Diana Gabaldon: 2017 National Book Festival


>>From the Library of
Congress in Washington, DC.>>Robert Newlen: Of course
you all know Diana’s books, or you wouldn’t be here. But let me say just
a few words about her and her remarkably original novels. They’re a bit science fiction,
a lot historical fiction, and they’re all infused with
fantasy, military fiction, and a very appealing
dose of romance. A novel by Diana is a
genre all to itself. And that unique approach to
large canvas, big-brained, openhearted storytelling has won
her millions of readers worldwide. She’s an Arizona native, part Anglo
American — thank you, [inaudible], yes, [laughter] part
Mexican American. She has a bachelors
degree in zoology, a masters in marine biology,
and a PhD in animal behavior, as well as being an expert in scientific computation
and micro-computing. But don’t let that scare you. [Laughter] She has also
spent her early career as a comic book scriptwriter,
and in many ways, she is a woman for all seasons, and
a writer for all ages. As the reviewers have said Diana
writes books that sell like crazy, and have gathered devoted readers
from every corner of fandom. By several reckonings, the
“Outlander” series has sold about 28 million books — I
had 25, but she corrected me, [laughter] since Diana’s first
novel was published in 1991. The series has been translated
into 43 different languages. You all know the titles,
“Dragonfly in Amber,” “Voyager,” “The Scottish Prisoner,” “The Fiery
Cross,” “An Echo in the Bone,” “Written in my Own Heart’s
Blood,” just to mention a few. They have all been New
York Times bestsellers, they have won many prizes, and
they have been called “breakneck,” “rip-roaring,” and,
“totally addictive.” At the end of the talk, you’ll have
a chance to pose questions to Diana at one of the microphones
you see set up in the aisles. So save up your thoughts and ideas. I need to tell you, though, you
will be on camera and archived in the Library of Congress into
perpetuity, [laughter] so make that question a smart one. [Laughter] You’ll also have a
chance to have Diana sign your books at her 1:00 signing session
down on the lower level. So without further adieu, please
welcome our author of the moment. [ Applause ]>>Diana Gabaldon:
Well, thank you, Robert. I’m going to remember “big-brained, open-hearted storytelling”
for my next cover blurb. Thank you so much to the organizers, and to all of the wonderful
volunteers who have kept me from getting lost this morning, or at least have recovered
me when I was lost. And thank you to all of you
who could just as easily be at home washing your
cars or something. I’m glad you came to see me instead. Back in the day, when I would go
out at night to do events and talk to people, my husband
would say to me, “Well, doesn’t it bother you having
to go out and talk to all of these totally strange people?” I think he meant “total strangers,”
but [laughter] I said, “Well, no.” I said, “You know, I’ve
been a university professor for a long time, I’m kind of
used to talking to large crowds.” And I said, “If I can keep people
awake at 8:00 in the morning talking about human anatomy and physiology,
I can probably keep them awake at 8:00 in the evening if they
came on purpose to hear me.” Back in the day, I would tell very
large crowds, maybe 400 or so, because human anatomy
and physiology, one of my classes, was
a very popular one. Everybody took it as
a science elective, including the football team, because
they thought it would be easy. I mean, how hard can it
be; count your fingers. [Laughs] But anyway, they would
all show up in the morning, it was an early class, and
they’d all sit in the front row, sound asleep, these large
inanimate blobs of flesh. [Laughter] And I would be
standing at a podium like this. So I would step up and say,
“This morning, gentlemen, we’re going to discuss the
history of contraception.” And they would all start blinking. [Laughing] See, “In days of
old when nights were bold and condoms not invented, they
wrapped old socks around their cocks and babies were prevented.” [Laughter] [ Applause ] Yes. Well, it worked on
the football players, too. [Laughter] No; people always say
to me, “Well, how did you get from being a scientist, you
know, with all these degrees and things to being a novelist?” And I said, “Well,
easy, I wrote a book. I mean, they don’t make
you get a license.” [Laughter] No; but what they
actually mean is well science seems all cold, and clinical,
and orderly and tidy, and white-coded, and,
you know, cold. And writing, you know,
it’s this creative thing, it must be all wonderful,
and colorful, and warm and fuzzy and so forth. And I’d say, “Well.” No; the thing is science and art
both are two sides of the same coin. They both rest on the same
thing, which is the ability to perceive patterns and
draw patterns out of chaos. When you do science, you define
your chaos by the choice of subject, you know, your organism, your
ecosystem, whatever you’re studying. And then within that, you try to
define and pick out the patterns and explicate them to people. Same thing when you do a novel,
then you’re defining your chaos by the subject that you
choose, or the genre, but also you include
your own internal chaos as part of that subject. And you try to make the
patterns equivalent. Well, in science, you
come up with a hypothesis. You say, “I think this is
what’s happening in my system,” and then you try to support
it by means of experiment. Well, your novel is your hypothesis,
and your experiment is the audience. So you release it upon your audience and you see whether they see
the same patterns you do, which, you know, evidently
you do, so thanks. [Laughter] But as to how I got here,
well, I’ve known since about the age of eight that I was
meant to be a novelist. This was the age at which I
realized that people write books, that they don’t just pop out
of the shelves like, you know, toilet paper in the grocery store. And so I said, “Well, yes, I
think that’s what I should do. I was actually having a conversation
with God about it one day. I was raised as a Catholic
and they told us, you know, it’s not just to organize prayers,
you know, you should talk to God about your life and so forth.” So at the age of eight,
I was kind of doing that. We were driving somewhere with
my parents, and I was looking at the clouds and so forth. And, you know, I was
just talking to God. Anyway, so you know, “I’m thinking
I kind of want to write books, you know, that would
kind of lift people up.” That was my best description
of escape fiction, you know, take a story that would lift
people out of themselves and give them a new experience. Anyway, God said, “Yes; I
think that’s a good idea.” So, you know, [laughter] I
kind of — people said, “Well, how did you find the nerve, you
know, to do this,” and I said, “I was supposed to do this;
that’s not a problem.” But of course, the problem is
always how, because when you set out to write a book,
there are no road maps. I was once in Germany
doing a book tour. And the publisher, and the
publicist, and, you know, all these news people took
me out to lunch together. And they started asking,
“Well, how did you do this? How did you write your novel?” And so I explained to them what
I’m about to explain to you. And they were all shocked. You know, they said, “No one in
Germany would dream of trying to write a novel without first
getting a PhD in literature.” And I said, “That’s probably
why two-thirds of the authors in your catalogue are Americans.” [Laughter] I did not actually say
that because I have better manners, but, you know, that’s
what I thought. [Laughter] Anyway, the thing is that
anyone who writes a novel is going to kind of figure it
out for themselves. You know, if you want to be
dentist, or a lawyer, or a doctor, or something, there is a set
curriculum that you take. You have to enroll in
this particular school, you have to take these
particular classes, you pass these particular
formal exams, and they give you a certificate
that says, “Now you are allowed to be a doctor,” or whatever. Okay; you don’t need
permission to be a novelist. This is the good thing. The bad thing is that there
are no rules to follow either. And people always have their
own individual take on it. I don’t know a single
author who just sat down and became an author overnight. Most of us have had very checkered
background in one way or another. I don’t know if you’re
familiar with Ian Rankin. He’s a Scottish author,
very, very good, one of my favorites,
and a good friend, yes. But before I knew him personally,
I was reading his books, and I would read the
little bio in the back, and it would always give
his previous occupations as including tax collector
and swine herd. And [laughter] so when I
