• “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

AND A VERY HAPPY HOGMANAY to all of you!

Fireworks (public domain)

“In the light of eternity, time casts no shadow.”

[Excerpt from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD, to be published June 10th.]

It was perhaps four o’clock ack emma. Or before sparrow-fart, as the British armed forces of my own time used to put it. That sense of temporal dislocation was back again, memories of another war coming like a sudden fog between me and my work, then disappearing in an instant, leaving the present sharp and vivid as Kodachrome. The army was moving.

No fog obscured Jamie. He was big and solid, his outlines clearly visible against the shredding night. I was awake and alert, dressed and ready, but the chill of sleep still lay upon me, making my fingers clumsy. I could feel his warmth, and drew close to him, as I might to a campfire. He was leading Clarence, who was even warmer, though much less alert, ears sagging in sleepy annoyance.

“You’ll have Clarence,” Jamie told me, putting the mule’s rein in my hand. “And these, to make sure ye keep him, if ye should find yourself on your own.” “These” were a heavy pair of horse pistols, holstered and strung on a thick leather belt that also held a shot-bag and powder-horn.

“Thank you,” I said, swallowing as I wrapped the reins around a sapling in order to belt the pistols on. The guns were amazingly heavy—but I wouldn’t deny that the weight of them on my hips was amazingly comforting, too.

“All right,” I said, glancing toward the tent. “What about—“

“I’ve seen to that,” he said, cutting me off. “Gather the rest of your things, Sassenach; I’ve nay more than a quarter-hour, at most, and I need ye with me when we go.”

I watched him stride off into the melee, tall and resolute, and wondered—as I had so often before—_Will it be today? Will this be the last sight I remember of him_? I stood very still, watching as hard as I could.

When I’d lost him the first time, before Culloden, I’d remembered. Every moment of our last night together. Tiny things would come back to me through the years: the taste of salt on his temple and the curve of his skull as I cupped his head, the soft fine hair at the base of his neck thick and damp in my fingers…the sudden, magical well of his blood in dawning light when I’d cut his hand and marked him forever as my own. Those things had kept him by me.

And when I’d lost him this time to the sea, I’d remembered the sense of him beside me, warm and solid in my bed, and the rhythm of his breathing. The light across the bones of his face in moonlight and the flush of his skin in the rising sun. I could hear him breathe, when I lay in bed alone in my room at Chestnut Street—slow, regular, never stopping—even though I knew it _had_ stopped. The sound would comfort me, then drive me mad with the knowledge of loss, so I pulled the pillow hard over my head in a futile attempt to shut it out—only to emerge into the night of the room, thick with woodsmoke and candlewax and vanished light, and be comforted to hear it once more.

If this time…but he had turned, quite suddenly, as though I’d called his name. He came swiftly up to me, grasped me by the arms and said in a low, strong voice, “It willna be today, either.”

Then he put his arms around me and drew me up on tiptoe into a deep, soft kiss. I heard brief cheers from a few of the men nearby, but it didn’t matter. Even if it should be today, I would remember.

[end section]

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THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Advent wreath four candles in daylight 2013

It’s a short Advent season this year, Christmas coming so soon after the Fourth Sunday, but we are the more expectant in our anticipation, and deeper in our gratitude for the blessings of home and family.

May the blessings of the season be with you and yours!

[This excerpt is from the end of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER (aka DIE FACKELN DER FREIHEIT, in German).]

It was cold in the loft, and his sleep-mazed mind groped among the icy drafts after the words still ringing in his mind.

“_Bonnie lad_.”

Wind struck the barn and went booming round the roof. A strong chilly draft with a scent of snow stirred the somnolence, and two or three of the horses shifted below, grunting and whickering. _Helwater_. The knowledge of the place settled on him, and the fragments of Scotland and Lallybroch cracked and flaked away, fragile as a skin of dried mud.

