Outlander: Diana’s Facebook Q&A

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Today, Diana Gabaldon sat down at her home and answered questions from fans on Facebook. A lot of the questions concerned the “ghost” that Frank sees outside the inn in Inverness; many were about the TV series. As always, she was witty and gracious. I’ve transcribed the questions and just Diana’s answers. For the entire Q&A, go to Starz’ Outlander Facebook page. (I was trying to get this up quickly today; please excuse me if there are questions missing or duplicated, or uncorrected typos. I figured you’d rather see it quickly than wait for me to play with it!) (NOTE: Diana continued answering questions after the “official” end of the Q&A, and I didn’t pick those up the first time through. I have just added several new Q&As, though – I’ve indicated the end of the original article, in case you’ve been here before.)

Q The books don’t go into too much detail about Claire’s childhood or parents. Will will learn more in the future? I always thought that there must be more to it. One or both of her parents must have been travelers. And glowing blue light carriers!
D You might. Learn more, I mean. But probably not for awhile

Q Next year, when Starz does the second book, will they cast a second actress as an older Claire?
D Assuming that we do get a second season, the answer would be no. <g> Caitriona is 35–she can easily play Claire in her 40s, as well as she plays her in her late 20s.
Besides, you’d never find anyone to play Claire who’s as good as Cait is.

Q Love the series & have them all! Thank you for keeping me spellbound for hours at a time. I hope you will continue with them?
D Well, there is at least a Book Nine. <g> I never plan the books out ahead of time, so I won’t know where the end is until I get there.

Q Are you having fun with all the hooplah?
D So far, so good.

Q Will the ghost be Jamie in the series? *g*
D Like Ron says, they’re filming the book. So if he was Jamie in the book…he’ll be Jamie in the show. <g>

Q Love your books! Congrats on the series! Tell us how this story formed and the first book came about?
D It’s a looooong story, and all nine pages of it are on my website at www.DianaGabaldon.com. <g> (And that’s the ONE question that every single person asks me….)

Q Thank you thank you for hours of enjoyment and escape! The two books that Jamie and Claire published in MOBY, is there a chance they might be republished in this century?
D Should I live long enough. <g>

Q Do you ever get any time off to rest, and what’s your fave thing to do?
D Not bloody much this summer, I tell you… But what I like to do is dig in my garden, read, knit, and mess around with my husband.

Q First i want to say that i love your new book… i read it in a few days and i also love all books about jamie and claire!!! I want to ask, do you want to write one more book about jamie fraser?! Your books were the reason that i was in scotland in june for two weeks and this country is so beautiful. Thanks for all, love greetings from Hannover, Germany
D Yes, there will certainly be at least one more. And Danke! <g>

Q Tell us anything surprising about the filming of the tv series and your thoughts about the book vs. tv series, the cast’s personalities, etc. (Let’s just suppose everyone here today has read your books & OUTLANDISH COMPANION and we don’t have to go over already explained things.) I can’t thank you enough or express my appreciation for you & your authorial skills!!!
D Really, really pleased–surprised and thrilled–by how good the show is. I never expected to be involved with the production at all, let alone to the generous extent that Ron and friends have offered me. And I really never expected that they’d ever find actors who could truly be Jamie and Claire. Most surprising thing EVER was Sam Heughan’s audition. <g>

Q Hi Diana, love your books, who was the most difficult character to invent?
D I normally don’t invent them–I just listen to them. Brianna was one of the “hard nuts,” as I call them, though. Those are the people who are situational–you have them because of a demand of the plot or of history–and it takes much longer to get to know them.

Q Luv your books! So good to see women writers being recognized.
D Didn’t realize women writers were being ignored. <g> You wouldn’t know it from a quick look through the bookstore’s shelves…

Q I am always a bit taken back when Claire breathes through her mouth to avoid nasty odors. I always think, yuck! I would not want that nastiness in my mouth then going unfiltered into my lungs.
D Well, tastes–and odors, I imagine–differ. <g> Never heard of anyone being poisoned by a smell, though…

Q Are you prepared for the ‘STARDOM’ on the level television will propel you? Is your family? Do you think it will change much in the way you live your life?
D Aside from the increasing demands on my time, you mean? <wry g> I’ll be much better off than the actors, believe me–I can always say no.