finally met him, I said, “Well, I have to ask Ian what
is it about — how did you get to
come a swine herd? I don’t care how you
got to be a novelist, I want to hear about the pigs.” And he said that well
he was younger, he and his wife had gotten
jobs as domestic servants on a French winery estate. And his wife took care of
the interior domestic things, and he took care of
the outside things, including slopping the
hogs, and so forth. And he said that it was a
very old-fashioned estate. When they did the harvest, they
actually did in fact strip off and stomp the grapes and
everyone got very drunk. And he said so they did that,
and consequently everyone went to sleep it off including him. Well, when he got up
several hours later, he realized that he had
not yet fed the hogs. And so he went out and
he found a large tub full of the discarded wine — or
grape skins from the stomping. And so he tossed these into
the pigs’ trough, and the pigs, of course, went after them. What he hadn’t realized was that
the grape skins had been standing in the sun for several hours, and the pigs all died
of alcohol poisoning. [Gasping] Yes. [Laughs] He said that that was the
end of his career as a swine herd, so I thought I’d better
write novels. [Laughter] Yes. Well, luckily, none of my
previous careers have come to quite such a dramatic conclusion,
but I have had quite a few — let me see, I had the
post-doc appointment where my job was to
butcher sea birds. Luckily, I didn’t have to kill them, they came pre-killed
from Canada and frozen. But it was my job to take
something like a genet — genets are these big diving
birds that have a wing spread of about six feet, and they
dive from about 50 feet up. Consequently, their heads
are made of solid concrete because they strike
the water that way. And so I was supposed to reduce
all of these different birds to 15 different body components,
which I could then analyze for their protein,
water, and fat content. Just don’t ask why;
but that was my job. Anyway, I learned to
pluck and reduce a genet in about three hours flat. But the hard part was the head
because you had to use the hammer and chisel, you know, to break
the skull and pour the brain out, which was part of the
components that we wanted. That was probably my
most disgusting job. I couldn’t eat fried chicken
for a year after that. [Laughter] The next one
was a little easier. I was a post-doc at UCLA replacing
a scientist on sabbatical. So I took over his lab, and
his six graduate students, and two Russian scientists
who were studying with him. And after the Russians left,
the next day an FBI agent showed up in my office, two of them, with
a little warrant badge and so forth. And one of them dramatically
introduced himself as Special Agent Justice. And I said, “Of course, you are.” [Laughter] That actually turned
out to be his real last name. But anyway they wanted to interview
me about this particular Russian. And I told them about
him, and I said, “Look, if this gentleman is
the best the KBG can do, we have nothing to worry about.” [Laughter] But then I mentioned the
second Russian, and they said, “Oh, we didn’t know about him.” And I said, “Maybe we do have
something to worry about.” But anyway, it was a more
interesting job in that in that one what I had to do was
take high-speed motion picture films of boxfish. And the reason we were doing this
is because — you may know this, those of you who are runners and
so forth, but the more you run or the more you exercise,
the more oxygen you use. So if you take a person or
an animal and you put them in a sealed compartment with,
you know, a set amount of oxygen and you make them exercise
faster and faster, their oxygen consumption goes up, the amount of oxygen
in the tank goes down. And so you get this nice
45-degree angle graph, you know, more oxygen, more exercise. Well, boxfish don’t do that. A boxfish, in case you have never
seen one, is very aptly named, it’s a little box of,
you know, hard shell. And their fins are
just on the outside. They’re not like regular
fish where they swim in this [inaudible] form motion,
they have a strachae form motion because they are strachiadae. So they swim like this, and
their little tail goes like that. But that’s all the
maneuvering they can do. And the funny thing about them is
if you make a boxfish exercise, they will go faster, and faster, and
faster, looking agitated as they do. And they use more and
more oxygen up to a point. And then they go faster and faster,
but they don’t use anymore oxygen. And so we said, “How
are they doing that? This is really cool.” Yes; so the person I was working with had several hypotheses
to account for that. But the first one of those was
maybe they’re doing what people do. You know, when you walk faster
and faster, at some point, you shift into a run
because that’s more efficient for the speed you’re going. And at that point, your
oxygen use will drop slightly; goes back up if you keep running. But we were thinking maybe these
guys are doing something special with their fins. So I was having to do
high-speed motion pictures. Well, this was back in
the 1980s, the late 1980s. Consequently, I had to shoot
my film, and then take it to the CBS TV Studio
to have it processed. We talked them into it
as a public service. So you know, I would go down
behind the Johnny Carson Show stage and give them my fish films,
and then I would go back and pick them up the next day. It was an interesting place to work. Also it was — we lived in Burbank, and this is when I started writing
Walt Disney comic books on the side. I’d been reading comic books
since I was three years old; that’s how my mother
taught me to read. And I kept on reading them. And while I was working at
UCLA, I had picked up one at the grocery store, and I
said, “Well, this is pretty bad, I bet I could do better myself.” And such was my state of mind that
I found out the name of the editor who handled that line and I wrote
him this very rude letter saying, “Dear Sir, I have been reading
your comic books for 25 years. They’ve been getting
worse and worse.” I said, “I’m not sure that
I could do better myself, but I’d like to try.” And luckily, I hit a man
named Dell O’Connell, who was a gentleman
with a sense of humor. He wrote back and said, “Okay, try.” And he sent along a format so I could see what shape
the manuscript should be. So I wrote him a story. He didn’t buy it, but he did
something much more valuable, he told me what was wrong with it. So he did buy my second story and
he continued to buy my stories for another 18 months, at the
end of which the powers that be at Disney said, “We’ve got 40 years
of Carl Barks scripts in our file; why are we buying new ones?” And they stopped buying new ones. But so that was my
short-lived comic book career. But I still get a dozen or so
stories out of it, which was good when I contrast with
what I was doing at work. Anyway, I had to build a water
tunnel and make the fish swim in it. It has a fan at one end. And fish will normally face into
a current, so it was not a problem to get them going in
the right direction. But you would turn on the fan and
they would start swimming like this, and you’d turn it up, and
they’d swim like this. And then you turn it up,
and they’d be going — and finally they’d be
going [makes sounds]. And they just fall over backwards,
in which you would instantly turn it out and pull them out with a net
and take them off to recover. You know, we were not killing them. And then, you know, you would
process the film and so forth. So that’s what I spent
another few years doing. But at the age of 35, I
said to myself, “Well, you know, Mozart was dead at 36. If you want to write a book,
maybe you should get started.” And so I said, “Okay;
on my next birthday, I will begin writing a book.” I didn’t — I had to this point,
written all kinds of things. I’d written, you know,
doctoral dissertations. My PhD dissertation was
titled “[Inaudible],” or as my husband says,
“Why Birds Build Nests Where They Do and Who Cares Anyway?” [Laughter] But, you know, it was a
400-page dissertation, or let’s see, an 800-page monograph on
dietary habits of the birds of the Colorado River Valley. You might notice a trend here,
you know, 400 pages, 800 pages. But I also, you know, wrote
a computer documentation. I wrote software reviews
for the computer press, and, you know, other things like this. Back in the day, my
father would say to me, “You’re such a poor
judge of character. You’re bound to marry
some bum,” he said, “so be sure you get a good
education to support your children.” [Laughter] This is how I ended
up with three science degrees. But, you know, I still wanted
to write novels and so forth. But in the course of my previous
