• “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

The "Dr. Who" Connection


frazer-hines-with-fanFrazer Hines (the actor who played Jamie MacCrimmon, a companion to the second Doctor, on the BBC series "Dr. Who") sent me these photos this morning— they were taken last summer (2009) in Edinburgh (by a nice journalist named Jean Brittain— thanks, Jean!) while I was appearing at the Gathering there. You can’t see any of it, alas, but we’re on the grounds of Holyrood Palace here, talking with fans who’d come to my reading.

Now, I’ve known Frazer on paper for years; when my first book was published, I sent him a couple of copies, with a letter explaining that it was a “Dr. Who” episode in which he’d appeared that caused me to set the book in eighteenth century Scotland, and he’d kindly replied to me. But we’d never met in person.

bbc-diana-frazer-hines-2Last summer, though, a BBC reporter, seeing my name on the list of guests for the Gathering, had a brainstorm, and called to ask whether I’d be willing to do an interview with Frazer for a radio program. I said I’d love to, and was expecting to meet him at the hotel that evening. As I was working my way toward the end of the enormous signing line, though, I looked up and smiled at the next person, thinking, "Well, he looks familiar; did I see him in the bar… oh. Oh!"

Oh, indeed. <g> Anyway, we had a lovely chat, with each other and with a few fans, and then did our main interview the next day as planned (more or less interviewing each other while watching snippets of "War Games"— the episode in which Frazer—er… well, Frazer’s kilt, at least [cough]— had caught my attention).

The BBC has finally finished all its editing— boiling down three or four hours of material to half an hour— and is broadcasting the interview this week. There are two scheduled broadcasts on the BBC proper, but they also have a podcast version, available for listening anytime during the next seven days. So I thought I’d put up a link for those who don’t want to try to figure out the time changes:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00sb9x2

Note: The radio broadcast, "Time-Travelling Scots," was broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland on Monday, May 5 and 15, 2010. It is re-broadcast periodically.

For those who are interested, the Dr. Who connection to OUTLANDER is also explored in my FAQ under the question "So where did you get the idea to write these books?"

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THE METHADONE LIST: The Children’s Book

THE CHILDREN’S BOOK

I love A.S. Byatt’s work. She writes “literary fiction”–this being on one hand a catchall phrase for any book that doesn’t fit conveniently into a genre designation, and on the other, a term that generally implies particularly good writing, often accompanied by unique insight and acute perception. Byatt’s got all of this, in spades. (Some of you might remember her earlier book, POSSESSION: A Romance. (One British friend told me he’d picked up a copy of this in the library, to find that an earlier reader had penciled a helpful message on the title page: “They finally do it on page 572.” I mention this in case you too might find it helpful.))

She also writes books in which terrifically interesting things happen—not always a hallmark of literary fiction [g]. THE CHILDREN’S BOOK is a wonderful creation, set during the transition between the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth, which encompasses the flowering romanticism of the Arts and Crafts Movement in England (I found this part particularly fascinating, as my great-great-grandfather was an artist who was part of this movement), the political upheavals of suffragism, socialism, and anarchy, and the onrush of the First World War.

Now, whatever the theme, setting, and plot of a book, the really important thing is the character(s) who carry it out. And I tell you what: few people do better characters than Byatt does. Her people are remarkably multi-faceted, complex, interesting, and _real_. She knows what artists are like, and captures a range of them—the central egotism and ruthlessness of character that makes a good one, the helplessness of a failed artist, the mutual jealousy between the commercially successful and the unsuccessful but “pure” artist.

The story—or stories; there are many of them—center on an unorthodox family and its friends. [ ] is a writer—a very successful writer, whose huge family provides her with both impetus and material. The “children’s book” of the title refers not to a single book, but to the private stories—one for each child—that she maintains in notebooks, adding to each one as inspiration comes. The way in which love works—supportive, exploitative, pragmatic, idealistic, romantic, familial, jealousy, selflessness, free love, marriage—is at the core of the novel (as it is at the core of most great books).

