• “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

An Advent Candle – the First Sunday of Advent

Advent wreath 2014 - 1 candle lit

Advent is a time of waiting, and of preparation. Of contemplation—of what is past, and what is to come. During Advent, we make wreaths, made of leaves or evergreens, with four candles, and we light one candle for each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. May your candle burn quiet in the dark, and may you be at peace.

[From OUTLANDER, Chapter 38, “The Abbey”.]

The monastery was quiet, in the way that all large institutions grow quiet at night; the rapid pulse of the day’s activities has dropped, but the heartbeat goes on, slower, softer, but unending. There is always someone awake, moving quietly through the halls, keeping watch, keeping things alive. And now it was my turn to join the watch.

The chapel was dark except for the burning of the red sanctuary lamp and a few of the clear white votive candles, flames rising straight in still air before the shadowed shrines of saints.

I followed Anselm down the short center aisle, genuflecting in his wake. The slight figure of Brother Bartolome knelt toward the front, head bowed. He didn’t turn at the faint noise of our entrance, but stayed motionless, bent in adoration.

The Sacrament itself was almost obscured by the magnificence of its container. The huge monstrance, a sunburst of gold more than a foot across, sat serenely on the altar. Guarding the humble bit of bread at its center.

Feeling somewhat awkward, I took the seat Anselm indicated, near the front of the chapel. The seats, ornately carved with angels, flowers, and demons, folded up against the wooden panels of the backing to allow easy passage in and out. I heard the faint creak of a lowered seat behind me, as Anselm found his place.

“But what shall I do?” I had asked him, voice lowered in respect of night and silence as we had approached the chapel.

“Nothing, _ma chère_,” he had replied, simply. “Only be.”

So I sat, listening to my own breathing, and the tiny sounds of a silent place; the inaudible things normally hidden in other sounds. The settling of stone, the creak of wood. The hissing of the tiny, unquenchable flames. A faint skitter of some small creature, wandered from its place into the home of majesty.

It was a peaceful place, I would grant Anselm that. In spite of my own fatigue and my worry over Jamie, I gradually felt myself relaxing, the tightness of my mind gently unwinding, like the relaxation of a clock spring. Strangely, I didn’t feel at all sleepy, despite the lateness of the hour and the strains of the last few days and weeks.

After all, I thought, what were days and weeks in the presence of eternity? And that’s what this was, to Anselm and Bartolome, to Ambrose, to all the monks, up to and including the formidable Abbot Alexander.

It was in a way a comforting idea; if there was all the time in the world, then the happenings of a given moment became less important. I could see, perhaps, how one could draw back a little, seek some respite in the contemplation of an endless Being, whatever one conceived its nature to be.

The red of the sanctuary lamp burned steadily, reflected in the smooth gold. The flames of the white candles before the statues of St. Giles and the Blessed Mother flickered and jumped occasionally, as the burning wicks yielded an occasional imperfection, a momentary sputter of wax or moisture. But the red lamp burned serene, with no unseemly waver to betray its light.

And if there was eternity, or even the idea of it, then perhaps Anselm was right; all things were possible. And all love? I wondered. I had loved Frank; I still did. And I loved Jamie, more than my own life. But bound in the limits of time and flesh, I could not keep them both. Beyond, perhaps? Was there a place where time no longer existed, or where it stopped? Anselm thought so. A place where all things were possible. And none were necessary.

And was there love there? Beyond the limits of flesh and time, was all love possible? Was it necessary?

The voice of my thoughts seemed to be Uncle Lamb’s. My family, and all I knew of love as a child. A man who had never spoken love to me, who had never needed to, for I knew he loved me, as surely as I knew I lived. For where all love is, the speaking is unnecessary. It is all. It is undying. And it is enough.

Time passed without my awareness of it, and I was startled by the sudden appearance of Anselm before me, coming through the small door near the altar. Surely he had been sitting behind me? I glanced behind, to see one of the young monks whose name I didn’t know genuflecting near the rear entrance. Anselm bowed low before the altar, then motioned to me with a nod toward the door.

“You left,” I said, once outside the chapel. “But I thought you weren’t supposed to leave the, er, the Sacrament, alone?”

He smiled tranquilly. “I didn’t _ma chère¬_. You were there.”

I repressed the urge to argue that I didn’t count. After all, I supposed, there was no such thing as a Qualified Official Adorer. You only had to be human, and I imagined I was still that, though I barely felt it at times.

Jamie’s candle still burned as I passed his door, and I caught the rustle of turning pages. I would have stopped, but Anselm, went on, to leave me at the door of my own chamber. I paused there to bid him good night, and to thank for taking me to the chapel.

“It was…restful,” I said, struggling to find the right word.

He nodded, watching me. “Oui, madame. It is.” As I turned to go, he said, “I told you that the Blessed Sacrament was not alone, for you were there. But what of you _ma chère_? Were you alone?”

