the Outlander novels,
and An Echo in the Bone
An Echo in the Bone is the seventh novel in the wildly popular, NYT #1 bestselling, internationally award-winning Outlander series—described by Salon.com as "the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting Scrooge McDuck comic books."
The striking thing on the cover is a caltrop (and not, as one wit suggested to me, a Celtic chicken-foot).
You see that the caltrop has four tines? Well, there are four storylines in this book, past and future, welded together by the heat of the American Revolution—and every one of 'em has a sharp point.
You know, I'm very flattered that some of you enjoy the books so much that you feel inspired to engage with the writing in a more personal way than most readers do. Both for legal and personal reasons, though, I'm not comfortable with fan-fiction based on any of my work, and request that you do not write it, do not send it to me, and do not publish it, whether in print or on the web. Thank you very much for your consideration.
28 September 2010
Tuesday, Sept. 28th, 7 PM
Wednesday, Sept. 29th, 7 PM
San Diego Independent Booksellers Coalition Event
Location: Gillispie School, 7380 Girard Avenue, La Jolla, CA 92037
Contact: Susan McBeth (Warwick’s), (858) 454-0347/ firstname.lastname@example.org
*This will be a talk & signing hosted by Warwick’s, Mysterious Galaxy, and The Book Works.
Thursday, Sept. 30th, 7 PM
695 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91101
Contact: Jennifer Ramos, 626-449-5320 x250/ email@example.com
*This will be a talk & signing.
Saturday, Oct. 2, 2 PM
Barnes & Noble
5130 E. Broadway
Tucson, AZ 85711
Contact: Valerie Burnside, 520-512-1166
*This will be a talk & signing.
20 September 2010
NovelsAlive TV did a nice interview with me at DragonCon, earlier this month, and have just put it up on the web. Here's a link, which will give you both the interview and a special YouTube book-trailer for The Exile (with new art samples!)"
15 Septmeber 2010
The Exile – one week and counting!!
OK, time to get out the book-touring clothes and check for sweat stains…! (Well, yes, I do. Performing raises my body temp about five degrees, no matter what the ambient temperature is. I figure it’s all the energy pouring in from the audience. Y’all are great—and hot. [g])
Now that I’ve taken to Twittering (I’m “Writer_DG”), I notice that a few people seem to think that The Exile is just Outlander done in pictures. If you’ve been following my blog for a bit, you’ll already know that’s not the case—Exile is a brand-new story, though if you’ve read Outlander (and I’m sort of figuring most of you have [cough]) you’ll recognize some of the main incidents.
You will, though, also have an all-new storyline, and perhaps learn a few things people tell me they’ve wondered about from the original novel: Who was the mysterious girl in France? Where did Jamie get his mother’s pearls? What did Mrs. Fitz make of Claire’s bra? [g]
NOW—the LAUNCH PARTY!! [link: http://penandtheexile.blogspot.com/
The Poisoned Pen bookstore has always done launch parties for my books, God bless them—but this time it’s gonna be Special.
We sort of outgrew the confines of the bookstore with A Breath of Snow and Ashes, and so they hosted the last launch (for An Echo in the Bone) at the Biltmore Hotel—it was great! For this time, though—we have not only me and a pile of books [g], but also Hoang Nguyen, the wonderful artist who did the artwork, and we’ll be doing a knockabout cross-talk act…er…a collaborative program, I mean, in which we want to show you some of the cool art while we talk about it (explaining, for example, how we eventually came up with Jamie’s Butt), and that meant finding a venue where we could have good projection equipment and good seats for you to sit in while looking at it. (Though I must say that the imagination boggles a bit at the notion of an enormous projection of Jamie’s rear end…)
So. The Pen’s arranged to do this at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts, which has a lovely, brand-newly remodeled auditorium. And since we’re making such an Occasion of it, food and drink will be provided by Arcadia Farms. Aaaaand…
We’ll have music, courtesy of Outlander: The Musical. [g] I will (God willing and the international shipping company cooperating) have CDs of OTM on hand to sell—but the Center for the Arts has a good sound system that will let us play the CD for you prior to the event, so you’ll have a chance to listen to it.
(As a Special Added Attraction, I will read one or two excerpts from Book Eight. Just in case you were wondering how Jem’s doing in that tunnel, or What Jamie Said to Lord John next. [g])
Anyway, I expect a great time to be had by all, and hope to see y’all there, glowing like embers. [g] (I will wear deodorant, in honor of the occasion.)
