“I expected to be entertained , not healed”… OUTLANDER AND READER RESPONSE

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My readers have graciously requested that I continue to write during “Droughtlander the Sequel”. Admittedly, I was a bit worried about that. I wondered what I would write about after the show was over! Oh, I of little faith, the fan-dom has given me plenty of fodder! They are constantly saying or doing something that inspires me to think and then write.  For instance, Diana Gabaldon recently posted a favorite fan comment of the day.

FAVORITE READER COMMENT OF THE DAY:

“Outlander was thrust upon me by a very insistent long time fan. I expected to be entertained, not healed.”

–Beth B.

My response to this was “Awwwww”

Other readers? Not so much…

See what I mean? Plenty of inspiration fodder!

When I went to college, I was already an adult with 28 yrs of life experience. My husband gave me a little insight into what college was likely to be like for someone such as myself, “You’ll be like a sponge . You’ll love every minute.  The professors will love you and the kids will hate you for making them look bad! “. He was pretty prophetic.  I did love every minute and the kids tended to roll their eyes at me and my eagerly raised hand. I wanted to discuss and share! They wanted to pass the class with as little effort as possible and I was making them look bad. However, after a long night partying and a short night studying, some of my fellow students saw me as a valuable commodity,”Let’s ask Beth what the reading was about”.  I may have gotten my fellow students out of a sticky situation temporarily, but I always felt they were missing the point…reading was life changing.  At least, I felt so.

One of the things I learned while earning my English degree was a theory called Reader Response. In a nutshell, the theory proposes the idea that no two readers have the same reading experience because no two people are the same.  We come to a book or movie for that matter with everything we’ve read and seen and all of our life-experiences. In addition, we often come to a reading from different places in our life’s journey. Some may read a piece of literature as an 18 yr old virgin others as a 40 something well “seasoned’ individual. Some may come to a book having just experienced a most meaningful moment of human bonding. Another reader may have just experienced a devastating loss. The theory proposes that all of these things affect our response to what we read. We all make meaning and then incorporate what we’ve learned from what we read to suit our individual needs and experience. What moves me may not move you and vice versa. We react to what we read and it becomes part of us.  It makes sense and I have seen nothing since that refutes that theory.  In fact, we now have some brain science to back its validity!

Author Hilary Freeman was intrigued by the benefits of reading and wrote the article “Getting Lost in a Good Book Can Keep You Healthy”.

…there’s increasing evidence that reading for pleasure isn’t just another leisure pursuit, or merely a way of improving literacy skills and factual knowledge….It might actually be good for our mental and physical health too.”

She cites the findings of several studies and quotes neuroscientists in her article.  She concludes that reading for pleasure has both mental and physical benefits. It helps us think more clearly, enriches our relationships and can even increase our empathy.  One of the more interesting things I read in this article was a quote from John Stein, emeritus professor of neuroscience at Magdalen College, Oxford.

‘When we “get lost” in a good book, we’re doing more than simply following a story. Imagining what’s happening is as good at activating the brain as “doing” it.’

Recent brain scan studies show that when we read the same areas of the brain, “that are used to process these experiences in real life are activated, creating new neural pathways”.  So, when we read it is as if we are experiencing it ourselves.  Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2193496/Getting-lost-good-book-help-healthy.html#ixzz3cZZ0UZgR

Reading helps us to experience things we may never have the chance to in real life.  And, these studies are indicating that people are inspired to make changes in their own lives as a result. In the article,  If You Didn’t Love Reading Before You See This, You’ll Love It After  by Sarah White,  the author says that  studies show that reading fiction,

“…teaches you to be human…helps you see other people’s perspectives. A good book is the closest we can get to being in another person’s skin, and it can help us understand the real people in our lives a little better. …Reading can give you a new perspective. Here I’m not just talking about getting to peer into different worlds, but the fact that reading about life situations similar to your own may give you a different perspective on things. Whether you need help navigating a breakup or dealing with your parents, there’s a book for that.”

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/20-reasons-read-that-will-change-your-life.html

So, it would appear that books have the potential to heal as Diana’s reader suggested. When we get lost in a book, studies have shown that we might actually change our own behaviour and thoughts to match that of the character.  It is a phenomenon that researchers are calling “experience-taking”. They found that “experience-taking’ can lead to real-life changes. Strongly identifying with a character who overcomes can lead to over-coming!