I stopped, and looked at him for a moment before answering.

“No,” I said. “I wasn’t.”

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A Daily Line for Veterans Day

#DailyLines #MOBY #WRITTENinMYownHEARTSBlood #ForThoseWhoMaybeDidntWantToDoIt #ButDidItAnyway #ThoseWhoFightAndThoseWhoLoveThem #HappyVeteransDay

He’d come up to the loft and pulled the ladder up behind him, to prevent the children coming up. I was dressing quickly—or trying to—as he told me about Dan Morgan, about Washington and the other Continental generals. About the coming battle.

“Sassenach, I _had_ to,” he said again, softly. “I’m that sorry.”

“I know,” I said. “I know you did.” My lips were stiff. “I—you—I’m sorry, too.”

I was trying to fasten the dozen tiny buttons that closed the bodice of my gown, but my hands shook so badly that I couldn’t even grasp them. I stopped trying and dug my hairbrush out of the bag he’d brought me from the Chestnut Street house.

He made a small sound in his throat and took it out of my hand. He threw it onto our makeshift couch and put his arms around me, holding me tight with my face buried in his chest. The cloth of his new uniform smelled of fresh indigo, walnut hulls, and fuller’s earth; it felt strange and stiff against my face. I couldn’t stop shaking.

“Talk to me, _a nighean_,” he whispered into my tangled hair. “I’m afraid, and I dinna want to feel so verra much alone just now. Speak to me.”

“Why has it always got to be _you_?” I blurted into his chest.

That made him laugh, a little shakily, and I realized that all the trembling wasn’t coming from me.

“It’s no just me,” he said, and stroked my hair. “There are a thousand other men readying themselves today—more—who dinna want to do it, either.”

“I know,” I said again. My breathing was a little steadier. “I know.” I turned my face to the side in order to breathe, and all of a sudden began to cry, quite without warning.

“I’m sorry,” I gasped. “I don’t mean—I don’t want t-to make it h-harder for you. I—I—oh, Jamie, when I knew you were alive—I wanted so much to go home. To go home with you.”

His arms tightened hard round me. He didn’t speak, and I knew it was because he couldn’t.

“So did I,” he whispered at last. “And we will, _a nighean_. I promise ye.”

The sounds from below floated up around us: the sounds of children running back and forth between the shop and the kitchen, Marsali singing to herself in Gaelic as she made fresh ink for the press. The door opened, and cool, rainy air blew in with Fergus and Germain, adding their voices to the cheerful confusion.

We stood wrapped in each other’s arms, taking comfort from our family below, yearning for the others we might never see again, at once at home and homeless, balanced on a knife edge of danger and uncertainty. But together.

“You’re not going off to war without me,” I said firmly, straightening up and sniffing. “Don’t even _think_ about it.”

Happy Birthday, Claire!

#Excerpt #OUTLANDER #HappyBirthdayClaire

[From OUTLANDER, Chapter 25]

“I believe you,” he said firmly. “I dinna understand it a bit—not yet—but I believe you. Claire, I believe you! Listen to me! There’s the truth between us, you and I, and whatever ye tell me, I shall believe it.” He gave me a gentle shake.

“It doesna matter what it is. You’ve told me. That’s enough for now. Be still, _mo nighean donn_. Lay your head and rest. You’ll tell me the rest of it later. And I’ll believe you.”

I was still sobbing, unable to grasp what he was telling me. I struggled, trying to pull away, but he gathered me up and held me tightly against himself, pushing my head into the folds of his plaid, and repeating over and over again, “I believe you.”

At last, from sheer exhaustion, I grew calm enough to look up and say, “But you _can’t_ believe me.”

He smiled down at me. His mouth trembled slightly, but he smiled.

“Ye’ll no tell _me_ what I canna do, Sassenach.” He paused a moment. “How old are ye?” he asked curiously. “I never thought to ask.”

The question seemed so preposterous that it took me a minute to think.

“I’m twenty-seven…or maybe twenty-eight,” I added. That rattled him for a moment. At twenty-eight, women in this time were usually on the verge of middle-age.

“Oh,” he said. He took a deep breath. “I thought ye were about my age—or younger.”

He didn’t move for a second. But then he looked down and smiled faintly at me. “Happy Birthday, Sassenach,” he said.

It took me completely by surprise and I just stared stupidly at him for a moment. “What?” I managed at last.

“I said, ‘Happy Birthday.’ It’s the twentieth of October today.”

“It is?” I said dumbly. “I’d lost track.” I was shaking again, from cold and shock and the force of my tirade. He drew me close against him and held me, smoothing his big hands lightly over my hair, cradling my head against his chest. I began to cry again, but this time with relief. In my state of upheaval, it seemed logical that if he knew my real age and still wanted me, then everything would be all right.

Jamie picked me up, and holding me carefully against his shoulder, carried me to the side of the fire, where he had laid the horse’s saddle. He sat down, leaning against the saddle, and held me, light and close.