Helwater. Straw rustling under him, the ends poking through the rough ticking, prickling through his shirt. Dark air, alive around him.

_Bonnie lad_…

They’d brought down the Yule log to the house that afternoon, all the household taking part, the women bundled to the eyebrows, the men ruddy, flushed with the labor, staggering, singing, dragging the monstrous log with ropes, its rough skin packed with snow, a great furrow left where it passed, the snow plowed high on either side.

Willie rode atop the log, screeching with excitement, clinging to the rope. Once back at the house, Isobel had tried to teach him to sing “Good King Wenceslaus,” but it was beyond him, and he dashed to and fro, into everything until his grandmother declared that he would drive her to distraction and told Peggy to take him to the stable, to help Jamie and Crusoe bring in the fresh-cut branches of pine and fir. Thrilled, Willie rode on Jamie’s saddle-bow to the grove, and stood obediently on a stump where Jamie had put him, safe out of the way of the axes while the boughs were cut down. Then he helped to load the greenery, clutching two or three fragrant, mangled twigs to his chest, dutifully chucking these in the general direction of the huge basket, then running back again for more, heedless of where his burden had actually landed.

Jamie turned over, wriggling deeper into the nest of blankets, drowsy, remembering. He’d kept it up, the wean had, back and forth, back and forth, though red in the face and panting, until he dropped the very last branch on the pile. Jamie had looked down to find Willie beaming up at him with pride, laughed and said on impulse, “Aye, that’s a bonnie lad. Come on. Let’s go home.”

William had fallen asleep on the ride home, his head heavy as a cannonball in its woolen cap against Jamie’s chest. Jamie had dismounted carefully, holding the child in one arm, but Willie had wakened, blinked groggily at Jamie and said, “WEN-sess-loss,” clear as a bell, then fallen promptly back asleep. He’d waked properly by the time he was handed over to Nanny Elspeth, though, and Jamie had heard him, as he walked away, telling Nanny, “I’m a bonnie lad!”

But those words came out of his dreams, from somewhere else, and long ago. Had his own father said that to him, once?

He thought so, and for an instant—just an instant—was with his father and his brother Willie, excited beyond bearing, holding the first fish he’d ever caught by himself, slimy and flapping, both of them laughing at him, with him in joy.

“_Bonnie lad!”

_Willie. God, Willie. I’m so glad they gave him your name_. He seldom thought of his brother; Willie had died of the smallpox when he was eleven, Jamie, eight. But every now and then, he could feel Willie with him, sometimes his mother or his father. More often, Claire.

_I wish ye could see him, Sassenach_, he thought. _He’s a bonnie lad. Loud and obnoxious_, he added with honesty, but _bonnie_.

What would his own parents think of William? They had neither of them lived to see any of their children’s children.

He lay for some time, his throat aching, listening to the dark, hearing the voices of his dead pass by in the wind. His thoughts grew vague and his grief eased, comforted by the knowledge of love, still alive in the world. Sleep came near again.

He touched the rough crucifix that lay against his chest and whispered to the moving air, “Lord, that she might be safe; she and my children.”

Then turned his cheek to her reaching hand and touched her through the veils of time.

[end section]

The THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Candle - Work Candle  November 2013 fullsize

This is Gaudete Sunday—Rejoicing Sunday, because now we’re close enough to Christmas to pause in our preparations (both physical and spiritual) and look forward to the fulfillment of promised Joy.

We normally light the pink candle in our Advent wreath for Gaudete Sunday, and if I were at home, I’d take a picture of mine for you. As I’m in a hotel room, I can’t, so will give you this one of my nightly work candle; I light it every night when I come up to work, with a short “work” prayer: “Lord, let me see what I need to see; let me do what has to be done.”

[The following excerpt is from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD, which will be published June 10th, 2014. Copyright 2013 Diana Gabaldon.]