I’m sure, I’m not the only one who has found this to be true in their own lives.  Like Diana’s reader who found herself surprised to be healed by Ms. Gabaldon’s story of Jamie and Claire and all the other myriad characters she has work through all of life’s challenges and ironies, I too have been changed by books. The Box Car Children and Queenie Peavy helped to shape the child I became.  Corrie ten Boom and The Hiding Place taught me about faith and what it means to care for others and …

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Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series has helped to enrich my relationships with those I love. So, can a book heal? I’m gonna vote yes and feel sorry for those whose worlds and experiences are limited by a life without fiction.

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By the Pricking of my Thumbs…Evil as represented in Outlander.

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SPOILERS: IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THROUGH VOYAGER TURN BACK NOW!

“By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.”

William Shakespeare MacBeth

The Outlander series of books by Diana Gabaldon is full of multi-layered characters including its villains. I’ve come to believe that Diana is masterful at playing with themes and ideas about human actions and behavior because she doesn’t appear to be satisfied to give us just one example or side of anything.

In the past, I have written about Diana’s characters and their faith:

Ms. Gabaldon’s portrayal of “men and women of God” is  a microcosm of the religious world at large.  Her priests and ministers range the spectrum between legalistic to philosophical.  Her Catholics and Protestants are at odds and her natives in tune with  the natural world.

https://bethwesson.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/jamie-fraser-a-life-of-faith/

Her look at what it means to be or do evil seems just as varied.

While considering this subject, I decided I needed to come up with a clear definition of evil.  What I found was sort of what I expected to find; no clear definition.  It appears that we use the word “evil” because we just don’t have a better word to describe what we feel.  It is a matter of degree and the word bad isn’t enough.

The dictionary definition for evil is “profoundly immoral and malevolent”, but defining what is profoundly immoral and malevolent seems somewhat subjective. It appears everyone has a slightly different idea of what the word “evil” truly means. It might stand to reason that “evil” would be acts of intentional malevolence, but evil intention doesn’t always have to precede evil results. People don’t always intend to do evil, but the results of their actions can and do hurt people in ways that we have come to label as evil. On the other hand, some people do act out of intention to do evil and appear to revel in the painful results of their choices.

There are many characters in the books who represent the different facets of what it means to be or do evil. For instance, Malva, Stephen Bonnet, Bonnie Prince Charlie and a sixteen year-old named Laoghaire are all great looks at the different faces “evil” can take. Intentional or not.

In the book, “Evil in Modern Thought,” from 2002, Susan Neiman says,

“Evil is a way of marking the fact that it shatters our trust in the world. Evil is both harmful and inexplicable, but not just that; what defines an evil act is that it is permanently disorienting for all those touched by it. It hints at dark forces, at the obscure, unfathomable depths of human motivation.”

Two of the most interesting looks at “evil” and the unfathomable depths of human motivation in the Outlander series can be found in the characters of Black Jack Randall and Gellis Duncan. I find these two faces of evil to be fascinating. Their motives and if you will, rationale for their actions appears to reflect the broad spectrum of evil in the modern world.

There doesn’t seem to be any doubt that both BJR and Gellis are perceived as villains. But, personally, I find Gellis to be the more insidious. I doubt there are very few people who meet BJR who do not recognize the need to be careful in his presence. The man practically drips malevolence. Gellis on the other hand keeps her nature very well hidden under a quirky wit and charm. Claire is fooled by her and as a result so are we, at least for a while.

It is said that evil requires agency. If so, then BJR could be the poster child for “his evil deeds” or “the evil that men do”.  He is a person through which power is exerted to allow evil to be achieved.  It would appear that he actively seeks out ways to harm to satisfy his own twisted desires and needs.  We don’t like to believe that men are born evil (because that would open up a whole new idea of culpability) .  And, I don’t believe that is the case here, but only Diana truly knows and she has chosen not to reveal Jack’s back story to us. We know very little of this villain. We know he is a middle child who has a younger brother that he loves. We know his parents went to lengths to correct his accent. We know he is in league with a powerful man who protects him from being held accountable by his superiors.

What we do not know is his true motives for his actions. Diana hints at his damaged past and even allows the reader to approach something akin to pity for him when he cries for “Alex” (who Alex is remains a mystery) to love him and when he is grieved by his younger brother’s death, but it is never enough to balance what is seen as at the least sadistic or maybe sociopathic behavior.  Jack always has the ability to choose between inflicting tremendous harm or not doing so and chooses harm. I found it ironic that Jack’s plans are never foiled by his evilness, but rather by what little in his character is honorable. In his own sick way, he remains a gentleman and a man of his word. A character “flaw” Jamie takes advantage of to save Claire.