A long time later, he spoke.

“All right. Tell me now.”

I told him. Told him everything, haltingly but coherently. I felt numb from exhaustion, but content, like a rabbit that has outrun a fox, and found temporary shelter under a log. It isn’t sanctuary, but at least it is respite. And I told him about Frank.

“Frank,” he said softly. “Then he isna dead, after all.”

“He isn’t _born_.” I felt another small wave of hysteria break against my ribs, but managed to keep myself under control. “Neither am I.”

He stroked and patted me back into silence, making his small murmuring Gaelic sounds.

“When I took ye from Randall at Fort William,” he said suddenly, “you were trying to get back. Back to the stones. And…Frank. That’s why ye left the grove.”

“Yes.”

“And I beat you for it.” His voice was soft with regret.

“You couldn’t know. I couldn’t tell you.” I was beginning to feel very drowsy indeed.

“No, I dinna suppose ye could.” He pulled the plaid closer around me, tucking it gently around my shoulders. “Do ye sleep now, _mo nighean donn_. No one shall harm ye; I’m here.”

I burrowed into the warm curve of his shoulder, letting my tired mind fall through the layers of oblivion. I forced myself to the surface long enough to ask, “Do you really believe me, Jamie?”

He sighed, and smiled ruefully down at me.

“Aye, I believe ye, Sassenach. But it would ha’ been a good deal easier if you’d only been a witch.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9Ty79fmqD8&feature=youtu.be

FILM/TV COMMENTARY, Part I: Adaptation, Logistics, and Testicles

Reaffirm Life memeSince book-touring is done (thank GOD!) and the show is on hiatus, we have a bit of time to stop, think, and catch up on the email…

So—I thought I might address a few recent comments and questions on Episode 8. Not to refute people’s opinions—everyone’s entitled to think as they like, and say so—but just to show you a bit about How Things Work.

While most people were riveted—as they should have been; it was a terrific episode—there were a few who were upset at things they perceived to be "missing"—these including:

  • Scenes of one-on-one dialogue between Jamie and Claire
  • More scenes of intimacy
  • Claire patching people up and doing healing
  • And specifically… the "waterweed" scene following the Grants’ raid.

(One person also thought we should have seen the redcoats stalking Claire, rather than have them pop out abruptly to seize her as she reaches for the stone.)

And there were a number of questions regarding the "Deserter" scene—mostly as to whether Claire had actually been raped or not (and if she had, what kind of doofus was Jamie for going off to talk to Dougal instead of tenderly cradling her and soothing her, etc.).

OK.

As I replied to one such commenter:

"Well….your comments pinpoint the major difference between Book and Show: Time.

ALL the things you wanted to see—one on one Jamie and Claire, more scenes of intimacy, relationship building, Claire patching people up, etc.—ALL of them, are things that would require extended chunks of time (‘extended,’ in a TV show, is anything that lasts more than 60 seconds). None of these things are ‘action,’ none of them move the plot in any direct way.

The show has 52-55 minutes in which to do everything that has to be done. They don’t have time to do nice-but-nonessential "Oh, wait while I triage the whole group, bandage Angus’s scorched hand and reset Ned Gowan’s tooth," or "Oh, my God, I know we just had sex, but let’s do it again…"

In short…if you want more of all those things—you can have ‘em. In the book. <g>"

Now, a successful adaptation is always balancing the needs of the story versus the exigencies of the form. As Andrew Marvell notes to "His Coy Mistress,"— "Had we but world and time, this coyness, mistress, were no crime…" I have world and time in a novel; pretty much all I want. I can shape the story to fit my own notion of pace, rhythm, focus and climax. So can a show-runner and his gang of writers—but they don’t have world and time. They have to decide what’s essential, and then shape the story to the time available and to the necessity for each 55-minute episode to have a satisfying dramatic arc of its own.

So—

(in reply to the person complaining about the redcoats’ abrupt appearance):

"But…the redcoats came out of ‘nowhere’ in the book, as well, when they pull Claire out of the stream. It isn’t that they aren’t ‘there’—it’s that in neither case does Claire see them, because she’s so totally focused on her goal…and we’re in her head, so we don’t see them, either.

To have shown the soldiers sneaking in from the side, while Claire was laboring up the hill, calling for Frank, would have given us a different sort of suspense in the scene—but would have been a distraction from the growing sense of desperate hope between Claire and Frank. And that was the true point of the scene.

See, one of the main tools of good story-telling is focus; getting the reader/viewer to look where you want them to look. And physical reality is really a pretty small part of that. The fact that X must have been there may be logical—but it isn’t relevant, so you don’t show it. Q.E.D. <g>"

Now, the focus of that scene is really what’s controlling it, and thus dictating changes from the book. Several people expressed disappointment at not seeing Claire fall into the water and be pulled out by the redcoats. Amusing as that might have been, it’s merely a way of interrupting her headlong rush toward the stones and getting her into Captain Randall’s clutches. The way it was done instead accomplishes that same plot goal—but also makes a very solid and dramatic point about her longing for Frank and his for her. So the adapted form is not detracting from the original version; in fact, it’s adding to it, and giving us a really good two-for-one, combining plot and character development/backstory reminder.

