube with two or three rectangular mirrors in it, oriented at angles, which make multiple symmetric reflections of whatever colored objects you put at the front end of the tube.) Well, imagine that I have a three-mirrored kaleidoscope: one mirror is the historical plane of reflection—the events, the timeline, the cultural/intellectual milieu, the physical settings and constraints. The second is the plane of reflection that concerns the characters—who they are, their motivations, their personal histories. And the third is my own plane of reflection—the background, experiences, perceptions, and personality that make me unique.

OK. So say I have a handful of these disparate scenes. Placed in the space formed by my three mirrors, they form patterns. And if I rotate the tube (so to speak), this causes the pieces inside to fall into a different relationship to each other, and I see different patterns. Some patterns are naturally more pleasing than others, and I use the ones that seem most aesthetically logical. (Occasionally I do have a piece that just isn’t necessary in the overall pattern, in which case I take it out and hang onto it—it generally "goes" somewhere in the next book.)

Hearing about this process does, btw, infuriate people who write linearly. I once had a woman sitting on a panel on writing processes with me inform me that I couldn’t possibly do this, because "you have to have a logical foundation! You can’t put the roof on your building unless you’ve built solid walls to hold it up, can you?"

"Of course I can," I replied. "There’s no gravity in the mind, after all. I can make the roof and just leave it hanging there until I have time to build walls under it. You don’t have to write a book from beginning to end, just because that’s how people will read it." She Wasn’t Pleased, but the point here is that people’s minds are wired up differently, and a good deal of writing successfully lies in figuring out how your own mind works best, and using it that way. There is no "right" way to write a book. Anything that lets you get words on the page is the right thing to do.

[There is, btw, a longish essay, titled "The Shape of Things," in the extra goodies at the back of the OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Edition, that goes into the question of shapes— and analyzes the shapes underlying all the main books in the series. I think I put this in one of the OUTLANDISH COMPANION volumes, too…]


Your comments to my blog posts are welcomed! Click on the "Comments" link. Note that your comment will not appear automatically and immediately, and you may receive a message saying it is “awaiting moderation.” This means that your comment is waiting for me to read and approve it. Depending on my schedule, that may take a few days (or longer). No comments will appear until I have read them.

This blog was originally posted on my official Facebook page on March 20, 2016.

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.

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.