Gellis’ evil is more intangible and a more modern representation. While researching this piece, I found information that suggested that our world’s idea of what it meant to be evil was drastically altered after WWII.  We had to deal with the atrocities of Nazi Germany and its death camps. This new view has been coined the “Auschwitz” evil. It was difficult for us to wrap our minds around a modern civilized society perpetrating such evil. In fact, during the Nuremberg Trials America sent psychologists to interview and test the Nazi defendants. They felt sure that these crimes had to have been committed by monsters and several of the interviewers did label the Nazis as psychopaths, but many more noted how “normal” these men seemed.

Interviewer Hannah Arendt had another explanation for how such normal men could be capable of such evil. She called it the “banality of evil”. It wasn’t mental illness, but a lack of thinking and poor decisions. They had bought into a cause and the men making the decisions. They truly didn’t believe they were doing wrong they were just following orders.

When I think of Gellis, I think of this “Auschwitz” evil.  In many respects, she appeared to be “normal” even being a friend to Claire. But, on further “interviewing” (when they were kept together before the witch trail) we see the “matter of fact” way she describes killing her husband and her zeal for the Jacobite cause. Not unlike the Nazis, she has bought into an ideal, a belief  and given over her thinking to bringing about a free Scotland. What ever she needs to do to make that happen she does. She sees her actions as justifiable and the damage she inflicts collateral. To me, it is this lack of remorse that labels her as evil and…maybe she is mentally ill. She represents the idea that evil can come in many guises including a person who believes their actions are going to right an injustice and make the world a better place.

Diana always loves a twist, I find it interesting that both of these evil characters are the ancestral relations of two of the more lovable and honorable characters in the series Roger and Frank. Is this her nod to nature versus nurture and predestination versus free-will? What ever it is, I love it. The complexity and variety of her characters and their experiences keep me reading and recommending her books.

Writing sex …the difference between Outlander and Fifty Shades of Grey.

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fifty-shades-of-grey-lip-bite Fifty Shades of Grey, a movie based on the novel of the same name, is premiering this week and the media frenzy/blitz has been filling up the air waves and internet pages. It is hard not to know about the phenomenon that is FSOG, because it’s every where. I must first disclose that I have never read the novel nor do I intend too.  I have read excerpts and know the premise behind the story and that was enough for me  to know this wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m sure there are people who do want to spend their time reading this story. In fact, there are millions of them. To say their interest baffles me would be a gross understatement.  I understand sex sells, but this is being touted as a love story! The timing for its release was Valentines’s day! Really?!  Sex story? Okay. But, love story?

This past year, I  was shocked to find my high school students reading this novel.  When I asked a particular student if her mother knew she was reading this book, she informed me , “My mother is the one who gave it to me”.  It is hard for me to believe the mother thought it to be a typical and relatively harmless romance novel.The apparent “mainstreaming” of this book and its subject matter is, in my opinion, a step backwards for women and relationships in general. I’m dismayed when I hear woman talk about Christen Grey, the main male character in the novel, as if he represents the ideal in romantic heroes.  I know I shouldn’t have to make this point, but sex and love are not necessarily the same thing. I know the book is part of a trilogy and I’m told the relationship evolves.  There are folks who have read the novels and believe it is a love story. However, once again, I find myself grateful for Diana Gabaldon, her characters and the story she has written.

I want to tell the world there are better relationships to read about and some of the best can be found in the pages of the Outlander series! Let me say again, I have not read  FSOG, so it would be difficult for me to make a side by side comparison between the fictional couples Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele and Outlander’s Jamie and Claire Fraser.  However, I can describe the relationship between Jamie and Claire and let you decide which couple best represents the kind of a love story and relationship women should want. Outlander is not without sex. In fact, some of the hottest sex scenes I’ve ever read are found in Ms. Gabaldon’s books, Like a good life, a good story is enhanced by good sex.  One of the main reasons the sex scenes between the main characters in Outlander are different  is the context.  The hot sex between this couple is part of a loving committed and passionate relationship.  It isn’t all about the physical act.  The reader isn’t subject to a play by play of people touching each other’s body parts in inventive ways.  Not that Jamie and Claire don’t explore each other’s bodies, they do, its just that they do it as part of the bigger whole of their relationship. And in my opinion, the writing and relationship is the sexier for it.

