Ah…Santa Fe in late summer….
Also posted on my Facebook page on August 21, 2015.
Ah…Santa Fe in late summer….
Also posted on my Facebook page on August 21, 2015.
For those of you who like lovely horses, dressage, and sporting events—great photos from this year’s Aachen events, by our lovely German translator, Barbara Schnell— who is a talented photojournalist when not translating the Outlander novels.
Well, she still is that, even when translating, but you don’t get any photos until she’s done and can go play with horses. The fact that she can go to Aachen and frolic with her lens means that…DRAGONFLY IN AMBER’s new German translation is done! And I’m told it will be out November 2nd!)
Also posted on my Facebook page on August 21, 2015.
Also posted on my facebook page on August 19, 2015.
It is—plainly—the Dog Days of summer. When I got home from Calgary last night (at midnight), the first thing my husband said to me was, "Welcome to Hell!" It was 117 degrees (F.) last Friday (which was OK, because I was in Calgary, where the inhabitants kept apologizing for the <ahem> "heat" (it was about 85)), and 112 or so today.
Still, many things thrive in this climate—including prickly pear cactus (above) and geckos (right). This little pink guy (he’s about three inches long) is one of the family of office geckos who live in my cabinets, where they helpfully eat the little caterpillars who pupate between the pages of books and infest my chocolate supplies.
Dachshunds aren’t that wild about heat (neither would you be, if you were black and furry), but they still want to go out every day and hunt lizards and toads. I fill the tree basins while they do that, and while they aren’t wild about baths, cooling their tummies in a muddy puddle is a whole different thing.
Note: This blog entry was also posted on my FaceBook page on August 18, 2015 at 3:48 a.m.
As my husband often remarks, "’FINISHED’ is a relative term to a writer." This is true! <g> I thought y’all might be interested in Just What Happens to a book after the writer is "finished" writing the manuscript:
(NB: This is the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Owing to the tight Production schedule for MOBY (and now for THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION, Volume 2, aka "OC II",) a lot of these steps have been done concurrently, rather than sequentially, and a few repetitive steps have been skipped. But by and large, this is how it works. FWIW, I’m presently at step "M" for OC II…)
(1. The ebook coding happens somewhere in here.)
And we do hope you like it when you get it—because we sure-God went to a lot of trouble to make it for you. <g>
This essay is also available under "What I Do" under the Resources menu:
Advent is a time of waiting, and of preparation. Of contemplation—of what is past, and what is to come. During Advent, we make wreaths, made of leaves or evergreens, with four candles, and we light one candle for each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. May your candle burn quiet in the dark, and may you be at peace.
[From OUTLANDER, Chapter 38, “The Abbey”.]
The monastery was quiet, in the way that all large institutions grow quiet at night; the rapid pulse of the day’s activities has dropped, but the heartbeat goes on, slower, softer, but unending. There is always someone awake, moving quietly through the halls, keeping watch, keeping things alive. And now it was my turn to join the watch.
The chapel was dark except for the burning of the red sanctuary lamp and a few of the clear white votive candles, flames rising straight in still air before the shadowed shrines of saints.
I followed Anselm down the short center aisle, genuflecting in his wake. The slight figure of Brother Bartolome knelt toward the front, head bowed. He didn’t turn at the faint noise of our entrance, but stayed motionless, bent in adoration.
The Sacrament itself was almost obscured by the magnificence of its container. The huge monstrance, a sunburst of gold more than a foot across, sat serenely on the altar. Guarding the humble bit of bread at its center.
Feeling somewhat awkward, I took the seat Anselm indicated, near the front of the chapel. The seats, ornately carved with angels, flowers, and demons, folded up against the wooden panels of the backing to allow easy passage in and out. I heard the faint creak of a lowered seat behind me, as Anselm found his place.
“But what shall I do?” I had asked him, voice lowered in respect of night and silence as we had approached the chapel.
“Nothing, _ma chère_,” he had replied, simply. “Only be.”
So I sat, listening to my own breathing, and the tiny sounds of a silent place; the inaudible things normally hidden in other sounds. The settling of stone, the creak of wood. The hissing of the tiny, unquenchable flames. A faint skitter of some small creature, wandered from its place into the home of majesty.
It was a peaceful place, I would grant Anselm that. In spite of my own fatigue and my worry over Jamie, I gradually felt myself relaxing, the tightness of my mind gently unwinding, like the relaxation of a clock spring. Strangely, I didn’t feel at all sleepy, despite the lateness of the hour and the strains of the last few days and weeks.
