Diana Gabaldon Interview, Part I

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Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 NYT-bestselling OUTLANDER novels, described by Salon magazine as “the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting “Scrooge McDuck” comics.” The series is published in 26 countries and 23 languages, with more than nineteen million copies in print worldwide and a miniseries in the works.

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I’ve known Diana for fifteen years or so, ever since we met on the Compuserve Book and Author forum. For several years we both served as presenters at the Surrey International Writers Conference and had the opportunity to hang out in real life. Everyone who’s read her work knows Diana is a spellbinding storyteller. What you may not know, unless you’ve met her, is that she’s as delightful a person as she is a writer. She does a great deal for others that never gets talked about or reported, and I’m not going to out her here, except to say that she ministers to those who most need it and she goes out of her way to help fellow writers, as I know from personal experience.  (See Diana’s comment on my forthcoming thriller, A DANGEROUS FICTION.)

Back when that book was just beginning its journey into print, I asked some friends to brainstorm titles. Diana came up with  “In Cold Ink.” In the end it didn’t quite fit as the book’s title, but I loved it so much I adopted it as the name of my blog, making Diana its godmother.  Now she has graciously paid us a visit and bestowed an interview, which I’m delighted to share with you here in several parts. In this first segment, we talk about Diana’s origins as a writer, her taxonomy of character types, and her own writing process. Along the way she punctures a few misconceptions.

Q: Were you a great reader as a child? What were your favorite books?

A: Yes.  My mother taught me to read at the age of three; I can’t remember not being able to read.  I do remember turning up on the first day of kindergarten, flipping critically through DICK AND JANE and dropping it, remarking, “That’s a stupid book.  Is there anything else to  read?”   (I was not a tactful child.)child reading

I read—and still do read—just about anything.   I read my way through the entire children’s section of the Flagstaff Public Library by the third grade, at which point I went on to the adult section (my mother having assured the librarian—who was Very Dubious about this—that I could take out anything I wanted to).   Among the things I read repeatedly, though, were ALICE IN WONDERLAND, THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON, the Oz books, all the Andrew Lang Fairy Books, the entire series of biographies of famous people for children, and any Walt Disney comic I could get my hands on.

Q: Do you recall a specific moment when you realized that you’d like to write stories yourself?

A:  Yeah.  I was about eight, and coming back in the car from a family outing to the cinder hills near Flagstaff (we often went out there on Sundays when the weather was nice).  It was summer and the daily thunderstorm was shaping up overhead.  I remember  looking up into the clouds and talking to God—I wasn’t praying, just talking to Him—and saying, “I want to write books.  I think I’m supposed to write books.”  Mind—at this point, the notion of WRITING A BOOK was the most far-fetched, impossible thing I could imagine.  I might as well have said, “I think I want to fly to Mars.”

I didn’t have the slightest idea how books were written, let alone how they got onto the library shelves (didn’t know people got paid for writing books, either; when I found that out, it seemed like an amazing bonus).

Anyway, God said (more or less), “Yes, that’s right.  You should.”

Q: First novels are often autobiographical in some fashion or another. You haven’t got a drop of Scottish blood in you, you were never a nurse and you haven’t (as far as I know) time-traveled. Is there anything in OUTLANDER that did draw upon your own life experience and/or passions?

Gabaldon-Outlander-220x322A: If you write an honest book, most of it is you, regardless of setting, time period, or the external aspects of your characters. And the idiotic assumption that one can only write about one’s own life experience—if widely adopted—would have prevented most of the world’s great books being written.  (Not saying you’re an idiot, mind you <g>.)  It’s just that that stupid, “Write what you know” axiom has been propagated so much that people don’t stop to question it, and thus don’t realize that it’s backward.  It’s not that you should limit yourself to using your own life as material; it’s that you shouldn’t write what you don’t know—but you can find out anything you need to know.

There’s also this little item called “imagination,” which I think is given remarkably short shrift these days.   As a novelist, I can be Anybody.  Anytime, Any place, in any condition of body or mind.   Why should I just be me?  How boring.

(Not even going to touch the equally prevalent attitude that a writer should for some reason be strongly drawn to write about his or her ethnic background—but only if s/he isn’t white.  People keep pestering me to “write about your heritage,” by which they mean the New Mexican/Hispanic side.  Why don’t they pester me to write about the English or German side, assuming I wanted to write about my heritage in the first place, which I don’t?)

But returning to what you actually asked <g>:  Sure.  Owing to a series of academic accidents, I taught classes in Human Anatomy and Physiology in several different institutions, including Temple University’s School of Nursing.   Now, this had nothing whatever to do with my own scientific interests, background, or research specialties—they just paid me for doing it.  But the material was undeniably interesting—and it gave me the broad but shallow grasp of clinical medicine that is the core of Claire’s work as a healer and physician.