At the same time, it’s a wonderful exploration and dissection of a society—the British middle-class—in a time of intellectual ferment and unprecedented political change. AND written with an exquisite eye for detail and tremendous lyrical energy. Here’s a brief excerpt of the text:

THE CHILDREN’S BOOK
Copyright 2009 A.S. Byatt

“ Hedda lay in the long grass, with her skirt rucked up above her knickers, and her lengthening brown legs stretched out. She was fortunate not to have hay fever, as Phyllis did. She was not exactly reading _The Golden Age_. I am a snake in the grass, she thought, a secret snake. Violet was sitting on the roughly mown grass in the orchard, at some distance, in a low wicker armchair, sewing. Hedda spent a lot of time spying on Violet, as a revenge for the fact that Violet spied on her, going through her private drawers and notebooks. Hedda, like Phyllis, was perpetually agitated by being left out of the group of older children, Tom and Dorothy, Charles and Griselda, and now Geraint. But whereas Phyllis was plaintive, Hedda was enraged. She was the traitor in all tales of chivalry and in myths. She was Vivien, she was Morgan Le Fay, she was Loki. She despised the cow-eyed and the gentle, Elaine the lily maid, faithful Psyche, Baldur’s weeping wife, Nanna. She was a detective, who saw through appearances. No one was as nice as they seemed, was her rule of judging characters. She was the darkest of the children, with long black hair and very solid black brows, drawn in a frown more often than not, and long, black lashes which in themselves were beautiful, especially when she was asleep. She had no one to talk to about her investigations. Phyllis was an idiot. Florian was a baby. She had had hopes of Pomona, but Pomona was an idiot, too, of the same kind as Phyllis. Dorothy was who she hated, because she was older, and in the way, and got things Hedda didn’t get. And because she had Griselda, and they were together, and Hedda had no one. But Dorothy didn’t know what Hedda knew, or partly knew. “

Much as I love series, with the possibilities of ever-evolving characters and the charm of renewed acquaintance, I love one-of-a-kind treasures like this just as much. Highly engrossing, highly recommended!

THE METHADONE LIST: DANA STABENOW

For those who like series, mysteries, books with rich, idiosyncratic settings, engaging characters, Strong Women (which frankly, I think is getting to be something of a cliché’—not the women themselves, of course, but the mention of them as a talking point for a book. I mean, who recommends a book by saying, “The heroine is a weak, whiny, wilted piece of toast—but it’s a great book!”) and reasonably hot sex on occasion….let me recommend Dana Stabenow.
Dana is one of those amazing people who actually produces a book a year (I gasp in envy), and develops her characters and plots beautifully as the series progresses, though each book is a complete stand-alone mystery, and can be read on its own. The personal lives of the characters—particularly the main character, Kate Shugak—definitely would repay the effort of starting from the beginning, with A COLD DAY FOR MURDER.

Dana’s Wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dana_Stabenow ) gives the following description of the series, and since they do it a lot more succinctly than I can [g], I’ll let them:

Kate Shugak is a Native Alaskan, an Aleut, living in a fictional national park in Alaska, based loosely on the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve. Formerly an investigator for the Anchorage District Attorney’s office, an incident during which she is badly injured on the job causes her to quit and return home to live on her own. Regular characters in the Shugak series include:
Mutt, Kate’s part-wolf dog.
Jack Morgan, Anchorage District Attorney, and Kate’s lover for the first nine books.
Ekatarina Shugak, Kate’s grandmother
Bobby Clark, Vietnam vet and ham operator
Dan O’Brien, Ranger assigned to the Park
Sgt. Jim Chopin, a State Trooper assigned to the Park
Shugak stories:

• A Cold Day for Murder (1992) (the first in the Kate Shugak series) – A park ranger is missing, and so is the investigator the Anchorage police sent in to look for him. Kate’s ex-boss and ex-lover, Jack Morgan, convinces her to investigate their disappearances on her own terms, beginning her new career as a private investigator. This book introduces us to main characters that will remain constants in the books to come and sets the tone for the coming books. The storyline establishes the relationship between Kate and Jack and gives some background information and insight into their relationship.

• A Fatal Thaw (1992) – A killer claims eight victims but nine bodies were found lying in the snow.

• Dead in the Water (1993) – Kate hires on as a deckhand on a crabber where two former deckhands mysteriously disappeared. This novel talks about life on a crab fishing boat and the dangers on the sea.

• A Cold-blooded Business (1994) – A novel that talks about life in the oil fields above the Arctic Circle has Kate looking into drug smuggling and finding other illegal situations as well.

