• “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

BLOODY MEN

Y’all have asked some good questions in the comments to the last post, but most of them will require a bit of time and thought to respond to properly. Since I’m working madly this weekend to fill up the remaining holes in the new website (which I _hope_ to reveal to public view sometime next week), I thought for today, I’d just give you a bit of Book Eight, which I notice a number of people had asked for, too. {g}

Book Eight

Copyright 2010 Diana Gabaldon

“Stay,” he said sternly to Rollo, turning back for an instant. The dog, who had not stirred from his comfortable spot at Rachel’s feet, twitched one ear.

William was standing by the roadside, looking hot, tired, disheveled, and thoroughly unhappy. As well he might, Ian thought with some sympathy. William was likely bound for England—if he was lucky—or for parole in some rough lodging somewhere far to the south. In either case, his active role as a soldier was over for some time.

His face changed abruptly at sight of Ian. Surprise, the beginnings of indignation, then a quick glance round, decision clamping down upon his features. Ian was surprised for a moment that he could read William’s face so easily, but then remembered why. Uncle Jamie guarded his own expression in company—but not with Ian. Ian’s own face didn’t show his knowledge, though, anymore than William’s now showed more than an irritable acknowledgement.

“Scout,” William said, with the briefest of nods. The officer to whom he had been talking gave Ian a brief, incurious look, then saluted William and plunged back into the trudging stream.

“What the bloody hell do you want?” William drew a grubby sleeve across his sweating face. Ian was mildly surprised at this evident hostility; they’d parted on good terms the last time they had seen each other—though there had been little conversation at the time, William having just put a pistol-ball through the brain of a madman trying to kill Rachel, Ian, or both, with an axe. Ian’s left arm had healed enough to dispense with a sling, but it was still stiff.

“There’s a lady who’d like to speak with ye,” he said, ignoring William’s narrowed eyes. The eyes relaxed a little.

“Miss Hunter?” A small gleam of pleasure lit William’s eyes, and Ian’s own narrowed slightly. Aye, well, he thought, let her tell him, then.

William waved to a corporal down the line, who waved back, then stepped off the road after Ian. A few soldiers glanced at Ian, but he was unremarkable, the double line of dotted tattooing on his cheeks, his buckskin breeches, and his sun-browned skin marking him as an Indian scout—a good many of these had deserted the British army, but there were still a good many left, mostly Loyalists like Joseph Brant who held land in Pennysylvania and New York, though there were still some ranging parties from the Iroquois nations who had come down to fight at Saratoga.

“William!” Rachel flew across the little clearing and clasped the tall captain’s hands, beaming up at him with such joy that he smiled back at her, all irritability vanished. Ian hung back a little, to give her time. There hadn’t been any, really, what with Rollo roaring and tearing at Arch Bug’s miserable auld carcass, Rachel sprawled on the floor, frozen with horror, himself lying on the floor pouring blood, and half the street outside screaming bloody murder.

William had pulled Rachel to her feet and thrust her into the arms of the first woman available, who as it happened, was Marsali.

“Get her out of here!” William had snapped. But Rachel, Ian’s nut-brown maiden—her brownness much splattered with blood—had pulled herself together in an instant, and gritting her teeth—he’d seen her do it, bemused by shock as he lay on the floor, watching things happen as though in a dream—as she stepped over auld Arch’s body, had fallen to her knees in the mess of brains and blood, wrapped her apron tight about his wounded arm and tied it with her kerchief, and then with Marsali, had dragged him bodily out of the print-shop and into the street, where he’d promptly passed out, waking only when Auntie Claire began stitching his arm.

Ian hadn’t had time to thank William, even had he been able to speak, and he meant to convey his own thanks as soon as he might. But clearly Rachel wanted to talk to him first, and he waited, thinking how beautiful she looked, her eyes the clouded hazel of thicket and green-brier, face clever and quick as flame.

“But thee is tired, William, and thin,” she was saying, drawing a finger disapprovingly down the side of his face. “Do they not feed thee? I’d thought it was only the Continentals who went short of rations.”

“Oh. I—I haven’t had time of late.” The happiness that had lit William’s face while he talked with Rachel faded noticeably. “We—well, you see.” He waved an arm toward the invisible road, where the hoarse chants of the sergeants rang like the calling of disgruntled crows above the shuffle of feet.

“I do see. Where is thee going?”

William rubbed the back of his hand across his mouth, and glanced at Ian.

