"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Special FeaturesHoliday Themed Romance Chat with Featured Authors at PNR CHAT, monthly - 3rd Monday, 9pm Eastern
Diana Gabaldon is the bestselling author of the Outlander series, featuring Jamie Fraser, an 18th-century Scotsman, and Claire, his 20th-century wife. The Fiery Cross is the fifth book in the award-winning series and is available from your local bookseller. The next book in the series, tentatively titled A Breath of Snow and Ashes, has no publication date, but is being written now.
Diana has begun a new mystery series featuring Lord John Grey, a character to whom we were first introduced in the Outlander series. Lord John and the Private Matter is a novel on bookshelves now. Lord John Grey and the Succubus is a novella featured in the fantasy anthology: LEGENDS II: New Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy, edited by Robert Silverberg. Other authors included in this anthology are: Terry Brooks, Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, and Anne McCaffrey.
PNR: Have you always wanted to be a writer, what inspired you to pursue writing as a career?
Diana G.: Yes. Nothing "inspired" me—I just always knew I was meant to write novels.
PNR: Which author(s) is your favorite? And who has most influenced you work?
Diana G.: I read all the time, and everything. Consequently, I have literally hundreds of "favorite" authors.
As for influence…anything you read influences your writing, one way or another. If you insist on names <g>—A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES is dedicated to five of the authors who taught me something specific in terms of writing technique, that I consciously used while writing OUTLANDER (that being the book I wrote for practice, in order to learn how to write a novel). Those are: Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Dorothy L. Sayer, John D. MacDonald, and P.G. Wodehouse.
PNR: What do you feel is the best part about being a writer? The most frustrating?
Diana G.: Best: Being able to create worlds and people. Also, not having to show up at an office at 7 AM or wear pantyhose.
Most frustrating: Er…well, it wouldn't be polite to say, under the circumstances. <g> Let us just note that a) there is a section on my website called "FAQ," and b) the "F" is there for a reason.
PNR: Do you have a strict writing schedule? How do you balance your personal and writing time?
Diana G.: Nothing strict about it, but yes, I've got one. Every successful (in the sense of actually completing books) writer does.
How do I balance personal and writing time? Establish priorities. Husband first, children second, writing third, gardening and exercise fourth. Housework comes dead last.
PNR: What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story?
Diana G.: A great character and a good conflict. You don't need anything else—but if you don't have that, you don't have much of a story.
PNR: Your writing features complex plots and characterization, where do you get the ideas for your books?
Diana G.: From the Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalog, of course. Doesn't everyone?
For heaven's sake, where do you get ideas? From things you see, hear, experience, imagine, I expect. So do I. I.e….everywhere.
PNR: Along those lines how would you categorize the Outlander series? Romantic Historical Fantasy?
Diana G.: I wouldn't. So far, I've seen my books categorized (and sold) as: <counting on fingers>
Historical NONFiction (really!)
Horror (really. <g> I just beat Stephen King for a Quill Award, in the "SF/Fantasy/Horror" category)
Military History (honest. The Military History Book Club sells them through its catalog now and then), and
Gay and Lesbian Fiction.
All things considered, I'd prefer just to call them "Fiction." Call them anything else, and you have a lot of people saying, "Oh, I don't read that kind of book!"—whatever that kind might happen to be. But all the readers of those kinds of books <g> don't usually have a problem reading something labeled "Fiction," no matter how offbeat it is.
PNR: Key aspects of the story include the appearance of a ghost followed by time travel of the heroine to a point in the past. What inspired you to write a book which included these phenomena and others of a paranormal nature?
Diana G.: Nothing in particular. The Englishwoman I introduced because I thought there should be someone to have sexual tension with all those Scotsmen (the kilt factor, you know) wouldn't shut up and talk like an 18th century person, so after fighting with her for two or three pages, I said, "Heck with this. Nobody's ever going to see this book, so it doesn't matter what bizarre thing I do. Go ahead and be modern; I'll figure out how you got there later." It's all her fault there's time-travel in this story.
