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Lord John Grey Series

What is the Lord John Grey series?

It’s a subset of the main OUTLANDER series, focused on Lord John Grey, an important minor character from the main series.

Some years ago, I was invited to write a short story for a British anthology: historical crime stories.  “Well,” I said to the editor, “it would be an interesting technical challenge, to see whether I can write anything under 300,000 words.  Sure, why not?”

Well, the obvious first question was—what or whom to write about?  I didn’t want to use the main characters from the OUTLANDER series for this story, because—owing to the peculiar way I write—if I were to incorporate some significant event in this story (and it would need to be, to be a good story)—that would make the event a stumbling block in the growth of the next novel.

“But,” I said to myself, “there’s Lord John, isn’t there?”  Lord John Grey is an important character in the OUTLANDER series, but he isn’t onstage all the time.  And when he isn’t…well, plainly he’s off leading his life and having adventures elsewhere, and I could write about any of those adventures without causing complications for future novels.   Beyond that obvious advantage, Lord John is a fascinating character.  He’s what I call a “mushroom”—one of those unplanned people who pops up out of nowhere and walks off with any scene he’s in—and he talks to me easily (and wittily).

He’s also a gay man, in a time when to be homosexual was a capital offense, and Lord John has more than most to lose by discovery.  He belongs to a noble family, he’s an officer in His Majesty’s Army, and loves both his family and his regiment; to have his private life discovered would damage—if not destroy—both.   Consequently, he lives constantly with conflict, which makes him both deeply entertaining and easy to write about.  So I wrote the short story—titled, “Lord John and the Hell-Fire Club”—for the British anthology.

Well, it was a good story; people liked it.  But just as word was spreading into the US about it, the anthology went out of print (it was called PAST POISONS, edited by Maxim Jakubowski, for those bibliophiles who are curious).  People kept asking me about the story, though, and I thought, “Well, I enjoyed writing it—maybe I should write two or three more short pieces about Lord John, just as time an inspiration allow…and when I have a handful, we could publish them as a book, and all the Lord John fans could get the stories easily.”

So I did that.  I began writing the second Lord John story after returning from a book-tour, as a way of easing back into my writing routine, and continued working on it, picking away with one hand whilst picking up the threads of my novel with the other…and six months later, I’d just about finished it.  Well, at this point, I left for another book-tour, in the UK, and stopped in New York on the way, to have lunch with my two literary agents.

I was telling them all about what I’d been doing, and casually mentioned that I’d nearly finished the second Lord John short story.  “Oh?” said they.  “How long’s this one?”

“Well, I knew you’d ask,” I said.  “So I checked last night.  It’s about 85,000 words; I need maybe another 5000 to wrap it up.”

The agents looked at each other, then looked at me, and with one voice said, “That’s the size normal books are!”

“I thought it was a short story,” I said.

“Well, it’s not,” they said—and proceeded to take it off and sell it all over the place.  Publishers were thrilled.  “It’s a Gabaldon book we weren’t expecting—and it’s short! Can she do that again?” they asked eagerly.  To which my agents—being Very Good agents—replied, “Of course she can,” and emerged with a contract for three Lord John Grey novels.

Now, the Lord John books and novellas are in fact an integral part of the larger OUTLANDER series.  However, they’re focused (not unreasonably) on the character of John Grey, and—Lord John not being a time-traveler—tend not to include time-travel as an element.  They’re structured more or less as historical mystery, but do (like anything else I write) include the occasional supernatural bit or other off-the-wall elements.  (Yes, they do have sex, though I don’t consider that really unusual, myself.)  And they do reference events, characters (particularly Jamie Fraser) and situations from the OUTLANDER novels.

In terms of chronology, the Lord John books fall during the period covered in VOYAGER, while Jamie Fraser was a prisoner at Helwater.  So if you’re wondering where to read the Lord John books in conjunction with the larger series—you can read them anytime after VOYAGER.

In terms of further chronology:  As well as the three Lord John novels under contract, I’ve also written several novellas for various anthologies.  Three novellas (two previously published and one written specifically for the volume) are included in a book titled LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS, while two further novellas have appeared or will shortly appear in anthologies.   The original short story (“Hell-Fire Club”) preceded the first novel, and—just to be confusing—the novellas fall between the novels.

