• “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

Happy Release Day to the UK!

Theoretically, THE SCOTTISH PRISONER was released in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand today (well…December 1. I haven’t gone to bed yet, so it’s still Dec. 1 for me). I _know_ it was released November 29th in the US, because we had a delightful launch party for it, and people have apparently been enjoying it ever since. Hope y’all enjoy it!

I did hear from several people that they had received emails from Barnes and Noble, informing them that their books hadn’t shipped yet, “because the release date had changed.” {ahem} Far be it from me to say that a respectable large bookstore chain lies like a rug, but I also have a number of photos sent me by readers, proudly showing off their new books–not a few of which sport B&N “20% Off Bestseller” stickers.

Now, they may possibly not have ordered _enough_ copies, and thus be trying to prevent people canceling their orders and buying the book elsewhere while they scramble to get more–I’m sure couldn’t say as to their possible motives–but I _can_ say that the book is out.

Hope you enjoy it whenever and however you get it!

And Many, Many Thanks to Elenna Loughlin, who provided the beautiful author’s photo–which I include here, because the UK readers tell me it isn’t on the trade paperback edition that they mostly get, and they should get to enjoy it, too.

Now, for those of you who’ve already reached the Author’s Notes, there is a note there to the effect that we have sound files of the Gaelic bits, _and_ phonetic pronunciations, and those will be available here. They _will_, but probably not before the end of the weekend–I’m madly finishing a novella (“The Space Between”) and the wonderful Cathy MacGregor is working on the pronunciations in the interstitces of her own work. But they _will_ be up here, as soon as we can manage it!

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A Word From Mike Gibb

Dear Guys–

Many of you will know Mike Gibb as the lyricist (and original inspiration) behind OUTLANDER: The Musical, and will have enjoyed his wonderful songs. A hard-working and compassionate man, he’s also one of the chief supports of Bianca, a lovely (and vital) charity for abandoned pets. I was very impressed, hearing about them, and so I’ve offered to put up here his description of Bianca and their work.

While on holiday in Portugal Mike Gibb (Outlander The Musical) was horrified by the many stray and abandoned dogs, most of whom displayed horrific signs of neglect, mistreatment and starvation, and shocked by the fact that there was no one to care for them except charities run by volunteers such as Bianca. And so on his return home he decided to set up Friends of Bianca a group established with the sole purpose of raising awareness of and funds for Bianca throughout the English speaking world. Every penny donated through Friends of Bianca will go directly to the charity in Portugal.
To explain, Bianca is a Portuguese charity that rescues, treats, cares for and then re-homes stray and abandoned dogs and cats. Many of the animals, which are left in the streets to fend for themselves or found tied or chained the fence of the Bianca compound, have suffered severely though neglect and abuse and, without Bianca, would starve to death or die of treatable diseases. Established in 2002 in Sesimbra, south of Lisbon, and run solely by volunteers, Bianca now takes 600 animals into its care. Every year. The shelter currently looks after 250 dogs and 30 cats and re-homes the animals both locally to responsible owners and through a network of animal associations in Northern Europe.
If you would like to support Bianca’s remarkable work you can do so by becoming a “God Parent” or simply through a donation.
About one third of the animals in Bianca’s care cannot be re-homed because of their age or ill health or simply because they are just too shy. Irrespective of where you live you can become a god parent to one of these animals. For (a minimum of) 2.50 Euros/ £2.50/ US$ 4.00 a month you can foster one of these dogs or cats, safe in the knowledge that your money will be used to buy food, pay veterinary bills and generally ensure that the animal concerned lives out the remainder of its days, loved and cared for. As a god parent you will receive a photograph of your new friend and your name will appear alongside the respective dog or cat on the website. To see the dogs available for fostering go to www.bianca.pt/english and click on “DOGS FOR FOSTERING” in the right hand column. Once you have chosen, contact Mike at info@hamepages.com.
Alternatively if you simply want to donate you can do so by sending money to info@hamepages.com through the Friends of Bianca Paypal account. If you are unsure of how to do that, just email Mike.
And if you have a moment to spare, check out this video on You Tube which shows how kindness, care and compassion can redress the worst excesses of the evil that humans can inflict on defenceless creatures.

YOU’RE INVITED! LAUNCH-PARTY for THE SCOTTISH PRISONER – November 29th!

YOU’RE INVITED! THE SCOTTISH PRISONER LAUNCH-PARTY, November 29th!