One of the most quoted lines of dialogue from FSOG is Christian Grey’s informing his partner, “I don’t do romance”. However, he does give her the grand experiences that only a young kinky billionaire can provide.  It is then insinuated that Mr.Grey is unaware that his actions are indeed romantic. Their relationship is sealed with a contract spelling out the terms of her submission…literally.  He says, ” I don’t make love, I f*ck…hard”.  I know this kind of “rough” talk is a turn on for some and to each his own. I prefer my love stories to sound like this….After twenty years apart, Outlander’s Jamie and Claire have just made love and are lying in bed together and Jamie is trying to tell her their relationship isn’t just about the hot sex: “…to have you with me again_ to talk wi’ you, to know I can say anything, not guard my words or hide my thoughts_God Sassenach” he said, ” The Lord knows I’m as lust crazed as a lad and I canna keep my hands from you _ or anything else_ ” he added wryly, ” but I would count that all well lost, had I no more than the pleasure of havin’ ye by me, and to tell ye all my heart”.—Diana Gabaldon, Voyager

Diana Gabaldon is known to be generous with her wanna be writer fans and often writes about writing. She explains that writing a great sex scene is about the exchange of emotions…”not body fluids”. She goes on to explain that she believes lust is a hormonal response and not an emotion and as such, “going on” about is essentially boring.  She chooses to use dialogue and the senses express the emotional response her characters are feeling and experiencing  and…to great effect… “And I mean to hear ye groan like that again. And to moan and sob, even though you dinna wish to, for ye canna help it. I mean to make you sigh as though your heart would break, and scream with the wanting, and at last to cry out in my arms, and I shall know that I’ve served ye well.”  Diana Gabaldon, Outlander And, for me the most important part of the difference between the two stories is who these characters are as people. I was reading some reviews of FSOG and one readers’ comments caught my eye (and helped make my point) she said, “I love christian 😀 he´s so god damn hot and so f***ed up :D”. Jamie and Claire are characters with redeeming character.  They are people you could fall in love with, people to admire and emulate.  They are people with integrity, strength and kindness. They never lose their own identity in this relationship.  In fact, I don’t think they ever fail to appreciate who they are separately and the books are full of examples of them supporting and encouraging each other’s interests and endeavors. They are always foremost concerned for the other’s happiness and well-being. I’ve been known to read romance novels and enjoyed them… for about as long as it took me to read them, unlike Outlander, the one series of books I have read multiple times because I never tire of the relationship between the two main characters. When Jamie and Claire ” fall” in love the “slow burn” leading to the consummation of their relationship is exhilarating, but the maturing of their love is intoxicating and inspiring.  Their love spans impossibilities, heart-break, centuries and even time. Their love and attraction for one another is passionate, committed and mutual. Wisely, Diana Gabaldon knew that although falling in love is wonderful and interesting, there has to be more to keep a reader interested for the long haul!  Her characters have been written with depth. The reader continually learns more about Jamie and Claire as people and becomes invested in their relationship. The reader has the history of the long love story from which to draw understanding of what the characters are feeling when they come together physically. Their couplings are far from one dimensional. Outlander is a story full of passion, adventure and deeply satisfying relationships. The sex scenes are moving and far more interesting than hormone only driven scenes.   “

Outlander: Even the animals are well written! …how does she do that!?

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imageWe all know Diana writes characters that are so fleshed out they could walk off the page. The people in her series have depth and dimension, but they aren’t the only ones. Her animals are characters in their own right. They have personalities and play an important role in the telling of her tales.  Tell the truth… how many of you cried ugly tears when Rollo died?  Raising my hand right along with you! (While I wipe away some fresh tears) Even the animals can make me cry…good grief, I’m a goner.

Let’s start with Donas: It seems that Jamie is always coupled with a spirited horse.  Donas’ role in this story is to add to Jamie’s character development.  Jamie has the touch. He is able to control a high-spirited horse without breaking its spirit.  In a sense, Jamie’s patience and tolerance allows Donas to be the horse he was meant to be.  (Seeing any correlation?) With the wrong handler things could have gone a much different way.  Jamie’s fear for little Hamish getting near Donas is very real, Donas bites!  This animal could have remained a beast that everyone feared and his potential would have been lost.  But, instead, Jamie admires Donas for his strength and heart.  Jamie’s efforts with Donas pay dividends when The horse makes it possible for him to rescue Claire. “Lord that’s a good horse”, exclaims Jamie.