• Play With Fire (1995) – While picking mushrooms, Kate and her friends stumble upon the body of the son of the leader of a religious sect.

• Blood Will Tell (1996) – Mostly set at the annual Alaska Federation of Natives convention, which Kate attends at the insistence of her grandmother, Kate looks into the death of one of the local village’s board members.

• Breakup (1997) – Breakup is the season of early Spring, when the rivers and ground starts to thaw and people can start spending more time outdoors again. Kate looks into the death of a woman by a bear that doesn’t quite add up.

• Killing Grounds (1998) – Set in the summer fishing season of salmon, Kate investigates the death of a fellow fisherman while working as a deckhand on a tender.

• Hunter’s Moon (1999) – Kate and Jack take on a job to escort a group of business men and woman into the park trophy hunting.

• Midnight Come Again (2000) – After the events in the previous novel, Kate has gone missing from her home and friends.

• The Singing of the Dead (2001) – Kate hires on to protect the life of a candidate for Alaskan State Senator.

• A Fine and Bitter Snow (2002) – A novel that talks about oil drilling in a wildlife preserve, Kate looks into an attack on two friends of her late grandmother.

• A Grave Denied (2003) – Some students on a field trip discover a body in the mouth of a glacier.

• A Taint in the Blood (2004) – A woman hires Kate to clear her mother of a thirty year old murder, but the mother doesn’t want to be cleared.

• A Deeper Sleep (2007) – Kate tries to get a conviction on a repeat offender while her tribal elders try to get her to take a more solid role in the tribe.

• Whisper to the Blood (February, 2009) – A world-class gold mine is discovered in the Park at almost the same moment Kate is whipsawed by the Aunties into a seat on the local Native association board of directors.

• A Night Too Dark (scheduled for 2010)

I’ve just read the new A NIGHT TOO DARK, and it’s every bit as good as the rest of the series; I’ve seldom met a more dependable author, in term both of productivity and quality. [g]

I like Dana’s Liam Campbell series even better (the German translator who has worked on both our books, and has read all Dana’s mysteries, says that Liam Campbell is the closest thing she’s seen to a modern-day Jamie Fraser—and the sex is particularly good in those), but the three Campbell books are unfortunately out of print at the moment (totally worth finding on eBay, alibris, or abebooks, though), and no more under contract, which is a shame.

Anyway, I thought that when recommending books, when possible, I might include a small bit of text so as to give a taste of an author’s style (NB: An author’s works are copyrighted, but quoting a short passage for review purposes is considered “fair use”). So here’s a tiny bit of A NIGHT TOO DARK (Copyright 2010 Dana Stabenow):

She heaved a martyr’s sigh. ”All right,” she said, as they had both known she would. “I’ll find him and talk to him for you. I’d like to see this Lothario for myself, anyway.”
She came around the counter and sauntered toward him. He admired her while she did so. Yeah, maybe she didn’t have the figure Laurel had, but when she wanted to, Kate could telegraph her intentions in a way that was little less than incitement to riot. Jim had watched plenty of women walk in his lifetime, both toward him and away, and he had never appreciated the amalgamation of brain and bone, muscle and flesh the way he did when it came wrapped in this particular package.
“Beat it,” she said to Mutt.
Mutt flounced over to the fireplace, scratched the aunties’ quilt into a pile, turned around three times, and curled up with her back most pointedly toward them.
Kate smiled down at Jim. Just like that, Jim got hard. And she knew it, he could tell by the deepening indentations at the corners of that wide, full-lipped mouth. “Jesus, woman,” he said. If he wasn’t flustered, it was as close as he ever got.
“What can I say,” she said. “I have special powers.” He was pulled to a sitting position with a fistful of shirt and she climbed aboard.


(My husband caught sight of one of Dana’s books on the kitchen table, asked me what it was, and upon being told that it was a murder mystery set in Alaska, exclaimed, “And her name is Stab-‘em-now”?! What a _great_ name for a mystery writer!” Alas, it’s really pronounced STAB-uh-no, but still great books.)
See more about Dana at

http://www.stabenow.com/

(And I think the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale still has a few autographed copies from the event that Dana, Laurie King, and I did together a couple of months ago. www.poisonedpen.com . )

April Appearances


April Appearances

I’ve mostly been staying home and writing this month. Yes, am definitely working on both SCOTTISH PRISONER and Book Eight [g]—though this week, most of my work time has been devoted to reading/correcting the galleys for THE EXILE—for which the cover art has just been released! (Yes, yes, yes, Claire should indeed be wearing her shoes here [g], and with luck, that will be fixed along with a number of other small things. And the flashes among the rocks are musket-fire.)