I became aware of Germain hovering by my elbow, staring interestedly at the duke, who was now sufficiently himself as to lift an eyebrow in the boy’s direction, though still unable to speak.

“Mm?” I said, before resuming my now-automatic counting of breaths.

“I’m only thinking, _Grand-mere_, as how himself there—“ Germain nodded at Pardloe, “—might be missed. Had I maybe best carry a message to someone, so as they aren’t sending out soldiers after him? The chairmen will talk, will they not?”

“Ah.” That was a thought, all right. General Clinton, for one, certainly knew that Pardloe was in my company when last seen. I had no idea who Pardloe might be traveling with, or whether he was in command of his regiment. If he _was_, people would be looking for him right now; an officer couldn’t be gone from his place for long without someone noticing.

And Germain—an observant lad, if ever there was one—was right about the chairmen. Their numbers meant they were registered with the central chairmen’s agency in Philadelphia; it would be the work of a moment for the general’s staff to locate numbers Thirty-Nine and Forty and find out where they’d delivered the duke of Pardloe.

Jenny, who had been tending the array of tea-cups, stepped in now with the third and knelt next to Pardloe, nodding to me that she would see to his breathing while I talked to Germain.

“He told the chairmen to take me to the King’s Arms,” I said to Germain, taking him out onto the porch where we could confer unheard. “And I met him at General Clinton’s office in the—“

“I ken where it is, _Grand-mere_.”

“I daresay you do. Have you something in mind?”

“Well, I’m thinkin’—“ he glanced back into the house, then back at me, eyes narrowed in thought. “How long d’ye mean to keep him prisoner, _Grand-mere_?”

So my motives hadn’t escaped Germain. I wasn’t surprised; he undoubtedly had heard all about the morning’s excitements from Mrs. Figg—and knowing as he did who Jamie was, had probably deduced even more. I wondered if he’d seen William? If so, he likely knew everything. If he didn’t, though, there was no need to reveal _that_ little complication until it was necessary.

“Until your grandfather comes back,” I said. “Or possibly Lord John,” I added as an afterthought. I hoped with all my being that Jamie would come back shortly. But it might be that he would find it necessary to stay outside the city and send John in to bring me news. “The minute I let the duke go, he’ll be turning the city upside down in search of his brother. Always assuming for the sake of argument that he doesn’t drop dead in the process.” And the very last thing I wanted was to instigate a dragnet in which Jamie might be snared.

Germain rubbed his chin thoughtfully–a peculiar gesture in a child too young for whiskers, but his father to the life, and I smiled.

“That’s maybe not too long,” he said. “_Grand-pere_ will come back directly; he was wild to see ye last night.” He grinned at me, then looked back through the open doorway, pursing his lips.

“As to himself, ye canna hide where he is,” he said. “But if ye were to send a note to the General, and maybe another to the King’s Arms, saying as how his grace was staying with Lord John, they wouldna start looking for him right away. And even if someone was to come here later and inquire, I suppose ye might give him a wee dram that would keep him quiet so ye could tell them he was gone? Or maybe lock him in a closet? Tied up wi’ a gag if it should be he’s got his voice back by then,” he added. Germain was a very logical, thorough-minded sort of person; he got it from Marsali.

“Excellent thought,” I said, forbearing to comment on the relative merits of the options for keeping Pardloe incommunicado. “Let me do that now.”

Pausing for a quick look at Pardloe, who was doing better, though still wheezing strongly, I whipped upstairs and flipped open John’s writing-desk. It was the work of a moment to mix the ink-powder and write the notes. I hesitated for a moment over the signature, but then caught sight of John’s signet on the dressing-table; he hadn’t had time to put it on this morning.

The thought gave me a slight pang; in the overwhelming joy of seeing Jamie alive, and then the shock of William’s advent, Jamie’s taking John hostage, and the violence of William’s exit—dear Lord, where was William now?—I had pushed John himself to the back of my mind.