“I suppose he oughtn’t to say,” Ian said, coming across and touching Rachel’s arm, smiling at William in apology. “We’re the enemy, a nighean donn.

William looked sharply at Ian, catching the tone of his voice, then back at Rachel, whose hand he was still holding.

“We are betrothed, William—Ian and I,” she said, gently pulling her hand out of his and putting it on Ian’s.

William’s face changed abruptly, losing its look of happiness altogether. He eyed Ian with something remarkably close to dislike.

“Are you,” he said flatly. “I suppose I must wish you every happiness, then. Good day.” He turned on his heel, and Ian, surprised, reached out to pull him back.

“Wait—“ he said, and then William turned and hit him in the mouth.

He was lying on his back in the leaves, blinking in disbelief, as Rollo hurtled over him and sank his teeth in some soft part of William, judging by the yelp and the brief cry of startlement from Rachel.

“Rollo! Bad dog—and thee is a bad dog, too, William Ransom! What the devil does thee mean by this?”

Ian sat up, tenderly fingering his lip, which was bleeding. Rollo had retreated a little under Rachel’s scolding, but kept a yellow eye fixed on William and a curled lip raised over bared teeth, the faintest rumble of a growl coming from his huge chest.

Sheas,” Ian said to him briefly, and got to his feet. William had sat down and was examining the calf of his leg, which was bleeding through his torn silk hose, though not badly. When he saw Ian, he scrambled to his feet. His face was bright red and he looked as though he meant either to do murder or burst into tears. Maybe both, Ian thought in surprise.

He was careful not to touch William again, but stood back a bit—in front of Rachel, just in case the man meant to go off again. He was armed, after all; there was a pistol and sword at his belt.

“Are ye all right, man?” he asked, in the same tone of mild concern he’d heard his Da use now and then on his Mam or Uncle Jamie. Evidently it was in fact the right tone to take with a Fraser about to go berserk, for William breathed like a grampus for a moment or two, then got himself under control.

“I ask your pardon, sir,” he said, back stiff as a stick of rock-maple. “That was unforgiveable. I shall…leave you. I—Miss Hunter…I–” He turned, stumbling a little, and that gave Rachel time to dart round in front of him.

“William!” Her face was full of distress. “What is it? Have I—“

He looked down at her, his face contorted, but shook his head.

“You haven’t done anything,” he said, with an obvious effort. “You…you could never do anything that…” He swung round toward Ian, fist clenched on his sword. “But you, you fucking bas— you son-of-a-bitch! Cousin!

“Oh,” said Ian, stupidly. “Ye know, then.”

“Yes, I bloody know! You could have fucking told me!”

“Know what?” Rachel stepped round Ian, looking from him to William and back again.

“Don’t you bloody tell her!” William snapped.

“Don’t be silly,” Rachel said reasonably. “Of course he’ll tell me, the minute we’re alone. Does thee not wish to tell me thyself? I think perhaps thee might not trust Ian to say it aright.” Her eye rested on Ian’s lip, and her own mouth twitched. Ian might have taken offense at this, save that William’s distress was so apparent.

“It isna really a disgrace…” he began, but then stepped hastily back as William’s clenched fist drew back.

“You think not?” William was so furious, his voice was nearly inaudible. “To discover that I am—am—the…the get of a Scottish criminal? That I am a fucking bastard?”

Despite his resolve to be patient, Ian felt his own dander start to rise.

“Criminal, forbye!” he snapped. “Any man might be proud to be the son of Jamie Fraser!”

“Oh,” said Rachel, forestalling William’s next heated remark. “That.”

“What?” He glared down at her. “What the devil do you mean, ‘that’?”

“We thought it must be the case, Denny and I.” She lifted one shoulder, though keeping a close watch on William, who looked as though he was about to go off like a twelve-pound mortar. “But we supposed that thee didn’t wish the matter talked about. I didn’t know that thee—how could thee not have known?” she asked curiously. “The resemblance—“

“Fuck the resemblance!”

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Jamie and the Rule of Three

I had a male reader (Justin Brady (@RandomAngst), who runs the Random Angst book review/rating site at www.randomangst.com) on Twitter just today who said he’d just finished reading OUTLANDER and enjoyed it a lot “until the prison chapters.” I tweeted back that I’d be kind of worried about him if he’d _enjoyed_ the Wentworth part {g}, to which he said, “but why put our hero through such pain and suffering? :)”, adding in the next, “I know I’m late to the #Outlander party & you’ve probably already addressed this; but that was intense emotional, physical pain.”