As for the ghost, he was just atmosphere when I wrote him. It wasn't until considerably later that I realized who he was. Don't know that I'd call him a "key aspect," even so—but he is a ghost, at least.
PNR: Your stories are written from multiple POV’s, how do you keep track of everyone? Do you have a preference for a particular voice?
Diana G.: How do I keep track of everyone? Gee, I don't know…how do you know you're talking to your daughter's math teacher instead of the mailman? For heaven's sake, when I write from someone's viewpoint, I'm inside that person. How on earth could I lose track and suddenly think I was someone else?
Claire's voice is the most comfortable for me, because I've used it the longest—but I don't necessarily prefer it. Some I hear more clearly than others, and some take much more work to capture, but they're all interesting.
PNR: Your books are instilled with a unique, often subtle humor. How do you feel this adds to the overall effect of your stories on your readers?
Diana G.: Well, I'd kind of hope it makes them laugh.
PNR: Do reader’s comments have an effect on your successive works.
Diana G.: No.
PNR: The hero of the Outlander series is Jamie Fraser, a Scottish Highlander from the 18th century. Did you have an inspiration for his character?
Diana G.: I just like tall red-heads with a good sense of humor (I'm married to one).
PNR: I understand that you had not visited Scotland before writing Outlander, what made you choose this setting? What do you think is the appeal of a Scotsman as a hero in general? As a romantic hero?
Diana G.: I chose Scotland, eighteenth century, on a whim, after seeing a "Dr. Who" rerun with a young man in a kilt, from 1745.
Appeal of a Scotsman? Er….see "kilt," above.
Appeal as a romantic hero? Not to repeat myself….<g>
(I was in Germany on a book-tour a couple of years back, being interviewed (over and over and over, as usual), and toward the end of the week, was talking to a gentleman from the literary press. He was most complimentary about the books, admiring the narrative drive, the imagery, the use of language, the vividness of setting and character, etc., etc.—but then said, "Could you tell me, perhaps—what is the appeal of a man in a kilt?" (Well, he was a German.)
I was very tired, or I might not have said it, but I just looked at him for a moment, and then said, "Well…I suppose it's the idea that you could be up against a wall with him in a minute."
A few weeks later, I got a clip of this interview—which was, of course, in German. There was a Post-it note from the publisher attached, which said, "I don't know what you told this man, but I think he is in love with you." <cough>)
PNR: As the story unfolds we discover that Claire is not alone in her ability to time travel. Jamie however does not have the ability to travel, which confines the pair to his time if they are to stay together. What is the link between those who are able to travel, and how does Jamie differ?
Diana G.: Well, it seems to be genetic, and he doesn't have that particular gene.
PNR: Claire returns to Jamie in the third book after much time has elapsed. Some of the risks involved include arriving at the “right” time. And of course if the same amount of time has elapsed for Jamie will she still have a place in his life. She will also have to leave her beloved only child behind. What makes the return worth the risk for Claire?
Diana G.: Well, Jamie, what else? (I want to add, "duh," but politeness forbids.)
PNR: The proposed six book series was extended when book five became quite a bit longer than you first expected. The result was two books The Fiery Cross and A Breath of Snow and Ashes. Readers have inquired about the major difference in tone between the two books. The former being rather slow in pace and action whereas the latter was fraught with drama. Can you explain?
Diana G.: Umm…beyond the observation that they're different books, you mean? (Why on earth people expect every book written by an author to be just like every other book—well, I was about to say it's beyond me, but it isn't. A good many bestselling authors do write the same sort of book every time. Still, you'd think anybody who'd been with me since OUTLANDER would have noticed that all the books are distinctly different in tone, atmosphere, pace, structure, and just about anything else that can be different, in a series dealing with the same characters.) Look. The books are, more than anything, historical novels. As in, they deal with the historical events of the time. Here, we're dealing with the whole second half of the eighteenth century, which was a time of intense change, in terms of politics, geography, science, religion, and just about any other form of human behavior you care to mention.
