OUTLANDER (also published in the U.K. under the title "CROSS STITCH") is the best-selling first novel in my Outlander series of books. It was first published in the U.S.A. in 1990.
What Is OUTLANDER?
Frankly, I’ve never been able to describe this book in twenty-five words or less, and neither has anyone else in the twenty years since it was first published. I’ve seen it (and the rest of the series) sold—with evident success—as <deep breath> Literature, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical NON-fiction (really. Well, they are very accurate), Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance, Military History (no, honest), Gay and Lesbian Fiction, and…Horror. (Really! One of my books beat both George R.R. Martin and Stephen King for a Quill Award in 2006.) Anyway, the only way I’ve ever found of describing this book to anyone is to begin telling them the story. So here goes….
In 1946, after WW II, a young Englishwoman named Claire Beauchamp Randall goes to the Scottish Highlands with her husband, Frank. She’s an ex-combat nurse, he’s been in the army as well, they’ve been separated for the last six years, and this is a second honeymoon; they’re getting re-acquainted with each other, thinking of starting a family. But one day Claire goes out walking by herself, and comes across a circle of standing stones—such circles are in fact common all over northern Britain. She walks through a cleft stone in the circle….and disappears. Back into 1743, where the first person she meets is a gentleman in an 18th-century army officer’s uniform. This gentleman, Jack Randall, looks just like her husband Frank—and proves to be Frank’s six-times-great-grandfather. Unfortunately, he also proves to be a sadistic bisexual pervert, and while trying to escape from him, Claire falls into the hands of a gang of Highland Scots, who are also trying to get away from Black Jack Randall—though for other reasons.
In order to avoid being handed over to Captain Randall, Claire is obliged to marry one of the young clansmen. So she finds herself trying to escape from Castle Leoch and her Scottish captors, trying to get back to her husband Frank, trying to avoid being recaptured by Captain Randall—and falling in love with Jamie Fraser, the young man she’s been forced to marry. The story rolls on from there…
What I used to say to people who saw me sitting outside a store with a pile of books and asked (reasonably enough), “What sort of book is this?”, was, “I tell you what. Pick it up, open it anywhere, and read three pages. If you can put it down again, I’ll pay you a dollar.”
I’ve never lost any money on that bet.
AKA "CROSS STITCH"
CROSS STITCH was the working title for my first book manuscript. It’s not a particularly good title; it’s just what I called the book while I was working on it. We sold it first in the U.S., and the editors there said, "That sounds too much like embroidery; can you think of something more adventurous?" So I did. <g>
Then six months later, we sold it in the U.K., and the editors there said, "We love the book, but we can’t call it OUTLANDER; to us, an ‘outlander’ is someone from South Africa." So I said, "Well, I did originally call it CROSS STITCH…" and they said, "Oh, lovely!" So there you are. <g>
Why Did I Write OUTLANDER, My First Novel?
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.)
Click to read more about how and why I wrote OUTLANDER in my blog from 2014, "26 Years Ago Today…"
The OUTLANDER Series of Major Novels
After OUTLANDER, I wrote multiple major novels in which the relationship between Jamie Fraser and Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser is a main theme, and they are called the OUTLANDER series of (major) novels.
The eighth (and latest published) novel in the OUTLANDER series, WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD, was first published in the U.S.A. (and other selected global markets) in June, 2014.
I am currently working on the next book in the OUTLANDER major novels, which is so far untitled. (And no, I DON’T know yet when I will finish it… probably in 2017. Stay tuned.) Click here for the Book Nine webpage, which includes current information and excerpts (aka "Daily Lines") from the new book.
The OUTLANDER Series of Books PLUS Shorter Works
As time went by, I also wrote shorter works in the series besides the eight (so far) OUTLANDER novels. So the entire OUTLANDER series includes three kinds of stories:
- The Big, Enormous Books that have no discernible genre (or all of them), aka the "OUTLANDER Series of Major Novels."
- The Shorter, Less Indescribable Novels that are more or less historical mysteries (though dealing also with battles, eels, and mildly deviant sexual practices). And…
- The Bulges— These being short(er) pieces that fit somewhere inside the story lines of the novels, much in the nature of squirming prey swallowed by a large snake. These deal frequently—but not exclusively—with secondary characters, are prequels or sequels, and/or fill some lacuna left in the original story lines.
Want to know how all these stories and novels are related in time and my suggested order to read them in for the first time? Click here to check out my "Chronology of the OUTLANDER Series."
The books in the OUTLANDER series have sold over 20 million copies worldwide, and have been translated into more than twenty languages.
The Outlander TV Series on Starz
Ron Moore of Tall Ship Productions, the Starz cable network, and Sony have created and produced a TV series based on the OUTLANDER series which premiered in the U.S.A. on August 9, 2014. Click here for selected news about the TV series. At upper left is an image of the paperback book cover of the reissue of OUTLANDER in 2014, with an image from the new Starz TV series.
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