When Ron and I met in New York for the first-ever Outlander Fan Event, we shared a long cab-ride to the event, during which we talked Book. I told him why the flowers at Craigh na Dun are forget-me-nots and why the ghost is there (and no, I’m not telling you guys; you’ll find out, eventually <g>), and he told me about his vision of that scene with Claire and Frank approaching the stones from either side. I thought that was a great idea and said so.

See, that’s something that I couldn’t have done in the book, because it’s told entirely from Claire’s point of view. We can’t see what Frank was doing and going through after Claire disappeared. I preserved Claire’s worry about/attachment to Frank by having her think about him and grieve for him periodically—but that’s all internal; the only way of doing internal monologue in a visual medium is voice-overs, and I think y’all would agree that it’s best to keep that technique to a minimum…

But it’s simple to change time, place and viewpoint in a visual medium; one shot and you’re there. Also, since you’re working in a constrained time-space, the balance of viewpoints is easier to manage.

Technically, it’s possible to use multiple viewpoints in a book — (in fact, I got a note from one of my editors (regarding a chunk of MOBY I’d sent him) saying, "Congratulations… I think you’ve just done the literary equivalent of juggling half a dozen chainsaws.") — but OUTLANDER was my first book, written for practice, and I wasn’t out to make things too complicated. Had I used flashbacks of Frank’s life in the context of a book of that size, they’d either be overwhelming, or trivial distractions. Used in the context of a 55-minute TV episode, they were beautifully balanced against Claire’s 18th century life.

In addition, there’s a visceral punch to seeing Frank’s actions that gives you an instant emotional investment in him and his story. I probably have the chops to do such a thing effectively in print now, but I didn’t when I wrote OUTLANDER (and in fact, I wouldn’t have thought of doing it; I wanted most of the focus on Jamie and the 18th century, both because that’s where most of the color and action and Story was, but also to assist the reader in falling in love with Jamie along with Claire, so that we would understand her later choices. But just as the visual invests the viewers in Frank, it does the same for Jamie—are we in any doubt, following "The Wedding" that Claire is falling in love with him?).

See, a visual medium speeds things up. You don’t necessarily need the longer build-up that you have in text, because the images are much more immediate, and easier for the audience to absorb in an emotional way.

OK, moving on to the was-it-rape? scene and the aftermath…

Well, the people who’ve read the book (and remember it <g>) know it was attempted rape. Claire grabbed her attacker around the neck while he was fumbling for a, um, connection, pulled him down and stabbed him in the kidney—but he never did succeed in penetrating her.

The TV-only people probably think he did succeed because one of the "warnings" at the beginning was an "R" for "Rape," even though there isn’t one in the episode. Now, whether whoever put the warning on thought that’s what happened, or whether it’s merely a "trigger" warning (i.e., people with a sensitivity to scenes of sexual assault might want to know there is such a scene in this episode)…I don’t know.

But this is one of those things where stuff from the book actually can’t be shown adequately. It’s absolutely clear from the book, because we’re in Claire’s head, and we know what she was perceiving. But the shot can’t be under her skirt—and unless they put in a line where Claire tells Jamie, "Don’t worry, he didn’t manage to get it in…" (which would not only be crude, but would grossly undercut her—and the audience’s—sense of shock and dislocation)…then it’s not going to be clear to viewers, who will have to be left to draw their own conclusions.

Same diff with the "waterweed" scene. This is a scene in the book that occurs between the fight with the Grants and the men instructing Claire next morning in the art of killing people. It’s a very vivid scene (sufficiently vivid that the U.K. editor asked me to remove it from her edition of the book, she thinking it "too graphic" for her audience. <cough> So this scene is in OUTLANDER but not in CROSS STITCH. The relevant part of the scene is available below, for convenient reference), and extremely memorable to readers, many of whom complained about its omission in the episode.