Now, I was a field ecologist for some time.  Which means I naturally look at what’s going on around me when I’m outdoors.  I know what the basic features of a given ecosystem type are—which means that whether I’m looking at the Scottish Highlands or the North Carolina mountains, I know that there will birds species doing X, and plant species that fill Y niche, and so on.   Beyond that, it’s just a matter of looking up the specific plants and animals, and that’s a matter of very simple research.

I’m sixty-one.  I’ve been in love, been married, borne children, had people near me die.  Naturally bits and pieces of all these experiences filter through into the books I write.  Be strange if they didn’t, wouldn’t it?

Q: You have many readers who are passionate about your books and personally invested in the characters. Putting all modesty aside, why do you think readers connect so deeply with your characters?

A: I do write honest books, so far as it lies in my power to do so.  People recognize reality (in terms of character and situation and emotion) when they see it, and it’s natural for them to empathize with people they see as real.

(The Washington Post recently asked me for “a few sentences” describing what I did for Valentine’s Day, for a column in which such bits from a dozen (female) authors were quoted.  Most of the other participants went on about going out for a romantic dinner with their husband and toasting each other with pink champagne, or…well…take this one:

“I love seeing the glowing pyres of fat, deep red-red roses in full cry, displays of pink Champagne and boxes of chocolates that spring up all over London, and hope that a glorious bunch might find its way to me. Yet, if I was giving roses to a man on this particular day (and why not, for all sensual men love them), I’d buy flame orange, rich yellow or creamy, pink-tinged white; and pretend — because I’m old fashioned — that it was merely joie de vivre, or exuberance, or entirely accidental….”  

And then there was what I said (the absolute un—er—varnished <g> truth:

“We’re having the saltillo tile floors resealed. This means having to move all the furniture, send the dogs to my son’s house for a sleepover, and walk around in our socks for two days. Our bed is disassembled and hidden in the closet, so I’m sleeping in a daughter’s room, and my husband is nesting somewhere in the living room (where all the furniture is). On the other hand, romance is not dead; he gave me a bathrobe and a card with a singing bug, and I gave him a jar of white anchovy filets and a tube of wasabi paste.”

Now, clearly one would like to escape now and then and wallow in thoughts of accidental roses…but which author do you think you might feel more connected with, on the basis of these brief snips?)

Q: It’s hard for readers to imagine characters in their embryonic state, when we experience them as fully-developed, complicated human beings. But characters don’t spring to life that way. Can you talk a bit about how you go about growing characters from stick figures into people?

A: But I don’t do that.  I know there are a lot of popular assumptions about how writers work, and the notion that one decides that a specific character is needed, equips him or her with a name, and then sets to work collecting pictures of actors and drawing up index cards with the character’s taste in peanut-butter is certainly one of them.  It’s possible that some writers really do do that, and God help them, if so—whatever works, you know?

For me, characters are pretty organic.   I don’t plot a story and insert characters; the story exists because these particular people have needs and desires and motivations, and finding themselves in a particular situation, act upon them.

You hear about “plot-driven” stories vs. “character-driven” stories (and why always “versus,” I wonder?  There’s nothing antithetical between plot and character)—but in fact, the plot is simply what the characters do.  They may do what they do in part because of the situation and circumstances in which they find themselves—but they do what they do mostly because they are who they are.

For me, characters tend to fall into one of three main types: mushrooms, onions, and hard nuts.  (That’s not a description of their personalities, btw, but rather of the way in which I work with them, and them with me.)

Mushrooms are the delightful people who spring into life unexpectedly and walk right off with any scene they’re in.  Lord John Grey is a mushroom, as is Mr. mushroomWilloughby, the Chinese poet with a notable foot fetish, and Mrs. Figg, Lord John’s redoubtable housekeeper (“Mrs. Figg was smoothly spherical, gleamingly black, and inclined to glide silently up behind one like a menacing ball-bearing.”).  They talk to me freely, and I never have to stop and wonder what they’d do in any given situation—they just do it.

onionOnions are the ones whose innermost essence I apprehend immediately—but the longer I work with them, the more layers they develop, and thus the more well-rounded and pungent they become.  Jamie Fraser and Claire Beauchamp Randall are both onions.

Hard nuts are pretty much what they sound like.  These are the people who  “come with” a story by default, rather than developing organically  by popping out of the mental compost.  Historical figures, for instance, who were necessarily there, and have to be animated in a satisfying way, or people who exist only because another character was pregnant, leaving me with an unknown child to deal with.  These, I just research (for the historical people) or live with (for the unknowns), and gradually, I begin to have a sense of them.  But as with everyone else, they truly “develop” only in the context of their own situation and circumstance.

End of Part 1.

Go to Part 2.

In part 2 of the interview, Diana goes on to talk about her relationship with her readers, some controversial choices, and the demands that literary success imposes on the writer’s personal life. Sign up for the blog’s email or RSS feed so you won’t miss it!