The only majorly exciting (in dramatic terms) historical events in North Carolina between 1766 and the early 1770's involved the War of the Regulation. (You thought the Battle of Alamance, Roger's hanging, etc. was slow in pace and action, did you?) I couldn't (or wouldn't) suddenly move the whole ensemble to Boston, simply because the historical events there were more exciting. The books tell the story of the Highlanders in America, as much as they do the personal stories of the characters, and that's a deeply interesting story—no less interesting because it's more slowly paced in spots.
Ergo, THE FIERY CROSS is a more "personal" story, dealing with the establishment of family, community, and the bonds between individuals—what forges those bonds, what strains or breaks them. It's an "internal" story, if you will. When we get to A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, external events are beginning to hot up—we're headed hell-for-leather into the American Revolution, for goodness sake, of course it's a faster-paced story! You got a war going on, things tend to move a lot faster than when you don't, QED.
Besides, these books are meant to be revisited. There's an upper layer in each story, which is easily accessible to any reader—an interesting story, full of action, adventure, entertaining relationships, sex, violence, etc. <g> Below that, though, are other layers, and if a reader chooses to return to one of the books, they'll see them. (A great many readers do this, if my mail is any indication. I think the record so far is the woman who said she'd read the whole series 23 times. I was tempted to say, "And I do hope you have a life, too," but didn't.)
In addition to an appreciation of the underlying layers of the books on rereads—people's response to any given book changes over time. Any reading experience depends not only on the book, but on the reader; this is why not all books resonate with all readers—and why one can sometimes return to a book that had nothing to say when first read, and find it full of meaning and power years later. It isn't the book that's changed; it's the reader's life, the reader's experiences, perceptions, and expectations.
That being so, younger readers naturally seem to prefer the earlier books in the series—they identify <g>--but as they age, the later books become the more important ones, as they see echoes of their own lives and thought begin to resonate through the story.
(Sidenote: I've noted two interesting—and linked--phenomena, over the years: 1) every time a new book is released, there's a small but vocal minority of people griping about it—it's not like the last one! There's not enough sex! I don't like all the boring history! Why did this character do something I wouldn't have done? Brianna isn't flinging herself at Jamie's feet in gratitude for being his daughter like I would have, what a spoiled brat! Why don't Roger and Bree act just like Jamie and Claire? Why couldn't you just shut up and rewrite OUTLANDER/DRAGONFLY/VOYAGER/(whichever book is currently their favorite)? WAAAAAAAHHH! And 2) like clockwork, two or three years later (when the next book comes out), I get letters from these same people—"I've been rereading (whichever book it was they complained about), and I'm seeing so much that I missed! Now FIERY CROSS (it's often that one they reread and appreciate, because they were spending so much time whining that it wasn't OUTLANDER or VOYAGER during the first read that they missed virtually everything) is one of my favorite books in the series!")
PNR: Will book seven be the last book in the series? When (in character time) will the story end, and will it be a happy ending?
Diana G.: I don't know; I haven't written it yet.
PNR: You maintain an awesome resource for readers at http://www.dianagabaldon.com/ , with timelines, discussion groups and PodCasts; how did you become involved in PodCasts and will you be offering readers additional technology based information or interaction?
Diana G.: Random House suggested the PodCasts, and I thought it was a good idea. If other good ideas come along, I'm sure we'll take advantage of them. (NB: I don't maintain discussion groups. Lots of nice people do, all over the world, and we're happy to provide links to them, but that's it. Actually, I didn't realize we had timelines, either, but maybe we do—there's a lot of stuff on that site. <g>)
PNR: Your Lord John novella was e-published in 1998 by Dreams Unlimited; what are your feelings about the surge in ePublishing and do you have any plans for additional epublished titles?
