Today's the day! I'm headed for Phoenix with my friend to have lunch with my favorite author—Diana Gabaldon!
Diana's a very busy lady these days. Besides finishing up the long-awaited eighth book of the Outlander series, which comes out next March, she's involved in the production of a new Outlander series produced by Starz. Not to mention all the promotional tasks associated with both. But she's making time in her life to have lunch with us. Awesome!
The whole thing came about through the Brenda Novak Auction for Diabetes in May. I saw Diana's offering of lunch in Phoenix, and I was determined to win. The other bidders didn't stand a chance! (And I discovered within myself a dangerous competitiveness when it comes to silent auctions. Hmm.) I did let some auctions go to higher bidders, but not this one. I really, really wanted to meet Diana Gabaldon.
I have many, many favorite authors, and I'd love to meet all of them. Have met some of them at writers' conferences. But for some reason, Diana stands apart from all the rest. Her books stand out from all the rest. They're totally unique. Enticing. I love historicals and I write Regencies myself, but the eighteenth century—and pioneer living in the wilds of the Carolinas—isn't something I would normally choose to read about. But for some reason, I eagerly devour all of this in the Outlander series. How does she do that? As an author, I'd love to know the secret of her power over readers.
Jamie and Claire.
How does she make them so real that I feel like I know them? The love between them is so palpable that I often feel like swooning.
I had one last try.
"Does it bother you that I'm not a virgin?" He hesitated a moment before answering.
"Well, no," he said slowly, "so long as it doesna bother you that I am." He grinned at my drop-jawed expression, and backed toward the door.
"Reckon one of us should know what they're doing," he said. The door closed softly behind him; clearly the courtship was over.
As yet too hungry and too clumsy for tenderness, still he made love with a sort of unflagging joy that made me think that male virginity might be a highly underrated commodity.
"This is what you were born to do, isn't it, Jamie?"
"Perhaps, Sassenach." He looked out over the fields and buildings, the crofts and the roads, then looked down, a smile suddently curving the wide mouth.
"And you, my Sassenach? What were you born for? To be a lady of a manor, or to sleep in the fields like a gypsy? To be a healer, or a don's wife, or an outlaw's lady?
"I was born for you," I said simply, and held out my arms to him."
"Ye know," he observed, letting go at last, "you've never said it."
"Neither have you."
"I have. The day after we came. I said I wanted you more than anything."
"And I said that loving and wanting weren't necessarily the same thing," I countered.
He laughed. "Perhaps you're right, Sassenach." He smoothed the hair from my face and kissed my brow. "I wanted ye from the first I saw ye--but I loved ye when you wept in my arms and let me comfort you that first time in Leoch."
The following conversation occurred after Claire confessed to Jaime that she came from the 20th century:
"Do ye sleep now, mo duinne. No one shall harm ye; I'm here."
I burrowed into the warm curve of his shoulder, letting my tired mind fall through the layers of oblivion. I forced myself to the surface long enough to ask, "Do you really believe me, Jamie?"
He sighed, and smiled ruefully down at me.
"Aye, I believe ye, Sassenach. But it would have been a good deal easier if you'd only been a witch."
"I'm sorry," Jamie said. "I dinna mean to wake ye, lass."
"What are you doing? Why are you awake?" I squinted over my shoulder at him. It was still dark, but my eyes were so accustomed that I could see the faintly sheepish expression on his face. He was wide awake, sitting on a stool by the side of the bed, his plaid flung around him for warmth.
"It's only....well, I dreamed you were lost, and I couldna find ye. It woke me, and....I wanted to look at ye, is all. To fix ye in my mind, to remember while I'm gone. I turned back the quilt; I'm sorry you were chilled."
And yet it's more than that.
I have a lot of pet peeves about books—I even did a series of “Historical Romance Deal Breakers” on my blog, Susana's Parlour. These are things I can get passionate about. And yet, my favorite author breaks most of them—and manages to get away with it. How does she do that?
For one thing, I insist on a happy-ever-after ending. There really isn't one in the Outlander series—at least not yet. Every time Jamie and Claire have a poignant moment that makes me think, “Now they can settle down and enjoy life,” something dreadful happens that plunges them into danger. They always seem to survive, though, but often it's touch and go and you start worrying that this time they won't manage it. It keeps me turning the pages. If I knew there would be a happy-ever-after, I don't think I'd be so involved in the story. Hmm.
The same goes for the cliffhanger endings. Normally I'd stamp my feet in rage if an author ended a book without a satisfactory resolution and made me wait a year or more to find out what happened. It's not fair to the reader to pay for a book and then have to wait and pay for another book to get the ending. Normally, I wouldn't do it, partly due to principle and partly because I most likely would have forgotten the first book by that time (I read a lot of books!). But Outlander books are different. I'll never forget Jamie and Claire. And I'm dying to find out what happens to them. The wait only increases the anticipation.
Diana Gabaldon has a power that no other author has, to my knowledge. And I'm looking forward to meeting her and picking her brain and maybe gaining some inkling of how she manages it.
Plus…it's kind of like she is Jamie and Claire. :-)
Before I leave, I have to confess that I was an Outlander skeptic for a number of years. I didn't intentionally buy the book—it came in a box of historicals I purchased on eBay. I put it on the shelf and ignored it for years. Yes, I heard everyone say how much they loved it and all that, but the outer package—and the hype—turned me off. It was a really thick book with small print and it didn't look a bit like the historicals I normally read. But one day I picked it up and opened it to Chapter One—and have never looked back since. Diana Gabaldon is not like any other author…and I'm exceedingly grateful that she's not.
Are you an Outlander fan? Or do you have other favorite authors who can captivate you with their writing? Who would you like to meet in person?
About the Author
A former teacher, Susana is finally living her dream of being a full-time writer. She loves all genres of romance, but historical—Regency in particular—is her favorite. There’s just something about dashing heroes and spunky heroines waltzing in ballrooms and driving through Hyde Park that appeals to her imagination.
In real life, Susana is a lifelong resident of northwest Ohio, although she has lived in Ecuador and studied in Spain, France and Mexico. More recently, she was able to travel around the UK and visit many of the places she’s read about for years, and it was awesome! She is a member of the Maumee Valley and Beau Monde chapters of Romance Writers of America.