Thanks, Diana!

 

I’m delighted to announce that A DANGEROUS FICTION is now out in Penguin paperback.   Diana Gabaldon called A DANGEROUS FICTION “a terrific read–A thriller with a psychological heart of mystery, a double-ended love story, and a fascinating look at the world of high-stakes publishing,”  and NPR called it a “clever exploration of our capacity for self-deception… an absorbing mystery that keeps its secret until the very end.” You can read the opening here.

About Barbara Rogan

I am the author of nine novels, including A DANGEROUS FICTION, published by Viking and Penguin. I'm also a former editor and literary agent. Currently I teach fiction writing on my online school, www.nextlevelworkshop.com.
This entry was posted in Craft, Interviews, Writers, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

78 Responses to Diana Gabaldon Interview, Part I

  1. Peter Pollak says:

    Diana Gabaldon is not just a star because she’s honest. It helps to have something to say–a brain behind the pen. I heard her twice at the Tucson Festival of Books this past March and loved her self-deprecating humor, the way she interacted with the audience–she connected with us right away as she does when you open the pages of any of her books–and the smart things she had to say about writing. I look forward to the rest of your interview.

  2. Ella Quinn says:

    I love Diana’s books and her. She made such nice remarks when I showed up on the Compuserve forum after having written my first book, and was totally clueless. She was also a great help answering research questions I had.

    Great interview. I tweeted.

    • Not surprised. Like I said, she’s unfailingly generous. I don’t have many role models, but Diana comes pretty close. Different ends of the political spectrum, but one of the things I’ve learned from knowing her is that there are more important things.

  3. Linda Grimes says:

    Lovely interview, Barbara! It’s always a pleasure to “listen” to Diana.

  4. J says:

    Diana is such a delightful woman! Had the wonderful opportunity to hear her speak,and have her sign my books,and meet my service animal Thor.
    She is such a treat,and I am very glad I picked her book up that day 18 years ago!!!!
    I tell all the people I know that every woman deserves a James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser!!!!

  5. Martha Eddy says:

    I am a latecomer to Diana’s magic. Connie Brockway polled HER readers asking for their favorite Scottish romance and Outlander won by a landslide. I had never heard of, let alone read, Diana and got Outlander from the Library in March. I devoured it, went online and bought the 7 book Kindle series and devoured the other 6 books in 2 weeks time. Now I have to fill in with Lord John books, novellas and the Daily Lines to get my fix. Eagerly awaiting Book 8.

  6. Shari Malcomb says:

    I’ve loved the Outlander series since, roughly, 1994, when I was introduced to the books by an acquaintance. I, of course, own all seven books and have read and re-read them many times over! Waiting on tenterhooks for book #8…

  7. I discovered Outlander about a year and a half ago through a blog linkup where bloggers shared their favorite books/series. I can’t remember who’s list it was on, but I owe that dear girl a debt of gratitude! I just can’t imagine my life without the literary genius that is Outlander. I have since read all the available books, novellas and short stories twice (beginning on my third round while awaiting MOBY)in addition to purchasing all the audiobooks (Davina Porter is magical!)

  8. Nancy B says:

    For years I heard of this “Outlander” book and thought it was a Sci-Fi book, so totally ignored it. I don’t know what prompted my id to look into the book more, while searching for a good read but all I can say is, YA-HOO! I immediately devoured all seven of the released Outlander series as well as the offshoots of John Grey. That was last year 2012. You have no idea how tormenting it has been waiting for Diana’s next book. I know people have commented that they reread them, but my memory is too good right now to truly enjoy the reread.I have been on pins and needles waiting for “In My Own Heart’s Blood.” There have never been (for me) two historical fiction figures such as Jamie and Claire. I’m a redhead and am ALWAYS thrilled when Diana describes Jamie’s hair. All the teasing about my hair color while growing up fades away. I’m also more than thrilled with the love scenes (-: Well done Diana, well done!

  9. Kay Melton says:

    I am rereading the first seven books in preparation for the eighth. This is the third reading. Love them!

  10. Jan Dodson says:

    I was shopping @ Barnes & Noble one day & found Outlander. Inhaled it, then went back & bought Dragonfly in Amber. Then I had to wait for Voyager, & every book since. I read the series every year at least once & always find something new.

    This year I am fulfilling a bucket list item. I am going to Scotland to take the Outlander tour. I am almost through reading the series this year in preparation.

    Diana feels like a friend as do Clair & Jamie. The daily lines on Facebook has linked her life with mine each morning.

    I have become a “pusher” for the Outlander books. I have “hooked” several people by introducing them to Diana Gabaldon!

