It’s no secret that I love, just love, Diana Gabaldon’s novels. Every last one of them. She’s one of the authors that made me into the Historical Fiction fan that I am today, and I was so thrilled that she agreed to answer my questions!
Please welcome Diana to the blog!
You have three (3!) degrees in science: Zoology, Marine Biology, and Quantitative Behavioral Ecology. Whew!! So, from marine life to…18th century Scottish and English history! Have you always had an interest in history?
When you started writing Outlander, it was as practice to see what it took to write a novel and if it was something you’d like to do! I’m so glad you didn’t decide not to show it to anyone! When did it start to dawn on you that you just might have a hit on your hands?
My favorite analogy regarding research is what I call “Hot dogs and beans.” Consider that you’re planning dinner for your family. You decide to have hot dogs and beans; tasty and cheap and everybody likes them. You have a busy life, and thus an assistant—you tell the assistant to go to the store and get hot dogs and beans for you. The assistant does, and you have a nice supper.
OK. If you go to the store yourself, you’re intending to get hot dogs and beans. But on your way to the sausage-and-cheese section, you pass the fresh meat section—where you observe that there’s a sale on organic chicken breasts. “Ooh,” you think. “I could make chicken curry!” So you get the chicken breasts, go back through the aisles to get spices, vegetable juice, mango-peach applesauce, mango chutney, jasmine rice…and coming back toward the front of the store with this, you pass through the fresh produce section and see the water droplets gleaming among the fresh lettuces and long green onions—and it occurs to you that a shrimp salad would be Really Good with the curry—so you go back to Meats and get half a pound of fresh baby shrimp, then to the condiments aisle for dressing—and thence to the chilled wine cabinet near the checkout, for a lovely dry Riesling, which will just top this meal off….
Well, if you write historical novels and you depend heavily on research assistants, you get hot dogs and beans.
Which novel, among all of your work, has been your favorite to write?
If (fingers crossed) Outlander ever makes it to the big screen, who do you picture as Jamie and Claire? How about Lord John Grey?
If you mean who do I think might be able to play the characters successfully—I have no idea. An actor is an artist, just like a novelist, sculptor, painter, etc.—and their art is to embody and bring to life someone that they aren’t. Ergo, superficial physical resemblance just isn’t the point; you need an actor who can be Jamie Fraser, or Claire Randall, or Lord John Grey. And that’s why you have casting directors.
When you find time to yourself, how do you like to spend it?
Is there any news you can share with us about upcoming projects?
Right. Next up is THE SCOTTISH PRISONER. This is a pretty cool book; while it’s one of the shorter Lord John novels, it’s written as a two-person book, with the viewpoint alternating between Jamie Fraser and Lord John throughout. It’s set in 1760, and explains—among other things—how it came about that Lord John and Jamie became friends. I’ve just put up the two beginnings of this book on my website at www.DianaGabaldon.com – go and check them out!SCOTTISH PRISONER has a pub date of November 29th, in both the US and the UK (also Australia, New Zealand, and Canada).