P.S. Since the launch party is in a special venue—which had to be rented for the occasion—there _are_ tickets for it. Each ticket includes the price of a signed book (it can be signed by me alone, by Hoang alone, or by both of us!)—and if you want to bring a friend, you can get a “companion” ticket for an additional $5. Book tickets here: [http://www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org/event.php?id=723 ]
He must be getting near the end of the tunnel. Jem could tell by the way the air pushed back against his face. All he could see was the little red light on the train's dashboard--did you call it a dashboard on a train? he wondered. He didn't want to stop, because that meant he'd have to get out of the train, into the dark. But the train was running out of track, so there wasn't much else he could do.
He pulled back a little bit on the lever that made the train go, and it slowed down. More. Just a little more, and the lever clicked into a kind of slot and the train stopped with a little jerk that made him stumble and grab the edge of the cab.
An electric train didn't make any engine noise, but the wheels rattled on the track and the train made squeaks and clunks as it moved. When it stopped, the noise stopped too. It was really quiet.
"Hey!" he said out loud, because he didn't want to listen to his heart beating. The sound echoed, and he looked up, startled. Mum had said the tunnel was really high, more than thirty feet, but he'd forgot that. The idea that there was a lot of empty space hanging over him that he couldn't see bothered him a lot. He swallowed, and stepped out of the tiny engine, holding on to the frame with one hand.
"Hey!" he shouted at the invisible ceiling. "Are there any bats up there?"
He’d been quite resigned to dying. Had expected it from the moment that he’d blurted out, “I have had carnal knowledge of your wife.” The only question in his mind had been whether Fraser would shoot him, stab him, or eviscerate him with his bare hands.
To have the injured husband regard him calmly, and say merely, “Oh? Why?” was not merely unexpected, but…infamous. Absolutely infamous.
"Why?" John Grey repeated, incredulous. "Did you say 'Why'?"
"I did. And I should appreciate an answer."
9 September 2010
Unexpurgated Wedding-Night Artwork
Right, unexpurgated art. Well, here's the deal: There is a section at the end of The Exile (the new graphic novel), titled "The Making of The Exile," which is a behind-the-scenes look at the collaboration between me and Hoang Nguyen, who did the artwork for the book. It includes a mention of one panel, showing part of Jamie and Claire's wedding night, where the publishing people (reluctantly [g]) decided that the art was a little too graphic, and opted to have Hoang draw a blanket over part of the view. However, Betsy Mitchell, the editor, told me that I could put the original panel up on my website and blog, once the book was out--and I mentioned that while writing my part of the "Making Of" section.
Well, next thing I know, someone tells me that Random House Canada (who are also publishing the book) have uploaded the "Making Of" section to scribd--the link is
here--and all kinds of people are going nuts looking for the dirty art. [g]
I hadn't expected the "Making Of" section to be available prior to publication, so the art wasn't up yet. (And it's not that explicit, anyway) But I was away from home when all this hit over the weekend, so just now having time to get it up. Here you are--enjoy!
2 September 2010
It's Gonna Be a Busy Weekend!!
I’ll be appearing at the Decatur Book Festival and Dragon*Con in Atlanta this weekend—pretty much simultaneously! Events and times are listed below (please note that I won’t be doing the events scheduled for Monday!).
Now, normally, I don’t Twitter [g], but it strikes me that this weekend might just be the kind of situation where that might be helpful! So—just in case y’all want to follow me temporarily, my Twitter ID is “Writer_DG.”
DECATUR BOOK FESTIVAL
All my events in Decatur will be on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 4):
1:00 PM – “Meet and Greet” in the AJC tent. This is a brief opportunity to chat with readers. It’s not a book-signing.
3:00 PM – main talk/reading – Presbyterian Church. I’ll talk about anything y’all would like to hear about [g], but will certainly include the new graphic novel (The Exile), OUTLANDER: The Musical, and maybe even read a cliffhanger pickup or two from Book Eight!
(The talk will be followed by a book-signing—usually held across the street!!! I will have a limited number of Outlander: The Musical CD’s!!! available at this signing. (limited by the number I can carry…))
5:00 PM – Panel. “Break in Case of Emergency: This Book Could Save Your Life!” on The Escape teen stage. (Advice from adult authors on books to read.)
***An Hour with Diana Gabaldon
D. Gabaldon; Mon 10:00 am; Intl. C
Outlander in Graphic Terms
Diana and Betsy discuss how the graphic
version came to be and the transition
from prose to graphic novel. D. Gabaldon,
B. Mitchell; Fri 5:30 pm; Fairlie [H]
Sexy Science Fiction
What makes a book sexy? Naked women
and actual sex scenes? Or are there other
literary pheromones at work? J. Ward,
G. Martin, D. Gabaldon, D. Whiteside, G
Mitchell (M); Fri 10:00 pm; Fairlie [H]
Trends in Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
This panel will discuss the very fluid
paranormal/urban fantasy fiction market.