  11. My mother-in-law introduced me to Jamie and Claire about 8 years ago. I picked it and put it down many times before delving into it and finding this amazing new world. I continue to reread the series because of the connection I feel to the characters. Jamie and Claire drive each other nuts, but there is no denying the passion and love they feel for one another…it very much reminds me of my own marriage if you substitute Maryland for Scotland, my slightly shorter light brown haired husband for tall red-haired Jamie, and the lack of a kilt…but details, details. I have found the beauty of listening to the book through audiobooks and take Jamie and Claire with me on my long weekend runs. I look forward to running each time I lace up my shoes just so I can “run away” for a little while 🙂

  12. Lynn says:

    I love Dianas books. Ive read the Outlander series at least (no lie) 20 times. I keep rereading until a new one comes out. I keep coming back because i love what Jamie and Claire have. They are so real. I hope the journey never ends!

  13. Sarah says:

    I discovered Outlander just browsing shelves looking for thick paperback books (I read like a fiend and am usually desperate for anything that will take me more than 24 hours to read). Add in the Scottish Highlands and time travel and I found a goldmine. I re-read the series about once a year. I am so attached to the characters that a few weeks ago, my community chorus put on a Celtic themed concert, complete with a bag piper. He made some joke about his kilt and my honest-to-God first thought was “Hah! I’ll have to tell Claire that one!” I decided then it must be time to start re-reading the series again and was really tickled to come across the same kilt joke in either Voyager or Drums of Autumn not too long after.

  14. Nifty says:

    I discovered Outlander at a Waldenbooks or more. I picked it up because the cover featured plaid, and I was going through a “historical romances with a Scottish setting” phase. But then I read the back blurb and put the book down, because I wasn’t a fan of time-travel. I wandered around a bit, kept coming back to the book. Picked it up, put it down. And so on and so forth for a goodly while. Finally bought the book, took it home and started reading it…and found myself really struggling through the opening chapters. However, everything changed the instant Claire went through the stones. From that moment on, I was hooked.

    That was in 1991. I was 20, and my love of these books hasn’t faded at all.. I like to joke that I’ve been waiting more than half my life for the NEXT Outlander book. (I also joke that the people new to the series who were gnashing their teeth and pulling their hair out over the ending of Echo — and the long wait for Number Eight — had no clue what true misery is. I survived The Great Dragonlfy Cliffhanger of 1992. The one at the end of Echo was nothing compared to that!)

    When a new book comes out, I always take 2 or 3 vacation days from work so I can hole up, undisturbed, and catch up all on things Fraser/Mackenzie. Really looking forward to being able to do that this year.

  15. Christiane Kypraios says:

    I enjoyed reading Diana’s interview very much, thankyou Barbara. I discovered “Outlander” (or “Cross Stitch” UK title) 13 years ago in the British bookstore W.Smith’s in Paris-where I live- I opened the book and the hook was set ! I’ve got the 7 Outl.books, all the Ld John Books, the 4 novellas in “A Trail of Fire” and “The Outlandish Companion I”. I appreciate the nice connection Diana keeps having with us her fans very much, posting dailylines from her next book and giving us little glimpses of her personal life. No doubt she is a very kind and caring person. I’d love to meet her but it seems to me a little bit difficult…being in Europe…but who knows ? Anyway, an Outlander addict I am and very happy about that. Best regards, Christiane

  16. Linda D says:

    I started in the middle when I read Voyager. Loved it well enough that I wanted to start at the beginning. And it is the honesty that draws me to the story; they are well researched, well drawn and well…unforgettable.

  17. Kathleen Yielding says:

    A friend introduced me to Outlander series in October 2012 and have since read the series twice and have started my third round waiting for book #8. Outstanding books. I love the communication between Claire and Jamie and the author and her readers. Thank you Diana!

  18. Beth L says:

    My sister awakened me to the Outlander series – MANY years ago Dragonfly in Amber wasn’t published yet, so I ached to find out what was coming for Jamie and Claire. Waiting between books was torture. I’ve now read them all 4 times. I keep coming back for the reasons mentioned by Diana – beyond the time travel aspect (at least as far as I am aware 🙂 ) the books are about real situations. Claire and Jamie (and the other characters who come into being) actually go through good times/great times/not so great times/horrible times. Diana’s method of writing makes the reader feel the characters and their experiences. I physically ache when something bad is happening, and I am honestly overjoyed when things are going well. The characters become parts of the reader’s family. As mentioned by one of the others in the comments – they are unforgettable.

