Diana Gabaldon did a Twitter Q&A this afternoon, on the Sony account. And she said she would try to answer remaining questions on her own account later in the day, so I’ll update this if there are any additional comments. But as always, Diana’s answers are thoughtful, interesting, and often a little … well, Diana.
Alrighty, then….! Welcome to the next small chapter in the wild and wonderful World of #Outlander! I’ll answer all the questions I can in the next hour—and may be able to pick up a few more later, as I dash in & out today. Who’s first?
— Diana #AskDiana
— Sony (@Sony) November 20, 2017
Q You’ve talked about your “jigsaw” approach to writing: does a final picture emerge complete or do you move bits around?
A Jigsaw is maybe misleading, as it implies I have all the pieces before I begin fitting them. The book comes together (slowly) in bits, pieces and chunks – but yes, I move things around.
Q How do you feel about the differences between teh book and series 3?
A I love the show and I think they’ve done a spectacular job in adapting an IMMENSE (and immensely complex) story within the limits of a 13-hour season. Naturally I don’t agree with every choice – but I usually see why they made these choices.
Q When did you realize the TV show was a hit? At casting, during filming, pre season 1 publicity or after the public response to season 1 airing?
A I don’t know that there’s any objective measure, but it sure seemed like a hit when the first couple of episodes aired!
Q Has your favorite moment of the season aired yet? If so, what was it? If not, can you say anything about it?
A Yes, it has. I loved every second of Jamie’s part of 304 (loved the episode as a whole, of course, but especially the Helwater story).
Q Have you ever written yourself into a corner, and wished you could revisit a character?
A Haha! No. If I want to revisit a character, I do. I don’t outline or plan, and I play with time ALL the time; it’s not a problem to do anything I want to, basically.
Q When you started writing Outlander did you realize you’d be writing so much about the American Revolution? I didn’t think I’d like the Frasers in the colonies but those are my favorite books!
A I was (and am) just following the tide of history. Starting with the Jacobite Rising, when that failed, a huge number of Scots went to America. Naturally they’d be involved with the Revolution.
Q Any show props you wish to keep? (maybe snuck out? shhh I won’t tell)
A Man, I don’t have room to keep anything more in my office! I’d certainly take home some of the weapons (the non-rubber ones) if given the chance, though.
Q Why does Claire continue to wear Frank’s ring after his death and her return to Jamie? Does he ever question her or object to it? I’ve only read the first three books.
A She wears Frank’s ring because she loved Frank, and honors her marriage to him. Jamie understands this. He says, “I’d take you from him, Sassenach – but I wouldn’t take him from you.”
Q Will Jenny realize that she met Roger in the past?
A Of course! How could I pass up a meeting like that? (Besides, he’d certainly recognize her; it’s only been a few months of his lifetime since he saw her at age 19 or so.)
Q I mean, you literally wrote the book but can you still get caught up in the emotion of the show the way we do?
A Oh, of course! Not only is it slightly (or largely) different in places, having the visual stimulus of the fabulous settings, costumes, landscapes – and most of all the actors! – is a completely different sensation. (Oh, and the music!)
Q If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three famous people would you want with you and why?
A I don’t think I’d want famous people, unless they knew to build things, catch fish, and set broken limbs. Well.. OK. Someone who knew how to tell good stories would be good to have, too. Maybe Adrian McKinty or Jack Whyte?
Q Has there been a series adaptation that you liked so much that you thought it might have worked well in the book?
A Rupert and Angus would have worked well. Partly because while they’re vastly entertaining, they aren’t really integral to any plot.
Q Which episode have you rewatched the most?
A 115 and 116, probably. 304, from this season.
Q Was there a specific moment in time that you realized that your “story” was bigger than you could ever have dreamed?
A I sent the ms. for Outlander to my agent and said, “I realized while finishing this that there’s more to this story, but I thought I should stop while I could still lift it. But if anybody’s interested, you can tell them there’s more.”
Q The Outlander series is often referred to as books that influenced/changed people’s lives immensely. Had there been books that changed your life? (Not counting the impact of your own work on it)
A Every book I’ve ever read has had some influence on me (positive or negative…) but I can’t think of any that I noticed as being particularly life-defining at the time.
Q What’s your favorite adaptation/addition the show has made to your books? What was something they left out that you had hoped to see on screen?
A Adored the addition/expansion of Rupert and Angus! As for things they leave out that I wish they didn’t, it’s a long, long list. But they really have to; there’s just not room for everything we wish we could see.
Q Are there any plot twists or actions your characters have taken, which in hindsight you regret?
A No. It’s just like life; stuff happens and you have to deal with whatever it is.
Q If you could “steal” something from Claire’s personality, what would it be?
A Probably her ability to swear unselfconsciously. Having been brought up in a non-swearing home (and a parochial school) I can’t bring myself to use bad language. That’s why the people in my books all swear freely…
Q What is your explanation for the ghost of Claire that Jenny sees at Jamie and Laoghaire’s wedding?
A Why would I need one? Though what Jenny saw was Claire’s fetch, not her ghost.
Q How do you know when your books should end? There are so many places the story could stop.
A I don’t write in a straight line nor with an outline; I write in bits and pieces, which gradually begin to stick together and form shapes. Each book has an internal shape that develops as I write, and when the shape is complete, so is the book.