I’m doing a few appearances/jobs this month, but most of them are not public functions (I’ll be giving the keynote speech at the Glyph Awards banquet, for instance—this is the annual dinner for the Arizona Publishers Association—and judging undergraduate science presentations for Northern Arizona University’s UGRAD program; also meeting with the committee of judges for the Agassiz Prize for Science Writing, which I (and a couple of like-minded scientists) fund and support).

The one thing that _is_ public is a book-signing held as part of the local RWA chapter’s “Desert Dreams” conference (I’m doing a workshop for them, too, but that’s open only to conference attendees). That’s this Saturday—April 17th—at the Chaparral Suites hotel, and the mass book-signing (attended by _all_ the published authors at the conference, not just me) will be open to the public.

Owing to the large number of people participating, the bookseller can’t bring _all_ the titles for everyone, so they asked me which of my books I’d like to have available for sale. They’ll have OUTLANDER in hardcover and trade paperback, ECHO in hardcover, and THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION (hardcover), but if you would like to bring your own books to be signed, too, that’s totally OK by me.

The book-signing runs from 5:45 – 7:00 PM. See you there!

Auf Wiedersehn…







I’m back! Amazingly enough, so is my luggage. [g]

I think I’ve been to Germany five or six times now—and my luggage has never once reached the place when I did. It’s always showed up eventually, after one, two, three, or even four days, but I’m probably one of the few Americans who knows exactly where the British Airways lost-luggage office is in the Duesseldorf airport. Mind, the first time I went to Germany, Things Happened en route, and I ended up in Amsterdam rather than Frankfort, so it was no wonder that the luggage ended up somewhere in the bowels of Gatwick airport and I was obliged to attend my German god-daughter’s christening in the jeans and T-shirt in which I’d been traveling.

(That was the four-day delay, which led to my being Really Tired of those jeans and T-shirt by the time I arrived in London two days after the christening, which in turn led to my washing said clothes in the bathtub of my borrowed flat with a bottle of shampoo (I’d arrived on a Sunday evening, nothing was open save the little shop down the road, and I had only two pounds in English money on me; all I could afford was a tiny bottle of shampoo and a carton of milk) and hanging them out the window to dry, only to discover that the humidity of a summer night in London is about 92%. I eventually resorted to drying my jeans in the oven, though I was still pretty damp when I squelched off to Selfridge’s in the morning to buy a fresh shirt and a pair of earrings before my first interview.)

You’d think I’d learn. But nooooo….I entrusted my luggage this time to USAirways (my current candidate for Worst Airline Ever, and I speak from vast experience), to be handed over to Lufthansa when I changed planes in Chicago. Not that I really had much choice; you can’t carry the Necessary for a week-long book-tour in a book-satchel, after all. I was not really surprised, though, to eventually reach Cologne and discover that my luggage hadn’t.

Well, one gets philosophical about this sort of thing, and the Lufthansa lost-luggage people kindly gave me an emergency overnight kit, with toothbrush, toothpaste, and a size XL white cotton T-shirt in which to sleep. I had my book-satchel with me, containing Kindle, takeoff/landing book (because they won’t let you read your Kindle during those periods), chocolate, and essential meds, after all—what else did I really need?

Granted, there was a photoshoot scheduled for the next morning, during which the German publisher proposed to get a new dust-jacket author photo. And while I could do interviews perfectly well in jeans, turquoise Uggs, and a turquoise plaid shirt (my travel ensemble), that seemed a little casual for the evening event at LitCologne, the city’s very elegant literary festival, for which I was meant to address the multitudes—in company with Cologne’s Vice-Mayor for Culture (Cologne has seven or eight vice-mayors, I’m told. And there is evidently quite a bit of vice, too; I was told that the new Metro was constructed by the German equivalent of the Mafia, who stole so much material from the project that a new underground station had recently collapsed—taking with it the state Archives (which was sitting on top of it) and destroying the biggest collection of medieval manuscripts in northern Europe) and Daniela Hoffman, the actress who reads the German audiobook version of my work, this event to be held on a ship cruising up and down the Rhine.