C. Burke, C. L. Wilson, J. St. Giles, D.
Gabaldon, L. Gresh, D. Knight; Fri 11:30
am; Manila/Singapore/Hong Kong [H]
Pros Discuss Plot Development
These pros discuss methods of developing
unpredictable, but believable plots. C.
Burke, J. Moore, J. Sherman, J. Maberry,
D. Gabaldon, L. Gresh; Sat 8:30 pm;
Manila/Singapore/Hong Kong [H]
Ingredients for great fiction
A little sugar, a little spice? A surprising
plot, a great cast of characters, intriguing
settings blend into great fiction. N.
Knight, G. Watkins, J. Wurts, A. Sowards,
M. Resnick, C. Eddy, S. M. Stirling,
D. Gabaldon; Sun 5:30 pm; Manila/
Singapore/Hong Kong [H]
Got a question? This is a question and
answer panel that will address questions
from the audience. S. Chastain, D.
Dixon, J. Moore, C. Douglas, J. St. Giles,
D. Gabaldon; Mon 1:00 pm; Manila/
Singapore/Hong Kong [H]
***The Future of Fantastic Fiction
This panel explores markets with wellestablished
authors making suggestions
for audience members. G. Hayes, A.
Martin, E. Moon, J. St. Giles, D. Gabaldon;
Mon 4:00 pm; Manila/Singapore/Hong
*** I’m sorry to miss these events—especially the “Hour with Diana”!—but the unfortunate fact is that the DragonCon programming committee didn’t bother to send me this schedule. I got it from a fan who’d picked it up from the website three days ago—by which time I (rather naturally) had already booked my flights, leaving Monday morning. Will hope to catch up with y’all at one of the other events over the weekend, though!
31 August 2010
Diana has updated her tour schedule and there's a cover image of The Exile.
3 August 2010
NB: Diana has provided some information about her upcoming tour for the release of The Exile. The Exile is the new graphic novel, with Jamie’s (and Murtagh’s) side of the Outlander story, script by Diana, spectacular artwork by Hoang Nguyen.
23 July 2010
JAMIE AND CLAIRE – The Soundtrack!
I know you’re all waiting eagerly to hear about developments in terms of movies, mini-series, etc.—and I promise I’ll tell you the instant these occur! The latest news on that front, though, is merely that we’ve done an extension of the option agreement with Essential Entertainment, including a new clause allowing them to explore the possibility of making a mini-series, in addition to or instead of a feature film. So, you know, keep your fingers crossed, but don’t be holding your breath just yet.
However…I do have Really Interesting News and something I think you’ll enjoy immensely.
When I was in Edinburgh last year, I made the acquaintance of a lovely man named Mike Gibb. Mike’s a lyricist and playwright, and having fallen in love with Outlander, asked me whether I might approve his writing a song-cycle of the story: a series of 14-15 songs, telling the high points of the story, which might later form the libretto for a stage production. (NB: There is not a stage production right now. This is the music that might later form the backbone for one.)
Mike and his friend, composer Kevin Walsh, did a couple of demo songs for me, which I found entirely charming, and—we having straightened out all the necessary legal paperwork—they went ahead with the project. Which is now done!! and embodied in a CD.
I’m enchanted with the results, and I hope it will give you all something entertaining to be going on with, as you read the new graphic novel and have fun suggesting casting choices. [g] So, I’ll let Mike step in here, and tell you more about Outlander: The Musical.
Greeting from Scotland. And it is here, in Aberdeen in fact, where the official launch of Outlander the Musical will be held on Saturday 31 July in the form of three showcases of eight songs from the score, presented in a historic venue as part of the city’s Tartan Day Celebrations. The songs (Falling, I Am Ready, Could I Surrender My Heart?, Is Tu Fuil ‘o Mo Chuislean, Such A Fool, Farewell, Safe and The Right Road) will be performed, in costume, by Scottish actor/singers Allan Scott-Douglas (a 6’2” red headed Scot!) and Sue Robertson.
A CD of fourteen songs from the score will be released on that same day. Tracks on the CD, in addition to the eight mentioned above, are The Way That Life Was (Frank and Claire), The Message (Dougal MacKenzie, Claire and Jamie), Perhaps I Am A Witch (Geilie Duncan), Why Did I Marry a Fraser? (Claire, Jamie, Jenny and Ian Murray), Say The Words (Capt Jack Randall and Jamie) and Ellen’s Son (Sir Marcus MacRannoch and Claire).
