Posts tagged with: Diana Gabaldon

Outlandishly Mad For ‘Outlander’

Everyone here knows two things about me:

1. I am cheap, cheap, cheap.

2. I am slow, slow, slow.

OutlanderAdd these together and it seems pretty unlikely that I would have been watching the new TV series Outlander on the Starz network, since that is a paid network on cable TV and the show is NEW. I don’t have cable TV. I certainly don’t have Starz. I do, however, have friends with Starz!!

Yes, I have been watching Outlander. Way back in the olden days (that’s 1991, kids), I was a member of the Doubleday Book Of the Month club. The way it worked, they picked a book as their “book of the month” and if you didn’t tell them you didn’t want it, it showed up in the mail. Usually, it was such a pain in the tail to return it, you ended up keeping it. And reading it. And, sometimes, loving it. That’s what happened to me in 1991. I forgot to return my card one month and in the mail came Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. I was reading romance again at this point, which was why I joined the BOTM club in the first place. But I didn’t read time travel romance. Never had, never wanted to. I read the flap on Outlander…and put it aside. For months.

outlander-original-cover-jacket-by-diana-gabaldonThen one day, I ran out of things to read. It must have been a slow weekend day when my son was outside playing and I was finished doing housework. I picked up Outlander and began to read. And read. And read. I devoured it. I also waited impatiently for the publication of Gabaldon’s next installment, Dragonfly In Amber, which came out in 1992. Even though it was a rather dark book, what joy! Then I got married. And had a baby. And waited VERY impatiently until Voyager came out in 1994, while I was pregnant with yet another baby. Then, dearest friends, I waited until 1997 for Drums Of Autumn. And so on and so forth.

Sam-HeughanAll this time, I collected friends who were also huge fans of the Outlander series. We would try, from time to time, to imagine who they would cast as Jamie and Claire. Claire was fairly easy. But Jamie? Forget about it. Where would they find a 6-foot 4-inch red-headed Scottish actor to play Jamie? Um…in Scotland, apparently. Because Starz found the perfect Jamie. Okay, he’s not quite tall enough, in my opinion, but as my youngest says, “He’s beautiful!” Yes, with an exclamation point. Matter of fact, she wanted me to blog about Outlander and I told her I thought I might have done that before. She came up with a tagline: Jamie is so beautiful, you have to post about him twice. True. So there you have it, from the mouths of babes. Oh, yeah, and that chick who plays Claire is great, too.

Diana Gabaldon as Iona MacTavishHonestly, they are doing a fabulous job with the story so far. Not everything from the book is there and a few rather salient things (like meeting Roger as a child) are missing. Some things are sort of mashed together and some rewritten a bit. But all in all, it’s really a wonderful production. And here is a still of Diana Gabaldon in a cameo in Episode 4. I love that she is working so closely with the production crew!

outlander_keyart_1200_article_story_largeI’ll admit, I am currently re-reading Outlander. And I will, no doubt, re-read all the books in the series. Diana Gabaldon is a masterful writer. She created a world full of people I cared about and wanted to visit with time and again. That hasn’t changed. What has is that I now have a great picture of what Craigh Na Dun and Cranesmuir and Castle Leoch look like. And Black Jack Randall, too. (grrrr) I will keep popping over to my friend’s house to watch Outlander, even though I am dead cheap and generally slow. I won’t be slow on this one, y’all. I will be watching it unfold week by impatient week!

Have you indulged in Outlander in book or TV show form? If you’ve done both, which do you prefer? If you haven’t ever been exposed, what has stopped you? I recommend everyone give the show a try, at least, when it’s available to you. And what is better than men in kilts?!?

A Tribute to Gabaldon

My best friend Kelly lost her parents late last year, her mother three weeks after her father.  As you can imagine, the experience was harrowing, exhausting, and numbing.  Even though I knew she’d read Diana Gabaldon’s seminal series Outlander covermultiple times, she told me OUTLANDER got her through those trying weeks.  I understand why she weeps when she tells me the story.

As rabid fans of Diana Gabaldon know, premium network STARZ is bringing the best-selling series to television. There’s been a lot of conversation and controversy around casting characters, but in the end, Claire (Beauchamp) Randall is played by Irish actor Catrione, while Scottish actor Sam Heughan was cast as the adorably sexy Jamie Fraser; both are new to American audiences.

We analysts of literature often talk about The Canon – the series of literature that we believe will stand the test of time as significant works.  Often genre fiction, including romance literature, is not a part of the literary canon for reasons too long and narrow-minded to discuss here. 

Literary Canon

 Primarily the authors of The Literary Canon are not women because for centuries the world of letters belonged to men; women’s business – that of hearth and home – weren’t considered epic enough to appeal to all of humanity.  In other words, like women, their writings were trivial and unimportant and underestimated.