I was on my way out to dinner, so said I’d reply to him later (haven’t done that yet), but have been thinking at brief moments just _how_ to reply to that. The simple answer is just that that’s what I saw happening, but that’s not enough for the reader. There always _is_ a reason why things happen or are necessary, whether I know what that is when I write it or not. So what is it here?

In part, it’s because it’s a High Stakes story. Almost everybody understands that you have to have _something_ at stake for a story to be good. And way too many thrillers and sf/f novels assume that nothing less than the Fate of the Known Universe will do {g}, these authors mistaking scale for intensity. No matter what the background may be, a story that focuses on the impact of events on one or two individual _lives_ will be–generally speaking–much more engaging and emotionally intense than one where everyone is just rushing around trying to save a planet or get their hands on the fortunium bomb that could Destroy Everything!!

So OUTLANDER is a high stakes story–on an individual level–throughout. It’s a love story, sure, and it’s all about what people will _do_ for the sake of love. Claire, for instance, chooses to abandon the life she knew (and was about to reclaim post-War), the safety of the 20th century (and she of all people would value that safety, having come through such a war), and the husband she’d loved. She chooses hardship, danger, and emotional pain, in order to be with Jamie.

But love for these two is always reciprocal. It’s not about one partner making a sacrifice for the other’s sake. Throughout the story, they keep rescuing each other. And the stakes are high. Jamie marries Claire originally in order to save her from Black Jack Randall. Would that be a striking thing to do, if Jack Randall was not, in fact, a serious threat? He _is_ a serious threat; we learn that from Jamie’s backstory. The man’s a genuine sadistic psychopath, who has essentially destroyed Jamie’s family and seriously injured him, both physically and emotionally. And here’s Jamie swearing to give Claire everything he has; the protection of his name and his clan–and the protection of his body–in order to save _her_ from this man.

He then does save her, physically and immediately, from Randall, when Randall captures her and assaults her at Fort William–even though by doing so, he puts not only himself, but everyone with him, in serious danger, _and_ does so at some emotional as well as physical cost. “I was tied to that post, tied like an animal, and whipped ’til my blood ran…Had I not been lucky as the devil this afternoon, that’s the least that would have happened to me. ….[But] when ye screamed, I went to you, wi’ nothing but an empty gun and my two hands.” The stakes are higher; the threat to Jamie (and Claire) from Captain Randall is increased.

One, two, three. The Rule of Three. It’s one of the important underlying patterns of story-telling; one event can be striking. The next (related) event creates resonance. But the third brings it home—WHAM. (That is, btw, why classic fairy tales always involve three brothers, three sisters, three fairies, etc.—and why the most classic form of joke always starts, “A priest, a minister and a rabbi…” The climax of the story, the punchline of the joke, always comes on the third iteration.) The third encounter with Black Jack Randall is the climax, the point where the stakes are highest. Jamie’s been captured and seriously hurt, Claire’s come to save him, but Randall turns up and takes her captive, threatening her life.

OK. This -has- to be a credible threat. Ergo, we have to have seen (and heard about) the real damage Randall has done to Jamie thus far; we have to be in no doubt whatever that he’d do real damage to Claire. We can’t just _say_, “Oh, he’s _such_ a nasty person, you wouldn’t believe…” We _have_ to believe, and therefore appreciate _just_ what Jamie is doing when he trades what’s left of his life for Claire’s. (Show, don’t tell, you know?)

And because we do believe that, we share both Jamie’s despair and Claire’s desperation.

So, OK. Throughout the book, we’ve seen that love has a real cost. Jamie and Claire have built a relationship through honest struggle, a relationship that’s _worth_ what it’s cost them. This is the final challenge, and Jamie’s willing to pay what will apparently be the ultimate cost.

Why would I throw that away? To have him escape rape and torture (he–and we–_know_ what’s coming) by the skin of his teeth would be to undercut his sacrifice, to make it of little moment. (It would be like someone turning up in Gethsemane and telling Christ, “Hey, buddy, you don’t _really_ have to do this. Come with me, I got a secret way outta here…”)

So love _has_ a cost, and it’s a real one. But they do rescue each other, and Claire saves not only his life, _but his soul_. (Yes, it is redemption and resurrection, and yes, there’s Christ imagery all through the story–it was my first book, OK?) His soul wouldn’t have been in danger, had he not been really and truly nearly destroyed by his sacrifice.