Q Will you (please) release the series in DVD’s for those of us who don’t have Starz? Watched the first episode on my computer and loved it.
D I have Not One Thing to do with where/how the show is sold or shown. Take it up with Starz (US) or Sony (international rights)

Q Diana, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an answer to this question: Has there every been an explanation for Frank’s ‘vision’ of Jamie standing out in the rain staring up at Claire? Is that something that was explained in a subsequent book, or is it to come?
D It’ll be the last thing in the last book. We aren’t there yet.

Q It’s probably early for this question, but will they “age” Sam and Cat for future series or will they hv to recast?
D Yes, are you mad?!? <g> They’re actors–and very good actors. Playing an older character is well within their range: Sam is 34 and Cait’s 35 right now.

Q Do you regret killing off any characters?
D Well, I don’t kill them. They occasionally die on me, which is Really Distressing..

Q On Twitter, you challenged us to ask you a question that hasn’t been asked of you before. Well, here’s mine. What is your favorite cereal? (And if it must be related to the books, What do you think Jamie’s favorite cereal would be if (and I know he can’t travel) he were to be able to come forward in time?) PS…I thank you so very much for writing these books!
D Great Grains, with dates, raisins and pecans. Don’t often eat cereal, though. Jamie’s an orthodox Scotsman; he’d miss his parritch of a morning. Though he has become depraved enough in his tastes as to like it with honey and cream, instead of salt..

Q What do you think would have happened to Jamie if he’d never met Claire?
D He’d probably have buggered off back to France and gone into the wine business with his cousin Jared, then married a nice Frenchwoman who liked sex.

Q Are you surprised by how much the Starz adaptation has taken off already and become so popular?
D I wasn’t surprised that people like it–but was rather startled at the rapidity with which things are happening. On the other hand…fans have been waiting twenty years; that’s a lot of bottled up anticipation!

Q Sure hope the next book comes out in less then 5 years. I am getting old.
D Well…so am I. At approximately the same rate. <g>

Q What’s a good Scotch with which a Scotch virgin might celebrate the Outlander premiere?
D You might try Dalwhinnie or Glenmorangie. Those are “ladies’ whisky” <g>–light, and not too peaty. (I like Lagavulin and Highland Park, myself.)

Q You have said before that you feel lucky regarding the success of Outlander, but hearing you describe your meticulous research, I believe you created your own luck. I was wondering though – what have you learned over the past...(editor note: I missed the end of this question, and now I can’t find it in the original FB Q&A. If you can find it, please note it in the comments below and I’ll fix it!)
D I really don’t think I’d do anything different, with regard to the writing. I did the best I could at the time, and have pretty much tried to keep doing that since

Q Hi, Diana. Thanks for answering questions. I’m aiming for one you haven’t been asked before. You have included so much rich history of the 18th century in your books. I am wondering what historic event(s) in your own lifetime have impacted you and how so?
Loved doing the Coast Guard cutter tour with you and getting to see you again in NYC. You’re a gem.
D Well, the same ones that affected anyone of my vintage, I suppose: Kennedy assassination, Cold War, 9/11, etc. Have been lucky enough not to have anyone close to me die or be injured as a result of any of these, but the indirect impacts affect everyone.

Q Can you take me to Scotland? I want to go with YOU.
D Pretty sure I’d have to pay overweight luggage fees if I did..

Q What 5 characters from your books would you want to have over for dinner and conversation? Excluding Jamie and Claire.
D I talk to all of them all the time. And I tell you what, when people talk to you during dinner, you don’t get to eat much.

Q What is the closest brush you have had with the law? Parking ticket or more significant?
D Fortunately never anything worse than a robot-camera speeding ticket.

