• “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.”
  • “These books have to be word-of-mouth books because they're too weird to describe to anybody.”
    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


As I replied to one such commenter:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


#ReadWhileYouWait #OUTLANDER #RaidersInTheRocks #NoSpoilersInThisOne

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

I rolled over and put my arms about his neck.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

San Diego Comic-Con!


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

Thursday, July 24th

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

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

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

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


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

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

Horton Theatre Ticket Information

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

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

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

Friday, July 25th

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 26th

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

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

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

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


See the note below—this post is from July 6, 2014 and is a bit outdated…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**Webmistress’s Note on August 28, 2015: A lot has changed in the year since Diana posted the blog above on July 6, 2014:

  • See Diana’s Book Nine webpage for excerpts (aka "Daily Lines") and current information.
  • The revised, updated and expanded version of THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION, VOLUME ONE, was published on March 31, 2015 in the U.S.A. This ultimate guide to the OUTLANDER series covers the first four major novels: OUTLANDER, DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, VOYAGER, and DRUMS OF AUTUMN. (The original OC was published in 1999. The U.K. edition of this guide was titled THROUGH THE STONES.)
  • THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION, VOLUME TWO will be published in the U.S.A. on October 27, 2015. OC II is the guide to the second four major novels in the OUTLANDER series: THE FIERY CROSS, A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, AN ECHO IN THE BONE, and WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD (aka "MOBY").

Schmoozing in LA – Part 2 – Episode 1!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LA Schmoozing – International Film Rights

Salmon ArmSchmoozing in L.A….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And…We Have a New Cover!


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

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

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

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

Cool, huh? <g>

We Have An Air Date!

Starz Poster

We have an air date for the new OUTLANDER TV series!

OK. Let me start off with a few brief facts (in hopes of staving off reams of stuff about “But when is it showing in Outer Mongolia?”):

SONY is the corporation that actually owns the film rights.

STARZ is the American production company that is _making_ the tv show and who thus has the US licensing rights to air it. Sony will license the show to other countries individually.

This is the announcement about the Starz showing, which is why it’s for the US. The UK, France, Germany, Sweden, etc. are NOT being discriminated against; they (and a few hundred other countries) just don’t YET have licensing deals.

(Australia and Canada DO have licensing deals already: Foxtel SoHo will show it in Australia, Showcase in Canada. Neither of those channels has announced an air date yet, which is why it’s not here.)

OK. Y’all still with me? Good! [g] In that case…

STARZ’ production of OUTLANDER will air in the US on August 9th, at 9 PM EST, as the poster above says.

This is a regular cable-TV show (not a movie, not a mini-series), with a first season (and we hope there will be more) running 16 episodes. The first season covers OUTLANDER only; subsequent seasons, if we get them, will cover the other books.

Hang onto your seats: it’ll be FUN!

Thar She Blows….!

MOBY cover final US

It’s DONE!!!

As my husband says, “Finished” is a relative term to a writer. For me, there’s a sense of completion when I’ve seen the shape of the book; I know what I’m working with. Then there’s the BIG “Finished,” when I’ve done with the writing–the story is All There, and in the publisher’s hands; at this point, there _will_ be a book, even if I get run over by a train.

Revisions–usually very minor, and they were _really_ minor in this book–are generally done as I go along. I send my two editors (US and UK) chunks of the manuscript, and they send me their comments, and if there looks like anything that should be tweaked (often there’s not), I do that just as part of the daily writing.

So the next major “Finished” is the copy-edits. The copy-editor is the unsung heroine who reads the finished manuscript One. Word. At. A. Time, looking for typos, continuity errors, infelicities (like using the same word three times in the same paragraph, or using six clauses all separated by dashes <g>), and so on. This is god-awful tedious stuff, and it’s not a lot more fun on -my- end, when it comes back and I have to check through all of the copy-editor’s queries and either answer them or do something about them.

And once the copy-edits are done, the manuscript goes to the typesetters, and then we get galleys. That’s short for “galley-proofs.” These are typeset pages that look exactly as the pages will look in the book, including page numbers, gutters, decorations, etc.

The final “Finished!” is when I’ve read through the galleys, correcting any typos that escaped during the earlier processes (there are _always_ escaped typos, no matter how many people have combed through a manuscript, always), and errors introduced during the typesetting process (words hyphenated in the wrong place at the end of a line, lines transposed–very rare, but it happens–lines accidentally broken in the middle, and so on). This is also my Very Last Chance to change or fix anything, and for this manuscript, also the last chance to make sure all of the Gaelic and French and German phrases were correctly spelled. <g>

But I made it! The very last batch of corrected galleys went out of here by FedEx this afternoon. I’m FINISHED!!

Whereupon my husband took me out to celebrate, and after two bottles of a nice cold Austrian wine, a lobster quesadilla (divine), a bowl of Chama chili and a four-hour nap…I was Nicely Mellow. <g>

We’re done–and there _will_ be a book on June 10th! (in the US and Canada; I believe the UK/Australia/NZ are saying they plan to release it June 5th, and Germany is saying July 21st.) Hope you’ll enjoy it!

Oh–I’ve had a lot of inquiries lately about getting signed copies of WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD (My Own Heart’s Blood = MOHB = MOH-B = MOBY. Geddit?). For a list of places where I’ll be going and doing signings visit my official Appearances page on this site. If you don’t live in one of those places I ‘m visiting, but do want a signed book, the simplest thing to do is probably to order it from The Poisoned Pen bookstore, here in Scottsdale. They’re my local independent bookstore, always carry ALL my titles in all available formats, and will ship anywhere in the world. Just tell them how you’d like your book to be inscribed; I normally go by there every couple of weeks to sign their orders.