After all, I thought, what were days and weeks in the presence of eternity? And that’s what this was, to Anselm and Bartolome, to Ambrose, to all the monks, up to and including the formidable Abbot Alexander.
It was in a way a comforting idea; if there was all the time in the world, then the happenings of a given moment became less important. I could see, perhaps, how one could draw back a little, seek some respite in the contemplation of an endless Being, whatever one conceived its nature to be.
The red of the sanctuary lamp burned steadily, reflected in the smooth gold. The flames of the white candles before the statues of St. Giles and the Blessed Mother flickered and jumped occasionally, as the burning wicks yielded an occasional imperfection, a momentary sputter of wax or moisture. But the red lamp burned serene, with no unseemly waver to betray its light.
And if there was eternity, or even the idea of it, then perhaps Anselm was right; all things were possible. And all love? I wondered. I had loved Frank; I still did. And I loved Jamie, more than my own life. But bound in the limits of time and flesh, I could not keep them both. Beyond, perhaps? Was there a place where time no longer existed, or where it stopped? Anselm thought so. A place where all things were possible. And none were necessary.
And was there love there? Beyond the limits of flesh and time, was all love possible? Was it necessary?
The voice of my thoughts seemed to be Uncle Lamb’s. My family, and all I knew of love as a child. A man who had never spoken love to me, who had never needed to, for I knew he loved me, as surely as I knew I lived. For where all love is, the speaking is unnecessary. It is all. It is undying. And it is enough.
Time passed without my awareness of it, and I was startled by the sudden appearance of Anselm before me, coming through the small door near the altar. Surely he had been sitting behind me? I glanced behind, to see one of the young monks whose name I didn’t know genuflecting near the rear entrance. Anselm bowed low before the altar, then motioned to me with a nod toward the door.
“You left,” I said, once outside the chapel. “But I thought you weren’t supposed to leave the, er, the Sacrament, alone?”
He smiled tranquilly. “I didn’t _ma chère¬_. You were there.”
I repressed the urge to argue that I didn’t count. After all, I supposed, there was no such thing as a Qualified Official Adorer. You only had to be human, and I imagined I was still that, though I barely felt it at times.
Jamie’s candle still burned as I passed his door, and I caught the rustle of turning pages. I would have stopped, but Anselm, went on, to leave me at the door of my own chamber. I paused there to bid him good night, and to thank for taking me to the chapel.
“It was…restful,” I said, struggling to find the right word.
He nodded, watching me. “Oui, madame. It is.” As I turned to go, he said, “I told you that the Blessed Sacrament was not alone, for you were there. But what of you _ma chère_? Were you alone?”
I stopped, and looked at him for a moment before answering.
“No,” I said. “I wasn’t.”
#DailyLines #MOBY #WRITTENinMYownHEARTSBlood #ForThoseWhoMaybeDidntWantToDoIt #ButDidItAnyway #ThoseWhoFightAndThoseWhoLoveThem #HappyVeteransDay
He’d come up to the loft and pulled the ladder up behind him, to prevent the children coming up. I was dressing quickly—or trying to—as he told me about Dan Morgan, about Washington and the other Continental generals. About the coming battle.
“Sassenach, I _had_ to,” he said again, softly. “I’m that sorry.”
“I know,” I said. “I know you did.” My lips were stiff. “I—you—I’m sorry, too.”
I was trying to fasten the dozen tiny buttons that closed the bodice of my gown, but my hands shook so badly that I couldn’t even grasp them. I stopped trying and dug my hairbrush out of the bag he’d brought me from the Chestnut Street house.
He made a small sound in his throat and took it out of my hand. He threw it onto our makeshift couch and put his arms around me, holding me tight with my face buried in his chest. The cloth of his new uniform smelled of fresh indigo, walnut hulls, and fuller’s earth; it felt strange and stiff against my face. I couldn’t stop shaking.
“Talk to me, _a nighean_,” he whispered into my tangled hair. “I’m afraid, and I dinna want to feel so verra much alone just now. Speak to me.”
“Why has it always got to be _you_?” I blurted into his chest.
That made him laugh, a little shakily, and I realized that all the trembling wasn’t coming from me.
“It’s no just me,” he said, and stroked my hair. “There are a thousand other men readying themselves today—more—who dinna want to do it, either.”
“I know,” I said again. My breathing was a little steadier. “I know.” I turned my face to the side in order to breathe, and all of a sudden began to cry, quite without warning.