Diana G.: No. I e-published "Hellfire" only because people were asking for it (it was originally done for a British anthology that had gone out of print) and there wasn't any other way to provide it to readers at the time. It was an interesting experiment, but I terminated it when Dreams Unlimited decided to list their titles on amazon.com. That was a sensible step for them to take, but they felt that in view of amazon's discounting demands, they'd be obliged to sell "Hellfire" for something like $6.50 and I thought that was an outrageous price for a 23-page short story, and that readers would feel ripped off. So I withdrew the story and have not since encountered a circumstance that's made me want to try e-publishing again. I don’t rule it out; I just haven't run into such a circumstance.
I haven't paid a lot of attention to the "surge in e-publishing," to be honest. Most of what I see that's e-published is stuff that people can't get published in print. Some of it's great, and is e-published either because the author wants to explore the medium or because the piece is something whose length, format, or unusual content makes it difficult to publish in a more traditional venue. Most of it is stuff that people decided to e-publish because they either couldn't find a print publisher, or didn't want to take the time to try (this often means they didn't want to take the time to edit or proof-read their manuscript, either). But I don't usually go looking for e-published stuff, so am no expert on what's out there.
PNR: You’ve written some about Lord John Grey outside of the Outlander series, will we be seeing any more from him or other characters who appeared in the series? What is next for Diana Gabaldon?
Diana G.: The Lord John novels aren't "outside" the OUTLANDER series; they're part of it. They are, however, smaller books, focused on Lord John Grey (rather than on Jamie and Claire—though Jamie does occur as an onstage character in some of them), and (unlike the longer books <g>), they have an identifiable genre—they're historical mysteries. And since Lord John is not a time-traveler, they also (reasonably enough) don't deal with time-travel. They do have the odd ghost, now and then.
Anyway, I'm in the final stages of LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE, which I hope to have finished by the end of the year. This is the second Lord John novel (following LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER), and is scheduled for release in fall of 2007.
Now, there is an additional book about Lord John; this is a collection of three short stories/novellas (all with a certain whiff of the paranormal), including "Hellfire," "Lord John and the Succubus," and "Lord John and the Haunted Soldier." This collection has already been published in Germany, and will be published in the US (also late in 2007), under the title LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS. (And beyond this, there is a third Lord John novel—LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER—under contract with Random House (and assorted other publishers round the world).)
Meanwhile, I've begun work on the next of the big, main novels, which so far I'm still calling "Book Seven." <g>
PNR: Thank you Diana, for taking the time out to talk with us. Where can readers find out what's new and how can they contact you?
Diana G.: Thanks for inviting me! I do have the aforementioned website: http://www.dianagabaldon.com, which has a contact link.
Dewey Marshall, a PNR group member: Will Master Raymond will be making another appearance? I liked that character and in "A Breath of Snow and Ashes" Claire seems to be associating him with Raymond.Diana G.: Yes, we'll see him again—though possibly not in the OUTLANDER novels. (Possibly so, too; I just don't know.) He will get his own book(s), though, since I know who he is, and where he came from—and it's a very interesting story. <g>
Lord John Titles (Outlander Related series)
Buy it Now!
The year is 1757. On a clear morning in mid-June, Lord John Grey emerges from London's Beefsteak Club, his mind in turmoil. A nobleman and a high-ranking officer in His Majesty's Army, Grey has just witnessed something shocking. But his efforts to avoid a scandal that might destroy his family are interrupted by something still more urgent: the Crown appoints him to investigate the brutal murder of a comrade in arms, who may have been a traitor.
Obliged to pursue two inquiries at once, Major Grey finds himself ensnared in a web of treachery and betrayal that touches every stratum of English society -- and threatens all he holds dear. From the bawdy houses of London's night- world to the stately drawing rooms of the nobility, and from the blood of a murdered corpse to the thundering seas ruled by the majestic fleet of the East India Company, Lord John pursues the elusive trails of a vanishing footman and a woman in green velvet, who may hold the key to everything -- ornothing.