Q Has the TV adaptation process influenced your writing process?
A No. I (luckily) have all the room I want and total control over what happens, how and when. The adaptation process is a highly collaborative, highly restricted one and while it’s lots of fun and interesting, it has nothing at all to do with how I write books.
Q What do we fans need to do to ensure future seasons of Outlander?
A Just keep watching and being enthusiastic in public! My beloved first editor used to say, “These have to be word-of-mouth books, because they’re too weird to describe to anybody.” Which is dead right… the show is pretty much the same way.
Q Any characters from the books based on people from your life, including yourself?
A Sure. There are quite a few real historical people in there, like Washington. But I also write in occasional friends of mine, as jokes (vide the foul-mouth smith named Heughan in the last book). As fo rme… hey, they’re ALL me. Who else would they be.
Q How much consulting do you do on Outlander? Any before an episode is written?
A They show me the outlines for the episodes, and I can (and do…) comment on t hose, as well as on the scripts (and their many (many many) revisions). I don’t often comment on the dailies, because there isn’t usually any way to correct things once filmed, bar an occasional line that can be recorded over.
Q I’ve read when you are around Sam, Jamie flickers in and out for you. If this is true, can you explain that a little more?
A If you watched him do it in person, you’d understand. He’s close enough in size and physical presence to make it a believable resemblance, but when he becomes Jamie – he becomes Jamie. Which is kind of startling.
Q Do you personally prefer the younger or the older version of Jamie and Claire?
A That’s like asking do I prefer the husband I met 45 years ago to the one presently waiting for me to come and eat lunch with him. I.e., it’s the same person, and you love them at all ages and appreciate the differences.
Q There are a lot of theories about the moment Jamie sees Claire before she goes through the stones the first time. Will there be an answer to it in book nine?
A No, but there will be in book ten.
Q What gave you the idea to write about these characters and this period of Scottish history in the first place – as I udnerstand you don’t have any links with Scotland?
A Why would having links with Scotland matter? As it was, I wrote Outlander for practice – not meaning to show it to anyone, let alone get it published. I thought a historical novel would be the easiest thing to write, and chose Scotland in the 18th century on a whim, having seen a really old “Doctor Who” rerun with a young man in a kilt from 1745.
Q Your storylines are so detailed. Have you ever written a storyline and then decided it didn’t work?
A No. I don’t write whole storylines; I write bits and pieces (in which very often, you have multiple storylines impinging and overlapping in the same scene), and if something’s not working, I usually see it before I’ve finished the scene.
Q Any hints about when book 9 will be published?
A No idea. Well… I hope I’ll be finished by the end of 2018, but no guarantees. Books have their own time.
Q Did Claire ever tell Frank she met his ancestor BJR?
A In the book, she does. Briefly, but vividly.
Q Which character do you find easiest to write?
A Lord John. He’s a mushroom; one of those people who just spring up out of nowhere in nothing flat. Jamie and Claire are always pretty easy to hear, but most others take a little living-with to get used to the feel of them.
Q Love your books! Immensely enjoying the “baby” that came from it. Would you be interested in writing another episode for (the show) again?
A I’d love to – but there’s no way I could possibly do it until Season Five (assuming we were to get a Season Five, which naturally I hope we do). I HAVE to finish this book, and scriptwriting and overseeing takes an immense amount of time.
Q You mentioned the last scene of episode 4 bringing you to tears. Was there a particular scene with Claire that gutted you as well?
A Not in this season – though the last scene of Claire sewing Elias’ shroud did make me cry.
Q If you had not been successful as an author, what other course might you have taken as an occupation?
A I actually was a scientist in my previous professional incarnation. (I have degrees in biological science, including a Ph.D. in <cough> Quantitative Behavioral Ecology – which is basically just animal behavior with statistics, don’t worry about it.)
Q Is there any decision you made while writing that you didn’t like but knew/felt was necessary for the plot/character?
A I’m frequently appalled at things that happen in the books, but it’s not like there’s a choice about it. It just happens that way, and if it does (like Henri-Christian), it’s terrible, but there it is.
Q Would you write something different to the Outlander world?
A Oh yes. I have a few things on the side, that bubble up now and then. Though I suppose you might consider Master Raymond part of the Outlander world – but his books are quite different. Then there a couple of modern crime novels…
Q What is your favorite set from S3?
A They’re all wonderful, but I suppose it’s Claire’s Boston apartment.
Q Who is more stubborn, Jamie or Claire?
A Overall, Jamie. But Claire has certain set points from which she will not budge, come hell or high water. Aside from those few points, though, she’s quite flexible.
Q (from Sam Heughan, during his Q&A) Hi @Writer_DG! So… want to write me another series? In space? With wolves. Maybe some whisky?
A Sure. With wolves, or do you want to be one? #thewigsakiller @maybeeasierthanlatexprosthetics
Q (to Sam) Have you missed the part where Diana said she’s got a Black Jack side? I wouldn’t provoke her.
A Sheugs already know allll about that, I think.
Q (to Sam) Sam, you answer the questions way faster than Diana!
A (Diana) That’s because Sony was filtering mine…
Q Wonder what they filtered out?
A They didn’t censor anything I said – they just picked good questions for me to answer, so I had to wait for them.
See Sam’s Twitter Q&A from earlier today!
My review of Episode 310, Heaven and Earth
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