Q Thank you from the bottom of my heart on sharing your wonderful story with us. Spoiled for all others, seriously. Question: You have developed so many wonderful characters with their own stories, and subplots that impact the …(From the careless editor – again, I missed that this question had a “see more…” I apologize. If you know what the end of it is, let me know!)
D All the books (and novellas) have geometric shapes, and so does the series as a whole. When that shape is complete, the story will be done. Either that, or I’ll die

Q Hello, I am long time reader (1992). I recently read an interview where you commented that you would not have been able to write some of the later books back in 1991. You have come to know your characters better and the writing reflects that. I was wondering if you ever look back at the earlier books and wish you had a “do over” so to speak with anything? Love, love, love your writing. Thank you!
D No. I’ve always written the best I could; you can’t ask any better of yourself than that.

Q Who will you be watching the premiere with tomorrow night?
D With luck, my husband, if he doesn’t chicken out

Q Love your nails! You waited and got the right people for the film rights! Looks amazing!
D It was mostly luck, rather than my doing–but it couldn’t have happened more fortunately

Q What color is the nail polish? #pretty
D Right now? It’s a China Glaze color called “Tuned Up Turquoise.” <g>

Q you surprised by how much the Starz adaptation has taken off already and become so popular?
D I wasn’t surprised that people like it–but _was_ rather startled at the rapidity with which things are happening. On the other hand…fan

Q So, tell me, do you feel a little bit as if you are about to go into labor (finally seeing your “baby” all grown up on the TV screen)? I am excited (and I have only sneak-peeked once!) and it’s not even my “baby!”
D No, thank God. I did my part; the labor is now the responsibility of the production team and the actors. <g>

Q What is the “not in the book” scene/sequence you are most anticipating seeing?
D I dunno. I’ve read the scripts, but often something that looks kind of iffy on the page really pops into a great thing on the screen

Q I just wanted to poke my head in and say I’m REALLY proud of what you and Starz have done. I was worried. But it’s been pulled off beautifully. And I can’t wait for the remaining episodes. Thank you for witting a story that has captivated me and my friends for over half my life. You’re a true artist. And I can tell the story is in good hands with Ronald, the awesome actors and you as consultant.
D I couldn’t be more pleased with how the show has evolved, all the way from Ron and Maril’s first meeting with me to the awesome promotion efforts by STARZ

Q I heard about these books by a comment made on Orange is the new black. Looking for a good summer read as a teacher I purchased book one 3 weeks ago. I’m totally captivated and now reading book 5! Thank you for a wonderful summer of dreaming of Jamie how will I ever be able to go back to work!? Maybe I will teach my students a bit of Scottish history with a trip to the highlands to look for the Fraser stone!
D My thanks to OITNB. <g> And thanks to you, too!

Q Odd question probably, but where did you get all of Jamie’s names? I believe you mentioned the fellow on Dr. Who was named Jamie, but were the others just randomly chosen or do they have significant meaning for you i.e. family names, etc. BTW, congrats on all this well earned success -My favorite book series ever and I’m sure what will be my favorite show!
D Well, some of them–like MacKenzie and Fraser–are family names. As to Alexander and Malcolm…I just like the way they sounded

Q I just finished Moby and thought it was fantastic. The ending was perfection. SPOILER Was the death of Henri-Christian something you planned or did it surprise you as much as it did me?
D Oh, I was shocked and distressed. No way around it, though…Things Happen, and sometimes bad things happen. Glad you enjoyed the book, though!

Q I so enjoy your Outlander series, as a male its not all mushy there is meat to these characters! Thank you!
D Surely you don’t suggest I would  ever write mush? <g> Really, thanks very much

Q If your books were children which one gave you the most trouble ?
D DRAGONFLY. It was my second book, and while I knew I didn’t want to repeat what I’d done in OUTLANDER, I had no idea if or how I could do it differently

Q Was there ever a part/chapter in one of your books that was edited out, that you wished to have kept in? If so, in which book?
D Not in the US, no. In the UK, the editor insisted on removing a short chapter (the one titled “Raiders in the Rocks”) because she thought the sex was too graphic for her audience. <g> (Perhaps it was “hard as a brass rod” that got her…). And in another spot, she insisted that I change it (slightly) so (as she put it) “it looks like they’re having normal sex.” Adding deprecatingly, “Of course we all do that, but we don’t like to admit that we do.”So you British readers who have CROSS STITCH are missing a few bits.