I.e., had Claire shown up with reinforcements in the nick of time and saved him before he’d been put through such pain and suffering….well, then it would have been a nice, heart-warming story in which Hero and Heroine conquer evil and ride off into the sunset together. But it wouldn’t have half the power of a story in which Jamie and Claire _truly_ conquer _real_ evil, and thus show what real love is. Real love has real costs–and they’re worth it.

I’ve always said all my books have a shape, and OUTLANDER’s internal geometry consists of three slightly overlapping triangles. The apex of each triangle is one of the three emotional climaxes of the book: 1) when Claire makes her wrenching choice at the stones, 2) when she saves Jamie from Wentworth, and 3) when she saves his soul at the Abbey. It would still be a _good_ story, if I’d had only 1 and 2–but (see above), the Rule of Three. A story that goes one, two, _three_ has a lot more impact than just a one-two punch.

AVAILABILITY ISSUES

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about availability issues: Will THE EXILE be available as an audiobook? Is there a Large Print edition of the books? Why can’t you get an unabridged audiobook of THE FIERY CROSS or A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES? Why can’t you get the OUTLANDER: The Musical CD from amazon.co.uk?


I don’t have answers to _all_ the availability questions, of course, because I don’t actually publish and distribute everything out of my garage {g}; I have contracts with a great many different publishing companies, all of whom deal with those issues in their own territories, and usually I have No Idea. But I can answer _some_ questions!


1. The Audiobooks. OK, follow me like a leopard here. Back in the day, nobody had any idea whether audiobooks would amount to anything; it was new-fangled technology, nobody was familiar with the concept as anything beyond the material for the blind that the Library of Congress’s Talking Books program does, nobody was sure it would ever be worth anything—and it cost a lot to produce one.



That being so, when Bantam-Dell (a subgroup of my US publisher, Random House) contracted with us (me and my agent) fifteen (or so) years ago for audiobooks, they did so very cautiously—and only for the rights to make an abridged version, because the thought of anyone being willing to listen to (let alone pay for) an unabridged version of something the size of OUTLANDER was laughable.


Now, in my naivete, I had no idea that “abridged” actually meant, “butchered into little bloody shreds, one-quarter of which will then be scraped up into a pile and kind of patted into the rough semblance of a story, rather like a sculpture made of raw hamburger.” I did, though, insist on keeping the Unabridged rights, having faith that at some far distant date, someone might be willing to take the gigantic gamble of recording the Whole Thing, down to the last word.


Bantam-Dell fussed about this—publishers hate to give up _any_ rights, whether they know what to do with said rights or not; they might come in handy someday, after all—but eventually gave in, since they were positive that the unabridged rights were worthless. They did, however, insist on a non-compete clause in the contract, just in case: to wit, that if anybody _did_ ever do an Unabridged version, this version could not be sold in retail outlets where the abridged version was sold. (They reasoning—correctly—that if anybody saw the two versions side by side on a shelf, they’d instantly realize that ¾ of the story had been omitted from the abridged version. (Not kidding, here; the FIERY CROSS abridged audiobook contains only 23% of the original book’s text. Just so you know…))


OK. A few years later, I happened to meet some representatives of Recorded Books, Inc. (well, actually, I engineered an “accidental” meeting at a librarians conference, having ascertained that Recorded Books was the biggest of the only two companies who even did unabridged books), got them interested (though they were a little goggle-eyed at the sheer tonnage involved; OUTLANDER was the longest book they’d ever done), and…well, Bob’s your uncle.


Recorded Books has done a magnificent job with the Unabridged audiobooks. They found marvelous readers (the hugely talented Davina Porter, who reads the OUTLANDER novels, and the equally talented Jeff Woodman, who does the Lord John books), and have risen nobly to the challenge of getting the audiobook versions produced more or less simultaneously with the print versions (no easy job, given how close I always come to the pub date in delivering the manuscript).


Now, going back to the original Bantam-Dell contract for the abridged audiobooks: my agent (who was an excellent agent) reasoned that since no one actually knew how the audiobook market might develop, he didn’t want to lock me into the usual sort of semi-permanent contract that we’d do for a book (i.e., you essentially grant the publishing company the right to publish your book as long as it sells. Only if it stops selling and they allow it to go out of print, can you get back the rights to it), and instead sold the audiobook abridged rights on a ten-year license. Meaning that we gave Bantam-Dell the right to produce an audiobook of each title (six books were covered under the original contract; they weren’t all written then, but were all under contract as print titles) for a period of ten years, from the date of publication of each title. So the license for VOYAGER, for instance, expired in 2004, as that book was originally published in 1994. And so on. We could then, if we liked, renew the license for an additional period. Or not.