Still, I told myself, he was quite safe. Jamie wouldn’t let any harm come to him, and directly he came back into Philadelphia…the chiming of the carriage clock on the mantelpiece interrupted me, and I glanced at it: three o’clock.

“Time flies when you’re having fun,” I murmured to myself, and scribbling a reasonable facsimile of John’s signature, I lit the candle from the embers in the hearth, dripped wax on the folded notes, and stamped them with the smiling half-moon ring. Maybe John would be back before the notes were even delivered. And Jamie, surely, would be with me as soon as darkness made it safe.

[end section]

THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT – A CANDLE FOR MEMORY AND HOPE

Advent x2 cross and chair full size

[This excerpt is from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD (which will be published June 10th, 2014. Copyright 2013 Diana Gabaldon.]

She was shaking. Had been shaking ever since Lionel Menzies left. With a faint sense of abstraction, she held out her hand, fingers spread, and watched it vibrate like a tuning fork. Then, irritated, made a fist and smacked it hard into the palm of her other hand. Smacked it again and again, clenching her teeth in fury, until she had to stop, gasping for breath, her palm tingling.

“OK,” she said, under her breath, teeth still clenched. “_OK_.” The red haze had lifted like a cloud, leaving a pile of cold, icy little thoughts under it.

_We have to go.

Where?

And when_?

And the coldest of all:

_What about Roger?_

She was sitting in the study, the wood paneling glowing softly in the candlelight. There was a perfectly good reading-lamp, as well as the ceiling fixture, but she’d lit the big candle instead. Roger liked to use that when he wrote late at night, writing down the songs and poems he’d memorized, sometimes with a goose-quill. He said it helped him recall the words, bringing back an echo of the time where he’d learned them.

The candle’s smell of hot wax brought back an echo of _him_. If she closed her eyes, she could hear him, humming low in his throat as he worked, stopping now and then to cough or clear his damaged throat. Her fingers rubbed softly over the wooden desk, summoning the touch of the rope-scar on his throat, passing round to cup the back of his head, bury her fingers in the thick black warmth of his hair, bury her face in his chest…

She was shaking again, this time with silent sobs. She curled her fist again, but this time, just breathed until it stopped.

“This will _not_ do,” she said out loud, sniffed deeply, and clicking on the light, she blew out the candle and reached for a sheet of paper and a ballpoint pen.

AN ADVENT CANDLE – FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

November is the month of Los Dias de Los Muertos, the Days of the Dead, when we pray for our dead and hold them close. Tomorrow begins Advent, the season of hope. May your way lie in light, looking forward or back.

Candle for Dios de Los Muertos

[From “Virgins,” a novella published in the anthology DANGEROUS WOMEN, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Copyright 2013 Diana Gabaldon]

Ian had made Jamie come with him to the cathedral of St. Andre, and insisted he go to confession. Jamie had balked—no great surprise.

“No. I can’t.”

“We’ll go together.” Ian had taken him firmly by the arm and very literally dragged him over the threshold. Once inside, he was counting on the atmosphere of the place to keep Jamie there.

His friend stopped dead, the whites of his eyes showing as he glanced warily around.

The stone vault of the ceiling soared into shadow overhead, but pools of colored light from the stained-glass windows lay soft on the worn slates of the aisle.

“I shouldna be here,” Jamie muttered under his breath.

“Where better, eejit? Come on,” Ian muttered back, and pulled Jamie down the side aisle to the chapel of Saint Estephe. Most of the side-chapels were lavishly furnished, monuments to the importance of wealthy families. This one was a tiny, undecorated stone alcove, containing little more than an altar, a faded tapestry of a faceless saint, and a small stand where candles could be placed.

“Stay here.” Ian planted Jamie dead in front of the altar and ducked out, going to buy a candle from the old woman who sold them near the main door. He’d changed his mind about trying to make Jamie go to confession; he knew fine when ye could get a Fraser to do something, and when ye couldn’t.