Gideon: The other spirited horse. I love this horse because it takes all that Jamie has to control him.  Jamie’s reaction to this horse is quite funny.  He’d put him down, but his own sense of waste is affronted! So….the struggle continues!  And it is a delight to read.

Rollo: Wolf brother. Boon companion.  Best friend.  These names come to mind when I think of Rollo.  Leave it to Diana to create a dog that is out of the ordinary.  Rollo is a wolf/dog half-breed who catches fish.  Lean and lanky and fiercely loyal, (Remind you of anyone?) Rollo makes Ian his master and friend.  I say make because given the reaction most people have to this fierce looking animal, I can’t picture this alpha dog letting anyone tell him what to do.  He’s his own man. I mean dog <g>. From the moment they meet, young Ian and Rollo are by each other’s side. Like Ian who is always at Jamie’s weak side, Rollo protects young Ian.  I believe they truly are brothers in spirit.  They commune without saying a word.

Clarence the mule:  I love this guy! A non-stubborn friendly mule!  He’s the stand-in alarm system and welcome wagon to The Ridge. Claire describes Clarence’s hee-haw as a joyous sound!  Or, at least, SHE hears Clarence’s joy.  Not sure what visitors hear!  Sweet spirited Clarence and his dependability become a part of Jamie and Clair’s life and therefore, part of their family.  And he’s happy to be there.  I can feel Claire’s excitement when Clarence lets everyone know they are close to home and I want to hug his neck.

The White Sow:  We probably have family members just like the white sow!  You know… people you can’t live with, but you can’t live without?  She’s bossy, cantankerous and down right mean, but she keeps the family in an embarrassing amount of pork!  Year after year! (Although Jamie can’t imagine what pig would have the balls to mate with her) Nobody likes her, but everybody respects her.  She just pushes her way into whatever and wherever she wants including Claire’s pantry. And….I’m thinking the Indians might be right; she might be a demon.  I can just picture her walking out from under the house covered in ashes giving herself a good shake and moving on as if nothing had happened!  Gotta be a possum out there somewhere that she can put in her maw.

Adso the cat:  Jamie found him in the woods under a bush, a fierce and proud little fur ball.  But, Jamie’s magic touch soon has him purring. (Once again…sound like anyone we know?)  I’ve heard Jamie say he’d like to treat Claire like a little kitten he can pet and keep in his shirt.  Cats in general are aloof and Adso, like Claire, is a pretty good judge of character.  He doesn’t just give his love to anyone.  He’s also one tough tiny kitten who doesn’t seem to know how small he is. Which is both amusing and admirable.  Adso keeps our Claire company.  He shadows her moves and always seems available for a one-sided chat.  Adso also has a few comic incidents with Major MacDonald and his wig!

Buton: This beloved dog is quite the character! Buton is constantly described as an odd looking dog who might have gotten more than his share of the Heinz 57 variety.  We’ve all heard the stories of dogs with cancer sniffing skills. Well, apparently this dog was waaaaay ahead of the curve in the use of his nose for diagnostic purposes.  I chuckled everytime Buton jumped on to a patient’s bed and began to sniff.  Shocked and baffled are what must have been the two most frequent reactions!  What a wonderful quirky interesting animal!

And…Ping the peaceful one:  We were treated to a pelican training. Who wasn’t  just amazed by Mr. Willoughby and his fishing bird.  Once again, wonderful, quirky, interesting.  And! He saves Claire’s life! A pelican!

I’m not sure this story would be as rich, amusing or as heartwarming if it wasn’t for Jamie and Claire’s animal friends.    I know Ms Gabaldon has a couple of dachshunds she cuddles.  She hasn’t forgotten all the other details that make life interesting and she sure hasn’t left out the companionship, comfort and frustration that animals bring to our lives.  Just another reason to admire and appreciate her skill at telling a story we can see and feel. Sigh….she even writes animals well…

What they do for love……the different faces of passion in Outlander.

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It is said that love makes the world go round.  It seems to me that everyone involved in the Outlander phenomenon from cast to crew to producers and from characters to author to fans are motivated by this sentiment.  I read a recent interview with Terry Dresbach Outlander Costume Designer and wife of Outlander Executive Producer Ron Moore, in which she discusses the fact that she has some influence on her husband’s decisions in regards to the show.  What follows is a pretty amusing, but comfortingly familiar domestic scene.  They are in bed arguing into the wee hours of the night about how best to tell the story of Claire and Jamie! Pretty sure I’ve had the same experience, maybe not about Outlander, but the scene she painted felt very real to me and very telling of their relationship and shared passion for what they do. They are motivated by love and respect for each other’s talents and opinions.