Q We understand you enjoy receiving/selecting new towels/linens when a book is published. Will you start a similar tradition for seasons of the Starz production? (Because we just KNOW there will be as many seasons as books! ) (And are you sitting under your pomegranate tree? )
D I can’t possibly wear out a set of towels in the course of one TV season… No, I’m in New Mexico at the moment; this is the patio behind my little house here

Q You’ve said you don’t write with an outline, but when you write a minor character for the first time, do you have any idea that that character will come back again? Buck, for example – when Geillis was pregnant, did you have any idea that you would bring him back again -and again?
D Heck, no.

Q Diana, darling! I noticed how many of us fans read your books while going through a difficult time. (A friend of mine re-read them while her husband was battling leukemia, and I read them for the first time during my breast cancer treatment. But many online seemed to say the same.) I’ve recommended them a million times over. Why do you think they are so great for people going through tough times?
D Well, critics describe books as “escape fiction” with something of a denigratory air–as though this means something cheap, facile and/or trashy. Personally, I can’t think of a better compliment to a book, than that it should transport your out of your own life for awhile

Q Diana, in the show it appears that Frank is performing oral sex on Claire. I could have sworn in the book it’s mentioned they’ve never gone that far..
D Yeah? Show me where it says that. <g>

Q I just picked up Outlander a last week because my book club wouldn’t shut the heck up about this Jamie guy. OHMYGAWD. Woman. I was useless to my family for three straight days while I devoured it. I wish I had an intelligent question for you, but all I can seem to manage is fan-girling *squeeeeee*s.
D Rof,l! Thank you!

Q Just wondering if you felt a “calling” to write, or to write these books. Also, just wanted to say that as a veterinarian , I particularly love how you have written your animal characters!!
D It was a calling; I’ve known since I was eight that I was supposed to be a novelist. And thank you! I was actually a biologist in my previous professional incarnation. <g>

Q Will we ever learn of Claire’s relationship or connection to Master Raymond? (A reread of DIA is in progress as we speak)
D Maybe. Depends how long I live, probably.

Q You’ve spoken about how pleased you have been with the Starz adaptation, and the level of involvement you have been afforded in the process. Can you tell us if there was anything in the show that was planned but you asked to have changed or removed because you felt it didn’t fit?
D Oh, once in awhile (very infrequently) I’ll see something in a script that doesn’t seem right–usually for historical reasons–and I’ll mention it.

Q Diana, if these are questions about the series and not just the tv show, my friend and I have been dying to know. Who had their way with Claire at the party at Aunt Jocasta’s plantation?
D C’mon…whoever it was, was playing “This Little Piggie” with her toes. Which of the gentlemen in question has nephews, nieces and grandchildren?

Q I remember reading a part in Outlander where Claire is in the present time and she looks out of her bedroom window (1950 ish) and sees Jamie standing beneath the street light. This was before she knew him. …i don’t remember this coming to fruition…does it and when?
D No, Claire never sees the ghost. Frank does, and tells her about it

Q I have just watched the first episode online and I am wondering how much input have you had into the music for the show? Is there a particular group you are using? The music helps to set the sense of each scene in the movie and I love the sound of the bagpipes.
D Nope, I had nothing to do with the choice of composer–but am DELIGHTED with what Bear McCreary has done with the music!

Q Have only read Outlander so far but am very captivated by Claire’s experience with sacrament of confession and her experience of Eucharistic Adoration as well as the descriptions of “dark” spiritually. How much is based on your own experiences?
D I’m a cradle Catholic.

Q This has nothing to do with the Tv show, but do you think it MAY be possible you will be doing some books, or short stories on the other Interesting characters in Outlander, besides the wonderful LJG,of course. I found Master Raymond mysteriously interesting in particular.
D Yep. Have you read “The Space Between”?

