Tuesday, April 22, 2014

REPOST: Davina Porter interview

Davina Porter is back in the recording studio this week, beginning work on the audio version of WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD! Let's all wish her the best of luck over the next several weeks.  I can't wait to hear the audio version of the book!

In honor of the occasion, I thought I'd repost a very interesting two-part interview from 2009, with Davina Porter and her husband, Gus, in which Davina talks in detail about her work.  Be sure to watch both parts!

Part 1:

Part 2 (you may want to skip the first bit; the part relating to her work starts around 2:20)

I was quite amused to hear her reaction, in part 2, to the fact that she'd messed up Donner's voice in ABOSAA (making him sound like a Liverpudlian instead of a Native American). Oh, well, we can hope she'll be more careful with the minor characters in MOHB!

Hope you enjoy this as much as I did! For more about Davina Porter, look here.  And if you haven't yet listened to the OUTLANDER audiobooks, I highly recommend them!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Which OUTLANDER character are you?

I just saw this and couldn't resist passing it along.

Which OUTLANDER character are you?

I got Claire. What about the rest of you?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

On this day in OUTLANDER history

Today is April 19th.  In 1775, it was the day after Paul Revere's famous ride.  (Also, the day Lizzie's son Rodney was born. <g>)

Here's a copy of the Lexington Alarm, from the collection of the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, MA.  If you find the 18th-century handwriting difficult to read, click here to see a transcript.  You'll notice that it's almost identical to the version of the Lexington Alarm quoted in A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES.
As Claire explains to Jamie:
"After the battle at Lexington, General Palmer--he's a general of militia--wrote this and sent it through the countryside by an express rider, to bear witness to what had happened, to notify the militias nearby that the war had started.

"Men along the way took copies of it, endorsed them to swear that they were true copies, and sent the message along to other townships and villages; there were probably hundreds of copies made at the time, and quite a few survived. Frank had one that someone gave him as a present. He kept it in a frame, in the front hall of our house in Boston."

Then a quite extraordinary shudder went through me as I realized that the familiar letter I was looking at had in fact been written only a week or two before--not two hundred years.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 79, "Alarms". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
There has been some speculation on Compuserve about whether the copy of the Lexington Alarm that hung on the wall in Claire and Frank's house in Boston might have been the same one that Claire copied in her own handwriting, with Jamie's signature at the bottom.  Personally I think that's unlikely.  Claire would have had no reason to avoid looking at it, after all, since it had nothing to do with the Jacobites or 18th-century Scotland, and I can't imagine that she would have failed to notice Jamie's signature on it.  (But it's fun to speculate, of course!)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Fun Facts - 4/18/2014

Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books.

1) This is a cap made by the Tuscarora, Native Americans who lived in North Carolina in the 18th century. (Photo credit: North Carolina Museum of History).  It's made in the style of a Scotsman's bonnet, evidence that the Tuscarora traded with the settlers who lived nearby.

The pair of signs pictured above commemorate those killed on both sides in the Tuscarora War of 1711-13. (Photo credits: top: Bryan, on Flickr; bottom: loo% noble savage & pope, on Flickr.)
The Tuscarora War, [Myers] explained, had been a short-lived but brutal conflict some forty years before, brought on by an attack upon some backcountry settlers. The then governor of the colony had sent troops into the Tuscarora villages in retaliation, and the upshot was a series of pitched battles that the colonists, much better armed, had won handily--to the devastation of the Tuscarora nation.

Myers nodded toward the darkness.

“Ain’t no more than seven villages o’ the Tuscarora left, now--and not above fifty or a hundred souls in any but the biggest one.” So sadly diminished, the Tuscarora would quickly have fallen prey to surrounding tribes and disappeared altogether, had they not been formally adopted by the Mohawk, and thus become part of the powerful Iroquois League.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 14, "Flee from Wrath to Come". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
For more information about the Tuscarora in Colonial North Carolina, look here and here.  The map here is also quite informative.

2) A whirligig was an 18th century punishment device.  Lord John and Percy saw one in LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE:
"This--what’s it called?”

“A whirligig.” A cylindrical cage made of slats, with a door in one side. It was used for minor punishments, lateness or missing equipment. “You put a man inside, and two men spin it round.”

(From LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "Shame". Copyright© 2007 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
According to this site,
The Whirligig, which was also known as the Whirl Gig or even the Pritty Whim, was a cage-like contraption in the form of a tube, large enough to fit one person and suspended on a couple of swivels at the top and bottom.  The offender was placed inside and the cage spun round at great speed by a couple of soldiers for a set period of time. The result was that the person became very giddy and extremely sick. A certain Mrs Malhone would have been able to confirm this. She ‘was committed for proper reasons to the whirligig during two hours. It gave great pleasure to the spectators.’
I think it would be hard to take more than a few minutes in a device like that, let alone several hours!

3) This is a medicinal herb called valerian, scientific name, Valeriana officinalis. (Photo credit: Anita363, on Flickr.)