career, I had gotten all kinds of experience in writing,
just not writing novels. I did not marry a bum, I married a
very nice man whom I still have 45 years later, and — thank you. [ Applause ] And my husband thanks you. [Laughs] But he did
quit work three months after our first child was born in
order to start his own business. And I do have to say that
between an entrepreneur and a bum, there’s not that much to choose
in terms of financial stability. Now, luckily, his business got going
fairly quickly and did quite well. But for the first two or three
years, I was our sole support, and they don’t assistant
biology professors that much. So at this point, the need
to earn extra money arose. And so I said, “Well, what can I
do to earn a little extra money, you know, other than
prostitution in the home?” And [laughter] I said, “Well, I
know how to write, I mean, you know, I’m grammatical, I know
punctuation, all that. And I know quite a
lot about computers.” This happened as an accident when
I was — all of the, you know, things in my life have
happened as accidents, including meeting my husband; I
met him in the French horn section of the Arizona marching band. [Laughter] But anyway, in
this particular instance, the accident had more to
do with my job, that is, I was hired at Arizona
State University because they had money
allocated for the position. But as they said, “We have this
money, but it’s soft money. If we don’t spend it, they’ll
take it away, so you’re hired.” And they said, “This is
how government works, in case you were wondering.” And they were saying, “So we
don’t actually have anything for you to do. We would like for you to
develop your own research. But while you’re doing it,
maybe you could help Bob here who is the assistant professor and the assistant director
with his data.” Said, “ob has, you know, ten years’
worth of data in his back room. And you have a computer background,” by which they meant I have one
class in Fortran programming. [Laughter] But it was one more than
any of them had, and so they said, “So you can help Bob get
his data into the computer.” This was like 1981. “Macro computers,” as they were
called, were just barely coming into offices and universities at
the time, and they still thought that you poured data in the top, and then you got reports
out at the bottom. So it was my job how to figure out
how to get the top off the computer and get the data into it. So I spent the next 18 months of
my life writing Fortran programs to analyze the contents
of bird gizzards. There’s actually a reason
why I’m telling you this. There’s a reason why
I write long books, it’s because I like digressions. But [laughter] anyway at the end
of this 18 months of work I said, “There’s maybe five other people in
the entire world who are interested in bird gizzards, but it would
save each of them 18 months’ worth of work if they knew about
these programs I’ve written.” I was thinking, “There must be other
people out there who are, you know, employing this new tool,
computers, and doing science. Why is there no way in
which we can communicate?” So I took out a little
ad in the newsletters of all the scientific
societies I could find, and I explained what I was doing. And I said I know there are other
people out there doing this. Why won’t you write to me? If there’s enough of us, maybe we
can put together a little newsletter of our own.” So I got 300 letters in two months. And I took these to the director
of my center, and I said, “Well, I’m not having any luck
getting money out of the NSF, but I think I’ve started
something here. Can you front me a little
money from petty cash and I’ll see what I can do?” So he gave me $250. I printed up some brochures and I
took them to the next conference that I was going to, and handed
them out on the floor to people. Well, I raised enough money
in charter subscriptions to start Science Software Quarterly,
which was a scholarly journal for scientists who used computers
in their work, which was fun. Anyway, I ran that for about eight
years and I developed, you know, seminars for an international
group of scientists who wanted to come learn about
laboratory automation, and data acquisition,
and that kind of stuff. All of which is just
to explain how it was that I had a second
career at the time. So I was teaching, and I
was a university professor, and I was doing my own research, but I also developed
this secondary career. When the need for extra
money arose, I said, “Okay; I know about computers
and I can write.” So I wrote a quick query letter to
Byte, and Info World, and PC Mag, and I sent it with a copy of
my Science Software Quarterly, and a copy of a comic book that
I had done for Walt Disney called “Nutrition Adventures with
Orange Bird [phonetic].” And it was a real short query. It said, “Dear sirs, as you
can see from the enclosed, you won’t find anyone who
knows more about scientific and technical software than
I do, and at the same time, can write so as to appeal to
a broad popular audience.” Well, this got immediate results,
and, you know, within a few months, I was making as much freelancing
for the computer press as I was at the university, which just goes to show how badly they
pay assistant professors. But anyway, at the time, when I
made up my mind to write a book, I was 36 years old, I
had two fulltime jobs and three children
under the age of six. So I don’t want anyone telling me that they don’t have
time to write a book. [Laughter] If you want to write
a book, you’ll make the time. I mean, nobody finds time; it’s not
just lying around in the street. Unfortunately, you have to
make it, or you don’t have any. But, you know, the
time and so forth. And the question is always — says
a lot of people, especially women, they said, “I can’t justify taking
time away from my family, you know, to be doing something
like writing, you know, this frivolous silly thing.” And my first question is,
“Do you watch television?” And I said, “Okay; I do
feel like that’s a waste of your time because,
you know, it’s a choice. Why don’t you take one of the hours
you would spend watching television and work on your book?” Because it’s fairly simple. I was talking to Rick Rankin,
one of the new cast members for the “Outlander” TV show. He was — oh yes he’s very
nice; he’s really charming. Yes; he sort of walked into
the makeup room, spotted me. We had never met before. He walked over and kissed me
and I said, “Really, okay.” Well, [laughter] Scotsmen
are different, yes. They all do that, actually. But anyway, he was talking to me
later about writing and so forth. And he said, “You know,
I’ve always wanted to write a book, but,
you know, time.” I said, “Look,” I said, “if
you have ten minutes a day, and you can do it every
day, you can write a book.” I said, “Take that
ten minutes and write. Okay; if that’s all you’ve
got, that’s all you’ve got. But do it the next day.” I said, “If you write
ten minutes every day, you will have a book within a year. It may not be a big book,
but you’ll have a book.” I said, “If you don’t do
that, you won’t have a book. It’s that simple. You know, you’ll have time. It doesn’t have to be
a big amount of time.” Lots of people think, “Oh, I can’t possibly write unless
I have eight hours a day, and individual support, and a
room of my own, and, you know, everybody is keeping everybody
away from me so that I can write.” And it kind of doesn’t
work that way. You know, you write any way
is what it comes down to. So anyway, I kind of knew that
because of what else I was doing. And so I just involved the
writing into my regular routine. But I went immediately to think,
“What am I going to write?” And because I read
everything, and lots of it. And I said, “Well, maybe I should
write a mystery; I love mysteries.” And I said, “No; mysteries
have plots. I’m not sure I can do that.” And — [laughter] well I never had. And so I said, “Okay; what’s
the easiest thing to write?” No point making it hard. And so I thought, “Well, for me, maybe a historical novel would
be the easiest thing to write. I was a research professor; I
knew my way around a library. I said, “It seems easier to look
things up than to make them up.” And if I turn out that I have no
imagination, I can steal things from the historical record,”
which actually works pretty well. And so I said, “All
right, historical novel; where shall I set this,” because
I’ve got no background in history, just the six hours of Western
Civilization they make you take as an undergraduate. And so any time would
do as well as another. And so I said, “Okay;
let me think about this.” And so I was thinking, you know,
“15th century Venice, you know, American Civil War, what
sounds interesting?” Well, in this malleable
frame of mine, I happened to see a really old Dr.