He worried a bit that Jamie would leave, and hurried back to the chapel, but Jamie was still there, standing in the middle of the tiny space, head down, staring at the floor.

“Here, then,” Ian said, pulling him toward the altar. He plunked the candle—an expensive one, beeswax and large—on the stand, and pulled the paper spill the old lady had given him out of his sleeve, offering it to Jamie. “Light it. We’ll say a prayer for your Da. And…and for her.”

He could see tears trembling on Jamie’s lashes, glittering in the red glow of the sanctuary lamp that hung above the altar, but Jamie blinked them back and firmed his jaw.

“All right,” he said, low-voiced, but he hesitated. Ian sighed, took the spill out of his hand, and standing on tip-toe, lit it from the sanctuary lamp.

“Do it,” he whispered, handing it to Jamie, “or I’ll gie ye a good one in the kidney, right here.”

Jamie made a sound that might have been the breath of a laugh, and lowered the lit spill to the candle’s wick. The fire rose up, a pure high flame with blue at its heart, then settled as Jamie pulled the spill away and shook it out in a plume of smoke.

They stood for some time, hands clasped loosely in front of them, watching the candle burn. Ian prayed for his mam and da, his sister and her bairns…with some hesitation (was it proper to pray for a Jew?), for Rebekah bat-Leah, and with a sidelong glance at Jamie, to be sure he wasn’t looking, for Jenny Fraser. Then the soul of Brian Fraser…and then, eyes tight shut, for the friend beside him.

The sounds of the church faded, the whispering stones and echoes of wood, the shuffle of feet and the rolling gabble of the pigeons on the roof. Ian stopped saying words, but was still praying. And then that stopped too, and there was only peace, and the soft beating of his heart.

He heard Jamie sigh, from somewhere deep inside, and opened his eyes. Without speaking, they went out, leaving the candle to keep watch.

A QUICK TREAT FOR ST. ANDREW’S DAY

Thanks to Outlander_Starz (and Sam Heughan and Adhamh O’ Broin) for the lovely Gaelic lesson!

“Speak Outlander, Lesson 1: Sassenach”

[And on a more sober note, please take a moment for prayer or kind thoughts in support of those killed, injured or bereaved by the dreadful helicopter crash in Glasgow yesterday.]

Quickie Appearance – Tempe, Nov. 30th

For those who live in the Phoenix Metro area (and have survived Black Friday )…I’ll be doing a two-hour signing at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe tomorrow (Nov. 30th), from 3-5 PM.

This is just a sign-and-chat; not a formal event. (_I_ don’t mind if you bring your books from home to be signed, but you might check with the bookstore to see if it’s OK by them.)

Address and phone:

Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 S McClintock Dr, Tempe, AZ 85283
480.730.0205

[Google maps link and other information on their website]

WELL, ALRIGHTY THEN! WE HAVE A NEW PUB DATE!

MOBY official US cover

I’m pleased to announce that WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD (aka MOBY) will be published by Random House (US) on June 10th, 2014.

To answer a few questions that I _know_ the answer to:

Canada always publishes on the same date as the US.

UK Cover

UK Cover

The UK (and its territories, Australia and New Zealand) usually publishes very near the US date, but not invariably on the _same_ day. It might be, it might be a few days earlier, it might be later, I don’t know. Will tell you as soon as I do.

Germany will likely publish quite close to the same date as the US, perhaps a little sooner. I don’t know about that yet.

Almost all other non-English publishers will publish about a year after the US/English edition, because they have to allow time for translation, and a Big Book takes a long time to translate. (Germany gets much faster translation because I have a close personal relationship with the German translator, and she works with me while I write.)

The book-tour for MOBY is being rescheduled as we speak. The launch party will be held in Scottsdale, AZ, by the Poisoned Pen bookstore, at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, 6-10 PM, June 10th.

