Outlander Q&A with Writer Matt Roberts, 1/19/14: “This Must Be the Right Place”

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Outlander writer Matt Roberts (@TheMattBRoberts) once again met with fans on Twitter and answered a wide range of questions. He was joined briefly by both Outlander author Diana Gabaldon and Tall Ships producer Maril Davis, whose responses are indicated. Thank you so much, Matt, for visiting with us! (Photos are Matt Robert’s “Photos of the Day.”)

Matt Roberts (from the LA Fan Event)

Matt Roberts (from the LA Fan Event)

Q         Can you tell us who has written which episode? Which are yours so far?

A         All the writers have written two scripts each. Ron wrote episodes 1 and 2 and I wrote episodes 4 and 9 so far.

Diana Gabaldon: Liked both of yours a LOT!

Q         What do you do when you are on set (in a nutshell)?

A         The writers/producers try to maintain the continuity of the stories.

Q         If you could have a role on the show, which character would you want to play and why?

A         That’s a tough one. Maybe Ian just because I like him.

Q         9!?! How far ahead of production is writing? I assume they have to know what to prep, so writers must be up to which episode?

A         Yes we break out the entire season’s first with what we think will happen. Then each episode is broken even further. We try to have scripts ready for production at least three months ahead of shooting, if we can. 🙂

Q         2 questions: When will we get a premier date? 2. How can I get a pocket Jamie?

A         I don’t know the premier date yet. And if you contact @Outlander_Starz they might be able to get you one.

NOTE: To download your own Pocket Jamie and Pocket Claire, click each individual name. Files from the Outlander Series Facebook page..

Q         How many episodes have been filmed?

A         We have four episodes in the can.

Q         Who is back in Scotland this week, and what will they be doing?

A         Production is in full swing. We prep for a month before any shooting starts.

Q         What’s a day in your life like on set from am to pm?

A         The days usually start very early at sunrise and if we are on location we shoot until the very last second of light.

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Q         You have to be there in case of changes of the script?

A         That’s one of our duties on set.

Q         Do you seek out your great photograph locations, or do you just bump into them? They’re awesome and I’m jealous.

A         Thankfully Scotland is full of photo ops, sometimes you just turn around and something gorgeous is in front of you.

Q         When does filming get going again?

A         Next month.

Q         How long have you been writing scripts and was it something you set out to do?

A         The writers room started last March but we did not start writing the scripts until June.

Q         Have you ever worked on a project with such a large fan base and had so much interaction with them?

A         No.

Q         If you could spend one day anywhere in Scotland where would it be?

A         I’d like to go to the small town where they filmed Local Hero.

Q         What have you enjoyed most about Scottish culture while over there?

A         Scots are extremely friendly people. And believe it or not I love the weather and the changing of the seasons.

Maril Davis: What about the steak pie? Does that count as culture?

Q         When and what inspired you to become a writer? What was your first writing job?

A         My grandfather inspired me. He said do the job you love and dream big.

Q         What top 3 things went through your mind while sitting in the audience 2 Saturdays ago in LA?

A         This must be the right place – Are you sure you want me to sign that? – and WOW

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Q         Have you always been this involved with the fans of a project you work on? Or is this a new trend for you?

A         Normally we have fans AFTER the show has aired so yes this is very new to me and the other writers.

Q         What do you do in between scene set ups?

A         Try to stay warm.

Q         What has been the most surprising aspect of working on Outlander?

A         I knew there was a passionate fan base but I was surprised just how passionate you all could be. In a good way.

Q         Which character is the most fun to write for? Are they a good character or a bad one?

A         Villains are definitely fun to write. I think (Diana) might agree with me there.

Q         Will there be a “making of” feature for Outlander?

A         I’m not sure but they’re definitely filming a lot of behind the scenes action.

Q         Do you write the episodes in a chronological book order?

A         We are following the book.

Q         Switching the seasons in the book (Ron Moore discussed this at the fan event) to coincide with the weather you have, has it caused any difficulty in writing the scripts?

A         Not really difficulties. We just have to make everything tied together. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of it so far.

Q         How much “real dialogue” from the books do you incorporate into the script?

A         We definitely use as much of (Diana’s) dialogue as we can. Why mess with perfection?

Q         Just a side note, I (we) are glad this has come to life – a big thank you.

A         I’m just as glad as you are.

Q         What will surprise us the most in the first season?

A         If I told you it wouldn’t be a surprise now would it? We definitely have some surprises though.

Q         How often do you have to adjust the scripts on-the-fly?

A         We make minor adjustments to the scripts all the way through shooting to adjust to locations and anything else that may come up.

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Q         I know you read the books prior, but were you really a big fan of the book? Is that why Ron chose you to be one of the writers?

A         I’m sure reading all the books definitely helped in that decision. Plus Ron and I had worked on other projects together.

Q         Will you at any point look towards Dragonfly in Amber/Season 2, if you write so far ahead of filming, or will that be based solely off Season 1?

A         All the writers have read Dragonfly and we are definitely looking forward (with hope) as I’m sure all of you are.

Q         Any chance of an updated picture of the writer’s room, have you gotten more décor for inspiration?

A         Sadly the writers room looks exactly the same as it did in that first picture.

Q         Had you been to Scotland before and what has surprised you most about it?

A         I had not been to Scotland. The quality of the light there is different than any other place I had ever traveled, it’s amazing.

Q         How long ago had you read Outlander before you approached Ron about the possibility of bringing it to life?

A         10 years. I have the books to Maril Davis, Ron’s producing partner, told her it would make a great series, she took up the cause.

Maril:  This is true. He was the original fan in our group.

Q         Could you tell us who is with Claire in this scene? (picture is from the Outlander trailer)

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A         I could but it would ruin the surprise and I know you wouldn’t want that.

Q         How many books in the series have you read?

A         I’ve read all of them. The first three multiple times, and if I had to pick a favorite it would probably be Voyager, but it changes.

Q         Do you consult Diana often? Or not too much? When you were writing the script?

A         We do talk to Herself, when in doubt go to the source!

Q         Is shooting Outlander like a constant party on set? Will we get a bloopers reel afterward?

A         Bloopers? Our actors never messed up 🙂

Q         You’ve said you were given outlander as a reader for a producer… How did you get that job?

A         I wrote a sample coverage and I was recommended.

Q         When are you buying a kilt?

A         On my next visit.

Q         Are you watching the games later? Who are you rooting for, if you don’t mind me asking?

A         I am watching the games. Rooting for the Broncos and the 49ers but I wouldn’t be that disappointed if the Patriots and Seahawks win.

Q         Has the spanking scene been written? If so, who wrote it?

A         I was the lucky writer who adapted it.

Q         Which writer is the lucky one who wrote (Diana’s) cameo scene?

A         I was also lucky enough to write her cameo as well.

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Q         Do you carry your camera with you at all times? Or at least most of the time?

A         I am never without a camera. I know I didn’t answer all the questions. Will try to pick up a few in days to come. Thank you Outlander Fans, it’s Playoff Football time.

Erin Conrad