  19. Patsy Burns says:

    I found Voyager at the GoodWill Store. I’m an avid reader and history buff, my Mother-in-Law is also and of Scottish heritage. I saw that TOME and thought she’d enjoy it. A love story sans the heaving breast. She enjoyed it and passed it back. I read the first 50 pages and said, ‘this is number 3? I must read the first 3!’. I promptly went to B n N and ordered the other 4 already in print. Waited anxiously for #6, then pre-ordered 7, the blister (Scottish Prisoner) as well as the graphic novel (The Exile) I have my per-order in for#8. Incidentially, I’ve purchased the shorts as well. As each was coming out, I re-read the preceding books so I was ‘ligned up’ to the extended story line. (I’m currently on my 3rd read. I AM HOOKED. It’s Diana’s attention to detail, and her research in the obscure histories. Just detail – detail – detail. The Outlandish Companion is so open about errors and corrections, I haven’t read every word, but had researched the story line as I’m re-reading. Can’t thank Diana enough for the entertainment. But, when I wake up from dreaming about them, I lay them aside for a few days so I can return to reality!

  20. Paula Breid says:

    Like everyone else here, I love your books and re-read them constantly. I also love to listen to the marvelous Davina Porter perform them over and over. Do any of you know why “Drums of Autumn” and “The Fiery Cross” don’t seem to be available unabridged on CDs by Davina in the nice cube-box sets? I had no problems finding the other five online, and would love to complete my collection. Thanks.

  21. Carrie says:

    Just a comment. This interview says Diana is 61. I always thought she was early 30’s??.

    • She just looks it.

      • Carrie says:

        After making comment, I realized she wouldn’t have had enough time to accomplish as much as she has. But she really does look young.

    • Haha! Thank you, Carrie!

    • ingeborg oppenheimer says:

      carrie, i think that, like clair, diana will always feel young to those of us whose lives she has enriched with her books. after all, how long the body has been around is only one measure of youth versus aging. and i also think that part of diana’s appeal to her readers is her uncanny ability to connect them with their own inner youth, no matter how many years they’ve been around. there’s a yiddish saying that “you should live to be 120”, and that’s what i’m wishing for diana!

  22. S.P.Bowers says:

    Love her common sense. Also I loved the valentines description. That is much closer to home for me. Especially since I used to work in a flower shop. Hubby is forbidden from buying flowers at Valentines. In fact, the memories are so strong we rarely celebrate it.

    Great interview, can’t wait for the next part.

  23. Sally Ponfick says:

    I started reading Dragonfly in Amber on tape and kept rewinding, checking to see what I missed. Oh, I missed the first volume! Then I had to start over. Also inherited the DiA hard volume from my mother, who died in 1999. Now I read them electronically, and love the large print, and instant access to a dictionary, so I can see what a corbie is in the midst of the story. Besides that, the electronic versions are lighter to carry around, and take up much less shelf space.

  24. I spent 10 years away from books, being a harried young mom with no time for myself. Then my own mom introduced me to “Outlander,” and that series changed my life in so many ways. I think the most notable is that I never wrote a word before I read Ms Gabaldon’s work-well, you know what I mean. But I had no idea I would someday be a published novelist. I had read her books so many times I figured I might as well give it a try myself, and now I’m with Penguin. It’s all because of Diana Gabaldon!

  25. Fawn Johns says:

    Yes, I am an Outlander fan!

    I discovered Outlander in September of 2010. I was trying to figure out how in the world to down load a book on my new Kindle Keyboard and downloaded a (free)book just to test that I was doing it right. The book was Outlander! I read Outlander (way too fast, I couldn’t help myself!) I down loaded the rest of the series, then I HAD to have the actual books so every pay check off to Copperfields (My local book store) I went till I had all of the books to date including Lord John and any novella or short story that was available. You would think I would have stopped there, but no I had to have the audible books for when I am driving or walking. (I agree with Jessica about Davina Porter)

    Your question, What keeps you coming back? I have to say that I have never left and I don’t think I ever will!

    I Enjoyed your interview and look forward to Part 2. I will also take a look at the books you’ve written. There are at least four authors I love to read from meeting them on a discussion about Outlander, what an extra bonus!

    • Thanks, Fawn! I hope you enjoy them. In addition to A DANGEROUS FICTION, coming out in July, I’ve had three older books reissued this year, with two more to come shortly. A banner year.

  26. Ineke Hughes says:

    I was backpacking through several countries in Europe with my daughter, back in ’95, when I came across a dog eared paperback copy of ‘Voyager’ in a small used book store in Arles, in the south of France. After I finished it (in about three days) my daughter read it. We were hooked!

    I now own a complete set of hard cover editions, and several ‘extras.’ I too re-read them all every couple of years, and have ordered my copy of ‘In My Own Heart’s Blood’ from one of the small independent book stores here in Salmon Arm, British Columbia.

  27. Judy Letchworth says:

    An amazing author….Diana Gabaldon is my favorite read…I have been reading all my life…starting with the usual “flashlight under the covers at age 5”. Have to go back and reread the series to keep current while impatiently awaiting the next book. My daughter, Lauren, was another youngster that had permission to take anything out of the library at a very young age. Wish she would write…but her talents run to fabric art at this time. Hurry…can’t wait!