Well, having seen what a travesty the abridged books are (meaning no offense either to the reader or the production team; there’s just no way of doing a good version of a book from which you’ve essentially omitted every other word), the answer was a resounding NOT, and we’ve been canceling those licenses the instant they come due. (Bantam-Dell is allowed a certain period post-cancellation during which they can still sell whatever stock they have on-hand, but they can’t produce any more.)


Result being that we’ve pretty much stamped out the abridged versions of OUTLANDER, DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, VOYAGER, and DRUMS OF AUTUMN. But THE FIERY CROSS was published in 2001. Which means that its license doesn’t expire until 2011. Which (hahahaha!) happens in a month!! So we’ll get to cancel _that_ license Right Soon, leaving only ABOSA to go.


But that’s the reason why you haven’t been able to get FIERY CROSS or A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES from Audible.com—it’s considered a retail outlet that sells the abridged versions. [I’m putting the following in caps, because I keep telling this to people, but they often don’t seem to notice or understand:]


YOU _CAN_ GET THE UNABRIDGED VERSIONS OF FIERY CROSS AND ABOSA!! You just can’t (yet) get them from Audible.com, which is most people’s default supplier of audiobooks. You totally _can_ either rent or buy the unabridged audio of both books, right here (and here). But I admit that it will be much more convenient for everyone when the license on ABOSA expires as well, and all the Unabridged audios can be found on Audible.com.

(You can get AN ECHO IN THE BONE and all the Lord John books in Unabridged form on Audible now, because none of these books were covered in the original contract with Bantam-Dell, and thus no abridged version of them has ever existed. It’s not going to, either, I can tell you that much….)


2. Well, no, I really don’t think there will be an audio version of THE EXILE, unless it’s made by Recording for the Blind or the Talking Books program (in which the reader describes all illustrations for the benefit of a visually impaired reader). This book is a graphic novel. And while I was quite surprised to discover that there are a lot of people (judging from the one-star reviews on Amazon.com) who have never heard the term “graphic novel” (and didn’t bother to find out what it meant, or to scroll down far enough in the product description to see what it meant, and thus were shocked—shocked!—to find that it was A COMIC BOOK! (and thus concluded that this was calculated fraud on my part…people are Very Strange on occasion))—a graphic novel is, in fact, a comic book. For adults, but it is a novel told largely in visual images.


Ergo, kind of hard to do as an audiobook, I mean. Reading just the dialogue part of the script might not be all that effective.


3. Large Print editions. Well….let’s just think about the logistics here for a minute, OK? How much bigger is Large Print than the normal typeface? 50% bigger? Twice as big? Let’s say 50%, just as a start.


OK. OUTLANDER runs about 700 pages, and that’s the shortest book in the series, at 305,00 words. (FIERY CROSS is the longest, at 508,000, but A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES runs it a close second, at something like 498,00. Those two books are at the physical limit of how many pages you can reasonably bind between covers.)


To get all of ABOSA into one volume, the German publisher was obliged to print it on “Bible” paper—the thin, tough paper they print Bibles on.


So. Multiply those lengths by 1.5, and we’re talking something the equivalent of 750,000 words (just the space that many words would take up, I mean). Chances are that you’d need even more space than that, because of the leading and kerning issues (those are the spaces between letters in a word and between the lines of print—all of which need to be magnified in a Large Print book), but leave that aside for now.


Even OUTLANDER, therefore, would have to be published in two volumes, for a Large Print edition, and several of the later books in the series would need to be done in three-volume sets. The cost of producing a book of X size remains the same, whether it contains _all_ the words in the original text, or only one-half or one-third of them.


So the cost of producing a Large Print edition of the OUTLANDER novels would be 2-3 times the cost of the normal book, the set would sell for 2-3 times the cost of the original ($50-75)—and how big a market is there for such an edition? (There’s also the consideration that many people who might need a Large Print edition would have problems physically _holding_ books of this size.)


Beyond these economic considerations, there’s the simple fact that if you have an ebook reader (and all my books are available in just about any ebook format—true, you need a Kindle app to read them on an iPad, but there _is_ one), the thing is light and easy to hold—and you can adjust the print to be whatever size is comfortable for you, including sizes MUCH bigger than any printed Large Print version could offer.

Anyway. Bottom line is that the only one of my books ever done as a Large Print edition was LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER, which I wrote under the delusion that it was a short story.