Who rerun on public television. And this — thank you. Yes; it was one of
the really old ones. It was Patrick Troughton,
the second doctor. For those of you who may not
be familiar with “Dr. Who,” it’s a really old, really
long-running show done in the UK. Originally, it was a kids’
show, but now much more adult. The thesis, or the
premise of the show is that the doctor is a time
lord from the planet Galifre, who travels through space
and time having adventures. And along the way, he
picks up companions from different periods
of Earth’s history. Well, in this particular show, he had picked up a young
Scotsman from 1745. And this was a, you know,
nice looking young man who appeared in his kilt. And I said, “That’s
rather fetching.” [Laughter] And I found
myself still thinking about this the next day in church. And I said, [laughter] “Well, you
know, you want to write a book, it doesn’t really matter. Fine, let’s start there,
Scotland, 18th century.” So that’s where I began,
knowing nothing about Scotland or the 18th century, having no
plot, no outline, and no characters, just the rather vague images
conjured up by the notion of a man in a kilt, which is, of course, a
very powerful and compelling image. [Laughter] In fact, some
years later, my sixth book, which was a very lucky book
for me, it won several awards, including the Corine International
Prize for Fiction, which is cool. And I got to go to
Germany to accept it. Well, while I was there, the
German editor had me interviewed by everybody in the German
media from, you know, the tabloid newspapers on up. And toward the end of this very long
week, I was talking to a nice man from a literary magazine. And he said, “Oh, I’ve read
all of your work, you know, your characters are
so three-dimensional. Your narrative drive is tremendous. You know, your imagery,
it’s just transcendent.” I’m thinking, “Yes, yes, go on.” [Laughter] And instead he said,
“There’s just this one thing, I wonder, can you explain to me what
is the appeal of a man in a kilt?” [Laughter] Well, he was
a man, and a German. And anyway, I was really tired
or might not have said it, but I just looked at him
for a minute and I said, “I suppose it’s the
idea that you could be up against a wall with
him in a minute.” [ Laughter ] Yes; so that is actually in case
any of you gentlemen were wondering. [Laughter] But anyway, a
man in a kilt, as I say. So that’s why I chose Scotland,
and that is why I chose Scotland in the 18th century,
you know, there it is. [Laughter] So anyway, I went
immediately to the library and began looking up
Scotland in the 18th century. Now, the only thing I actually knew
about books or writing a novel was that it should have conflict. You know, I had a minor in
English and that was the sole sum of my knowledge from that, conflict. And so you don’t look for conflict
in Scotland in the 18th century for very long without running smack
into [inaudible] Prince Charlie and the Jacobite Rebellion. And I said, “Well,
that looks like plenty of conflict, fine, we’ll use them.” And so that’s where I began. I was just doing research at the
same time as I was writing, and, you know, just beginning
feeble stabs at writing. I was just putting down bits
and pieces of, you know, just vaguely imagined things
with my man in a kilt. And none of those ever made
it into the published book. But as I was working with this,
I was thinking, “Well, you know, essentially it’s Scots
versus English here. And I must have a lot of Scotsmen,
of course, for the kilt factor. But it would be a good idea
if I had a female character to play off these guys, you know,
sexual tension, that sort of thing.” I said, “So if I make
her an English woman, we will have lots of conflict.” So on the third day of writing,
I introduced this English woman, no idea who she was, what she was
doing there, or how she was going to carry out on the story. But I loosed her into a cottage full
of Scotsmen to see what she’d do. Well, she walked in,
and they were all seated around the fire muttering
to each other. They turned around, stared at her. And I’m thinking, “Why,
does she look funny? You know, what’s going on here?” Anyway, one of them drew
himself up and he said, “My name’s Dugal McKenzie,
and who are you?” And she looked up and without my
stopping to think I just typed, “My name is Claire Elizabeth
Beecham, and who the hell are you?” [Laughter] And I said,
“Okay; you don’t sound at all like an 18th century person.” So I fought with her in several
pages trying to beat her into shape and make her talk like
an 18th century person. But she wasn’t having any,
she just kept making smart ass modern remarks. And she also took over and
started telling the story herself. And I said, “Okay;
I’m not going to fight with you all the way
through this book.” I said, “No one’s ever
going to see this. It doesn’t matter what bizarre
thing I do, go ahead and be modern and I’ll figure out how
you got there later.” So it’s all her fault that
there’s time travel in these books. [Laughter] But you know, once
having made that decision, well obviously anything else went. So, you know, while the historical
background is as accurate as history itself is, which means — which is to say not
necessarily all the truth, but it was all the truth,
it was written down. Anyway, the background
is very accurate. But part of the art of
immersion in popular fiction is by making little connections with your readers amongst those
details they can identify with. And I can tell you
what, if you are very, very good at making the details
of daily life believable, then your readers will follow you
right over a cliff when you ask them to believe in time travel. [Laughter] That’s how you do it. So there is a lot of research
involved in these books, but, you know, I was a research
professor and that’s how it works. Well, let’s see, how
are we doing for time? Okay, we have two minutes before
we start questions and so forth. So that is just about enough time
to explain how I got from this point to actually being published, because this was this book I
was never going to show anyone. Well, what happened was that
owing to my computer background and so forth, I had stumbled
into a group of people called the “CompuServe Literary Forum.” It was just by accident while
I was doing research for one of the software reviews I was doing. And this was like a 24-hour
electronic cocktail party amongst people who liked books. There are many, many
readers, and some writers of all degrees of ability. But, you know, it was
a great place — and for someone with two social — two fulltime jobs and
three small children, it was the ideal social life. So I signed on and was
hanging around there. Well, I was certainly
not going to tell any of these people what I was doing,
but one day, I found myself engaged in an ongoing argument
with a gentleman about what it feels
like to be pregnant. And [laughter] he said, “Oh,
I know what that’s like, my wife’s had three children.” And I laughed. I said, “Yes, buster,” I said,
“I’ve had three children.” And he said, “Well, can you
tell me what it’s like?” I said, “I can, yes, but