  28. Lea Smith says:

    I don’t even remember where I found my first copy of Outlander but I’m on my third, I loaned a friend copies of all 7 books and never got them back because they are all still circulating among friends. I count 3 copies cause I have real books and kindle books so I can enjoy them any time I want. I am panting for the next book, it seems so far away.
    I love the way I get drawn into the reality of the lives.

  29. Dee Devine says:

    I don’t know how many people I have brought into the Gabaldon fold. Purchased hardback copies of ALL of the books, iPad downloads etc etc. Always have some at hand so that I can get a “Fraser-fix”. Without trying to be to silly about it, as an avid reader of all kinds of literature-by far, this series of books, its characters and their lives has enthralled, moved me to tears and kept me captivated for more than 20 years. Amazing!

  30. Tracy says:

    I first discovered the Outlander series at my local supermarket. The woman working there recommended Outlander to me. After reading it I quickly started the next book and eventually had to order the rest of the series online. I have read the paper versions twice, iPad twice and listened once. Jamie and Claire are real people to me and I simply adore reading about them. I think Diana is the best author I have ever read. Not one book was a disappointment. Keep them coming Diana. Thanks for your interview Barbara!

  31. Lara Lacombe says:

    Great interview, Barbara! I had the pleasure of meeting Diana at SIWC 2011, and she was so gracious and kind. I always enjoy reading her posts in the CompuServe Forum, and it’s nice to see her longer responses here. 🙂

  32. Krystal Jane says:

    Wow, Diana is so amazing! I especially love the part about her writing process and also what she said about people pestering her to write about her heritage. I get this sometimes, too, and it was great for me to read her response to it. I can’t wait wait for the rest of this interview!

  33. Linda E says:

    Funny to read that so many started with Voyager, which is the first book I bought. I love big, thick, fat books (and I love that Ms. Gabaldon loves to write big, thick, fat books). While browsing through a used book store, I found Voyager. I saw the word “trilogy” and thought all 3 were contained in that book. I was at an out-of-town bookstore, and didn’t realize my mistake until I got home. Noooo! No way could I start reading Voyager until I had read the first 2. Off to my local used-bookstore: the gods were smiling on me because I found the first 2. A bit later, I discovered to my absolute delight that this series wasn’t a trilogy after all… there were MORE! The reason I keep coming back? The writing. Oh, and a couple of other reasons: Claire and Jamie. The same reasons I don’t think a mini-series will be able to do justice to these books. I will be thrilled if I’m proven wrong.

  34. Sally McLester says:

    About 5 years ago, I was visiting a good friend, couldn’t sleep and found her copy of Outlander on the bookshelf in the guest bedroom. She graciously lent it to me and I was completely captivated. I now have my own set of paperbacks, (well, Echo in hardback, couldn’t wait on the paperback!), and I read the whole set at least a couple of times each year. I have read most of the Lord John books from the library, and just recently found out about the graphic novel – Must.read.soon! Loved the interview and I am trying hard not to think about how long it will be til MOBY gets here. Sigh. And I am very happy to have the daily lines Diana’s story of the first grade brought back a lot of memories – I am the third child in a family of *serious* readers, so I was also an early reader. Living only two blocks from the county library, I had read most of the children’s section BEFORE I went to school – it’s not nearly as big a town as Flagstaff! Needless to say I was a big headache for my teachers when I did start first grade!

  35. Lisa Cooper says:

    I’ve loved her books for years also, and am enjoying listening to them on audio book right now.
    My husband and I were on vacation in Wilmington NC, and went to the Moore’s Creek Battle sight. I realized that I knew exactly what happened there because of reading it in her book. Normally I couldn’t tell you any details of battles like that. Amazing what you can pick up from reading a well-written novel.

  36. Arlene Fell says:

    I discovered Diana’s wonderful books through a brief mention in a book review column when “Drums” was published. It said something about “time-traveling British nurse,” and that was enough to send me hunting, as I love time travel stories. I somehow learned that it was the fourth in a series, but my library didn’t have any of them. Finally found “Outlander” at B&N…in the romance section. This was a huge turn-off, as I have a very low opinion of romance novels. I read the cover blurbs but ultimately decided that I really didn’t want to spend 8 or 9 dollars on a book that might end up being thrown across the room in disgust after 25 pages or so. But I was intrigued enough to make a mental note.

    About a year and a half later, I found a used copy for $1.50. Well, that much I was willing to spend. I started reading and before I was 200 pages in, I went out and bought “Dragonfly,” “Voyager,” and “Drums.” (So I wouldn’t have to wait between volumes, of course.) It remained a guilty little secret, however, as I still thought of them in the “romance” category. This continued through publication of FC and ABoSaA, with much rereading.