Thank goodness we know better today, and as women’s roles in society change, so does The Canon.  However, I’ve always thought that the test of a significant literary work – genre or not – lay in the durability of the piece, the ability to have meaning and significance to readers throughout the centuries.

OUTLANDER Key Art (2014)Romance literature, like pulp fiction, doesn’t aim to have epic scope and durability.  It means to entertain, sometimes briefly, sometimes for a longer period of time.  In the twenty-first century, as people have more frenetic lives, brevity is important.  Short novels, novellas, and short stories rule.  Sadly, we readers often don’t have time to linger over a book, to ponder its meaning, to savor its language.

 However, there are writers of romance who will survive that test of time I referenced earlier.  I think Diana Gabaldon is one of them.  Here’s why.

 1.         Her story of love lost and found is epic.  All of us long for the soul-meeting experience that Claire and Jamie have.  Other elements of the story – hard choices; a stranger in a strange land; facing unspeakable evil or loss; and forgiveness – are also elevated to an epic level, and without ever losing the simple truths of the story.

 Gabaldon2.              Gabaldon is simple without being simplistic, sentimental without sentimentality.  What I mean is the story tugs at heart strings, but is never sappy; the characters are noble, but flawed; the themes are universal and unique at the same time.

 3.              Her storytelling embodies all the elements of time-tested narration:  impeccable and authentically detailed research; epic values, conflicts, and resolutions; language that is both lovely, sophisticated, and simple in paralleling the story’s themes and emotion.

 4.              Gabaldon will join the ranks of The Canon even while other time-travel romances, paranormal adventures, and romantic suspense books will not.  And that’s okay.  They’re entertaining and serve an immediate purpose, but most will not stand the test of time.  Most readers will not be reading them 100 years from now, but Gabaldon will be read and analyzed and studied in college courses for decades to come.

If you haven’t yet read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, give it a try.  Gabaldon writes long but the destination is worth the journey.  Take a sojourn with her as you watch the HBO series.

What about you, readers?  Do you like your stories short and sweet or long and leisurely?  Are you a Gabaldon fan?  Why or why not?  Do you think, as I do, that she’s the best of the best romance writers today?

My Love Affair With Time Travel

My name is Caren and I’m a time-travel addict. I heard the murmurs of, “Hi, Caren!” coming from you guys, so don’t be shy if you’re an addict, too. I’ve been reflecting on my love affair with time travel romances lately for a couple of reasons. Really good reasons. Even hunky reasons!

Jamie and ClaireIn case you’ve been living under a large and marketing-impervious rock, you’ve probably heard that Diana Gabaldon’s fabulous Outlander is finally coming to the screen! Of course, it’s the small screen and it’s only on the Starz network, but still. It’s coming to our homes! I fell in love with Outlander when it first came out in hardcover. As a recently-graduated-from-college single mom in 1991, I didn’t buy hardcover books. BUT, I joined the Book Of the Month Club. Some of you may have done that, too. I forgot to send back my postcard or something one month and, before I knew it, Outlander showed up in my mailbox.

outlander-original-cover-jacket-by-diana-gabaldonIt sat around for a few weeks…and then I got bored enough to pick it up. I kind of hated the cover, which featured an ormolu clock whose glass face is in the act of shattering. It made me roll my eyes. But once I cracked the cover and started the tale of Jamie Fraser and Claire Beauchamp, I was HOOKED. I read the novels assiduously until about the sixth one, which came out about the time my life got really complicated and I no longer had time to devote to Clan Fraser. I took a hiatus from time travel romance, but it wasn’t a conscious decision.

Last week, a good friend from church asked me if I had read the books. Duh! She then asked if I wanted to come to her series premiere party. Double duh! She had very expensive invitations made to her premiere party that look like wedding invitations. They are printed with the Fraser plaid on back. Swoon! So yes, August 9th is a highly anticipated date by many time travel romance fans!

dd_everything_200x316Then, another interesting thing happened. My friend Dee Davis, who is one of my Red Door Reads buddies, posted a link yesterday to a collection of six time travel romances for 99 cents! WHAT?!? Yes, I snapped it right up. You should, too! As I clicked the evil “Buy now with 1-Click” button, I reflected that all signs seem to be pointing me toward time travel romance once again. My deep, dark secret is, when I first started writing romance, my very first manuscript was a time travel romance. No one was writing those in 2001! I managed to final in Georgia Romance Writers’ prestigious Maggie contest with that one, but was bested by…Sandy Blair! How could I be upset at being bested by the novel that became her first published time travel romance? 😀

Have you had a love affair with time travel romance? If so, what books were your gateway drug? If not, what keeps you from indulging? And if you had the chance to travel back in time to be with the super-hot love of your life (Jamie Fraser), would you go? Why or why not? I can’t wait to hear everyone’s time travel experiences! 😀