I didn’t discuss the decision to omit this scene with the production team, both because I try not to nitpick them, and because I could easily see why it was omitted:

  1. It doesn’t advance the plot or develop an important bit of character. It reaffirms Jamie and Claire’s strong sense of/need for each other, but there are a lot of other scenes that do that (we see one within the next five minutes). Ergo, it’s not necessary. (And that consideration is why I reluctantly agreed to remove the scene from the U.K. book. Its removal didn’t damage the plot structure or deprive us of anything we really needed. In that respect, it’s one of only two scenes in OUTLANDER that aren’t structurally attached to something else (the Loch Ness monster scene is the other one)).
  2. See remarks above about time. Including this scene would have meant leaving out something else; and everything in this episode is necessary to the purpose intended by the writer/production team.
  3. The scene wouldn’t have been nearly as effective on film as it is on the page—and the reasons have to do with Claire’s subjective sensory perceptions. You simply can’t show most of what she’s experiencing without it being pornography (and even so, there’s no possible way of showing a man’s testicles contracting at the moment of orgasm, no matter how professionally accommodating your actor may be). But you can describe it, vividly and straightforwardly in text, without it being gross. Without those subjective bits from Claire’s interior point of view, though, the scene doesn’t have either the deep sense of intimacy or the intense sensuality that you have in the book version; it’s just another sex-scene (albeit one admittedly with some fairly funny dialogue). And while some shows would likely use repetitive sex-scenes just because people will watch them… that’s luckily not a technique this show goes for. Every sex-scene you see has an emotional point or a plot point to make.

And now I really must go and do some work. <g>

-Diana


#ReadWhileYouWait #OUTLANDER #RaidersInTheRocks #NoSpoilersInThisOne

[The rent party has retired for the night, and Jamie and Claire are conversing quietly under their blankets.]

I rolled over and put my arms about his neck.

"Not as proud as I was. You were wonderful, Jamie. I’ve never seen anything like that."

He snorted deprecatingly, but I thought he was pleased, nonetheless.

"Only a raid, Sassenach. I’ve been doin’ that since I was fourteen. It’s only in fun, ye see; it’s different when you’re up against someone who really means to kill ye."

"Fun," I said, a little faintly. "Yes, quite."

His arms tightened around me, and one of the stroking hands dipped lower, beginning to inch my skirt upward. Clearly the thrill of the fight was being transmuted into a different kind of excitement.

"Jamie! Not here!" I said, squirming away and pushing my skirt down again.

"Are ye tired, Sassenach?" he asked with concern. "Dinna worry, I won’t take long." Now both hands were at it, rucking the heavy fabric up in front.

"No!" I replied, all too mindful of the twenty men lying a few feet away. "I’m not tired, it’s just—" I gasped as his groping hand found its way between my legs.

"Lord," he said softly. "It’s slippery as waterweed."

"Jamie! There are twenty men sleeping right next to us!" I shouted in a whisper.

"They wilna be sleeping long, if you keep talking." He rolled on top of me, pinning me to the rock. His knee wedged between my thighs and began to work gently back and forth. Despite myself, my legs were beginning to loosen. Twenty-seven years of propriety were no match for several hundred thousand years of instinct. While my mind might object to being taken on a bare rock next to several sleeping soldiers, my body plainly considered itself the spoils of war and was eager to complete the formalities of surrender. He kissed me, long and deep, his tongue sweet and restless in my mouth.

"Jamie," I panted. He pushed his kilt out of the way and pressed my hand against him.

"Bloody Christ," I said, impressed despite myself. My sense of propriety slipped another notch.

"Fighting gives ye a terrible cockstand, after. Ye want me, do ye no?" he said, pulling back a little to look at me. It seemed pointless to deny it, what with all the evidence to hand. He was hard as a brass rod against my bared thigh.

"Er…yes…but…"

He took a firm grip on my shoulders with both hands.

"Be quiet, Sassenach," he said with authority. "It isn’t going to take verra long."

It didn’t. I began to climax with the first powerful thrust, in long, racking spasms. I dug my fingers hard into his back and held on, biting the fabric of his shirt to muffle my sounds. In less than a dozen strokes, I felt his testicles contract, tight against his body, and the warm flood of his own release. He lowered himself slowly to the side and lay trembling.

The blood was still beating heavily in my ears, echoing the fading pulse between my legs. Jamie’s hand lay on my breast, limp and heavy. Turning my head, I could see the dim figure of the sentry, leaning against a rock on the far side of the fire. He had his back tactfully turned. I was mildly shocked to realize that I was not even embarrassed. I wondered rather dimly whether I would be in the morning, and wondered no more.


JOIN US! STARZ TV premiere of OUTLANDER – August 9th, 9 PM (all time zones)

je-suis-prest-diana

Are you wondering what to do, now that you’ve finished MOBY? (aka WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD)? Well, most people just go back to the beginning and start re-reading OUTLANDER. [g]

As an alternative/addition to this tried and true strategy, though, you might want to watch the brand-new (and looooooong-awaited) tv show of the series, which is about to debut on the STARZ premium-cable channel in the US. AUGUST 9th! 9PM! (It airs at 9 PM in each time zone, so it’s always on Saturdays at nine o’clock, at least in the US.*)

I think Ron D. Moore and Starz have done a wonderful job of adapting OUTLANDER into a 16-episode first season (they’ll be doing one season per book, assuming the first one is a success–and that’s up to you. I think it’s amazing, and hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do!