The resourceful publicist who’d met me at the airport checked me into the Hotel im Wasserturm (Hotel in the Watertower, and it is. Built inside an ex-water-tower, I mean. Interesting place. Wedge-shaped rooms. http://www.hotel-im-wasserturm.de/), then asked the desk clerk where to find a department store likely to be open in the evening, and we charged down the street in the rain (propelled by the enormous umbrella helpfully supplied by said desk clerk, which acted as a wind-sail) to Kaufhof, a monstrous store with acres of clothes, shoes, luggage, jewelry, etc.

One hour of frantic shopping, and I was hastily but respectably equipped with black short-sleeved sweater, black long-sleeved sweater, black pants, colorful scarf, a rudimentary makeup kit, gold earrings, and what my husband described upon seeing them as “fetish boots.” (see above).

Got up early the next morning and dressed in my new finery, went off to be photo-shot. The art director from the publishing company had chosen two locales for this: the basement of the City Hall, and the ruins of a bombed-out church. (Don’t ask me; I’m not an art director.)

The entourage included said art director, the publicist with me, the photographer, the photographer’s assistant (the hapless person whose job it is to hold immense reflectors and carry the tripod), and a nice young stylist named Xenia, who plied her art subtly enough that while I did look older than I do unadorned (_vide_ the less formal snapshots, which were taken that evening in a café with some local readers, after the LitCologne event, and the lovely rain-soaked one taken by my German translator coming down into the Moser Valley). I did not look like a prostitute, I’m happy to say.

I did nearly freeze to death. It had stopped raining, but spring had not yet sprung, and I tell you what, old stone buildings are C-O-L-D, especially if you have to stand very still on said stones for very long. The photoshoot took abour four hours, all told, and Xenia and the publicist took turns leaping forward to swathe me in coats and shawls whenever the photographer paused to change equipment.

The locales were actually very picturesque; the basement of the City Hall is open to the sky, and is the oldest part of the building, with arches and twining vines; they told me that it’s a popular site for weddings (preferably in warmer weather). The church is St. Alban’s, and the ruins enclose a very moving war memorial called “Grieving Parents”, which I think you can see here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/schroeer-heiermann/4124722676/

and in more detail here:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alt_St._Alban_-_Trauerndes_Elternpaar_%289127-29%29.jpg

(We were naturally not shooting near the sculpture, but off to either side.)

Cologne is also where I made rendezvous with my friend and translator, Barbara Schnell—who is also a photojournalist. You can see some of the pictures she took of the German tour here (click on one of the pictures to enter the site, then click on “blog” and you’ll see the entry for March 20th there is of the German tour):

www.bschnell.de

I had a wonderful time in Germany, but am glad to be back—and so is my luggage. [g]

Tournament of Audiobooks!

Well, here’s a quickie: some kind person just notified me that AN ECHO IN THE BONE is one of the entrants in Audible.com’s “Tournament of the Audiobooks.” [g] I’m very flattered!

Should you be an Audible.com member—or just feel like voting—the first round of voting is open until (I think) March 15. This

http://www.audible.com/adbl/site/template/toa/FlashBracket.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=Yes

is the page for the “Customer Favorites” category, which is where ECHO is (there are also several other categories, all accessible from this page. Have fun!

BRAVO PEORIA!

You know, I’d have gone to the Tucson Book Festival this coming weekend (I went to the first one last year, and had a wonderful time—heartily recommend it to all of you who live in the Tucson area!), save that I’m leaving for Germany on Sunday, and didn’t want to be gone all of Saturday, rolling home after midnight and then having to rush around packing and watering plants and all the stuff one does when leaving home for a week. So I declined with regrets.

However, late last week, I got a request from the Peoria Book Festival, through the Poisoned Pen, asking whether I might be able to come just for a couple of hours on Saturday. Well…Peoria is a lot closer to where I live than Tucson is, and a couple of hours is do-able, so I said OK, sure.