it’s kind of complex. I don’t think I could fit it in a 30-line message
slot,” which is what we had. I said, “I’ll tell you what, though, I have this little piece
I wrote a few months ago in which a woman tells her brother in some detail what it’s
like to be pregnant.” I’ll put it up for
you and you can see. So I put up this piece in order
to win the argument, which I did. And everyone who had been
following the argument went and read the piece. And they came rushing back. And they said, “This
is great, what is it?” And I said, “I don’t know.” And they said, “Well,
where’s the beginning?” And I said, “I haven’t
written that yet.” And they said, “Well,
put up some more of it.” So over time, I began putting
up more little pieces, just — I don’t write in a straight line
and I don’t write with an outline, I write where I can
see things happening. But if I had a piece that I thought
was, you know, comestible as it was, you know, fit for human
consumption, I would put it up every two or three months. People got more and more interested. Anyway, the bottom line is that a
friend online who had read my pieces and the response to them said, “I know you must be ready
to look for an agent. Would you like me to
recommend you to mine?” And I had actually researched
his agent and I said, “That would be great,
John, thank you.” And I was afraid that John
would leave CompuServe or be run over by a bus before I finished the
book, so I said, “Yes, go ahead.” And so he wrote — Perry
Nolton was the agent’s name, he wrote Perry a nice note saying, “Everybody thinks this woman
is hilarious, you know, she’s probably worth looking at.” And I followed that with my own
note and I said, “Dear Mr. Nolton, I’ve been writing and selling
nonfiction by myself for some years, but I understand now that I need
a good literary representation. You’ve been recommended
to me by John, and Judy and all these people.” I said, “I have this
very long novel. I don’t want to waste your time. Would you be willing to
read excerpts from it?” I didn’t tell him I wasn’t done
writing it; excerpts were all I had. [Laughter] But he very
kindly called back and said yes he would read your
excerpts, and the basis was — he took me on, on the basis
of an unfinished first novel, which was not common then,
and is not common now, either, but very lucky for me. Anyway, in the fullness of time,
I didn’t finish writing the book, and I gave it to him and I said, “I
can tell there’s more to this story, but I thought I should stop
while I could still lift it.” And he said, “Okay.” And I said, “But you could
tell people there’s more if they’re interested.” So luckily, he sent it out to
five editors who he thought might like it, and within four days, three
of them had called back with offers to buy it, which was also lucky. So he negotiated amongst them
for two weeks and came back with a three-book contract. And bing, I was a novelist. [ Applause ] Great; well thank you very much. Well, I think we have now
reached the time for questions. And we have this enterprising
young man who has got the microphone already. We have a microphone at the
beginning of each aisle, so any of you who are interested in asking a question,
you can come up there. Okay, yes, sir.>>Well, Diane, I love the modern
world, and yesterday my muse and I beamed you into our kitchen. So I met you yesterday already.>>Diana Gabaldon: Hmm.>>I come from New Zealand.>>Diana Gabaldon: Oh, yes; yes.>>And we’ve spent the last three
years doing the third polish on something that I’ve
been working on. And I love your story about
how you got an attorney. So how many books have you sold?>>Diana Gabaldon: How many books;
28 million is the latest estimate.>>Well, congratulations. So you –>>Diana Gabaldon: Thank you. [Laughs]>>Yes; anyway, that
was my question, how many books have you sold?>>Diana Gabaldon: That
was an easy one; thank you. Perfect; and you, sir?>>I am a recent convert — [laughs]>>Diana Gabaldon: Thank you.>>To your books. My wife introduced me to them.>>Diana Gabaldon: Wonderful; yes.>>And they’re quite enjoyable. I’m a history teacher. So as you’re writing these books
and as you see these progress –>>Diana Gabaldon: Yes.>>I know there’s a nice
book coming out sometime?>>Diana Gabaldon: Sometime, yes. [Laughter]>>Can you give us any hints
on where that may take us, what location the main
characters may be at?>>Diana Gabaldon: Oh, where
may the next book take us –>>Yes.>>Diana Gabaldon: In terms
of time, location, et cetera?>>Yes; yes.>>Diana Gabaldon: Well, vaguely,
yes, we are in North Carolina. He’s asking about the ninth book and
what hints I can give you about it. I have a title for it, it’s called,
“Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone.” And that comes from a — thank you. It comes from a bit of
beekeeping lure, which is common to the Celtic countries,
but you find it also in other parts of Europe
and America. And it’s based on the idea
that if you are a beekeeper, you tend to your hives every day. And since bees are social insects,
they need to know what’s going on in the community,
not just their own hive. So you tell them the
news of your community, who’s come into the community, who’s
gone, who’s been born, who’s died, what’s going on, because if you
don’t and the bees find out, they’ll be angry and swarm and fly
away, and you won’t have any honey. So you always go and tell
the bees what’s going on. Now, as to who is gone, or
where they are going, and when or if ever they will come
back, that we don’t know. It may apply to more than one
person, I can tell you that much. [Laughs]>>That was the other question
was who is going to tell the bees?>>Diana Gabaldon: Who is going –>>Yes. [Laughter]>>Diana Gabaldon: Yes;
well, I don’t know. Clara’s usually the beekeeper,
but, you know, on the other hand, if it’s her that’s going, she
would be telling someone else to go tell the bees that I’ve gone. Yes; on the other hand,
there might be someone else and she’s telling the
bees about them. Or as I say, there might
be more than one person. [Laughter] Yes. Thank you.>>Good afternoon, Diana.>>Diana Gabaldon: Hi.>>I just want — I’m
sorry, I’m short. For one thing, I want to say
congratulations on being a granny.>>Diana Gabaldon:
Oh, thank you so much. Yes; I am a new grandmother. [Laughter]>>But I also wanted to
ask how much were you aware of early American history of
what was going on, you know, in terms of colonial times,
the American Revolution and so forth before you actually
started approaching that?>>Diana Gabaldon: Oh, how much did
I know about early American history and revolutionary times before
I began writing the books?>>Yes.>>Diana Gabaldon: Oh,
just what you would learn in elementary school
in the 1960s, yes; yes.>>So was there anything –>>Diana Gabaldon: Which
is a heck of a lot more than you’d learn now, I’ll tell you. [Laughter]>>Well, it depends on location.>>Diana Gabaldon: Yes.>>But how much — did anything
surprise you that you came across?>>Diana Gabaldon: Did
anything surprise me from the things that
I learned later?>>Yes.>>Diana Gabaldon: Oh, yes,