The Poisoned Pen bookstore (bless their independent little hearts {g}) is hosting the launch party for THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, due to be released November 29th. This will be held at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, AZ (because we haven’t been able to fit the launch-party crowds into the bookstore since THE FIERY CROSS) at 7 PM on (reasonably enough) November 29th. (Party actually starts at 6 – I come on at 7-ish.)

I’ll be talking and signing books, and I believe food and drinks will be available (provided by the hotel on a cash basis). Now, I will have signed a thousand (or so) books before the event, so that people who only want a signed copy don’t have to stand in line. But if you want a personalized or inscribed copy, I’m more than happy to sign one (or two or three, if you’re doing your Christmas shopping…). (And certainly you can take pictures of me or with me, if you’d like to.)

The EVENT IS FREE (!!!)—but one caveat: books to be signed have to be purchased _from_ the Poisoned Pen. (This is only fair; they’re paying for the event, and the Gold Ballroom at the Biltmore don’t come cheap.) You don’t need to buy the book ¬_at_ the event; if you want to buy one earlier in the day (so you can start reading {g}), just keep your receipt when you bring the book to be signed. (But you can’t bring books bought via Amazon or Costco, for instance. Support your independent bookstore!)

If you can’t come to the party (alas!), but would like your book personalized or inscribed, this is no problem. Just email Patrick@poisonedpen.com and let him know what you want; if at all possible, I’ll sign the inscription orders before the party so they can be shipped out right away.

See you there! (And if you’re not there, I hope you’ll enjoy the book and lift a glass to join us in spirit. Slainte mhath!

HOORAY! THE FIERY CROSS IS AVAILABLE UNABRIDGED ON AUDIBLE.COM!

Many, many thanks to the kind folks at Recorded Books and Audible.com, who rushed to put together a contract, and who pushed THE FIERY CROSS to the front of the 170-book queue waiting to be uploaded to Audible.com!

JAMIE or JOHN? SCOTTISH PRISONER EXCERPT on SCRIBD!

Well, alrighty, then! Do you want to know whether THE SCOTTISH PRISONER starts with Jamie or John? Random House has posted the beginning of the book as an excerpt on Scribd. Click the link below to see which way the editors (and I) decided to begin the book–and I hope you enjoy it!

The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon (Excerpt)

THE FIERY CROSS UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK

THE FIERY CROSS UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK –

OK, I talked to my agent (who talked to Recorded Books–who made and owns the Unabridged audiobook). The license for the ABRIDGED recording has now expired, which means that Recorded Books _can_ go ahead and sell the recording through Audible.com and other retail outlets. However, they couldn’t do a contract with Audible.com for this _until_ the other license expired–which it did, yesterday. So they’ll do the contract as quickly as they can, and as soon as that’s done, THE FIERY CROSS will be on Audible “within a matter of hours,” they said.

SO–you’ll get it pretty darn quick, I hope–but that’s all I know about it.

Happy Halloween!

And many thanks to Blue Moon Magnolia for this lovely tribute to Jamie’s backside. {g} [I call it "pumpkinbuns"--it's a reproduction of the famous Page 5 scene in THE EXILE.] Click “continue reading” to see the picture.

Happy Birthday, Claire!

In honor of Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser’s birthday–October 20, 1918– here’s Claire’s first scene from WRITTEN IN MY HEART’S OWN BLOOD. (NO, I don’t have pub date for this book. I’m not done _writing_ it, for heaven’s sake. When it’s done, I’ll tell you, OK? (I’m hoping to have it finished by the end of 2012. Meanwhile, THE SCOTTISH PRISONER and Jamie will perhaps help tide you over–that one comes out next month–November 29th))

WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD

Copyright 2011 Diana Gabaldon

Mrs. Figg was smoothly spherical, gleamingly black, and inclined to glide silently up behind one like a menacing ball-bearing.

“What’s this?” she barked, manifesting herself suddenly behind Jenny.

“Holy Mother of God!” Jenny whirled, eyes round and hand pressed to her chest. “Who in God’s name are you?”

“This is Mrs. Figg,” I said, feeling a surreal urge to laugh, despite–or maybe because of–recent events. “Lord John Grey’s cook. And Mrs. Figg, this is Mrs. Murray. My, um…my…”

“Your good-sister,” Jenny said firmly. She raised one black eyebrow. “If ye’ll have me, still?” Her look was straight and open, and the urge to laugh changed abruptly into an equally strong urge to burst into tears. Of all the unlikely sources of succor I could have imagined… I took a deep breath and put out my hand.