So, I didn’t want those of your connected with the Tucson Book Festival to feel I was snootering you if you heard I’d been in Peoria on Saturday. But I do want those of you who might be closer to Peoria and might be interested, to know about their book festival—which actually is titled “Bravo Peoria!” [g] For those who might be interested, here are the details:

Event: Bravo Peoria!
Date: Saturday, March 13th
Time: 9:00am – 4:00pm
Location: Sunrise Mountain Library
Description: A community event to celebrate Culture and the Arts. Sunrise Mountain Library will host a day long event with entertainment, artists, antiques, book sale and more. The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Sunrise mountain Library 21200 N 98th Ave., Peoria, AZ 85382.
Contact Person: Library Staff
Contact Phone: 623-773-8650

OK, now please note that I’ll be there only between 1 and 3 PM. (I will be talking for about half an hour, then signing books.) But the Poisoned Pen will be there all day, and will have what the manager refers to as “Gabaldoniana” in quantity. If you plan to come to the festival, but won’t be there when I am, feel free to buy a book at the Poisoned Pen booth, and leave it with a note as to how you’d like it signed. You can pick it up later in the day, or ask the store to mail it to you.

(Also, if you’d like to buy a particular book to have signed there, you might want to call the Poisoned Pen ahead of time; I know they’ll have a lot of OUTLANDER and ECHO, because the first and most recent titles always sell best—but I’m sure they’d bring any of the other books you like, if you let them know. The PP phone number is 480-947-2974.)

THE METHADONE LIST: Christopher Brookmyre


THE METHADONE LIST: Christopher Brookmyre

I seldom write fan letters to other authors. Not that I don’t want to; there are lots of wonderful books that move me to admiration, laughter, tears, etc., and I’d love to let the authors of them know that. In some cases, the authors in question are dead, though, which kind of renders a fan letter moot (though I do Say a Word during my evening rosary—that’s my Lenten devotion this year, saying the rosary every night (provided I don’t fall asleep in the middle, but I haven’t yet; lovely, peaceful meditation)). In most cases, though, I just don’t get around to it. You know, busy life, obligations, family, dogs, book-tours, saying the rosary [g], answering the nice messages people send me, etc., etc.

Which is why I particular appreciate the letters and emails people send me; I know just how much effort it takes to actually do something like that, rather than just think about it. So it’s all the more remarkable that upon reading Christopher Brookmyre’s PANDAEMONIUM recently, I put down the book and actually wrote him a fan letter. Which said:

Dear Christopher–

I’ve just finished wallowing in PANDAEMONIUM, pausing occasionally to gasp with admiration at your sheer technical brilliance (we’ll take the tremendous energy, amazing ear for dialogue and eye for social dynamics, and your talent for chronic hilarity (ranging from subtle to belly-laugh) as read). All of which is _nothing_ to my enjoyment of the way your mind works. [g] I couldn’t have done a clearer explanation of just what science _is_ (and how it works) myself–and I do it frequently, what with the appalling state of prevalent ignorance and the many practitioners thereof. And the sheer bloody brilliance, not only of the concept, but the _ending_…!

I’ve been enjoying your books for years, and you’ve been getting better and better, juggling the ideas so deftly with the satire and the plot (speaking of juggling, I adore your magician from THE SACRED ART OF STEALING and SNOWBALL IN HELL, too). This one is Just Great. Thanks so much.

–Diana

So anyway, still in the grip of this unaccustomed burst of energy [g], I thought I’d mention Chris as the latest recommendation on The Methadone List, and an excellent one he is, too—not only for the quality of his books, but the quantity as well; he produces something close to a book a year (a feat which excites my envious admiration).

Brookmyre’s books are all violent, bloody, and absolutely hilarious. They’re not a series; some of the books feature a recurring main character, the journalist Jack Parlabane, two of them have a wonderful, emotionally vulnerable, light-fingered magician as the hero (I fell in love with him, and I have high standards in that department [cough]), and some are one-off standalones. ALL of them are wonderfully plotted, deeply satirical, and done with a distinctly Scottish sense of humor.