Q Is there any news about the book tour to Germany?
D Nope. Will tell you, though, if and when.

Q Hello from Showlow Arizona. If you ever need a quiet getaway come visit me.
D Thanks! <g> I tend to go hide out at my old family place in Flagstaff

Q Besides the ether and penicillin, Claire really seems to embrace the past. Brianna, on the other hand, really works to modernize her life there. If you were to fall thru time, which approach do you think you would take?
D I’d probably be a bit more like Brianna, but I’d also be looking carefully to see what the virtue might be in how things were done. Our ancestors weren’t dumb, you know. <g>

Q My wife got me started reading this series of books. I admit I throughly enjoy them. My wife recently had a stroke and is unable to speak. While watching the pilot of the series with her I discovered she doesn’t remember the characters from the books. She was & is a fan who now gets to discover the joy of loving your characters again as if for the first time. We are planning a trip to Scotland and I was wondering if you could tell me what time of year would be best for our visit?
D I’m so sorry about your wife’s stroke–but really happy that you’re able to enjoy the books with her again. As for Scotland…maybe early fall.

Q Always wondered how much of your husband’s personality and characteristics are part of Jamie’s being. I am a lucky one because my husband has many of Jamie’s traits, the good & bad. I read your books and yep I could see Billy , my hubby, doing or saying that.
D Well, he -is- a very tall red-head with a good sense of humor and a tremendous sense of responsibility

Q What scene or part of Outlander were you most looking forward to seeing on the “big screen” so to speak?
D I wasn’t kidding when I told Sam Heughan I wanted to see him raped and tortured..

Q Did Jamie plant the flowers at the stones?
D I don’t think so.

Q We’ve learned there will be a prequel about Jamie’s parents. Is there any more to the story of Claire’s parents, or have we already learned all there is to know about them?
D I really don’t know.

Q Do you have a favorite “minor” character in the series?
D Oh, several. <g> Lord John is probably my favorite minor character, but I’m very fond of William, Rachel, and Young Ian.

Q Are you amazed that in less than 10 minutes, your fans have asked you almost 700 questions? LOL
D Actually…no. <g>

—————————————- (this was the end of the original article. Diana continued to answer questions, and I just added these.)

Q In the past 20 years you have broken my heart into shattered bits, then mended it up again just so with another layer of the story. In the end, how do you propose to mend it back, when Jamie and Claire no longer loom on the horizon. My heart will skip a beat and burst into silent shatters.
Thank you for the journey. I await the end, with not so little patience and much curiosity
D _Fuirich agus chi thu_… (that’s Gaelic for “wait and see”….)

Q Will we see Master Raymond again? Thank you!
D Yeah. Don’t know where, though

Q You said once that your children had not read your books. Too awkward. Have they now? Will they watch the series?
D My two eldest came to the San Diego premiere, and both liked the first episode–though my son (aged 30) said afterward: “Watching sex scenes written by my mom? Awk. Ward.”

Q What happens in your mind to Yi Tien Cho?
D Oh, I know–approximately–what happened to him. You might possibly see him again.

Q whats your favo thing about Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan as Claire and Jamie??
D Their senses of humor. <g>

Q Have you traced your family tree? How far back, and are you from Scotland?
D No, not at all. <g> My dad’s people came to New Mexico from Spain around 1590-something, and most of my mom’s heritage is English (from Yorkshire, mostly–have that branch back to 1327), with one branch of German, but I can’t trace that back any further than the American Revolution.