all kinds of things, but — yes, I’m trying to think
of anything in particular. Well, I know more about George
Washington’s false teeth now than I did. They weren’t necessarily
all made of hippopotamus, I agree, but a lot of them were. Yes; no you learn all
kinds of interesting things like General Nathaniel Greene
was a Quaker by profession, which makes it rather odd that he
became a revolutionary or a general. But it turns out that
as he was growing up, his father disliked books. And he forbade his son to read because he thought books would
separate you from God, you know, by distracting you and so forth. And young Nathaniel
didn’t bide with this so he snuck off and read anyway. But this vision, you know, made
him decide that he didn’t want to be a Quaker anymore if they were
so narrow-minded not to read books. Now, of course, they weren’t
all, but his father was. Anyway, so that’s what caused
him to go off and read. And what he was reading
was military history. And he became more and more engaged
in this and finally, he said, “All right, I’m not
a Quaker anymore. I’m going to take up military.” And he was a very good general. Yes.>>Thank you.>>Diana Gabaldon: You’re welcome. Yes, yes.>>Hi, Diana.>>Diana Gabaldon: Hi.>>I’m from Havelock,
North Carolina.>>Diana Gabaldon: Oh, very nice.>>And I know you’ve been
there because you went for the 300th anniversary
of New Bern. And my question to you is how
did you come across wanting to have Jamie and Clare Frazier go
to Frazier Ridge in North Carolina? Why that spot; why there? And the other part of the question
is if the filming keeps continuing, if you could have them film
in New Bern, North Carolina, [laughter] because we would love to
have them there by Triumph Palace to be able to do some of that. And because in Scotland, you just
don’t experience the heat you do in eastern North Carolina, so.>>Diana Gabaldon: Yes, yes, yes. Yes; the question was
first how did I come to set Frazier’s Ridge
in North Carolina? And the second is can I arrange
to have part of the show filmed in North Carolina for
the next season? Yes; that unfortunately
is beyond my control. And part of it is that they have
this huge studio in Cumbernauld, which is just outside Glasgow, which expands with each
season, so it’s immense. And they do all of the indoor
shooting, and I guess some of the outdoor shooting
actually within this facility. So they’re not going
to go build another one in North Carolina is
the bottom line. Excuse me. As for the outer stuff, there are
parts of Scotland that can be used, but they also have another
European location that they can use for the more forested
parts of things. The thing also is that “Outlander”
is not a union show; you don’t have to be in the UK, whereas you pretty
much do need to be in the States. And so just the legalities
involved in that, plus the taxes, plus the idea of moving a
production that size all the way to North Carolina,
no, not happening. But as for why I set them there, that’s where the Scots
went after Colladen. The — many people were transported. Many people left voluntarily because there was nothing
left for them in Scotland. Excuse me, I’ve had a cold
all week, so there we go. Yes, all right; so about half the
Scottish immigrants went up straight up the coast to Prince Edward
island and Nova Scotia. So it’s called Nova Scotia and New
Scotland, that’s where they settled. But the other half went straight
up the Cape Fear River — that’s okay, I’ve got
a drink, thank you; went straight up the Cape Fear
River and into the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, because the mountains
reminded them of Scotland. And so that’s why Frazier’s Ridge
is within ten miles of Boon, but I couldn’t tell
you in which direction. Yes; yes, yes.>>Hi. My name’s Karen. I am an [inaudible].>>Diana Gabaldon: Thank you. [Laughs]>>I write for the
“Outlander” cast blog.>>Diana Gabaldon: Lovely.>>So this question is for
— on behalf of everybody. And I am going to blatantly steal
something from the first session.>>Diana Gabaldon: Yes.>>And then I’m going
to add my own to that.>>Diana Gabaldon: Okay.>>How much time do you spend
thinking, that was the question. And where do you do it best?>>Diana Gabaldon: How much
time do I spend thinking, and where do I do it best? I think all the time; I mean, yes. If you mean about books, I still
think about books all the time, it’s just in the back of my mind. And, you know, I’m doing other
things, of course, but every once in a while, I would just get
an idea and it pops into place. And as my husband says, “You have
that goofy look on your face again. Are you having book ideas?” And I say, “Yes.” So I mean, it’s — I don’t have like regimented hours during
which I think, you know. And likewise, I don’t have a
place as far as the writing goes. All I need is a laptop computer and
I’m not there, I’m within the book so I can actually do it anywhere. I’ve done it in halls like
this, and in airports and, you know, pretty much anywhere.>>Well, thank you for all of that.>>Diana Gabaldon: You’re welcome.>>For the kilts, and
for that visual about up against the wall in a minute. [Laughter] Thank you, thank you.>>Diana Gabaldon: Feel free. [Laughs] Thank you. And you; yes.>>Hi. I wrote my question down
because that’s usually how I go. Where did you get the idea of giving
Briana and Roger’s daughter, Mandy, the ability to sense Jim’s location, and will that be built
upon in the new book?>>Diana Gabaldon: Oh, where did
I get the idea of allowing Mandy, Roger and Briana’s daughter,
to sense Jimmy’s location, and will that be used
in future books? Well, plainly it will, yes, but as
to where it was, it was just there. Excuse me. Yes, I mean, she just said
that, “I can feel him.” And I was thinking, “Oh,
well, of course you can.” You know, and I wondered if it
was reciprocal, which it turned out to be, you know,
that they both can. The hypothesis here would be
that we know that the ability to time travel is genetic. And well, I mean, me think about it, how many of you can
roll your tongues? You just go [makes
sound], okay you go, okay. If you can’t do it,
then you can’t do it. That’s all there is to it. You can think about it all
you want, but you can’t do it. And the same thing with time travel,
if you are genetically endowed to do that, you can do
that, otherwise you can’t. But anyway so I assume that you
must have one gene to time travel. Briana has one gene from Claire. But, you know, genes, as we
know, occur in a paired alleles. So what if we know Ray has one,
Roger may have one, he may have two. But either way, Jimmy and Mandy
have the potential of having two. So I said, “What if
they both do have two?” So that gives you the ability
to, you know, steer through time and they both seem to be somewhat
more flexible time travelers than their parents. But what if it also allows you to
recognize other time travelers? And I was thinking so they
can recognize each other. You see, the thing is they can
recognize their parents as well as Mandy does when she
tells them where Roger is. So they have this ability to
recognize another time traveler when they see them, rather