The CD will be available mail order from 1 August but advance orders are now being taken. The CD costs £10 plus £1.00 postage (UK only) and US$15 plus $4.00 postage outside the UK. Payment can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org at Paypal. Anyone unsure on how to make payment please contact me at the above email address and I’ll happily guide you through the process. **
I wrote the lyrics for Outlander: the Musical and Kevin the music. Anyone interested in our previous works - over the course of the last decade I have written a number of musical plays with Scottish themes together with several non-musical plays while Kevin Walsh has two previous musical plays and a highly acclaimed solo album “Clarinda’s Reply” to his credit – can visit our respective websites at www.hamepages.com and www.crescentmoonmusic.co.uk .
You might also be interested in visiting the web site of our joint work at Clarinda (www.clarindathemusical.com) based on the romantic story of the platonic love affair between poet Robert Burns and Nancy McLehose, which toured Scotland in 2008, was featured at many events around Scotland during Homecoming 2009 and was performed for the first time in America, in Pittsburgh, in January this year.
We are looking at the possibility of a website you can visit for Outlander the Musical but meantime you might like to check back to Diana’s website (www.dianagabaldon.com) to hear a sample track from the album.
In conclusion can I offer my sincere thanks to Diana for entrusting Kevin and I with her “baby”.
[Diana again]* This MP3 file of the song “Blood of my Blood” (from the CD) is free for playing and downloading, thanks to the generosity of Mike and Kevin. We hope you’ll enjoy it and share it with your friends and fellow readers.
Notes on “Blood of my Blood.” This is performed by Allan Scott-Douglas and Sue Robertson (spoken lyrics), with the sung Gaelic chorus by sisters Cait and Annie Lennox. The Gaelic lyrics are the translation of the spoken “blood vow”—and are what Jamie and Claire would have said at their wedding.
** We are looking into making the CD and its songs available via iTunes and Amazon, but at present, it’s only available through Mike’s website at email@example.com. We hope you’ll enjoy it!
12 July 2010
Appearance! - July 17th – FLAGSTAFF CELTIC FESTIVAL!
Owing to the knee surgery, I’m not going many places in June and July. One exception, though, is the Flagstaff Celtic Festival, which is held on the 17th and 18th of this month, at Foxglenn Park.
This increasingly popular festival features “heavy events” (caber-tossing, hammer-throwing, etc.) and Highland Dance, as well as bag-piping, music by popular Scottish performers, whisky-tasting (and beer-drinking), and the odd special event, such as me.
Now, the Festival does run two days, but I’ll be there ONLY on the 17th, this Saturday. I’ll be doing a reading at 1 PM (readings and performances are usually either in the beer tent, or close by), and will be signing books (which will be available for sale) for a couple of hours afterward.
What will I be reading? No idea, but there might be a few pieces of Book Eight, picking up cliffhangers from ECHO [g]—and/or bits from new short pieces featuring Roger MacKenzie’s parents, or Young Ian’s brother Michael. Or, just possibly, a few bits from Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner. Whatever it is, it’ll probably be interesting—or at least I hope so. [g]
See you there!
[For further information, see the website of the Northern Arizona Celtic Heritage Society, sponsor of the Festival.]
3 July 2010
The Green Slime Thanks You!
You know, what with knee surgery, new stories, travel, new website developments, etc., etc., etc.—I really hadn’t paid all that much attention to the new Green Slime edition of An Echo in the Bone, other than to briefly admire the cover. [g]
I find that y’all have been busy, though! I opened my email this morning to hear that the new Green Slime edition has hit the New York Times list—I think that’s the first time one of my trade paperback editions has done that! It’s also #4 on BookScan’s bestseller list, mentioned in USAToday (today), and has stunned the publisher (in a happy way [g]) by selling lots more copies in its first week than the trade paper edition of A Breath of Snow and Ashes did—and they thought that was good!
BUY ONE – GET ONE HALF-OFF!
So anyway—MANY thanks to all of you who’ve been buying and (I hope) enjoying the Green Slime version of ECHO. And the publisher bids me tell you that in response to all this great news, they’ve done a deal with Borders and Walden’s bookstores, whereby if you buy one of the Green ECHO’s, you can get another for half off. In case any of you belong to book clubs. [g]
Oh—and do remember that the Green Slime edition has the eight-page excerpt from The Exile (the new graphic novel telling Jamie’s side of the story) in the back! Have any of you read that excerpt yet I’d be Most Interested to hear what you think of it.
Beware the Green Slime!
Back in the day, when I was sixteen, I won a speech contest. The contest was sponsored by the International Order of Oddfellows, and the prize was a three-week trip (by bus) to New York City, and a week at the UN, with other winners from all over the country.