4. Amazon.co.uk. Well, now here I’m just reporting, because I have no relations with Amazon.co.uk myself. I do have some correspondence with Amazon.com, and everything seems to be running very well there.


However, Mike, the guy who handles the OUTLANDER:The Musical CD sales for the UK, established an Amazon.co.uk account for it, but hasn’t had as much luck in coming to an agreement with them regarding price, or in having his other concerns addressed. So he’s asked me to let y’all know that he’s suspended that account for the time being, but that if any of you in the UK or Europe want CDs, you can get them here. (Scroll down a bit.)


5. Oh! This isn’t really an availability issue, but fwiw, I was notified this morning that all my e-books are now available on google.books. No idea whether this is a Good Thing or not {g}, but there they are.

Christmas Awakening







Goodness, already the 4th of December! I’m deeply impressed that I’ve so far managed to write, address, and actually mail twenty-six Christmas cards. (Mind, I only succeeded in doing this because I was nagged by the resident elf, who did the actual mailing, and needed the cards to insert in the boxes of dates that I send to the various publishers, editors, and other professional acquaintances around the world at Christmas time. (In which respect, may I recommend the Sphinx Date Ranch, who produce dates (and other dried fruits and nuts) that cause widespread slavering upon receipt from the UK to New Zealand, and who will in fact ship things for you, but we do it ourselves because of needing to stick hand-written cards and notes into the boxes.))


I’ve also bought presents for eleven children (aided in this process by the Dover Publications Company, which has the world’s biggest selection of Entertaining Coloring and Origami books)—none of them mine (mine are all old enough that they just want money…and the occasional iPad). This still leaves a horrifying amount of Stuff to be done (like the other 38 Christmas cards on the list), but it does give me a pleasant glow of accomplishment, since I don’t usually get this far this early.


It did make me think, though, that there must be others of you in the early stages of Christmas Awakening (that’s when you sit bolt upright in bed, crying out, “Oh, crap, I forgot my mother-in-law!”), and thus perhaps wanting useful gift suggestions.


Just in case that’s the case [cough], I thought I might list a few Interesting Items for the OUTLANDER Fan on Your List. I thought of this, because I was just down at The Poisoned Pen, my local bookstore in Scottsdale, signing everything in sight, in preparation for their annual Christmas Shipping Frenzy. So I can assure you that they have


1. First-edition copies of THE EXILE, signed both by Yours Truly, and by Hoang Nguyen, the illustrator of that splendidly vivid volume,


2. Brand-new copies of the just-released anthology, SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH, featuring a short story (by me) that tells the story of Roger MacKenzie’s parents, and solves one of the mysteries raised by AN ECHO IN THE BONE (and of which there is a brief excerpt, a few postings back in this blog). Also autographed by me.


3. OUTLANDER: The Musical CD’s (see www.outlanderthemusical.com for details and song samples), also signed by me (not that I had anything to do with the composing or singing, but the people who did are all in Scotland. Since I’m here and they aren’t, I signed the things on their behalf).


4. A selection (and a pretty random selection it is, too) of Foreign Editions of various of my books. Foreign publishers are required by contract to send me X copies of each of my books that they publish; in practice, this means sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. But when they do, they often send a lot of them.


The Pen said they had had an increasing number of inquiries from people about foreign editions—they ship worldwide—and would like to have whatever I had on hand, just in case. So the elf and I gathered up whatever we could lay hands on easily, and I took these down to the store, where I signed all of them. (I know there are several Really Entertaining-looking Finnish editions of AN ECHO IN THE BONE, and at least two full sets of the Spanish editions, from FORASTERA (OUTLANDER) up through VIENTO y CIENDRES (This is A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, though the title really means “Wind and cinders”).)


Anyway, if any of these items sounds like a great stocking-stuffer (I recommend a really big stocking, if you’re drawn to the notion of the Finnish ECHO), you can get them either here, or by calling the Poisoned Pen at 480-947-2974 , or emailing them at patrick@poisonedpen.com (Patrick’s the manager).

(You would have to contact them, I’m afraid, to find out exactly which foreign editions they have, because I didn’t think to list them.)


I should add that I’ll be going back in there next week to sign all the new orders, so if you happen to want any of these things (or any of the OUTLANDER or Lord John books, for that matter—these are all available in hardcover, trade paperback, or mass-market (including ECHO, if you want the UK mass-market paperback, which has entertaining maps, biographical sketches of the main characters, and an excerpt from Book Eight in the back)) personalized or done with an inscription. (I only know four bits of Gaelic to put in people’s books, but one of these is “Nollaig Chridheil”—aka “Merry Christmas.” I only get to use that one at this time of year, so would be delighted at the opportunity.)