The cast appears to be motivated by a passion for the craft of acting. They love what they do as evidenced by the sacrifices and discomforts they are willing to suffer to bring Outlander’s characters to life.  Hours in the make-up chair to make scars look real, filming for hours in a shift in the bitter cold and at least a week of rehearsing sex scenes with an extremely good-looking co-star <g> are just a few examples of what these actors have to endure for love.

Seeing the relationship blossoming. between our two main characters has been wonderful, but today I find myself thinking of the others.  I’ve been thinking about Murtaugh, Gellis, the MacKenzie brothers, Father Bain, Loaghaire and Black Jack.  I’ve been thinking about what they all have in common.  They are all motivated by the same thing….love.  Now, what they love varies significantly, as does how they react to their desires, but love it is!  The song lyrics, “what I’d do for love” keep running through my head. Definite ear worm.

So, what is it they “do” for love:

The MacKenzie brothers:

The brothers share a love, they love the clan MacKenzie.  What they’ll do to protect the clan, and their place in it,  falls nothing short of murder.  Ron Moore and his crew are doing a great job of developing this part of the story-line. Claire wouldn’t be let go until the brothers could be sure she was no threat and if they could make use of her healing skills along the way, so be it.  Lucky, for them Claire is a healer and a kind person.  If I was being held prisoner I’m not sure I’d be as generous with my skills. But, …then Colum did almost knife a tailor and Dougal promised to slit her throat….so maybe I wouldn’t poison anybody either.  She didn’t score any points with the Hamish thing either.  The viewer KNOWS something’s up with that!  Thanks to the awkward silence and significant looks between everyone in the hall!  And, Jamie? That boy better watch his back! Even my Dear  husband, a devout non-reader, could pick up on the strain between those three.  The marriage may keep Claire safe from Black Jack Randall, but Dougal and Colum?  What will the brothers do for love? Anything they need to!

Murtaugh:

The viewer really doesn’t know much about Murtaugh except that he’s on Jamie’s side.  What the reader knows is that Murtaugh is motivated by love too.  Murtaugh loved Ellen, Jamie’s mother.  That love of course was unrequited because Ellen loved Brian, Jamie’s father.  Instead of feeling bitter, Murtaugh chose to continue to love Ellen and serve her the only way he could and that was by loving and protecting her child.  I’m not sure Jamie even knows, but eventually Claire figures it out.  What will Murtaugh do for love? Serve.

Loghaire:

Currently, what the viewer sees is a pretty young girl with a crush throwing herself at a man’s head.  Not unusual or terribly threatening. Or, is it? (Said in an ominous tone, with accompaniment of way foreshadowy music) Be leery of Loaghaire she’s green with envy. What will “Leery” do for love? Hmmmm, for Jamie? I know whàt I’d do (wink wink).

Gellis:

This is a tough one to talk about without giving away a major story point.  Suffice it to say that “the witch” has a lot of secrets and a love she is willing to sacrifice a normal life to obtain.  Complicated and convoluted is our Gellis.  I believe she said her husband had, “no notion of guile”.  Well, she sure does. In fact, she could probably teach a master’s level course, Gellis’ Guide to Mastering Guile. What would she do for love? More than you can imagine. Girls a freak!

Father Bain:

I’ve heard stories from friends who were Catholic school children that make me believe that Father Bain’s zeal is not unusual.  My friends may not have had an ear nailed to a pillory in an effort to save their souls, but they have nursed a few ruler rapped and bleeding knuckles.  Father Bain’s love for God is very real which makes him all the more frightening and threatening. His extremely legalistic faith stresses the idea that nothing is more important than loving people enough to save their souls.  And, if that means chopping off a hand or two so be it!  Father Bain’s love compels him to destroy any perceived threat to his parish.

Black Jack Randall:

It is difficult to imagine that BJR is motivated by love.  I don’t think we can easily place our selves in his mind set.  Finding beauty in Jamie’s mutilated back doesn’t make sense to us and signals that Jack may have crossed a line from which there is no return.  People make sense of their experiences as best they can.  Jack copes with his disappointing life by choosing to embrace anarchy.  His version of love is a black twisted mutilated thing.  He now lives and loves to hate the “very world itself”.