I traveled on a chartered Greyhound bus with thirty-three other sixteen-year-olds, winners from California, Arizona, and New Mexico, and it was one of the big highlights of my teenage years, not only for the trip itself, but for the lasting friendships made there.
As groups do, we evolved all kinds of in-jokes and catch-phrases, one of which was “Beware the Green Slime!”—because there was a horror movie by that name (“The Green Slime”) playing at theaters in what seemed like every small town where we spent the night. So…all kinds of Green Slime jokes, and we later published The Green Slime Gazette—a newsletter for the group—etc., etc.
So the term “Green Slime” is one of affection and delight, to me. It’s also the first thing that sprang to mind when I saw the new cover for the trade paperback edition of An Echo in the Bone.
Yes, I hear you all shrieking “Whyyyyy?!?”—whether in shared delight or horror. Well, because The Publisher (a person, rather than the company overall) thought that the black version of the cover—striking as it is—would be “lost” on a bookstore table in the scrum of trade paperbacks, and suggested that we change the color to something more vivid.
It…IS…vivid, you have to admit that much. [g] And I did say I liked green, and I do.
Anyway, this new US trade paperback will be released This Month, on June 22nd.
No, I’m not doing a book-tour for it. For one thing, one usually doesn’t tour for a paperback release, only for the initial hardcover publication. For another, I’m doing only two appearances in the early part of this summer, both local (and I’ll tell you why in a minute):
June 26th – I’ll be doing a multi-author event sponsored by The Poisoned Pen bookstore, held at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix.
July 17th – I’ll be appearing at the Arizona Highland Celtic Festival, which is in Flagstaff, Arizona. I usually do a public reading at this event (will be reading excerpts from Book Eight, as I now have a few!), and will be signing books much of the day. More details anon, but the basics of the Festival are here [link: http://www.nachs.info/ ]
Now, the UK publisher is releasing the mass-market (this is the small size) paperback in September. They too decided to change the cover color for more visibility—but did it a little differently, reversing the color scheme.(It isn’t actually yellow; it’s metallic gold in a sort of flocked effect, but that doesn’t show up in a .jpg, alas.)
They’ve also included a titillating selection of new end-matter in the mass-market paperback, including Historical Timelines, Character Biographies, an essay on the Life and Times of eighteenth-century Scotland (I didn’t write it, no), gorgeous (and accurate!) maps of Scotland and the American Colonies, with places like Lallybroch and Fraser’s Ridge marked, aaannnnddd….an excerpt from Book Eight, which tells you what happened to Jem in the tunnel (that being the cliffhanger that people most wanted to see first in the new book). (Well, actually, it was a dead heat between Jem-in-the-tunnel, and the Claire/Jamie/Lord John imbroglio, but that one’s going to take a lot longer to sort out.)
If you happen to want to add either of these handsome volumes [g] to your collection, autographed (or any of the rest of the series, for that matter), you can order them here
Now, as for why I’m not going anywhere in June or July….
I went in to see an orthopedic specialist a few weeks ago, with the intent of possibly having a cortisone shot in my right knee for the chronic tendinitis I’ve had for the last three years. Much to my surprise, the doctor walked in with my X-rays, looked at me, and said, “You’re awfully young to have so much arthritis.” He then glanced at my chart and said, “Oh! You’re 58!” (which I suppose is a more respectable age to have so much arthritis.) He then slapped my X-rays up on the light-box and said, “You need a partial knee replacement,” adding more kindly, “It’s probably hereditary.”
Meet my new friend.
Now, I’m back from surgery, and toddling around pretty well with my “fashionable cane” (I passed on the chance to get a “House” cane, figuring I didn’t have quite the attitude to pull that off). Am finishing up a short piece for an anthology, working further into Scottish Prisoner—and gearing up for the long-awaited website redesign!
So—if there are particular things you like or would like on the website, be sure to let me know.
In the meantime….enjoy the new versions of Echo!
9 May 2010
The Dr. Who connection (photos by Jean Brittain)
Back in the day—March of 1988, to be exact—I decided to write a novel for practice, in order to learn how. I didn’t mean to try to get it published; I didn’t intend to tell anyone I was writing it, let alone show it to anybody.
But to that point, I’d written all kinds of things, from Walt Disney comics to a 400-page Ph.D. dissertation on “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?”), and no one had ever shown me how to write anything. I just read a few examples (scholarly journal articles, software reviews, what-have-you) and tried—and if it didn’t look quite right, I poked it ‘til it did.
Novels, I figured, must be much the same, and I’d been reading novels for thirty-odd years; surely if I wrote one, I would recognize it?