That’s ALL I know for now. As soon as the dates are re-set (spoke to the Random House publicist this morning and she says she thinks most of the dates and events previously scheduled will be the same), I’ll post the list everywhere.

Publication Date Change – Sorry About This…

Well. I _really_ hate writing this, and I do apologize….but the pub date for MOBY is moving.

Two reasons for this:

1. The first—and by far the most important—is that I began to realize about a month ago that I needed a little more time in order to finish the book the way it needs to be done. I could get the necessary wordage on paper by the end of the year—but it wouldn’t be _good_. Good takes more time. And I’m really sorry, but you’re not getting a book that’s less than the best I can do.

2. The second thing has to do with the new Starz tv show. Two things about _that_:

a. While the original guess as to the date for the series release was April, that _was_ only a guess. In New York last month, the Starz people were telling me (and the assorted fans present; it’s not a secret) that it will be (take your pick), “June,” “July,” “August,” or “summer.” So, you know…later.

b. While I don’t have (and don’t want) “control” over anything to do with the show, I actually am (by contract) a consultant. And while I told the production people that I considered my main job to be staying out of their way, they are amazingly generous about including and involving me. And I am actually required to do promotional things for the PR side of the production. Sooo….am I going to say, “Sorry, I can’t be paying attention to all this fascinating stuff going on, and I’m not going to New York Comic Con, because I have to stay home and finish my novel?” Errr….no. (I mean, really—would _you_?)

So. I would have told you this a week or so ago, but once I’d made the decision that I needed an extra two months to do the book properly, all of the publishers needed to be officially informed. (Publishers hate finding out important things on Twitter or Facebook.)

Now, it’s up _to_ those publishers now to decide on a new pub date. They need to take into consideration all kinds of things, including the new date for the tv show’s release (not that there is an _official_ date as yet—and even if there was, it could move. Stuff Happens, as I’ve told you before), plus the usual considerations—where they can find a good slot in their existing schedule, what’s a good time of year for it, and so on.

I don’t have any idea what the new pub date might be. I’ll tell you the minute we know. But my immediate concern is for all the people I’ve seen this week excitedly making plans to come and see me in Portland or wherever.

Since the pub date is moving….I’m afraid (and my Deep Apologies to the poor publicists) all the tour events will have to be rescheduled, once a new date is chosen.

Now, I know a lot of you have been ordering tickets to the Portland event on April 6th. I’ll talk to the Random House people and the Portland people, and see what can be worked out. I’m happy to go and do that event, even if it’s not part of the official book-tour, if the organizers want that. But that’s up to them. I _will_ do my best to make sure you aren’t harmed by the change, though.

I’m sorry about this, and I thank you for your patience and understanding.

Casting Commentary

Sam Heughan and Friend at Outlanderworld

Sam Heughan and Friend at Outlanderworld

Goodness, can’t leave you lot to your own devices for long, can I? [g] Given the amount of traffic I see in the stats for this blog and my Facebook page, I conclude that the Casting Wars are still boiling along.

Well. Look.

1) People are entitled to their own opinions. Naturally, I’d prefer these opinions to be expressed—and received—civilly, but up to you, of course. I believe in the virtues of free discourse.

2) I—of course—am likewise entitled to an opinion. [cough]

Now, my opinion is based on rather more information than most others expressed here, because

a) I created Jamie Fraser and thus—presumably–have a pretty good idea of what he really looks and acts like.

b) While I haven’t yet met Sam Heughan, I’ve seen Rather a Lot of him (about 95%, at a rough guess), both in terms of

a. Photographs, and

b. Film, and

c. Bits and pieces, like audition tapes

Naturally, everyone forms mental images while reading. Everybody. I do it when I read other people’s books, too. Now, I can’t imagine why anyone—having read OUTLANDER—would form an image of Jamie as a 7-foot tall Bozo the clown on steroids, but you know….whatever floats your boat.