than wait, and that may come into play somewhere else.>>Thank you.>>Diana Gabaldon: Thank you. Yes.>>Hello. I’d like to –>>Diana Gabaldon: Hi.>>Thank you, Miss Gabaldon, for all
of your work, in particular in light of what Mr. McCullough mentioned
about bringing history to life.>>Diana Gabaldon: Thank you.>>I would — especially
in my own family, I would say that my now college-aged
daughter found no joy in history –>>Diana Gabaldon:
Oh, wonderful; yes.>>Until she read your books. So that brings it to home. And I would like to
in honor of her ask — because she is an aspiring writer, how do you work through
writer’s blocks?>>Diana Gabaldon: Oh, how do
you work through writer’s block? It’s real simple, but
also horrifying, you just keep writing anyway. I mean, really just
keep putting down words, and eventually it will let go. Now, I can expand on
that a little bit. But I know it may not work
for her because it has to do with the way my brain is wired up. I think I have a rather
beneficent form of ADHD in that I can’t concentrate
on something for more than about 20 minutes
unless it’s really engaging. But what I learned to do
early on was to switch rapidly from one project to the next. I usually work on three, four,
five, six projects at once. So I’ll begin, say,
with a grant proposal, which is the most horrible thing to
write, and I would get, you know, two-thirds of the way down
the page, it would stick. Well, everybody gets stuck at
some point, and they get up, go to the bathroom, get the
drink, take the dog for a walk. Some of them don’t come back, and that’s why they
don’t finish their books. I couldn’t do that because
I had to keep getting paid. So I would come to
the sticking point. And without stopping, I would
pick up the next project on my software review
pile, start the review. Then I’d check with the draft of
the proposal, if it was still stuck, I would then pick up the scene
I was working on for the novel, work on that until it got stuck. And so it would keep me
circling through these things. And I would not get up. And so at the end of the night,
I would end up, you know, with two pages of the
grant proposal, and half of a software review,
and maybe three-quarters of a finished scene,
but I would have work. And so, you know, this is another
thing you can do, you know, if you are stuck on what
you’re doing, do something else that also involves writing because
those synapses keep working, and eventually something
comes loose. It all comes — if everything else
fails, work on what you’re supposed to be working on, but just
put down anything that comes into your mind that’s connected
where they don’t try to, you know, organize or plot, or anything
like that, just, you know, let the words come and then it — usually it comes unstuck
within a couple of paragraphs.>>Thank you.>>Diana Gabaldon: You may have to
do it more than one day in a row.>>My daughter Amelia thanks you.>>Diana Gabaldon:
Sure thing, thank you. Yes; yes.>>Hi. I want to thank
you personally. I know everyone here
feels the same way. I didn’t know about your books
until I watched the television show, and then I’ve read all of them. And it’s just like
opened up this whole world to me, so thank you, thank you.>>Diana Gabaldon:
Wonderful; thank you.>>I see that you’re a
consultant on the show. And it says, you know, what — how
do you feel like when they’re — like I know they have to vary things
from the book to do advance it into the show, but how — I mean,
I know it’s an open-ended question, but how do you feel about,
you know, changes they make? Do they consult you about them or –>>Diana Gabaldon: Yes. How do I feel about changes made
by the show to the original story? Well, they pretty much
have to change it because they’ve only got ten hours
to work with, and they’re big books. The other thing is that, you know,
weekly television, it’s episodic, meaning that you have one
hour, and that hour has to have its own little
dramatic arc that comes to a dramatically satisfying end. Well, the book is not arranged
in neat little dramatic arcs. So what they do is they
take the book apart. They call it “breaking script,”
and then they take pieces out of this broken pile
and they reassemble them into those little climactic things. So in the process,
they lose some things. They have to invent some other
things to get from point A to point B. But the
overall impression is still that of the original book. I think they do a beautiful
job with that. There are occasional
spots where they — where one scriptwriter
will have, to my mind, completely misinterpret a character. And on those occasions, I will
point that out with some force. But yes — [laughter]
I don’t do it often. But once that bit sorted
out with something really — anyway I brought back and I said,
“I don’t use language bad enough to describe how much I hate this.” [Laughter] But, you know,
I don’t do that often. And when I do, they’re
inclined to listen to me. And they did do something about it. I mean, normally, they’re
very good about, you know, soliciting my comments and
paying attention to what I think. And you know, I don’t make
a lot of adverse comments. Usually, I’ll say, “This is great. I love this. This is wonderful. I would have never
thought of that; terrific.” But, you know, every so often,
I’ll say, “Look, you know, if — I’ll tell you what, honestly, truly, you cannot fatally cut someone’s
throat without having a lot of blood because,” you know,
I got back this footage and there was this just sort
of gently oozing, you know, wound but no blood on the
clothes or anything like that. I said, “Look, you can’t do that. If you’re going to kill someone,
you’re slicing at least one of the corroded artery;
blood is spray everywhere. I mean, you’ve got
to have more blood.” And so, you know — you see, they’re
not going to reshoot scenes just to satisfy my technical things. But the thing is there’s
this thing called “VFX,” which means “special effect,”
and they could do things. Frequently, I’ll see notes on the
rough footage that they send me that said “VFX, add more blood,”
and so I know they can do that. And so I’ll say, “Look, add
more blood, lots more blood, and we’ll see how that works.” But yes anyway, they listen
to me and nine times out ten, they’ll do something in response. The tenth time, they’ll tell me
why that’s impossible, you know, the logistics just don’t
let them do this or that, it’s too expensive, et cetera.>>Thank you very much.>>Diana Gabaldon: Thank you. Yes, yes.>>Hi, Diana. Thank you. I wanted to let you know that
my family had an episode — not an episode, my
first granddaughter, unbeknownst to her mother prenatally
had serious health defects –>>Diana Gabaldon: Oh, I’m so sorry.>>And only lived 35 hours.>>Diana Gabaldon: Oh.>>I warned my daughter about
reading “Dragonfly on Amber,” and she did read it,
and she did watch. Faith Katz’s [phonetic]
performance was amazing.>>Diana Gabaldon: She was.>>And, you know, your
writing helped us through that period of time. So when you announced
that you were going to be a grandmother,
I prayed for you.>>Diana Gabaldon:
Well, thank you so much.>>I prayed for your granddaughter. I prayed for your granddaughter.>>Diana Gabaldon: Yes.>>I helped [inaudible] as well. I want to know how does
being a grandmother — or does it, impact your
writing from here going forward? How does it impact your life, and
how does it impact your writing?>>Diana Gabaldon:
[Laughs] Well, I don’t know, I’ve only been a grandmother
for six weeks; I haven’t written that much yet. [Laughter]>>But it’s the six best
weeks of your life, I know. [Laughs]>>Diana Gabaldon: Yes, well,
see, Claire has been a grandmother for a lot longer than I have. But, you know, I have had children. You know, I know what it’s
like to deal with children, both my own and others and so forth. So you know, you use as much of
your own experience as you have. You mentioned Katrina and her
fabulous performance in “Dragonfly on Amber,” you know,
as a pregnant woman and losing the baby and all that. And she wrote to me ahead
of time, and she said, “Can you tell me what
it’s like to be pregnant, because I never have
been,” and so forth. And so, you know, I just did a
brain dump for her and, you know, told her everything I knew
about that and so forth. And I have been fortunate enough
never to experience a stillbirth, but I have talked to
people who have, and also the medical
people who attend them. So I told her what I knew
from that angle as well. She just did a fabulous job with it.>>She did. Thank you.>>Diana Gabaldon:
Yes; thank you so much. Yes, yes.>>Hi. My favorite way to
procrastinate my own writing is by doing research, going
to national archives and reading letters,
and things like that. And I said, “Oh, I’m working
on my novel by doing this.” But I’m really not writing my novel. And you are such a
historically detailed and generally detailed writer. And I’m sure that your background
helps you be more regimented in that. But I wondered what your
approach is to researching, and then integrating the
research, and keeping going with that schedule you described, while not sacrificing
your eye for detail.>>Diana Gabaldon: Yes; well that is
a problem that I noticed with people who are writing historical
fiction, which is, you know, you get so tangled
up in the research that you never actually
write the book. I know people have been writing
their novel for ten years and they’ve never put down a
word; they’re just doing research. Yes, research is fun, and it’s
much less work than writing. No; I am rather fortunate in
the way that my brain works, which is in this very
scattershot way. So I do the research and
the writing concurrently. You know, I’ll be working
on a scene, then I come to something
I need to know. Well, I go to my research
collection. I’ve got about 2200 books
on, you know, early — or on Scotland and early
America, and so forth. And, you know, or I’ll go to the
Internet to look up, you know, a historical character
that I’m using. And I’ll say “MH,” and it
will show me what, you know, Tom Payne looked like, that sort
of stuff, and I’ll read stuff. And anyway something
in there — it will — I’ll find what I needed to
go on writing the scene, but I’ll also find something else that simulates another
scene, and I’ll think, “Ah.” And so I’ll immediately
start writing that one down on a separate
document, you know, just a quick sketch of whatever. And so I mean, the research just
integrates itself basically. I put in what I need to know, and the research tells
me all this other stuff that I didn’t know I needed
to know, but there it is. [Laughs]>>That’s very helpful. Thank you so much.>>Diana Gabaldon: Sure; yes, yes.>>Okay; you are my rock star.>>Diana Gabaldon: Thank you.>>I am your number one fan.>>Diana Gabaldon:
Thank you so much. I guess we have two minutes.>>I love so much about you.>>Diana Gabaldon: Yes.>>One thing I wanted
to ask you, though, okay I hit 50 and wrote the novel. So I’m done with the novel and I’ve
got friends going independently published, others telling me
to try to go the query letter and the mainstream publishing. What made — I know you did
the CompuServe, but what — was it your friend that —
is that what garnered you — like directed you to go
that direction with –>>Diana Gabaldon:
No; independent — it’s about a question about
independent publishing versus mainstream publishing. Independent publishing
didn’t exist back in the day; it was not a question. But given the option, definitely go for mainstream publishing
to start with. It’s too complex for
me to deal with here, but I’ll talk to you
later if you’d like.>>Oh, that would be awesome.>>Diana Gabaldon: Yes; and
we have exactly two minutes, so I’m sorry for the
rest of the people who have been standing in line. But I can take that question. Yes.>>Hi. I’ll be quick. Thanks so much for the stories. I was just wondering
in all your stories, do you ever regret any choices
that you might have made? And specifically, would you have
chosen another path for Murtagh?>>Diana Gabaldon: For who?>>Murtagh.>>Diana Gabaldon: Oh, Murtagh. Yes; do I ever regret ever
killing people in my books, essentially, was the question. [Laughter] Well, see, I
don’t kill people, they die. I mean, in fact, I frequently go out
of my way to try not to kill them. I really did. In “Written In my Own Heart’s Blood”
there’s a very shattering death in that one, and I was thinking,
“Surely, there’s some other way.” But no, there wasn’t. You know, once I heard
that crack, you know, I was thinking, “Yes,
he’s gone, yes.” But yes, and you know, I
just can’t change those. But no, I don’t plan them. So, you know, sometimes, I
regret that someone is gone. But, you know, Murtagh, you know,
died at Culloden and part of the — and because he died, but part of
the effect of that was, you know, that we are sensible of a personal
loss which you need to have. You know, if Jaime is
surviving, which he was, you know, we need to lose someone that
we care about, you know?>>Thanks so much.>>Diana Gabaldon: Thank you, yes. And one more person, yes, yes.>>Oh, yay, thank you
very much, Diana. My question actually
has specifically to do with the “Outlander” books. And I think it’s in book 5,
Neoweni [phonetic] tells Claire that when her hair is all white, that’s when she’ll
be her most powerful. And really I’m just wondering how
white is Claire’s hair right now, and can we expect even more
powerful [laughter] achievements?>>Diana Gabaldon: Yes; no, Claire
doesn’t have a mirror at this point in it, and someone
mentions that to her. And so she asked her
granddaughter, she said, you know, “What color is my hair? Is my hair brown or white?” And Mandy looks at her and says,
“Grandma,” say, “it’s rindled.” So that’s what it is, it’s a mixture
of brown, silver, white, et cetera. So she’s not quite there yet,
but we have two books to go.>>Thank you; thank you.>>Diana Gabaldon: Anyway, yes that’s all the
questions we have time for.>>Thank you.>>Diana Gabaldon: Thank you. [Inaudible].>>Thank you.>>Diana Gabaldon: It was very nice. [ Applause ]>>This has been a presentation
of the Library of Congress. Visit us at loc.gov.

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