So the question then was: What kind of novel should I write, for practice? I thought about that one for a bit (mystery? I read a lot of mystery novels…but no, mysteries have plots. I wasn’t sure I could do that), and finally concluded that for me, the easiest thing to write for practice might be a historical novel. I was, after all, a research professor; I knew my way around a library. And, I thought, if I turned out to have no imagination, I could steal things from the historical record.
So, fine. Historical novel. Where should I set this? (I have no formal background in history; I’d have to look everything up anyway, so the time and place didn’t really matter.)
I was casting about for an appealing time and place—American Civil War, Italian Renaissance, medieval Poland….? And while in this malleable frame of mind, I happened to see a Dr. Who rerun on PBS.
This was a really old re-run; one of the Patrick Troughton episodes (for those with a taste for trivia, it was “War Games”). And one of the Doctor’s companions in this episode was a young Scotsman from 1745. Maybe 18 or 19…and he appeared in his kilt.
“Hm,” I said. “That’s fetching.”
Well, so. I found myself still thinking about this the next day—in church—and said to myself, “You want to write a book; it doesn’t matter where you set it; the important thing to pick a place and get started. OK, fine—Scotland, eighteenth century.”
So that’s where I started. Knowing nothing about Scotland or the eighteenth century, and having no plot, no outline, and no characters—nothing save the rather vague images conjured up by thought of a man in a kilt. (Very powerful and compelling image, that.)
Now, despite the Dr. Who connection, the book actually began as a perfectly straightforward historical novel. The time-travel came in later, when I thought it would be interesting to have an Englishwoman to play off all these kilted Scotsmen, and she refused to shut up and talk like an 18th century person. She just kept making smart-ass modern remarks about everything she saw—and she also took over and started telling the story.
“Fine,” I said. “I’m not going to fight with you all the way through this book. Nobody’s ever going to see this; it doesn’t matter what bizarre thing I do—go ahead and be modern; I’ll figure out how you got there later.”
Once having decided that she was a time-traveler, though, plainly anything went—which is how the Loch Ness monster and a few other things came in, and why my books have resisted classification for the last twenty years. (So far, I’ve seen them shelved and sold—with evident success—as Literature, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Nonfiction (no, really), Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Mystery, Military History (no, really [g]), Gay and Lesbian Fiction, and….Horror. (Really. A Breath of Snow and Ashes actually beat both George R.R. Martin and Stephen King for a Quill Award in the “science-fiction/fantasy/horror” category.))
Right. So, lo, these many years later, I’m invited to come to the Gathering in Edinburgh last summer—a huge extravaganza of all things Scottish, with a Highlands flair, held on the grounds of Holyrood Palace.
Now, years and years earlier, I’d done a radio interview in Flagstaff, Arizona, for a nice Scottish reporter who worked for BBC Radio, and had told him all about the genesis of my novels. And seeing my name on the list of performers for the Gathering, he got a brainstorm. He emailed me to ask whether—whilst in Edinburgh-- I might consider doing a radio show featuring me and Frazer Hines.
Frazer is the actor who’d played the young Scotsman in “War Games”—a character named Jamie MacCrimmon. (I did use the name “Jamie” in compliment to the original inspiration, though I’m afraid Jamie Fraser has nothing else in common with Jamie MacCrimmon save the kilt. (No, his last name has nothing to do with Frazer the actor; it was chosen months later, as the result of research (i.e., a book by Eric Linklater, called The Prince in the Heather, about the aftermath of Culloden. One bit read, “Following the battle, nineteen wounded Jacobite officers took refuge in a nearby farmhouse. Here they lay for two days, in pain, with their wounds untended. At the end of this time, they were taken out and shot. One man, a Fraser of the Master of Lovat’s regiment, escaped the slaughter; the others are buried by the field.” “OK,” I said to myself, “if I expect him to survive Culloden, maybe his last name had better be Fraser.”)))
Anyway, of course I said I’d be delighted with the chance to meet Frazer in person. I’d written to him when my first book was published, sending him two copies, and telling him exactly what it was in his performance that had drawn my attention (it was a one-word statement—“Yes!” accompanied by a certain amount of sputtering—that crystallized a particular sort of pig-headed male gallantry that I found attractive)—and he’d replied very kindly, but we hadn’t ever met.
Now we have [g], and a great pleasure it was. We met at the Gathering itself, and spoke (with the BBC listening in) with a number of fans who had come for my reading, then met again the next day at my hotel and watched bits of “War Games” together, commenting on the script and more or less interviewing each other—had a wonderful time.