The early days of the Seven Years War come brilliantly to life in this historical mystery by an author whose unique and compelling storytelling has engrossed millions of readers worldwide.Lord John and the Hand of Devils Lord John Trilogy: Book 2
(three novellas in a single volume to be published late 2007) For a complete list of Diana's work visit http://www.dianagabaldon.com/
The Outlander SeriesBuy it Now! Delacorte Press
September 1, 2005
Outlander: Book 6
The year is 1772, and on the eve of the American Revolution, the long fuse of rebellion has already been lit. Men lie dead in the streets of Boston, and in the backwoods of North Carolina, isolated cabins burn in the forest.
With chaos brewing, the governor calls upon Jamie Fraser to unite the backcountry and safeguard the colony for King and Crown. But from his wife Jamie knows that three years hence the shot heard round the world will be fired, and the result will be independence — with those loyal to the King either dead or in exile. And there is also the matter of a tiny clipping from The Wilmington Gazette, dated 1776, which reports Jamie's death, along with his kin. For once, he hopes, his time-traveling family may be wrong about the future.Buy it Now! Delacorte Press
November 1, 2001
Outlander: Book 5
The year is 1771, and war is coming. Jamie Fraser’s wife tells him so. Little as he wishes to, he must believe it, for hers is a gift of dreadful prophecy — a time-traveler’s certain knowledge.
Born in the year of Our Lord 1918, Claire Randall served England as a nurse on the battlefields of World War II, and in the aftermath of peace found fresh conflicts when she walked through a cleftstone on the Scottish Highlands and found herself an outlander, an English lady in a place where no lady should be, in a time — 1743 — when the only English in Scotland were the officers and men of King George’s army.
Now wife, mother, and surgeon, Claire is still an outlander, out of place, and out of time, but now, by choice, linked by love to her only anchor — Jamie Fraser. Her unique view of the future has brought him both danger and deliverance in the past; her knowledge of the oncoming revolution is a flickering torch that may light his way through the perilous years ahead — or ignite a conflagration that will leave their lives in ashes....
Buy it Now! Delacorte Press
December 1, 1996
Outlander: Book 4
Cast ashore in the American colonies, the Frasers are faced with a bleak choice: return to a Scotland fallen into famine and poverty, or seize the risky chance of a new life in the New World - menaced by Claire's certain knowledge of the coming Revolution. Still, a Highlander is born to risk - and so is a time-traveler. Their daughter, Brianna, is safe - they think - on the other side of a dangerous future; their lives are their own to venture as they will. With faith in themselves and in each other, they seek a new beginning among the exiled Scottish Highlanders of the Cape Fear, in the fertile river valleys of the Colony of North Carolina. Even in the New World, though, the Frasers find their hope of peace threatened from without and from within; by the British Crown and by Jamie's aunt, Jocasta MacKenzie, last of the MacKenzies of Leoch. A hunger for freedom drives Jamie to a Highlander's only true refuge: the mountains. And here at last, with no challenge to their peace - save wild animals, Indians, and the threat of starvation - the Frasers establish a precarious foothold in the wilderness, secure in the knowledge that even war cannot invade their mountain sanctuary.Buy it Now! Delacorte Press
December 1, 1993
Outlander: Book 3
Time-traveling Claire Randall returns to her own time, pregnant and weary, and resumes her life, but her memories of her eighteenth-century Scottish lover Jamie Fraser will not die, leading her to a desperate decision to return to him.
Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her... and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.
Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her...the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland... and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite—or forever doom—her timeless love.Buy it Now! Delacorte Press
July 1, 1992
Outlander: Book 2
For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland's majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth; about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones...about a love that transcends the boundaries of time...and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his...
Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire's spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart...In a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising...and in the desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves....Buy it Now! Delacorte Press
June 1, 1991
Hardcover Read the Reviews!
Outlander: Book 1
Hurtled back through time more than two hundred years to Scotland in 1743, Claire Randall finds herself caught in the midst of an unfamiliar world torn apart by violence, pestilence, and revolution and haunted by her growing feelings for James Fraser, a young soldier.
Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another... In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon--when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach--an "outlander"--in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
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