According to A MODERN HERBAL (published in 1931, and one of Diana Gabaldon's reference sources):
The drug allays pain and promotes sleep. It is of especial use and benefit to those suffering from nervous overstrain, as it possesses none of the after-effects produced by narcotics.
Claire is very familiar with the medicinal uses of valerian, as we saw in this scene from DRUMS OF AUTUMN, when Lord John and Young Ian had the measles:
I rose and went to the cupboard. I took down three jars: catmint, valerian, and wild ginger. I took down the marble mortar and tipped the dried leaves and root chunks into it. A drop of water fell from the kettle, hissing into steam.

“What are you doing?” Lord John asked.

“Making an infusion for Ian,” I said, with a nod toward the trundle. “The same I gave you four days ago.”

“Ah. We heard of you as we traveled from Wilmington,” Grey said. His voice was casual now, making conversation. “You are well known in the countryside for your skills, it would appear.”

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Heated Conversation". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
From WebMD:
People use valerian to relieve anxiety, depression, and poor sleep, and also to ease menstrual and stomach cramps. Valerian has a mild calming effect that does not usually result in sleepiness the next day. As a sleep aid, valerian seems to be most effective for people who have trouble falling asleep and who consider themselves to be poor sleepers. It also has had good results for people who wake up during the night.
Have any of you tried it?

4) The photo above shows what a tarantula looks like. (Photo credit: Nick Hobgood, on Flickr.)
I returned from one of these expeditions on the afternoon of the third day, with several large lily-roots, some shelf fungus of a vivid orange, and an unusual moss, with a live tarantula--carefully trapped in one of the sailor’s stocking caps and held at arm’s length--large and hairy enough to send Lawrence into paroxysms of delight.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 52, "A Wedding Takes Place". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
According to this site,
Despite their fearsome appearance, tarantulas are not threatening to humans. Their venom is milder than a honeybee, and though painful, their bites are not harmful. In fact, tarantulas have become a popular pet for arachnophiles around the world.
Here's an Animal Planet video about tarantulas. For more information about tarantulas, look here and here.

5) This is the Lake Isle of Innisfree, in Lough Gill, County Sligo, Ireland. (Photo credit: alanaplin, on Flickr.)
The cabin’s clearing was still filled with sunlight, though, filtered through a yellow blaze of chestnut trees. Claire was in the palisaded garden, a basin on one hip, snapping beans from poled vines. Her slender figure was silhouetted dark against the sun, her hair a great aureole of curly gold.

“Innisfree,” Brianna said involuntarily, stopping dead at the sight.

“Innisfree?” Jamie glanced at her, bewildered.

She hesitated, but there was no way out of explaining.

“It’s a poem, or part of one. Daddy always used to say it, when he’d come home and find Mama puttering in her garden--he said she’d live out there if she could. He used to joke that she--that she’d leave us someday, and go find a place where she could live by herself, with nothing but her plants.”

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 43, "Whisky in the Jar". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Here's another view.  (Photo credit: Steve Rose NYC, on Flickr.)  The poem Brianna was referring to, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, by William Butler Yeats, was first published in 1890.
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
You can hear actor Anthony Hopkins reciting this poem here. (Thanks to Bev C. on Compuserve for the link!)

I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts. And please come back next week for more!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Diana Gabaldon posted this on Twitter a few minutes ago.


Please note, this means Diana is done with the writing, but there are still a LOT of steps remaining in the production process, between now and the publication date in June. Copy-editing, reading galley proofs, etc., etc. Still, this is a HUGE accomplishment for Diana, to say the least -- and very exciting for all of us who are eagerly waiting for the book!

For more information about WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD, see my FAQ page here.

Culloden anniversary

Today is the 268th anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, which took place on April 16, 1746.

I like this video very much. (The song is "The Ghosts of Culloden", performed by Isla Grant.)

Diana Gabaldon noted in her blog post about her 2008 visit to Culloden that she saw the place where Jamie woke after the battle, thinking he was dead.  When I asked her on Compuserve if she recalled where that was, exactly, she said,
Jamie made it almost to the second government line.  He woke in a little swale or dip (you recall he was lying in water), about forty feet off the path that leads from the Visitors Centre--maybe a couple of hundred yards beyond the VC itself.
The photo below shows the area where the government lines were, marked with a red flag.

I was lucky enough to be able to visit Culloden in 2012.  It's an amazing place, and the Visitors Centre is very well done.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"The Space Between" e-book is now available!

Diana Gabaldon's novella, "The Space Between" (the story of Young Ian's brother Michael, Marsali's sister Joan, and the Comte St. Germain) is now available as a standalone e-book in the US and Canada!  It's only $1.99, and it's available for Kindle, Nook, and probably other e-readers as well.

Please note, if you live outside the US and Canada, this standalone e-book may not be available, due to the complexities of international publishing rights.  If you're wondering whether it's available where you live, the best thing to do is check the usual online sites where you purchase e-books.

This is the same story that was previously published in THE MAD SCIENTIST'S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION and A TRAIL OF FIRE.  For more detailed information, see "The Space Between" FAQ page.

"The Space Between" is a very enjoyable story, with lots of potential for speculation, and I'm glad that more people will have access to it now!

If you have comments or questions about the story, or if you want to tell Diana Gabaldon what you thought about it, there's a thread on Compuserve here.