I’m telling you this now because the BBC has finally got all its editing and assembling done, and is airing the interview we did. It’s scheduled for two broadcasts, May 10 and 15, though I suppose it’s possible that it would later be available on their website—don’t know about that.
Here’s the broadcast schedule.
Now, we talked, all told, for three or four hours, and I see they’ve boiled it down to half an hour, so there’s absolutely no telling which bits they selected. (I see they decided to call my novels romance for the occasion, too…)
Anyway, if you can figure out the necessary time-changes for wherever you live, I hope you’ll enjoy the broadcast!
Happy Mother’s Day!
P.S. I should also mention that Frazer has recently released a memoir of his life as an actor—and kindly sent –me- a copy [g]. His website has an ordering link for it, as well as his appearance schedule.
5 February 2010
Phew. OK. Now I'm back from the UK (and New York, where I paused to meet with editors, publishers, producers, etc., etc., and get food poisoning (no, that wasn't on my original agenda, just something impromptu…)), mostly unpacked, and have dealt with the Totally Urgent Really Important Somebody Needs it Yesterday Panic-stricken Stuff…
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.
Happy New Year!
I have just about recovered from the last few months of 2009—though I must say everything from about June on was kind of a blur. I finished writing An Echo in the Bone (I told my husband the final phase was like holding the severed ends of a high-voltage cable in my hands—really exciting, but it tends to leave you a little crispy round the edges when you let go) somewhere in early August. It was published in September, whereupon I launched immediately on a two-continent, four-country (US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia—I didn't bother counting the cities; there were lots of them, I can tell you that much) book-tour, which lasted 'til late November. I caught swine flu in San Francisco, and I will say there are worse places to be sick than in a nice hotel (the Reception people sent me flowers and a get-well card, when I called Room Service to tell them I needed hot tea and why) with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Coughed my way through Canada, though—apologies to anyone I inadvertently infected along the way—I did warn people not to touch me, but a lot of you did anyway.
Sick or not, I enjoyed meeting you all! But special kudos to the New Zealand fans, who enabled Echo to knock Dan Brown off the top of the bestseller lists [g]—thus enabling the trade paperback to appear modestly emblazoned with "#1 International Bestseller" across the top. Thank you! (We pretty much hit #2 everywhere else—and many, many thanks for that, too.))
Whereupon I spent the next several weeks trying madly to catch up with everything that didn't get done between June and September, while organizing Thanksgiving, two Christmases (don't ask; it was fun, but wearing; involved enchiladas, machaca, eight pounds of pulled pork, and most of the presents ended up in the wrong city), and moving into my newly-renovated office (which is still only half-done, which is why I can't find most of my books, if any of you have asked me anything recently about the 18th century and I haven't answered you yet. They're all somewhere in the eighty cartons in the garage, awaiting installation of the magnificent new bookshelves in my lower office. At least I can now work peacefully in the upstairs part, instead of crouching in a corner of the living-room, avoiding people wielding mops, brooms, and extension ladders (well, it's a twenty-foot ceiling in there, and replacing a light-bulb is kind of an Undertaking).
Back to Work
In spite of all this, I have now resumed regular writing. In answer to the avalanches of anxious email—yes, yes, yes, of course I'm working on Book Eight, what did you expect? (I end a book with a deliberate triple-cliffhanger, and people write to me in droves, wanting to know if there's another book. Sheesh, as my late father was given to saying.)
Out of curiosity, I asked recently on my blog which of the various cliffhangers folk would most like to see resolved first thing in Book Eight? (Not that I necessarily intend to do that, mind; I just like to hear what y'all think. [g])
It was about 50/50 between people (mostly mothers) wanting to know what happens to Jem (!?!?), versus others wanting to know how the inadvertent triangle (avoiding spoilers here, since the book has just come out TODAY in the UK [insert small shower of confetti here, adjusting colors to your own preference] and we don't want to ruin anything for readers there). Everyone wanted to know what William was going to do, too, but they were willing to wait for that one.
NO, I don't have a publication date for Book Eight, what are you thinking? Publishers normally arrange their publication schedules about a year in advance, no more.
It normally takes me two to two-and-a-half years to write one of the big novels of the main series. Surely you've noticed that the books are a) very big, b) rather complex [cough], and c) cunningly engineered so as to be readable both as stand-alone novels and as an integral part of the larger series? All these things take time, thought, immense quantities of research, and a certain amount of subconscious composting (this, btw, is what's really going on when a writer appears to be playing Spider Solitaire and/or staring out the window).
BTW, I don't know where this silliness gets started, but evidently there's some nitwit rumor going around to the effect that Echo is the last book of the series. Don't be ridiculous; why on earth would I end it that way if it was? Have a little sense, now, people, would you? (No, I don't know whether Book Eight is the last one, either. If it turns out that it is, I'll mention it, though. On the cover. In big red-foil letters.)