Q I just started reading Sarah Donati’s series (Into the Wilderness) and I was surprised ( though delighted) when your characters made cameos. Is this an agreement and do you have such with other authors?
D That’s the only time I’ve done it. Yes, Sarah is a long-time acquaintance of mine and she asked my permission to do that

Q Decades ago, I read a book called “The Mirror,” about a young woman thrust back in time and becoming her grandmother at a young age, and then aging to the present in her grandmother’s life.
D I’ve heard of it, but haven’t read it. I mostly avoid time-travel fiction

Q Intrigued about what prompted you to use the stones as the first vehicle for transporting. What kind of research did you do?
D Just general research on Scotland, to begin with. But I began to notice the occurrence of stone circles, so I started to think….<g>

Q Please tell me how they made some of those scenes so real. For instance, Sam/Jamie’s shoulder was NOT dislocated? If I may ask another: I saw a figure in white in the fringe of the woods just as Jamie sped up to tell Dougal of the ambush; was he supposed to be in the episode?
D Dislocating the poor man’s shoulder for repeated takes would be kind of going above and beyond the call of duty, I think… I do know how it was done, but I don’t know if I’m allowed to tell you, or whether the film-makers would rather preserve their secrets. <g> I didn’t see the guy in the woods, so he probably wasn’t supposed to be there. <g>

Q How do you do your research when writing?
D Um. All the time. I do the research concurrently with the writing; the two processes kind of feed on each other

Q Any more Lord John books? He is one of my favorite characters!
D Yeah, in the fullness of time…

Q Thank you Diana for improving my sex life – luckily my husband can fake a great Scottish accent and doesn’t mind if I call him Jamie lol
D Will he wear a kilt for you? <g>

Q Writer to writer, I’m so happy for you for all the success, how you fought for your books and finally, Outlander brought to the screen in a series, not a movie. Its a beautiful production so far. Showing Frank and Claire’s backstory was a wise choice by the producers. I know you feel Jamie and Claire’s story is in good hands, but how has it been seeing it come out in this form? Movie storytelling is a different from novel story telling. We can see it, not imagine. What have you let go? (Lots of questions here)
D It’s been great–much better than I expected. It’s the true essence of the characters and stories–and you’ll recognize most of it at once–but at the same time, the process of adaptation offers a wonderful sense of novelty and discovery.

Q How do you feel about used book bookstores? I manage one and my boss is well-trained to pick up any and all Gabaldons he finds…but I’m well aware that you, of course, receive no compensation from a used book sale. My aim is to just get one book of yours in an Outlandish virgin’s hands; the rest is up to them (and Jamie and Claire!). Thank you for your stories. Jamie and Claire have been my dear friends these past 22 years (I first read Outlander in 10th grade). Best wishes.
D Ha. Love them! We keep begging publishers to give away OUTLANDER for free–because nobody can stop with Just One…

Q HI Diana, I hope you’re getting to have a bit of a rest in the midst of all this madness! Aside from Jamie, Claire, and Frank/BJR, what character are you the most interested in seeing on the show?
D Jenny. She’s great! <g>

Q Some of the scenes you write are really difficult sometimes to read. For example, when you dive into Jamie hunting and preparing a buck, Roger’s … well, not to be a spoiler but what he goes through in Fiery Cross near the end. Do you spend more time on these scenes than others because of the subject matter? Do you find them harder, more challenging to write?
D Oh, no. They’re usually fairly easy to write, as it’s just a straightforward telling of what happened; the only craft involved is restraint.

Q Congratulations! The first episode was way beyond my expectations! How do you keep up such a mad paced schedule? Are you blessed with it or are you a coffee addict? or have you another secret?
D I don’t watch TV and I don’t do housework.

Q Diana, were you aware that Scottish actress Rose Leslie, of GofT and Downton Abbey is a descendant of Simon Fraser?
D No, but glad to hear it. <g>

Q Is Sam Heughan single?!
D He was the last time anyone mentioned it.

Q I know the inspiration for Jamie came from a Dr. Who show, but where did your inspriation for Claire come from?
D I just wanted an Englishwoman, and there she was.

Q What authors or series do you enjoy reading?
D Oh, man…Phil Rickman, Ian Rankin, Christopher Brookmyre, Dorothy L. Sayers, Deborah Crombie, MC Beaton, PD James…

Q What is the “not in the book” scene/sequence you are most anticipating seeing?
D I dunno. I’ve read the scripts, but often something that looks kind of iffy on the page really pops into a great thing on the screen.

Erin Conrad