*(It will be launching on Showcase in Canada, August 24th, on SoHo Foxtel in Australia on August 14th, and on various dates–not yet announced–in New Zealand, the Netherlands, Japan, China, Germany, and a number of other places that I can’t mention yet as their licensing contracts are still being negotiated with SONY. (SONY owns the international rights to the show; it’s _their_ business to arrange licensing deals world-wide, not mine.)

San Diego Comic-Con!

FOR THOSE OF YOU ATTENDING COMIC-CON NEXT WEEK…

This is where _I’ll_ be; hope to see some of you there!

Thursday, July 24th

3:00-4:00 PM: Outlander— Diana Gabaldon
Location: Horton Grand Theater (Capacity: 250)

Solo Talk/Reading/Q&A (moderated by Ali Kokmen, from Barnes & Noble)
(No, there’s not a signing afterward; I will be signing autographs at the STARZ Comic-Con booth on Friday afternoon at 3:45.)

This is a ticketed venue, but tickets are free (see information below).

[The following information is from the Comic-Con site:]

HORTON GRAND THEATER:

"This year Comic-Con International adds the Horton Grand Theatre as its new satellite programming room. The Horton Grand Theatre offers special panel presentations in a small, intimate, theatre atmosphere. Each panel is ticketed with extremely limited seating. There is no extra charge for these tickets.

The Horton Grand Theatre is located at 444 4th Ave., just a short 2-block walk from the Convention Center. It’s also on the shuttle route.

Horton Theatre Ticket Information

Entry to each Horton Grand Theatre panel requires a ticket for the corresponding panel. Drawings for panel entry tickets at the Horton Grand Theatre will be held at 9:00 am in the Autograph Area (upstairs in the Sails Pavilion) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Each winner will receive entry for two. (Please note: there is limited disabled seating.) The tickets must be presented at the theatre to gain access. The Horton Grand Theatre has assigned seating. Please wear your Comic-Con 2014 badge also.

There will be a second drawing shortly following the 9:00 am drawing for "stand-by seating tickets." The stand-by seating tickets are limited and do not guarantee you access to the panel.

Please be inside the Horton Grand Theatre no later than 15 minutes prior to the panel start time or you will forfeit your seat to stand-by seating ticket-holders."


Friday, July 25th

2:15-3:15 PM: Outlander Panel
Location: Room 6A (Capacity: 1,000)

Panel with Ron D. Moore, Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, Tobias Menzies, Lotte Verbeek, and Graham McTavish.

3:45-4:45 PM: Autographs
Location: Starz Comic-Con Booth (#4029)

Autograph signing with myself, Sam Heughan, Ron Moore, Graham McTavish, Caitriona Balfe, Tobias Menzies, and Lotte Verbeek at the STARZ Comic-Con Booth.

7:00–10:00 PM: Outlander TV Series World Premiere
Location: Spreckels Theater (Capacity: 1,463)

"Red carpet event with cast, Ron Moore and Diana Gabaldon with moderated Q&A." [You do have to have advance tickets to this, and I believe it is sold out.]


Saturday, July 26th

4:15–5:15 PM: Ruler of the Realm panel
Location: Room 6A (Capacity: 1,000)

"Joe Abercrombie (Half a King), Diana Gabaldon (Outlander), Lev Grossman (Magicians Trilogy), George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones), and Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicle) have written some of the most memorable books of their time, pushing genre fiction into the mainstream. Join these bestselling authors along with moderator Ali T. Kokmen (Barnes & Noble/NOOK Media) for a discussion on fantasy literature, fandom, and how they mastered their craft."

NB: Sam Heughan is also doing a panel on Saturday:

"12:00pm – 12:45pm: TV Guide magazine returns to San Diego for its annual all-star panel. Moderated by senior writer Damian Holbrook, Fan Favorites brings together stars from TV’s hottest shows for a lively discussion filled with behind-the-scenes scoop. Panelists (subject to change) include Misha Collins (Supernatural), Sam Heughan (Outlander), Colin O’Donoghue (Once Upon a Time), Aisha Tyler (Archer), and others."

WHAT NEXT?

I’m about to head back out in a few hours, to do my _last_ US/Canadian book-tour event in Traverse City, MI. But thought I might grab an hour to do a bit of updating before I absquatulate again…

First–I’m delighted that so many of you like MOBY!* Thank you so much for all your kind words.

As for the next book(s), I have no idea. I finished writing MOBY on April 15th (having stayed up 36 hours straight to do it), spent the rest of April working 16 hours a day to finish the copyedits and galley proofs, then spent most of May dealing with everything (including stuff associated with the TV show) that was pushed out of the way during the Final Frenzy of MOBY. And on June 7th, all hell broke loose and I’ve essentially been on the road for a solid month, with three brief touchdowns at home (ranging from 12 hours to a whole day-and-a-half). So far, I’ve signed roughly 38,000 copies of MOBY and will undoubtedly hit between 40-50,000 by the end of summer. (No, I don’t have carpal-tunnel syndrome, but thank you for your concern.)