I also do write other things while writing a big novel. No, I'm not going to drop everything else and work on Book Eight. It wouldn't get you the book any faster, for one thing (see "subconscious composting," above; books come together in their own good time, and you really can't push one until fairly close to finishing—at that point, the book develops its own energy, and it's really just a matter of how long I can sit at the computer without falling over. Prior to that point, though…well, some days it flows pretty well, and some days it's like shoveling rocks uphill). Working on multiple projects (I've always done this, btw) makes me much more productive, and prevents anything in the way of writer's block. It also results in your getting other things to read between publication of the big novels.
Among such smaller entertainments are occasional short stories or novellas, done by request for one or another anthology (an anthology is a collection of short pieces written by assorted authors). Now, the nature of my mind being what it is (messy, but with some sort of underlying principle of organization), many of these shorter pieces have connections with the novels of the main series and/or the Lord John novels (which are themselves a part of the larger series).
One such piece is "The Custom of the Army." This is a Lord John Grey novella (yes, I'm aware that a small minority of you don't want to read about anybody but Jamie and Claire. Your privilege; just wait—they'll be along. Meanwhile, the large numbers of people who enjoy Lord John (and/or who realize that these stories are an integral part of Jamie and Claire's story) are invited to partake of his lordship's latest adventure, which takes him from an electric eel party in London (yes, they really did this) to the Plains of Abraham (and they really did that, which was much more amazing). An excerpt from this novella is provided for your interim pleasure.
Another short piece is "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows," for an anthology titled Songs of Love and Death, to be published by Pocket Books, but they haven't yet set a publication date for it—probably later this year, though. This is a short story about Roger MacKenzie's parents, and—for those who've already read Echo—will solve the mystery surrounding his father. Brief excerpt here!
But back to what-all I'm working on. Book Eight, yes, and with luck, I might have an excerpt from that sometime next month. (No promises, though, as I'll be book-touring in the UK in January, and that's something of a distraction.)
A second volume of The Outlandish Companion—this one will cover The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone, Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, and Lord John and the Hand of Devils (no, I don't know whether Book Eight is the last novel in the main series or not. Regardless, the third (and presumably final) volume of the Companion will cover Book Eight (Book Nine if there is one), the prequel novel (which tells the story of Jamie's parents—NO, I haven't written this yet, if I had, I would certainly have mentioned it), Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner (which I'm working on now, as well as the other things), the short pieces of this n' that, and whatever-all else I happen to have writtten by then that pertains to the Outlander…what do we call this? I really don't like the word "saga," which sounds Scandinavian and boring, but "series" sounds dull, and "story" seems kind of …insufficient. All suggestions welcomed.
BTW—all suggestions for things you'd like to see/have explained/etc. in the second Companion are also welcome! (Yes, we will have a comprehensive, alphabetized and phonetic Glossary of Gaelic. Also "Reader's Guide" material for Book Club discussions. And a feature on costume/clothing/underpants (or the lack thereof—in the 18th century, upper-class gentlemen wore drawers and ladies didn't, they not having to worry about skid-marks…). And a selection of some of the more entertaining letters I get, together with The Author's unexpurgated responses to same.)
And yes, for those interested in Tom Kolodzi (who debuted in print in a short story titled "Dirty Scottsdale," in the anthology Phoenix Noir, or signed at The Poisoned Pen)—I am also working (sporadically) on the first full-length crime novel (for those keeping notes—it was originally working-titled White Knight, then called Red Ant's Head, but will probably end up being called something else entirely, since whenever I say "Red Ant's Head" to people, they grimace and look confused. This isn't a good thing for a title to do to people).
Now, we do have a publication date for the graphic novel, I'm happy to say! This is the graphic novel loosely based on Outlander (which is to say, if you've read Outlander—and I rather suspect most of you have—you'll recognize many of the major events of the story, but there's a completely new storyline woven through and around them. The story is told largely from Murtagh's point of view, and he, of course, saw and knew many things that Claire didn't), script by me, artwork by the amazing Hoang Nguyen (see some of his work at his website). It's titled The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel, and it will be released September 28th, 2010. Hope you'll enjoy it! (I will, btw, be at Comics-Con in New York, October 8-10, to sign it, and hope that Hoang will be, too.)
There really isn't any to speak of, but I know by this time that the fact that I don't say anything isn't sufficient to convince y'all that nothing's going on. The option held by Essential Entertainment has expired, but they want to renew it, and we want to let them. So once that's done, if anything's changed or develops further, I'll tell you, OK?