Oh–and I mustn’t forget The Old Wilmington Tea Company,

whose delightful “Lord John Grey” blend will warm the hands, if not the hearts, of recipients who don’t even read my books. [g]

Nollaigh Chridheil!

Canadian Giveaway of Signed EXILE – Today Only!

Someone just sent me this link to the Random House Canada website: They’re having a “Reader’s Gift” giveaway during November–a different book being given away each day–and TODAY (only) are giving away five signed copies of THE EXILE. (You do have to have a Canadian address to enter.)

Details are

here. Good luck!

Christmas is coming–

And the goose isn’t the only thing getting fat. As Younger Daughter said a few minutes ago (with a beatific look on her face), “Chocolate truffles for breakfast, turkey with gravy for lunch, and did you say there’s pie left? Do we have any whipped cream, or shall I go get some?”

We haven’t even hit the marshmallow-walnut fudge season, yet, let alone tamales, enchiladas, machaca and green chile. (We’re traditional; we eat Mexican for Christmas, in honor of our roots. Bar the fudge, which has no ethnic allegiance.) (“Gabaldon” is my own name, btw; my husband’s’ name is much easier to pronounce, but after spelling “Gabaldon” for twenty-five years, I was attached to it and didn’t intend to give it up. Being a Hispanic name, that means that were we speaking Spanish, it would be pronounced

“gah-vahl-DOHN”

(probably originally had an accent mark over the “don,” but that’s been lost sometime over the last 500 years in the New World).

Since we are for the most part speaking English here, it’s normally pronounced

“GAA-bull-dohn”

(still with the long “o” sound at the end, right? Rhymes with stone? Amazing how hard it is for people to wrap their heads around that, no matter how often I tell them. No one in New York City, for instance, can make themselves not say “don” (as in mastodon) at the end. Just can’t do it.)

But I digress…

Rather than join in the gluttony (well, rather than join in it right _then_), I drove up to the Rim country yesterday–about 90 miles north of Phoenix, 50 south of Flagstaff. That’s where the Pinon (there’s a tilde over the first “n” in Pinon, btw, but I haven’t figured out how to insert one and am too lazy to go find out)/Juniper woodland begins, and thus the closest place in which to cut greenery for the family Advent wreath.

Beautiful day. Still, warm air–perfect for hot-air balloons, and I saw six of them floating over the Valley, just hanging in the air like slow-moving cherries. I could walk the woods in my shirt-sleeves, even that far north.

Now, one of the things I enjoy about wandering around in the wild is that you never know what you might see. I’ve come round a small tree and face-to-face with a surprised pronghorn antelope (I was pretty surprised, too), met mule deer and elk–once came upon a fresh elk carcass, sans head, neatly butchered, guts buried, backbone standing white like the keel of an overturned ship–with the hair on the lower legs all fresh and shining and the hooves black and still caked with dirt, as though those legs might spring up and the hooves carry off the ghostly skeleton. Eerie.

Met a porcupine once–but not as closely as the dog who came down the trail and thought that was One Strange Thing that ought to be barked at and closely inspected. Helped the owner pull quills out of the poor dog’s nose; I have five of them in a dish on my mantelpiece in Flagstaff.

You also find a lot of broken glass in the woods, because people go a little way off the road to make a fire and drink beer (and stronger stuff). Most of the people I meet in the woods are hikers, occasionally hunters–I try _not_ to go into the woods in hunting season, but what qualifies as “woods” varies, and so does various people’s notion of what constitutes hunting season–but by and large, nice folk. I do carry a gun, though, because I’m alone and nobody knows exactly where I am (that being part of the charm of woods-walking). Never needed it, never expect to need, HOPE never to need it–but I do have it (and the concealed-carry permit and sixteen hours of training that goes with it).

Anyway, yesterday I passed a small group of men and boys gathering firewood for sale, waved to them, drove on up a “primitive” road (one that’s not maintained, so could be anything from drivable to morass–but the weather was dry), and found a promising looking stretch of land, so pulled off, parked, and went agathering, pruning shears in hand.

And I found toilets.

Three brand-new, pristine, white toilets, crouched under an alligator cypress. One standing (ready for some passing bear, I suppose), two fallen on their sides. And a big mess of heavy-equipment tire marks in the clearing where these were dumped.