(Note from Diana’s webmistress: You can also request free, signed bookplates for your copies of MOBY. Click here for more information.)

26 Years Ago Today…

Outlander blue cover

I get the occasional question as to how I came to write OUTLANDER, and given that today is the 26th anniversary of my doing so, thought I’d maybe post this explanatory message—which I wrote a few years ago in thanks to the Compuserve folk who Witnessed the Creation , now updated.

Dear All–

On March 6, 1988, I started writing a novel. I wasn’t going to tell anyone what I was doing, let alone ever try to publish it. I just wanted to learn how to write a novel, and had concluded—having written All Kinds of nonfiction at that point—that the only way to do that was actually to write one. (I was not, btw, wrong in this assumption.)

Now, as a (rather convoluted) side-effect of my day-job, I’d become an “expert” in scientific computation (really easy to be an expert, if there are only six people in the world who do what you do, and that was my position, back in the early ’80′s), and as an even weirder side-effect of that, I became a member of the Compuserve Books and Writers Community (then called the Literary Forum), somewhere in late 1986.

Well, when I decided to learn to write a novel by writing one, I also decided a few other things:

1) I wouldn’t tell anyone what I was doing. Aside from the feeling of sheer effrontery involved in doing so, I didn’t want a lot of people telling me their opinions of what I should be doing, before I’d had a chance to figure things out for myself (as I said, I’d written a lot of non-fiction to this point, and nobody told me how). Also didn’t want a lot of busybodies (in my personal life) putting in their two cents, asking when I’d be done, and when it would be published, etc.—since I had no idea whether I could even finish a book.

2) I would finish the book. No matter how bad I thought it was, I wouldn’t just stop and abandon the effort. I needed to know what it took, in terms of daily discipline, mental commitment, etc. to write something like a novel. (I had written long things before—a 400-page doctoral dissertation entitled “Nest Site Selection in the Pinyon Jay, Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus,” (or, as my husband says, “Why birds build nests where they do, and who cares anyway?”), an 800-page monograph on “The Dietary Habits of the Birds of the Colorado River Valley,” etc.—but I’d never written fiction, other than lame short stories for English classes.) And

3) I’d do the absolute best that I could with the writing, every day. Even though this was a practice book that I’d never show anybody, it didn’t matter. If I wasn’t trying my best, how would I ever know if I was any good, and more importantly, how would I get better?

(In this regard, I had some evidence to go on. I’ve read all my life—hugely—and noticed that in most cases, while I’d enjoy all of an author’s books, including the first one, the books got noticeably better as the writer kept on writing. So, I concluded, with perfect logic, writing was like ballet dancing or piano-playing; if you practiced, you got better at it. I was not wrong in this conclusion, either.)

So, anyway, the book I wrote for practice was OUTLANDER, and here we are, 26 years and (almost) 14 books later. I just wanted to acknowledge the role of the Forum and my friends there, in that process.

How did that work, since I’d decided not to tell anybody what I was doing? Well, I stuck to that decision (I didn’t even tell my husband), but about six months into the writing, I was logging on intermittently late at night, picking up messages and posting replies—and found that I was having a argument with a gentleman (named Bill Garland, RIP) about what it feels like to be pregnant.

“Oh, I know what that feels like,” Bill assured me. “My wife’s had three children!” [pause here to allow the ladies to roll on the floor for a moment]

“Yeah, right,” I said. “_I’ve_ had three children, buster.”

So he asked me to describe what that was like.

Rather than try to cram such a description into a thirty-line message slot (all we had back in the old 300-baud dial-up days), I said, “Tell you what—I have this…piece…in which a young woman tells her brother what it’s like to be pregnant. I’ll put it in the data library for you.”

So—with trembling hands and pounding heart—I posted a small chunk (three or four pages, as I recall) of the book I was calling CROSS STITCH. And people liked it. They commented on it. They wanted to see more!

Aside from a few private moments associated with my husband and the birth of my children, this was the most ecstatic experience I’d ever had. And so, still trembling every time I posted something, I—very slowly—began to put up more.

Now, I don’t write with an outline, and I don’t write in a straight line, so my chunks weren’t chapters, weren’t contiguous, and generally weren’t connected to anything else. But they did have the same characters –and people liked those characters.

There were (and are) a lot of very kind and encouraging people who inhabited the Forum—some of them still there: Alex, Janet, Margaret, Marte… and many who aren’t, like Karen Pershing and John Kruszka (RIP), Mac Beckett, Michael Lee West–and Jerry O’Neill, whom I count as my First Fan and head cheerleader; always there to read what I posted and say the most wonderful things about it, one of the kindest people I’ve ever known.

So, over the course of the next year or so, these people kept egging me on. Asking questions, making comments*, urging me—eventually—to try to publish This Thing (it started out as a perfectly straight-forward historical novel, but then Things Happened, and what with the time-travel and the Loch Ness monster and all, I had no idea what it was).

*(Just to clarify—these were not critiques, just interested comments. I’ve never had a critique group nor ever would; nothing against them at all—I just don’t work that way. But regardless, I’d never put up _anything_ for public viewing that I didn’t think was completely ready for human consumption.)

Some of these people were published authors themselves and very kindly shared their own stories, and advice regarding literary agents and the publishing process (thank you, Mike Resnick, and Judy McNaught!), and in the fullness of time, John Stith very kindly introduced me to his own agent—who took me on, on the basis of an unfinished first novel. And…I finished it, to the supportive cheers of the Forum. A couple of weeks later, my agent sold it, as part of a three-book contract, to Delacorte, and bing!—I was a novelist.

Not saying I’d never have written a book without y’all—but man, you guys _helped_. Thank you!