    Then came the leadup to Echo, when two things happened. I took the six much-read books on an extensive trip, so I could do a straight-through reread prior to Echo and on impulse said to my daughter, “Here. You might like this,” handing her Outlander. Well, she was, literally, walking around, reading non-stop while taking care of two small children, a husband, and a large house. I was rereading as fast as I could, to stay ahead of her so we didn’t end up in the same book at the same time. We then got my other daughter hooked.

    The other thing that happened was that some marketing genius at Random House came up with the idea of a lottery, shipping selected fans a carton of two dozen copies of Outlander, to be given away as part of the lead-up to Echo. Guess who won a carton of books? What with the books I gave away, the friends and neighbors my daughters and I have introduced to the books, I figure I am personally responsible for the existence of dozens of Gabaldon fans. At least.

    I could go on and on about what I love about the books, but if you’re reading this, you already know. Waiting for Moby.

  37. Alice Watkins says:

    One of my best friends had tried to get me hooked back in the 90’s. I don’t know why I waited so long. I actually started reading Outlander to pass the time while my mom was in the hospital last April during what became her final illness. I have since lost count of the number of times I have read all of the books includingord John’s escapades. I, too was a reader way before school and had to be given parental permission to go to the grown up side of the library at around age 8. Thanks for sharing ladies. Looking forward to part 2 of the blog.

  38. Karisa Crawford says:

    I picked up “Dragonfly In Amber” many years ago at my local library and fell in love and then realized it was Book 2. I then had to find “Outlander” to see how it all started. I have read every book and hate the long waits in between them. I have told everyone I know who likes to read about the books. My best friend and I talk about Jamie and Claire as if they are real people. I have never read any other series of books so well researched with such excellent use of dialogue. I think that is what sets Diana apart from others. Her characters seem real because they feel and say things that are so honest. I can’t wait for MOBY!

  39. Myrna Mai says:

    I first found “Outlander” in a Walmart store right after it came out in paperback. (Early 90’s, maybe?) I love time travel and historical fiction, and just a quick glance let me know that this was something exceptional. I bought the book, loved it, and was in a bookstore right after “Dragonfly” came out. I have all the books in hardback now, have shared them with quite a few people (one friend said she felt like she was pushing some addictive product–we are–lol) and I’m really looking forward to MOBY with everyone else. Oh, my husband loves the books, too–thanks to my introduction. Oh, books have always been SO important to me, and I love to read almost anything.

  40. PD Miller says:

    I really don’t remember when or how I discovered “Outlander” books but with the beginnings of Alzheimer’s, I’m sure I can enjoy them over and over, until they are all NEW again 🙂
    I give anyone unadulterated advice on writing while you have the chance…DO IT ! Don’t wait until those books inside you have no outlet.
    I will certainly look up your books Ms Rogan as I am always interested in good books.

    • Eleanor Rogan says:

      I remember the day when I first discovered Diana Gabaldon. I was at the library looking at the new book section and came across Outlander. I started to read while in the library and couldn’t put her book down. I recommended her first book to many people and we are all fans. Great interview, looking forward to the next one.
      Thanks,

    • Judy Letchworth says:

      I marvel at the sense of humor that PD Miller has. Every time anyone reads this series of books it is like new again….I find new things each time. Can’t wait for the newest!

  41. Clara in Clifton says:

    Several years a go, when I was planning a trip to Scotland, a friend suggested I read the Outlander… I am forever hooked. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her at the “Tea with Diana” at the Kilted Kat in Flagstaff. She is a good friend of my late brother, Richard Ferguson.

    • Dear Clara–

      Oh, dear! Has Richard passed away recently, then? I knew he wasn’t doing well, as he wasn’t able to come to tea this year, but no one told me he’d died. I’m so sorry–he was a lovely man.

      –Diana

  42. SandyC says:

    I picked up Outlander at a used bookstore, seeing that it was historical fiction, about a year before ABOSAA came out. I waited a couple of months to get to it in my stack. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. I went back to the used book store, but the clerk said that the books rarely came in, because people kept their copies. So I went ahead and bought them new–not my usual purchase. I proceeded through all that were out at that time, ending with Fiery Cross. I waited about two hours, then started them all over again. Finished the series and said, OK, now I wait till the next one comes out. I waited two days, then did it again. I read the series three times in a row, and was thoroughly engrossed each time. I hate waiting for the next book! The only other books I have read repeatedly was Lord of the Rings, and that was yearly. But these are so compelling that even after reading them multiple times I still have to stop reading an hour before bed or I can’t stop thinking about them, and can’t get to sleep. I love the Daily Lines, and am anxiously awaiting MOBY.

  43. CHill says:

    I love these books. I think I was looking for a new series to read…I don’t ever read anything but a continuing saga 🙂 and stumbled upon the second book in the series. Realized that it was the second book and got Outlander through inter library loan. Such an inspiration this story. I love it. So rich and beautiful and finely tuned. THanks for posting this interview and thanks to Diana for all the joy she shares with her writing.