Why anyone should expect a film company to a) telepathically extract your personal vision of a character and b) try to replicate that onscreen is one of the Great Mysteries of the Universe, and I’m not about to try to solve it here—I got a book to write, among other things, and there are only so many hours in the day.

So I’m just going to say This about That:

Y’all have not seen Sam Heughan “be” Jamie Fraser.

I _have_.

Now, when they told me who they’d chosen and that they were sending me the audition tapes, I was in the car, driving from Phoenix to Santa Fe with my husband. Unable to get to my computer until we got to Santa Fe, I was madly googling “Sam Heughan” on my iPhone (my husband was driving, I hasten to add).

Frankly, I thought he looked bizarre. He’s 6’3”, that’s fine…very chiseled face, but oddly chiseled, and what’s with the large forehead and cleft chin?!? Jamie doesn’t have a cleft chin and his nose is not all that long, though it _is_ straight…and good grief, I know we wanted somebody who could play a 22-year-old virgin, but this guy hardly looks like he has hair on his behind, let alone the dangly bits…but…

But.

But you know, I _do_ understand what it is that actors do.

(Do you know that, btw? What they do is magic. They can become somebody they aren’t—and their physical outline is just Really Not That Important. (Within limits. Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher is a long way outside those limits…).)

So I sat down at my computer, sort of looking warily through my fingers. Willing to suspend disbelief if I could, but kind of dubious, you know?

So here he is, dark-haired, in a long-sleeved gray T-shirt, and I’m thinking, “Boy, he doesn’t look _anything_ like his IMDB photos, he actually looks pretty human, that’s a relief…”

And five seconds later, Sam Heughan was GONE, and it was Jamie Fraser right there in front of me. True. No costume, no makeup, no props, nothing but cues from an offstage casting director, and…it was him.

He did two scenes. First, a confrontation with Dougal, right after Dougal’s ripped his shirt off in the tavern.

“Devil take ye, Dougal MacKenzie! I dinna owe ye that!” Blazing blue eyes, swelling shoulders, and…bam. Showed this small bit to a (male) friend recently, who blinked at the screen and said, “Man, he’s powerful!” He was.

Second scene was even better; it’s the scene where Jamie explains to Claire exactly why he’s about to punish her. [g] And he had it all: patience, seriousness, annoyance, patience, humor, menace, humor, and…enough sex to drop anyone with functioning ovaries in their tracks.

Now. In the months since then, the production people have been kind enough to show me the occasional glimpse of this or that. I _have_ seen the red hair in its full glory (it took seven tries—and 27 hours in a salon chair, I was told by the victim), and speaking as someone married to a red-head (himself Jamie’s original body model) and with two more in residence…it’s definitely the right kind of red.

Red hair—as I notice a few red-heads have been mentioning—looks Way Different, depending on the light. Unless it’s truly carroty (and Jamie’s is Definitely Not), sometimes it looks almost brown, sometimes it’s red-gold and sometimes it’s all different colors and sometimes it has almost-blond highlights and sometimes…well, let’s put it this way: it doesn’t look like Bozo the clown or Shamus the Wrestler, it looks like Real Hair, just red. (And if you really worry about this, do go and google “red deer images” and _see_ what the heck a red deer’s pelt looks like.)

But beyond the physical details (which are, um…Really Good, and decency prevents me going further, save to say that while Jamie certainly doesn’t look like Thor (gag me with a spoon), he—and Mr. Heughan—look Very Nicely Muscled indeed)….Sam Heughan can _act_. And he totally nailed it.

So. Feel perfectly free to express your own opinions. (I don’t know quite what people expect as a result. Surely they don’t figure that Starz will say, “Oh, no! Robyn MacGillicuddy Stimson thinks Chris Hemsworth should be Jamie! Get Hemsworth’s agent on the phone!” Or at least I hope they don’t think that…) You’ll change your mind in due course.

Or I’ll pay you a dollar. [g]