The only real drawback to Brookmyre’s books is that they aren’t all published yet in the US (US publishers in these parlous times fight shy of anything offbeat, like stories written with Scots vernacular—but I sort of don’t think that would be a problem for most of you guys [g]). Still, Amazon.com does have all of them for sale at least in paperback

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_8?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=brookmyre+christopher&sprefix=Brookmyr

though I’m displeased to note that they only have PANDAEMONIUM listed in the Kindle edition. (I bought mine in hardcover—I grab Brookmyre on sight—from The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale; they import a lot of British authors, and routinely carry all of Brookmyre’s books. If you’d like a hard copy (undeniably expensive, but worth it), see

http://www.poisonedpen.com/search?SearchableText=Christopher+Brookmyre .) I’m sure you could get them all from amazon.co.uk, but then there’s the shipping to pay, so it’s pretty much a wash.

Hope you enjoy him as much as I have!

(And here’s his website, too, which has brief excerpts from some of his books:

http://www.brookmyre.co.uk/ .)

WARRIORS on the way!


Just got word from the editor of the WARRIORS anthology that it will be released March 10! (In case you’re beginning to cast round for new things to read.)

This is an anthology, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, with short stories and novellas by a lot of very talented people. I have a novella in this book, a Lord John story titled “The Custom of the Army” (and before a lot of you write, demanding that I stop wasting time writing about Lord John…I wrote this novella last year, _while_ finishing AN ECHO IN THE BONE. I normally do work on multiple projects at once; I get a lot farther, a lot faster that way). There’s a longish excerpt from this story on my website (www.dianagabaldon.com ), and here’s a further short one.

“The Custom of the Army” (in WARRIORS)
Copyright 2010 Diana Gabaldon

A month later, Grey found himself, Tom Byrd at his side, climbing off the Harwood and into one of the small boats that would land them and the battalion of Louisbourg grenadiers with whom they had been traveling on a large island near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.

He had never seen anything like it. The river itself was larger than any he had ever seen, nearly half a mile across, running wide and deep, a dark blue-black under the sun. Great cliffs and undulating hills rose on either side of the river, so thickly forested that the underlying stone was nearly invisible. It was hot, and the sky arched brilliant overhead, much brighter and much wider than any sky he had seen before. A loud hum echoed from the lush growth—insects, he supposed, birds, and the rush of the water, though it felt as though the wilderness were singing to itself, in a voice heard only in his blood. Beside him, Tom was fairly vibrating with excitement, his eyes out on stalks, not to miss anything.

“Cor, is that a Red Indian?” he whispered, leaning close to Grey in the boat.

“I don’t suppose he can be anything else,” Grey replied, as the gentleman loitering by the landing was naked save for a breech-clout, a striped blanket slung over one shoulder, and a coating of what—from the shimmer of his limbs—appeared to be grease of some kind.

“I thought they’d be redder,” Tom said, echoing Grey’s own thought. The Indian’s skin was considerably darker than Grey’s own, to be sure, but a rather pleasant soft brown in color, something like dried oak leaves. The Indian appeared to find them nearly as interesting as they had found him; he was eyeing Grey in particular with intent consideration.

“It’s your hair, me lord,” Tom hissed in Grey’s ear. “I told you you ought to have worn a wig.”

“Nonsense, Tom.” At the same time, Grey experienced an odd frisson up the back of the neck, constricting his scalp. Vain of his hair, which was blond and thick, he didn’t commonly wear a wig, choosing instead to bind and powder his own for formal occasions. The present occasion wasn’t formal in the least. With the advent of fresh water aboard, Tom had insisted upon washing his hair that morning, and it was still spread loose upon his shoulders, though it had long since dried.

The boat crunched on the shingle, and the Indian flung aside his blanket and came to help the men run it up the shore. Grey found himself next the man, close enough to smell him. He smelt quite unlike anyone Grey had ever encountered; gamy, certainly—he wondered, with a small thrill, whether the grease the man wore might be bear-fat—but with the tang of herbs and a sweat like fresh-sheared copper.

Straightening up from the gunwale, the Indian caught Grey’s eye and smiled.

“You be careful, Englishman,” he said, in a voice with a noticeable French accent, and reaching out, ran his fingers quite casually through Grey’s loose hair. “Your scalp would look good on an Huron’s belt.”

This made the soldiers from the boat all laugh, and the Indian, still smiling, turned to them.

“They are not so particular, the Abenaki who work for the French. A scalp is a scalp—and the French pay well for one, no matter what color.” He nodded genially to the grenadiers, who had stopped laughing. “You come with me.”