The books and novellas do stand alone, and can be read separately in any order.  If you do want to read them in strict order, though, here it is:

Below are excerpts from web pages for each of the Lord John novels and stories:

Lord John and the Private Matter

LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER is the first (accidental) novel in the Lord John Grey series, and the book responsible for there being a series about Lord John in the first place.  Which is to say, I wrote this book under the delusion that it was a short story (well, hey, people have different standards).  It begins when Lord John sees something shocking in his London club—and it takes a lot to shock Lord John, given his own background and experiences.  He’s a younger son of a noble family, a career soldier, an honorable and intelligent man—and a homosexual, in a time when being homosexual was a capital offense.  If his private life is ever discovered, everything he cares about will be destroyed, and very likely, so will he.  Consequently, his investigations into the shocking occurrence at the Society for the Appreciation of the English Beefsteak, and the subsequent murder of a woman in a green velvet dress are hedged with personal danger and constant risk—a risk he’ll take […]

Lord John and the Hand of Devils

LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS is not a novel, but rather a collection of three novellas: “Hell-Fire Club,” “Succubus,” and “Haunted Soldier.”  In these tales, Lord John vows to avenge a murder, investigates a terrifying “night-hag” on the battlefields of Europe, and discovers treason in His Majesty’s ranks. The first two of these novellas were originally published in anthologies, while “Haunted Soldier” was written expressly for this book. Other Lord John Novellas Another Lord John novella, “The Custom of the Army,” appears in an anthology titled WARRIORS (edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois), and “Lord John and the Plague of Zombies” was released in October, 2011, in another Martin/Dozois anthology titled DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS.

Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade

LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE is the second Lord John Grey full-length novel. Set during the Seven Years War, Lord John Grey pursues a deadly family secret and a clandestine love affair against an eighteenth-century background of politics, treason, and battle. Seventeen years before, Grey’s father, the Duke of Pardloe, shot himself, days before he was to be accused of being a Jacobite traitor.  By raising a regiment to fight at Culloden, Grey’s elder brother has succeeded in redeeming the family name, aided by Grey, now a major in that regiment.  But now, on the eve of their mother’s remarriage and the regiment’s move to Germany, comes a mysterious threat that throws the matter of the Duke’s death into fresh relief, and brings the Grey brothers into conflict with the past, and with each other. Grey has other conflicts to deal with.  A new stepbrother—and brother-in-arms–proves to be an acquaintance from the London shadow-world of mollies, the homosexuals whose nature is a capital crime.  His mother is […]

The Lord John Series (4-Book Bundle)

Follow Lord John Grey as he defends his country, ferrets out spies, and unravels a haunting family mystery in this ebook collection of three previously published novels and one collection of novellas. Included are: LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS (a collection of novellas) LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE, and THE SCOTTISH PRISONER Download this special bundle for iBooks or your iPad, iPhone, Kindle, or Nook reader! LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER It’s London, in 1757. Lord John Grey, a nobleman and a high-ranking officer in His Majesty’s army, has just witnessed something shocking. But his efforts to avoid a scandal are interrupted when the Crown appoints him to investigate the brutal murder of a comrade-in-arms. Obliged to pursue two inquiries at once, Major Grey finds himself ensnared in a web of betrayal that touches every stratum of English society — and threatens all he holds dear. LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS The stories of Lord John […]

The Scottish Prisoner

THE SCOTTISH PRISONER is the latest book in the Lord John Grey series, and the first-edition hardcover version was released in the U.S. on November 29, 2011. Trade Paperback Released The trade paperback version of THE SCOTTISH PRISONER was released on May 29, 2012. Please use the “Paperback” purchasing links at left to order your copy. Note that autographed and personalized copies signed by Diana are available in both hardback or trade paperback from The Poisoned Pen bookstore. Publisher’s Description London, 1760. For Jamie Fraser, paroled prisoner-of-war in the remote Lake District, life could be worse: He’s not cutting sugar cane in the West Indies, and he’s close enough to the son he cannot claim as his own. But Jamie Fraser’s quiet existence is coming apart at the seams, interrupted first by dreams of his lost wife, then by the appearance of Tobias Quinn, an erstwhile comrade from the Rising. Like many of the Jacobites who aren’t dead or in prison, Quinn still lives and breathes for the Cause. His […]

Lord John Novellas

As described in my Lord John series page, some stories and novellas appear in multi-author anthologies and other collections. Click on the excerpts below for more information on each of the novellas featuring Lord John Grey: