Last weekend I was thrilled to get to attend An Evening With Diana Gabaldon, hosted by the Sacramento Public Library. Over 700 people attended to hear Diana’s on stage interview with librarian Stephenee Borelli, who had put together a whole series of events around Gabaldon’s Outlander series. If you ever have a chance to hear Diana speak in person, don’t miss it – she’s funny, engaging, and entertaining. She’s also very polished and poised when it comes to promoting her work. She can name-drop an award or slip in mention of how many books she’s sold in a casual way while also talking about the appeal of kilts.
I didn’t record the interview (for one thing, I think it might have been illegal, or at the very least, tacky) but I did take copies noted in my immaculate handwriting:
Here’s a few highlights from the evening:
- The Outlander Series which is about to air on Starz may or not be good – but it sure looks great. We got to see a very short preview and I was impressed with the Scottish scenery (it’s shot on location) and the casting of the two leads. Fingers crossed, people!
- A quote from Diana: “I was not a tactful child”.
- Diana said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that the happiest day of her life was when her mom sent her to the library with a note for the head librarian that read “Let her read anything she wants”.
- “I knew I was always meant to be a novelist, and when I was 35 I said to myself, “Mozart was dead at 36. I better get cracking”.
- Diana does her best writing between midnight at 4:30AM.
- Her husband is the only person who sees what she’s working on while she’s working on it. The funniest criticism she got was a note in the margins that read, “Nipples again?”.
- One of the great joys of the series is seeing Claire and Jaime maintain a physically and emotionally romantic relationship into middle age. Diana said that people said of Voyager, “No one wants to read about people in their 40’s having sex” and she said, “Wanna bet?”
- Each book has a different structure – for instance, the structure of Outlander is three overlapping triangles, showing a linear narrative with three climaxes. Dragonfly is shaped like a dumbbell, with a framing device, two major conflicts, and a calm stay at Lallybroch in the middle. Voyager is like a braid.
- The books aren’t planned out ahead of time. There will be at least one more book in the series, possibly more. “I discover them every day. If I knew what was going to happen it wouldn’t be fun”.
- There will be a small book, release date unknown, titled, What Frank Knew.
Diana is a voracious reader and won’t list her favorite authors in general, but she does credit five authors for helping her learn the craft of writing:
- Charles Dickens – for how to portray character
- Robert Louis Stevenson – for how to spin a good yarn
- Dorothy Lee sayers – for incorporating dialogue, dialect, and social class into a watertight plot
- John D. MacDonald – for how to sustain a series
- P.G. Wodehouse – for how to juggle language
The latest book in the series, Written in my Own Heart’s Blood, was released on June 10. I am currently number 156 in line to check this book out from the library. Can I wait that long? I doubt it! Thank you to Sacramento Public Library for hosting such a great event and to Diana Gabaldon for being so gracious and entertaining!