Now, I realize that it’s difficult to know what to say to a writer at a book-signing; I’d be tongue-tied myself, in the presence of someone I admired but didn’t know. It’s always great to hear, "I loved this book!" or "I love your books and I’m really looking forward to reading this one!" if you need a default. "WHEN WILL BOOK NINE BE OUT?!?" is possibly a little less welcome.

But I do appreciate the enthusiasm/impatience that spawn this question, so here’s what my immediate writing future looks like (assuming I survive the rest of the summer):

At the moment, there are only scraps of Book Nine–plus a useful "What I Know" document that I wrote right after finishing MOBY, about the "shelf-hung" subplots (those are bits that are kind of folded back on themselves, but not left as cliffhangers—like where William is going or what will happen to Lord John next).

Shelf-1-Gus I haven’t even formally sifted MOBY’s Mfile (the regularly updated list of files written for a specific book) and moved the remnant files to JAMIE9 (the directory/folder for Book Nine) yet (that’s a two-day job in itself). The next thing I do is to go through my major reference shelves, cleaning and tidying, and in the process, assemble the "core" shelf for Book 9–for any book, no matter how many references I consult along the way, there will end up being maybe five books that are _very_ helpful/relevant and that I use a lot, and maybe 5-10 more that I want to keep close to hand, for more limited but still important stuff. I keep one shelf for that core reference stuff, and refurbish it when I start serious work on a new novel. adding new sources as I come across them. Then I read through the relevant portions of ALMANAC OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, a _very_ useful book that gives brief notes on everything happening everywhere <g> on a given day, that had any importance in the Revolution. This is my first pass at a historical timeline (which lives in my head and evolves constantly over the course of a book). I’ll probably write bits and pieces while I’m doing these necessary chores, but it’s pretty random and nothing like the sustained effort that comes as I move fully into a book.

In other words, you’re not likely to see #DailyLines from Book Nine for awhile.

Now, there’s a _lot_ of THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION, Volume 2 in existence. I’ve been messing about with that on the side for the last 2-3 years, and most of it is _there_, if not yet tidied into its final form. There are a few chunks of original writing still to be done for that–the detailed synopsis for MOBY is the first that springs to mind, though I’ll also need to add commentary to a largish excerpt section (specialized excerpts), and a few other bits to be collected or contracted (i.e., I may have to get someone to produce things like maps or floor-plans, as I can’t do better than crude sketches on my own). But IF I move OC2 to the top of the work pile (not as the main focus, but as the main side-project), it _might_ be ready for delivery to the publisher around January, and thus might be in print sometime in the first half of 2015, which would be nice. (I also need to do slight updates to OC1, removing obsolete material and maybe improving the Gaelic Pronunciation Guide–that sort of thing.)

Then there’s the HOW TO (AND HOW _NOT_ TO) WRITE SEX-SCENES ebook. That’s actually complete, but I finished it right before both the show and MOBY hit high gear, so I now need to read it through again and do final fiddles (and maybe include a few scenes from MOBY), then run it past my agent for response and suggestions (if any). Ebooks can be produced _very_ fast, though, so once we’re happy with it, it could be out within a couple of months–I’d kind of like to have it out this fall, but that’s a matter for discussion with agents, publishers, etc.

And more or less on the same level with Book Nine (in terms of how eager I am to work on them) are the prequel volume about Jamie’s parents (for which I have only fragments at the moment) and the first contemporary crime novel. I think I have about half of that, and it’s "live" for me–but will take a good bit of intensive work, both in terms of research and writing. On the other hand, it’s short by comparison with everything else on my menu.

And on the outskirts of my mind are the germs of what might eventually be novellas, but I haven’t had the time even to _look_ at those with any attention. They _are_ brief, though, and I might well pick one up to get back into my regular routine–come September. I’ll be traveling/working most of July and August, and won’t have anything like peace and quiet ’til Labor Day. (No, I’m not going to Dragon Con this year, unless Starz decides they want to have a presence there for the show, and at the moment, they don’t.)

In the meantime, any eager soul who foolishly asks me, "When will Book Nine be out?" will be politely ignored. Or bonked on the head with the copy of MOBY they just asked me to sign, depending…

*(And for those few who complained that the ending of MOBY was a cliffhanger….go back and read the end of AN ECHO IN THE BONE, to see what one actually looks like. <g> If you just wanted to "see" what happened next in MOBY…feel free to fill in your own version of "OMG! OMG! OMG! <hughughug> <weep tears of joy> OMG! OMG! OMG! <broken endearments> OMG? OMG? OMG? <hopping up and down> OMG!" I have complete faith in my readers’ intelligence and imagination, and I don’t tell y’all things I know you can figure out for yourselves.)

Schmoozing in LA – Part 2 – Episode 1!