“I’ll have you.”

Her small firm fingers wove through mine, and as simply as that, it was done. No need for apologies or spoken forgiveness. She’d never had to wear the mask that Jamie did. What she thought and felt was there in her eyes, those slanted blue cat-eyes she shared with her brother. She knew me, now, for what I was—and knew I loved—had always loved–her brother with all my heart and soul–despite the minor complications of being presently married to someone else. And that knowledge obliterated years of mistrust, suspicion, and injury.

She heaved a sigh, eyes closing for an instant, then opened them and smiled at me, mouth trembling only a little.

“Well, fine and dandy,” said Mrs. Figg, shortly. She narrowed her eyes and rotated smoothly on her axis, taking in the panorama of destruction. The railing at the top of the stair had been ripped off, and cracked banisters, dented walls, and bloody smudges marked the path of William’s descent. Shattered crystals from the chandelier littered the floor, glinting festively in the light that poured through the open front door, the door itself hanging drunkenly from one hinge.

“Merde on toast,” Mrs. Figg murmured. She turned abruptly to me, her small black-currant eyes still narrowed. “Where’s his lordship?”

“Ah,” I said. This was going to be rather sticky, I saw. While deeply disapproving of most people, Mrs. Figg was devoted to John. She wasn’t going to be at all pleased to hear that he’d been abducted by–

“For that matter, where’s my brother?” Jenny inquired, glancing round as though expecting Jamie to appear suddenly out from under the settee.

“Oh,” I said. “Hm. Well…” Possibly worse than sticky. Because…

“And where’s my Sweet William?” Mrs. Figg demanded, sniffing the air. “He’s been here; I smell that stinky cologne he puts on his linen.” She nudged a dislodged chunk of plaster disapprovingly with the toe of her shoe.

I took another long, deep breath, and a tight grip on what remained of my sanity.

Mrs. Figg,” I said, “perhaps you would be so kind as to make us all a cup of tea?”

[end section]

OUTLANDER: The Musical is now on iTUNES!

Yay! I’m delighted to be able to tell you that

— at long last—

OUTLANDER: The Musical is available on iTunes!

Thanks to Kevin Walsh, the composer of OTM, who made arrangements through the British Academy of Composers, Songwriters and Authors to make this happen. (Many thanks also to the BACSA!).

You can, of course, still get the whole CD (which is probably a better Christmas present than a 99-cent iTunes gift card), either from Amazon.com or from Mike Gibb (the OTM lyricist), but now you can download your favorite songs to your iPod without the nuisance of ripping them. {g}

And for those of you who’ve got copies of the OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Edition—you have a sampler CD bound inside the back cover, which will give you a chance to listen to four of the OTM songs. (I know most of you know that already, but I met several people at the last book-signing I did who didn’t realize there was a CD in the book, so thought I’d mention it.)

And of course, there’s a link in the middle of this page to the OUTLANDER: The Musical website, which will give you lots more information.

The nice-looking people above are Allan Scott-Douglas, who sings the role of Jamie Fraser on the CD, and Sue Robertson, who sings Claire.

“PLAGUE OF ZOMBIES” – Publication, and an Excerpt!

I’m delighted to announce that there’s a brand-new Lord John novella out TOMORROW (October 4th)—though a few people have already emailed to say they’ve got a copy and are…er…devouring it with gusto. (Really. That’s what they said.)

The title of the novella is “Lord John and the Plague of Zombies.” Please note that this is NOT a stand-alone book. It’s a novella of {going off to run a quick word-count}…27,000+ words. It’s _in_ an anthology (a collection of stories by different authors; this one includes pieces by Charlaine Harris, Carrie Vaughn, and a number of other cool writers), and the anthology is called DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS (don’t ask me; I didn’t think that one up). Here’s the Amazon link to it—though as always, if you’d like a signed or personalized copy of the book, email patrick@poisonedpen.com. I’ll sign a bunch this week, and they’ll ship them out immediately, anywhere in the world.

Right, so what is this story about? Well, the title is _very_ descriptive. {g} In this tale of adventure, murder, snakes, revenge, and zombies, the Royal Governor of Jamaica sends an SOS to
London, asking urgently for help in putting down a burgeoning slave rebellion. London replies by sending Lieutenant-Colonel Lord John Grey, with half a battalion of infantry, a company of artillery, and his trusty valet, Tom Byrd.