Your guess is as good as mine. [g] My own guess would be–given the tire marks–that the toilets were dumped by someone working on a subdivision or building a house in the neighborhood (there were houses within a half-mile). Whether these were stolen toilets, and the dumper planned to come back and retrieve them under cover of darkness, or whether the general contractor suddenly shut down construction and they were dumped in disgust…who knows? Maybe the lady of the house saw them, insisted she’d chosen _green_ toilets, not white ones, and the plumber figured it was easier to dump them than return them to Home Depot.

Anyway, I got my Advent wreath cuttings: Pinon Pine, juniper (with big, blue, aromatic berries), Arizona holly, buckbrush, and saltbush (I’m sure that will prove to be a huge mistake–it has fluffy, airborne seeds, and they’ll be _all_ over the house within hours–but it was beautiful, with the seeds shining in the sun), with a handful of tiny Pinon cones for decoration.

And what I started out to tell you–before I got sidetracked by toilets in the woods–was that Christmas is coming–and so is a brand-new, spectacular, completely redesigned website!

The designer finished work on it this week, and as soon as I can put in all the new content (kind of a massive job, but I’m on it), we’ll unveil it–with luck, December 1st!

Ooookay….You sure you want to Know, now?



Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving! We had a wonderful time with family and friends (to say nothing of the pleasant company of a twenty-pound fruit-stuffed, herb-rubbed turkey), after which the football fans sank into a contented stupor on the living-room couch and the dogs and I went off to enjoy a similar state of nirvana on the Taos bed in the lounge. (Dogs presently including Otis the pug and Charlie the corgi, as well as Homer and JJ, the two standard dachshunds. Charlie prefers to sleep -under- the bed, which is a good thing. Eighty pounds of assorted caninery generates a lot of heat.)

Anyway…I said that if nobody guessed the error I mentioned in THE EXILE, I’d tell you tonight, and as of last checking, nobody had. (I must say, y’all must be _terrible_ at those “find six things that are different between these two pictures” kind of puzzles…) But if you _do_ want to know….
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Which of Jamie’s shoulders is wounded? It’s the left one, right? Until Claire starts doctoring it at Castle Leoch, when it’s the right one. Then during the fracas in Hall (and after), it’s the left one again.

Told ya it was a head-smacker. [g] Happy Thanksgiving!

Jamie’s Butt Model

Two things:

1. The editor of THE EXILE tells me that the book has been on the NYT Bestseller list for seven weeks so far. This is Very Cool Indeed, and thank you very much!

2. As a secondary thank you [g], here is a link to the original French painting that supplied the model (literally) for page 5. (It took a -lot- of hunting to find the right butt, believe me. I kept sending the illustrator, Hoang, links to Rober Mapplethorpe sites and the like, but Random House’s porn filters wouldn’t let Betsy, the editor, look at them.)

I would post the image itself, but am really not sure about the copyright of an image of a painting held by a museum–I mean, the museum certainly owns the painting, but not sure about the image. Don’t want to infringe inadvertently, though–and the web page has some interesting information about the painting, anyway.

(No, if you want to see Page 5, you’ll have to borrow somebody’s copy, or sneak into the graphic novels section at Barnes and Noble.)

"Leaf" is out today!

The new anthology, SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH, is out as of today! It has a number of great stories, by wonderful authors from Neil Gaiman to Carrie Vaughn and Robin Hobb (all enthusiastically recommended)–and it does, of course, have one by me.

This story is titled “A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows,” and tells the story of Roger MacKenzie’s parents. It also fills in the interesting hole I opened in ECHO, wherein we learn that Jerry MacKenzie probably wasn’t shot down in his Spitfire during the War, and there is Much Speculation as to what really did happen to him.

This story will tell you. (Though one rather perceptive–if cynical–commenter observed that while I may have filled in that particular hole, I undoubtedly did it with dirt dug from another one. How well you people know me….[g]). I think you’ll enjoy Jerry MacKenzie, though, and his story.

The book is available in both hardcover and Kindle e-book formats, here.

Thanks to all those who’ve read the story already and written to tell me what you thought!

St. Simon’s Island writers conference

Someone asked for a repost of the information about the Scribbler’s Retreat writers conference this weekend, on St. Simon’s Island, GA. I haven’t been to this conference before (basically, I said I’d go because I’ve heard about St. Simon’s Island and wanted to see it [g], but I’m sure we’ll have fun), so can’t tell you a lot about it.

Here, though, is the link to the conference website, which has details and schedule.

See some of you there!