Starz Poster So, Sony was previewing all of their new shows (eight in all, I think, and I don’t recall all the names) for international (i.e., non-US) buyers. Each day had a different slate of buyers to view the shows (Latin America/Africa/MiddleEast/Europe, etc.), and every evening had a mix of fairly high-up TV executives from different countries for cocktails and dinner.

Every day save Friday, OUTLANDER was fairly late on the schedule, so Ron and I would arrive around 3 p.m., and depending on how far behind schedule the shows were running (there’s some friction, given that some up-front interviews run longer than others), we might go on by 3:30 or 4:00. We’d be in the green room just before our time, and then follow one of the stage-hands (they thoughtfully shining a light on the floor so we could see what we were about to step on, and not trip over anything or miss a step). A technician back-stage (a very narrow, dark space, with a small cart stocked with cordless microphones and other useful items) would hand us each a mic and we’d stand there, listening while the audience saw a quick trailer for “Outlander” (from the sounds of it, it was either the same one y’all have seen lately, or something quite similar; with music from “Last of the Mohicans”). Then the moderator would introduce us and we’d walk out and take our places: there were three tall director’s chairs set up onstage at the side of the screen (a regular movie-theater-sized screen), and the interview would be televised onto the screen itself (and onto the TV in the green room as well, for the edification of anyone waiting in there to go on next).

The interview was short, about ten minutes, and pretty much The Usual: What attracted you to the material? (Ron) Did you have any concerns about having Outlander translated to film? (Me. Answer: Hell, yes…) How would the story evolve over the season? (Ron. Meaning they wanted to know how much of a book or books would be covered in a season, how many episodes, etc.) How did I come to write Outlander? (Me — quick reprise of my Dr. Who/man-in-a-kilt story), etc. (Webmistress’s note: See “So where did you get the idea to write these books?” in Diana’s FAQ to read about how a character from Dr. Who helped inspire Diana to write OUTLANDER, her first novel.)

Then we’d wave and walk off, and they’d start running the full first episode of the show. The first day we did this, I rather shyly said I’d like to watch the episode; I’d seen it, but not in its final form, with color corrections and score. Of course! They said, and obligingly brought me up the metal stairs to the top of the theater (the seating area looked very solid, but was evidently made of portable stuff like stadium seating; it wasn’t built into the building), where I paused for a moment.

The show was just starting, with Bear McCreary’s theme song/lead-in — I probably shouldn’t tell you what it was <g>, but I liked it very much. A different take on a well-known Scottish traditional song, let’s put it that way…

Ron had come up the stairs with me, presumably to see what I thought of the opening, as he wasn’t staying. We stood there watching the lead-in, and when there was a shot of Claire’s hands reaching for the flowers at the foot of the standing stone, I turned to him and said, “You got them!” (He and Maril had asked me, some months earlier, if I knew exactly what the flowers were, and if it was important that they be _that_ sort of flower. I told them I did, and it was— but only if they filmed all the way through the last book. He said they’d go on the assumption that they would.)

He grinned and hugged me, then went off about his own business and I found a seat and watched the whole thing, rapt.

They had made a few small changes to the first episode since the last cut I’d seen, but nothing major. It flowed beautifully, starting with the quick scene that Ron had described to me more than year ago, of Claire in a French military hospital (a bombed-out building), splattered with blood and working frantically to save a man, then coming out to find that peace has been declared. On to 1946 and a roadster with two laughing people, wind in their hair as they drive through the Scottish Highlands…

The major change, though, was the music. The previous cuts I’d seen had had temporary, sort of generic TV-music. This one had Bear McCreary’s score, and it was fabulous. Very atmospheric, by turns subtle and visceral, using (as is his wont) traditional instruments like tin whistle and bodhran.

He tweeted to me today, to congratulate me on MOBY, and I replied “The same to you, man! LOVED the music! (The whole theater shook when you hit the bodhrans— the thunder shook my bones.)” Which he was kind enough to say was “a wonderful review of my score! Can’t wait for the whole world to see this…”

Neither can I. You’re gonna love it. <g>

Click here to read Part 1 of this blog: “Schmoozing in L.A.: International Film Rights” if you haven’t read it already!

LA Schmoozing – International Film Rights

Salmon ArmSchmoozing in L.A….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And…We Have a New Cover!

Outlander-TV-cover

OK. This is the new Starz TV tie-in cover for OUTLANDER—for the U.S. (The foreign markets may get slightly different covers; I don’t know for sure yet.)

No, the book itself hasn’t changed in the slightest; it just has a new cover to advertise the upcoming show (which as previously noted, airs on August 9th–in the US. If you’re not in the U.S.A., please check this page on global publishing or read my blog from November 15, 2013, where you will find out about international sales of the series.

This tie-in edition will be printed both as trade paperbacks (the large size) and mass-market paperbacks (the smaller size).

(Those who like the original cover(s) needn’t fret—those covers will all remain in print. This is an addition, not a replacement.)

Cool, huh? <g>