[end section]

You can pre-order the book at amazon.com, though if you’d like a signed copy, you can also order it from The Poisoned Pen (www.poisonedpen.com); I go by the store every week or so to sign their orders.

February Appearances

Hi, all!

I’m BACK (at long last) from the UK and New York (where I was food-poisoned the night before our return to Arizona. All I’ll say about that is that it’s marginally better to be deathly ill in Business Class than coach; no one notices if you pass out in your seat, and it’s much easier to get into the lavatories). Now dealing with all the Stuff that accumulates when I’m gone, plus some urgent Stuff for the German book-tour _next_ month. But thought I should at least post the appearance schedule for February (all in Arizona). Stay tuned, though, for my riveting account of the UK book-tour in three parts: “The Highheidyins,” “The Big Wheel,” and “Goose Poop and Candlelight.” Coming soon!

I’m trying really hard not to go anywhere or do anything, so I can sit still and write books. Believe me, 2010 is already completely booked, in terms of appearances (yes, I’ll be in Germany next month, and yes, I’m doing a short –five cities, they said—tour for the graphic novel when it’s released in the US this September—and yes, I’ll be at Comics-Con in New York. I’ll do the whole-year schedule (as now known) a little later this week). I’ll mostly be at home in February, but will be visible at five events (all in-state) this month:

FEBRUARY, 2010

February 13th — 11 AM-1 PM
ARIZONA RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL – Apache Junction

http://www.royalfaires.com/arizona/

I’ll be signing books from 11-1 at Ann Chamberlin’s bookshop, located (I’m told) in a particularly desirable location near the jousting (desirable—I’m told–because it’s opposite the privies).

February 16th — 7 PM at the Arizona Biltmore
The Poisoned Pen sponsors an event for Dana Stabenow

http://www.poisonedpen.com/event-calendar

My friend Dana has a new Kate Shugak novel out on the 16th, and will be doing the launch party at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel (http://www.arizonabiltmore.com/ ). Laurie R. King (who also has a new book out—GOD OF THE HIVE, a Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes novel) will be there, too! Free admission, and you’re welcome to have books signed by any of us.

February 19th – noon-2 PM
NAU Bookstore signing
Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ

http://maps.google.com/maps/place?hl=en&source=hp&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=northern+arizona+university+bookstore&fb=1&gl=us&hq=northern+arizona+university+bookstore&hnear=Flagstaff,+AZ&cid=2306869829449448178&ei=7llpS5_TEI7ysQOXtKz4BA&sa=X&oi=local_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CBgQnQIwAw

I’ll be signing all my books (which the bookstore presumably will have in stock). Feel free to bring your older books from home, if you like, too; just be sure to let the bookstore personnel know when you come in.

February 20th – noon-2PM
Northern Arizona Celtic Heritage Society Celtic Tea
Thornager’s Kilted Cat, Flagstaff, AZ
Call Jude McKenzie at 928-556-3161 for tickets and information.

http://www.thornagers.com/

This is a fun event that usually runs between 2-3 hours. I’ll be speaking, reading, and showing off some of the art from the new graphic novel. In addition, the Heritage Society ladies also serve high tea (sandwiches, pastries, and scones, with tea), have a hat contest, a silent auction, and other small entertainments. Books will be available for sale, but you’re also welcome to bring your older books from home.

February 26th
Brandeis Books and Authors Luncheon
At the J.W. Marriott Resort and Spa at Desert Ridge

I’ll be a speaker (one of several) at this fund-raising luncheon on behalf of Brandeis University. I’ll be speaking for about fifteen minutes, and there will be books available for sale and signing. This event is open to the public, with a ticket price of $100 for the day’s events, including a gourmet luncheon.

The other speakers are:
Lisa See
Christopher Reich
Joseph Kanon
Allegra Huston
Christopher Kennedy Lawford

The moderator is Andrei Cherney, the honorary chairman is Al McCoy and Clive Cussler will also be there to sign books and present the first Clive Cussler Award for Literature. (Which they are, very kindly, awarding to me. )

Please contact mskbflo@aol.com for details and/or tickets.

Hope to see many of you at one or the other of these events!

[That's Violet up top. She hasn't got anything to do with the subject of this post, but she doesn't get a lot of face time, up against the photogenic Dachshund Brothers.]