Lord John knows from the instant he enters Government House that things are not what they seem: “There was a snake on the drawing-room table. A small snake, but still. Lord John Grey wondered whether to say anything about it. “

The situation quickly reveals itself to be more than a simple rebellion: ““Zombie,” he said carefully. Mindful of the Governor’s reaction earlier, he asked, “Is a zombie perhaps a snake of some kind?”
Rodrigo gasped, but then seemed to relax a little.
“No, sah,” he said seriously. “Zombie are dead people.” He stood up then, bowed abruptly and left, his message delivered.

Lord John’s investigations take him to remote mountain plantations, to an interview with the notorious witch of Rose Hall, and a close brush with _something_: “He smelled it first. For an instant, he thought he had left the tin of bear-grease ointment uncovered—and then the reek of sweet decay took him by the throat, followed instantly by a pair of hands that came out of the dark and fastened on said throat.”

But zombies and armed slaves are not the only challenges Jamaica holds for his lordship:

“Lord John and the Plague of Zombies” – Excerpt (not a spoiler)
Copyright 2011 Diana Gabaldon

“Your servant, sah,” he said to Grey, bowing respectfully. “The Governor’s compliments, and dinner will be served in ten minutes. May I see you to the dining room?”

“You may,” Grey said, reaching hastily for his coat. He didn’t doubt that he could find the dining-room unassisted, but the chance to watch this young man walk…

“You may,” Tom Byrd corrected, entering with his hands full of grooming implements, “once I’ve put his lordship’s hair to rights.” He fixed Grey with a minatory eye. “You’re not a-going in to dinner like that, me lord, and don’t you think it. You sit down there.” He pointed sternly to a stool, and Lieutenant-Colonel Grey, commander of His Majesty’s forces in Jamaica, meekly obeyed the dictates of his nineteen-year-old valet. He didn’t always allow Tom free rein, but in the current circumstance, was just as pleased to have an excuse to sit still in the company of the young black servant.

Tom laid out all his implements neatly on the dressing-table, from a pair of silver hairbrushes to a box of powder and a pair of curling tongs, with the care and attention of a surgeon arraying his knives and saws. Selecting a hairbrush, he leaned closer, peering at Grey’s head, then gasped. “Me lord! Tthere’s a big huge spider–walking right up your temple!”

Grey smacked his temple by reflex, and the spider in question—a clearly visible brown thing nearly a half-inch long—shot off into the air, striking the looking-glass with an audible tap before dropping to the surface of the dressing-table and racing for its life.

Tom and the black servant uttered identical cries of horror and lunged for the creature, colliding in front of the dressing table and falling over in a thrashing heap. Grey, strangling an almost irresistible urge to laugh, stepped over them and dispatched the fleeing spider neatly with the back of his other hairbrush.

He pulled Tom to his feet and dusted him off, allowing the black servant to scramble up by himself. He brushed off all apologies as well, but asked whether the spider had been a deadly one?

“Oh, yes, sah,” the servant assured him fervently. “Should one of those bite you, sah, you would suffer excruciating pain at once. The flesh around the wound would putrefy, you would commence to be fevered within an hour, and in all likelihood, you would not live until dawn.”

“Oh, I see,” Grey said mildly, his flesh creeping briskly. “Well, then. Perhaps you would not mind looking about the room while Tom is at his work? In case such spiders go about in company?”

Grey sat and let Tom brush and plait his hair, watching the young man as he assiduously searched under the bed and dressing-table, pulled out Grey’s trunk, and pulled up the trailing curtains and shook them.

“What is your name?” he asked the young man, noting that Tom’s fingers were trembling badly, and hoping to distract him from thoughts of the hostile wildlife with which Jamaica undoubtedly teemed. Tom was fearless in the streets of London, and perfectly willing to face down ferocious dogs or foaming horses. Spiders, though, were quite another matter.

“Rodrigo, sah,” said the young man, pausing in his curtain-shaking to bow. “Your servant, sah.”

He seemed quite at ease in company, and conversed with them about the town, the weather—he confidently predicted rain in the evening, at about ten o’clock–leading Grey to think that he had likely been employed as a servant in good families for some time. Was the man a slave? he wondered, or a free black?