  44. T2stoner says:

    My story is the same as those posted so I won’t repeat how many times I have read the series and audio, etc. But as someone with OCD, I wonder if anyone thinks of Claire every morning when they brush their teeth and floss? Yes, thats me every morning. So, for the rest of my life….

  45. Gmazamnjn says:

    I first found Outlander on a clearance table at a local bookstore. Turns out it was a first edition 🙂 I now have all signed, first editions of the Outlander series, and have heard Diana speak three times. Not sure how many friends I have “hooked” on the books along with my daughter and several of her friends. My elderly mother-in-law read Outlander even when her eyesight was failing and a struggle to finish. Look forward to MOBY. Thanks for the interview.

  46. Elaine Pannell says:

    I had just started cross-stitch as a hobby and spotted Diana’s book of the same name on a charity stall. I started reading it and couldn’t put it down! My husband became fed-up of oohs and wow!s. I then bought the rest new as I couldn’t wait for them to filter through to charity shops (not that hers do!) I’ve passed the love of them to my daughter and daughter-in-law who have also spread the word. (They have each bought their own sets!)
    A few months ago I came across some podcasts that Diana had made and sat riveted . I messages her to say how much I enjoyed them and was thrilled when she replied!
    How many authors would be bothered?

  47. CHill says:

    Its funny that you should say your husband got fed up with your ooh’s and ahh’s. I laugh out loud and sometimes gasp. Weird looks from my family aside, I won’t be giving them up soon. Must start rereading!!! 🙂

  48. Elizabeth Connolly says:

    I fell in love with time travel romances. I stumbled across Outlander at walmart and have been hooked ever since. My two daughters have both joined in the reading of her series but I’ve read more:-)… Can’t wait for the next one. We are the same age but you (Diane) do look so much better (ha, ha).

  49. SallyB says:

    Loved Outlander series. When will Moby be coming out? Is it a continuation of the series?

    • Alice Watkins says:

      MOBY will be out after Ms Diana finishes writing it, hopefully in late 2013, and it is book 8 in Jamie and Claire’s adventures.

  50. Zan Marie says:

    I love Diana Gabaldon! And all of her books. Her generosity example has kept me writing several times.

    Thanks for the interview, Barbara. I can’t wait for part 2.

  51. Shawn Bird says:

    Well that was entertaining! I woke the dogs snorting with laughter on several occasions. Thanks for the excellent diversion from my editing.

  52. Thanks for the interview. I look forward to any and all that Diana gives. I found Outlander before I left on my honeymoon to Scotland this Oct of 2012 and fell deeply in love with her writing! As a new writer myself, working on my first novel, I love her techniques and her deeply moving style. I’ve collected everything she’s ever written and am devouring every page. I think of Diana as “the Queen of Heart Clenching Moments!”

  53. ingeborg oppenheimer says:

    lol! good point. on the other hand – if a bit of help is needed, what better instructors can one find than jamie and clair?

  54. I really enjoy reading through on this web site , it has got excellent articles . “Something unpredictable but in the end it’s right, I hope you have the time of your life.” by Greenday.

  55. Julett says:

    I started reading her first book when it came out and always awaited eagerly the next book in the series. Then my son and his wife read the books, and next their children all read the books. The children are now all in their 20’s – one of whom went to a book signing. She herself is a writer and editor and so looked forward to meeting her. Sadly, she and her close friend were very put off by Diana’s demeanor – finding her attitude somewhat snobbish. This does not seem to fit with your understanding of her. Perhaps it was an off day or she was overly tired from traveling from book signing to book signing. They will remain fans of her writing but were very disappointed in the only personal contact they had with her.

    • Oh dear, I’m sorry to hear that. Diana’s a lovely and generous person, but everyone has an off day now and then. Still, it’s the books that really count, isn’t it? It’s nice if the writer’s a mensch as well, but that doesn’t always happen; sometimes writers put the best of themselves into their work, and not much is left over.

  56. ingeborg oppenheimer says:

    you’re absolutely right, barbara! i would just add that with the schedule diana was forced to keep it’s surprising that she didn’t have more such moments. she may feel like a goddess to us, but we have to remind ourselves that she is only human.

  57. Judy Todd says:

    I have read and re-read all of the Outlander series several times ; including the Companion and the Lord John books ! I am enjoying the TV adaptation immensely ! The actors , writers and support people are doing an amazing job . My only concern is that …. I just had my 75th birthday and I live in fear that I will die without knowing the ending ! . So Diana ( I feel that we are on a first name basis ) if there is anyway you can possibly speed up your process I should be forever grateful . Thanking you in advance , I remain , Sincerely , Judy .

  58. Hi Judy, I’m not Diana, but I feel safe in responding that she’s pushing ahead just as fast as she can. Books are like babies—you can’t rush ’em.

    Happy birthday! May you get a new Diana Gabaldon book for your next one.

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