“I’m sorry,” I gasped. “I don’t mean—I don’t want t-to make it h-harder for you. I—I—oh, Jamie, when I knew you were alive—I wanted so much to go home. To go home with you.”
His arms tightened hard round me. He didn’t speak, and I knew it was because he couldn’t.
“So did I,” he whispered at last. “And we will, _a nighean_. I promise ye.”
The sounds from below floated up around us: the sounds of children running back and forth between the shop and the kitchen, Marsali singing to herself in Gaelic as she made fresh ink for the press. The door opened, and cool, rainy air blew in with Fergus and Germain, adding their voices to the cheerful confusion.
We stood wrapped in each other’s arms, taking comfort from our family below, yearning for the others we might never see again, at once at home and homeless, balanced on a knife edge of danger and uncertainty. But together.
“You’re not going off to war without me,” I said firmly, straightening up and sniffing. “Don’t even _think_ about it.”
#Excerpt #OUTLANDER #HappyBirthdayClaire
[From OUTLANDER, Chapter 25]
“I believe you,” he said firmly. “I dinna understand it a bit—not yet—but I believe you. Claire, I believe you! Listen to me! There’s the truth between us, you and I, and whatever ye tell me, I shall believe it.” He gave me a gentle shake.
“It doesna matter what it is. You’ve told me. That’s enough for now. Be still, _mo nighean donn_. Lay your head and rest. You’ll tell me the rest of it later. And I’ll believe you.”
I was still sobbing, unable to grasp what he was telling me. I struggled, trying to pull away, but he gathered me up and held me tightly against himself, pushing my head into the folds of his plaid, and repeating over and over again, “I believe you.”
At last, from sheer exhaustion, I grew calm enough to look up and say, “But you _can’t_ believe me.”
He smiled down at me. His mouth trembled slightly, but he smiled.
“Ye’ll no tell _me_ what I canna do, Sassenach.” He paused a moment. “How old are ye?” he asked curiously. “I never thought to ask.”
The question seemed so preposterous that it took me a minute to think.
“I’m twenty-seven…or maybe twenty-eight,” I added. That rattled him for a moment. At twenty-eight, women in this time were usually on the verge of middle-age.
“Oh,” he said. He took a deep breath. “I thought ye were about my age—or younger.”
He didn’t move for a second. But then he looked down and smiled faintly at me. “Happy Birthday, Sassenach,” he said.
It took me completely by surprise and I just stared stupidly at him for a moment. “What?” I managed at last.
“I said, ‘Happy Birthday.’ It’s the twentieth of October today.”
“It is?” I said dumbly. “I’d lost track.” I was shaking again, from cold and shock and the force of my tirade. He drew me close against him and held me, smoothing his big hands lightly over my hair, cradling my head against his chest. I began to cry again, but this time with relief. In my state of upheaval, it seemed logical that if he knew my real age and still wanted me, then everything would be all right.
Jamie picked me up, and holding me carefully against his shoulder, carried me to the side of the fire, where he had laid the horse’s saddle. He sat down, leaning against the saddle, and held me, light and close.
A long time later, he spoke.
“All right. Tell me now.”
I told him. Told him everything, haltingly but coherently. I felt numb from exhaustion, but content, like a rabbit that has outrun a fox, and found temporary shelter under a log. It isn’t sanctuary, but at least it is respite. And I told him about Frank.
“Frank,” he said softly. “Then he isna dead, after all.”
“He isn’t _born_.” I felt another small wave of hysteria break against my ribs, but managed to keep myself under control. “Neither am I.”
He stroked and patted me back into silence, making his small murmuring Gaelic sounds.
“When I took ye from Randall at Fort William,” he said suddenly, “you were trying to get back. Back to the stones. And…Frank. That’s why ye left the grove.”
“And I beat you for it.” His voice was soft with regret.
“You couldn’t know. I couldn’t tell you.” I was beginning to feel very drowsy indeed.
“No, I dinna suppose ye could.” He pulled the plaid closer around me, tucking it gently around my shoulders. “Do ye sleep now, _mo nighean donn_. No one shall harm ye; I’m here.”
I burrowed into the warm curve of his shoulder, letting my tired mind fall through the layers of oblivion. I forced myself to the surface long enough to ask, “Do you really believe me, Jamie?”
He sighed, and smiled ruefully down at me.
“Aye, I believe ye, Sassenach. But it would ha’ been a good deal easier if you’d only been a witch.”
Since 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:
(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:
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.
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.)