Friday, August 31, 2007

Gabaldon Obsession

An Essay of Appreciation
by Dawn Goldsmith


Yes, I am still obsessed with Outlander and Diana Gabaldon. I found audio tapes of her and she is witty and laugh-out-loud funny. She doesn't take herself too seriously, but she does know what she's doing, even though she says she doesn't. The FAQ are helpful, too. She talks about research. And has a writer's corner.

Her tip about research really hit me. She says it best -- listen to her talk.

But in essence she said she did a search of the library catalog for the time period that she wanted to write about, came up with about 35 books and picked a few that interested her. Interest is an important word. If she didn't find it interesting, she didn't want it in her books.

She decided though, that since she was practicing writing a novel that she would begin writing right away, not wait until she finished the research. She added (paraphrase) "I have friends who began researching their historic romances about 10 years ago and are almost ready to start writing."

She said she had a choice between really knowing the history of the time or writing and then as she gained knowledge fixing what she got wrong. She chose the latter and it sounds like an excellent choice to me.

She has such a delightful sense of humor! I was laughing out loud and her limerick was wickedly funny. She is/was a college professor and I would have signed up for her class in a minute even if she does teach anatomy and science stuff.

Her attitude that she was just practicing to write a novel may be the healthiest that a writer can have -- it gave her the freedom to just write the best she could without considering any of the genre rules or constraints. She only had two rules.

  • 1. Write every day
  • 2. Write her very best.

She said it was, after all, a test to see if she could write a novel. And it would not be a true test if she didn't do her best and give it a good try. I can see why she's so successful and her books are so amazingly different.

Salon has an interesting column about her books and describes how they are backward romances.

I don't share this info to get you to read her novels or become her fans -- although I would encourage it but rather this author has a wonderful attitude toward the craft, she possesses self assurance, wit, and knowledge.

And as one last tidbit of info, she encourages writers to read outside of their genre. For some of her best scenes came from something she read or photo she saw in places like National Geographic.

Everything is fodder for a novel.



Diana Gabaldon Official site for the author of the Outlander series. Includes news and notes from the author, excerpts and a writer's corner.

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