I have been a fan of the Outlander series since 2008, but have never met Diana Gabaldon or heard her speak. On June 24th, she came to Dallas, Texas and gave a speech at the First United Methodist Church presented by the Dallas Museum of Art. The event sold out (1200 tickets) weeks before she came.
I have never been to a speech by an author before, and I have only ever gone to one other signing. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a bit nervous to even be in the same room as Diana, let alone be up close and personal with her later in the night when she signed my books.
Outside the church, three bagpipers and a drummer (all in kilts) stood outside playing music as we arrived. After conversing with a few of the helpful DMA staff managing the event, I was able to sit in the handicap section to attempt to get a good picture to use on this post. We had terrible storms that day, and my photographer was unable to make it to the church. I had to make due with my 2007 Canon and my mediocre photography skills, complicated by the fact that I could not use the flash and I did not bring my tripod with me.
I had the pleasure of meeting a few fans sitting around me and two in front of me who actually visit this site and are fans.
The night was introduced by a woman from DMA who also showed us the full trailer for Outlander on Starz on a big screen. I have never been in a room full of Outlander fans when something like that is shown and it was a treat. Afterwards, Joy Tipping, a writer from the Dallas Morning News, gave an introduction for Diana and described how she first encountered Outlander and Diana. She provided a few laughs for the crowd.
Then the moment arrived, the bagpipers started playing and Diana walked out to a standing ovation. Not going to lie, I got a bit teary-eyed when she came out. I am sure she has that effect on quite a few fans. Diana then spoke for about an hour followed by a Q & A session with audience members. I was expecting only a handful of people to be allowed to ask questions, but with four microphones, quite a few people at each one were able to ask Diana a question.
She certainly made the adoring crowd hysterically laugh more than once. I am sure some people have heard her speak before, but most of what she said was new to me. I have gotten bits and pieces of the story from interviews, but it was nice to hear her speak for a long period of time without interruption. At the beginning, someone had left a photo of a kilted man bent over with his (or the wind blowing up his kilt) behind showing at the podium. It was a great way to start off the speech. She talked about Outlander and how it all started, both her writing career and the book itself. The story about Compuserve (pre-internet, pre-AOL), finding an agent, and how her agent, Perry Knowlton, let her know he would send her book to publishing houses and editors.
Here are some details from the Q & A session that might be of interest:
– The scene in Outlander where Claire walks into the cottage with Dougal, Jamie, and friends is one that she did not have to rewrite. It was perfect as written the first time.
– Diana’s favorite side character is Murtagh. She likes the character in the TV series also (played by Duncan Lacroix). Black Jack Randall is another favorite.
– 15.3% That is how much Claire is in Diana or vice versa.
– She does not know what is in Brianna’s bag . . .
– Her husband reads her books.
– She did not tell her husband that she was writing a book. He found out on accident when he found a folder on her computer called “Jamie.”
– She will not have any one from the 18th century time travel to modern times. Jamie will NEVER time travel. He is the GHOST in Outlander, but again, he does not time travel. It will be explained in the last book.
– Her father was still alive to see Diana’s success, but after the first book was picked up he told her to not quit her job.
– She has half-finished a modern crime novel.
– She might write more small books that involve Brianna, Roger, etc. after she finishes the Outlander series.
– She has no doubt that Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe can easily play their characters in their 40s and 50s since they are playing the characters are younger than they are now. Some of the books will probably be split up into different seasons since they are so long, so Sam and Caitriona will age with their characters also.
– She does know the last scene in the books, but it is more of an epilogue.
– She does not know where her characters come from (those that are fictional).
– Master Raymond is in The Space Between novella, but he will also have his own book or books.
– She researches concurrently while writing.
– No one in the production (so far) has offered a role to Davina Porter (she reads the novels on the audiobooks). She does not think they have thought of it yet, but she occasionally mentions people to them.
After the event at the church ended, it was time for everyone to head across the street to the Dallas Museum of Art to line up to get their books signed by Diana. Seeing as I did not work the next day, I lazily waited around at the church. I also picked up a ton of the Outlander TV show brochures that people left behind, It folded out to another poster. What is wrong with you people?! You can’t leave a poster of Jamie and Claire on the floor! I then walked over to the museum. I did not mind waiting longer than usual for her to sign my books. Well, I paid for that later. I got in line at about 9 PM. When it started to rain, they brought us all inside and snaked us around so we could all fit. Each person was able to get two things signed. In hindsight, maybe one thing would have been enough. Part of the ticket price to the event included a signed copy of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, but if you wanted it personalized or additional items signed, you could wait in line. I attended as press, so I did not get a book with my ticket, but I brought along my own copy and Dragonfly in Amber. I finally made it to Diana at 12:10 AM (yes, you read that correctly). With a quick mention of who I was and this site and a couple of photos, I left Herself’s presence.
The biggest thing that impressed me is that Diana stayed until the last person had their books signed. I don’t think many authors would do this, especially those who write bestsellers, are in high demand, and have legions of fans.
I am very grateful of the opportunity to listen to Diana speak and meet her. Some of you have met her several times, but this was my first. Except for standing for three hours, the night was pretty much fantastic.
Here is the interview she gave on Good Morning Texas the same morning she finished signing everyone’s books a few hours earlier.
Click here to read Joy Tipping’s article on Outlander and Diana.
Sources: Outlander TV News, Good Morning Texas