His admiration for Rodrigo was, he assured himself, the same that he might have for a marvelous piece of sculpture, an elegant painting. And one of his friends did in fact possess a collection of Greek amphorae decorated with scenes that gave him quite the same sort of feeling. He shifted slightly in his seat, crossing his legs. He would be going into dinner soon. He resolved to think of large, hairy spiders, and was making some progress with this subject when something huge and black dropped down the chimney and rushed out of the disused hearth.

All three men shouted and leapt to their feet, stamping madly. This time it was Rodrigo who felled the intruder, crushing it under one sturdy shoe.

“What the devil was that?” Grey asked, bending over to peer at the thing, which was a good three inches long, gleamingly black, and roughly ovoid, with ghastly long, twitching antennae.

“Only a cockroach, sah,” Rodrigo assured him, wiping a hand across a sweating ebon brow. “They will not harm you, but they are most disagreeable. If they come into your bed, they feed upon your eyebrows.”

Tom uttered a small strangled cry. The cockroach, far from being destroyed, had merely been inconvenienced by Rodrigo’s shoe. It now extended thorny legs, heaved itself up and was proceeding about its business, though at a somewhat slower pace. Grey, the hairs prickling on his arms, seized the ash-shovel from among the fireplace implements and scooping up the insect on its blade, jerked open the door and flung the nasty creature as far as he could—which, given his state of mind, was some considerable distance.

Tom was pale as custard when Grey came back in, but picked up his employer’s coat with trembling hands. He dropped it, though, and with a mumbled apology, bent to pick it up again, only to utter a strangled shriek, drop it again, and run backwards, slamming so hard against the wall that Grey heard a crack of laths and plaster.

“What the devil?” He bent, reaching gingerly for the fallen coat.

“Don’t touch it, me lord!” Tom cried, but Grey had seen what the trouble was; a tiny yellow snake slithered out of the blue-velvet folds, head moving to and fro in slow curiosity.

“Well, hallo, there.” He reached out a hand, and as before, the little snake tasted his skin with a flickering tongue, then wove its way up into the palm of his hand. He stood up, cradling it carefully.

Tom and Rodrigo were standing like men turned to stone, staring at him.

“It’s quite harmless,” he assured them. “At least I think so. It must have fallen into my pocket earlier.”

Rodrigo was regaining a little of his nerve. He came forward and looked at the snake, but declined an offer to touch it, putting both hands firmly behind his back.

“That snake likes you, sah,” he said, glancing curiously from the snake to Grey’s face, as though trying to distinguish a reason for such odd particularity.

“Possibly.” The snake had made its way upward and was now wrapped round two of Grey’s fingers, squeezing with remarkable strength. “On the other hand, I believe he may be attempting to kill and eat me. Do you know what his natural food might be?”

Rodrigo laughed at that, displaying very beautiful white teeth, and Grey had such a vision of those teeth, those soft mulberry lips, applied to—he coughed, hard, and looked away.

“He would eat anything that did not try to eat him first, sah,” Rodrigo assured him. “It was probably the sound of the cockroach that made him come out. He would hunt those.”

“What a very admirable sort of snake. Could we find him something to eat, do you think? To encourage him to stay, I mean.”

Tom’s face suggested strongly that if the snake was staying, he was not. On the other hand….he glanced toward the door, whence the cockroach had made its exit, and shuddered. With great reluctance, he reached into his pocket and extracted a rather squashed bread-roll, containing ham and pickle.

This object being placed on the floor before it, the snake inspected it gingerly, ignored bread and pickle, but twining itself carefully about a chunk of ham, squeezed it fiercely into limp submission, then, opening its jaw to an amazing extent, engulfed its prey, to general cheers. Even Tom clapped his hands, and—if not ecstatic at Grey’s suggestion that the snake might be accommodated in the dark space beneath the bed for the sake of preserving Grey’s eyebrows, uttered no objections to this plan, either. The snake being ceremoniously installed and left to digest its meal, Grey was about to ask Rodrigo further questions regarding the natural fauna of the island, but was forestalled by the faint sound of a distant gong.

“Dinner!” he exclaimed, reaching for his now snakeless coat.

“Me lord! Your hair’s not even powdered!” He refused to wear a wig, to Tom’s ongoing dismay, but was obliged in the present instance to submit to powder. This toiletry accomplished in haste, he shrugged into his coat and fled, before Tom could suggest any further refinements to his appearance.

***