If Outlander is the example, then it appears that love is all that really matters. If that is the case, then I am rich because my life is full of things to love…including Outlander.

Because Diana wrote a book….Outlander impacted lives.

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imageI woke this morning to a tweeted response from Diana that cracked me up! She does that a lot. Witty lady is Herself. However, the response back from the man who wrote the post caused me to put my hand over my mouth to swallow a sob. His response was a perfect example of how much Diana’s books can impact people’s lives.

His story was similar to many others I’ve heard.  He said he began watching the show with his wife. He enjoyed it and added that he had begun to read the books. He was amazed there were eight. Diana laughingly responded that he could take his time reading because it takes her awhile to write a new one. I chuckled, but then I read his response. He shared that he suffered from PTSD and watching the show and reading the books have kept his mind busy. He then added that as a result, he didn’t have nightmares last night….I can still feel the lump in my throat. _Amazing_.

People have shared so many of these stories with the fandom. Luanne Uttley and her Outlander found friend from across the sea, Lori Renfro began a Facebook page as a place to collect and share stories of how Outlander has impacted lives. Lori and Luanne’s story is one of those special gifts that the universe can sometimes throw your way.  These two met while discussing their shared love of Outlander on social media. But, they soon discovered that they shared much more than fandom.  Because Diana wrote a book, these two found a support system and a real-life friendship.  To their amazement, they found that they shared a very unique and special sisterhood.  They both were the mothers of daughters who suffered a similar and rare disability.  From half-way around the world they found comfort and kinship. And, maybe the most rewarding thing that happened was that their daughters connected.  The girls share a disability that makes social interaction difficult, but, to their mothers’ amazement and delight they talk on the internet….for hours!

You can read story after story of people who found comfort and distraction from the illness and tragedy in their lives because they read Diana’s books. People who found the courage to stand up to an abuser. People whose marriages were saved or enriched because of the relationship they saw shared between Jamie and Claire. People who actually changed the course of their lives because what they read inspired them to take a risk.

Personally, these books inspired me to begin writing. I’m constantly finding some new truth about life in Diana’s stories to expound on! And, I’m learning a lot because Diana is wonderful at sharing her accumulated knowledge, especially about the craft of writing! Writing has brought me a lot of joy and a social life! Love to  talk and share ideas with other fans.

Because Diana wrote a book, I have gained real-life friends who share a love of Outlander and writing. I want to emphasize the “real-life” part of that statement because I didn’t expect it.  I was enjoying talking with other fans on social media , but I never expected that interaction to lead to real relationships.  One particular fan has become a particular friend, Connie Hertsenberg.  We actually got to meet at an Emulsion screening in Columbus. She gave me the best hug I’ve ever had! No really! Great hugger that Connie. We found we had so much in common that we decided to meet up for dinner with husbands in tow.  They got along too! She has been a constant supporter and a loyal friend. Truly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. And, when I was sick all the #cgng girls and other folks from around the country and world were so supportive. I got cards, phone calls, messages and I even got a bouquet of flowers from “Jamie” with a card expressing his desire that I be the last girl he kissed! (Still don’t know who sent that).  This has been an unexpected, but enriching experience.

If you’d like to read some stories about how Diana and her books have affected people’s lives go to Luanne and Lori’s web page on Facebook; All Because Diana Wrote A Book.  Believe me they are well worth the read. You might even be inspired to write your own story about how Diana’s books have affected your life.  You might even want to send Diana a thank you note <g>.

 

 

All the world’s a stage….our author becomes an actor!

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imageFor Outlander fans, this year has been wonderful.  I’ve told anyone who will listen ( my children actually time how long it takes me to mention Outlander) that this has been a singular experience.  I’ve had my favorite book turned into a TV series and I’ve had a chance to feel a part of things from casting to costumes.  Thanks to all involved who were so generous with their time; Ron, Terry, Maril, Matt, Sam, Caitronia, Starz, and many more.  It’s been a thrill to discuss the process with other fans and get glimpses from behind the scenes.  It’s been thrilling for me, but I can only imagine how thrilling it’s been for Diana.  Talk about falling down the rabbit hole! Despite her fame as an author and quite a few public appearances over the years, I’m pretty sure she has to be feeling a bit like Alice in Wonderland.

First, I’m not sure she could have believed this was ever going to happen.  The rights to the story have been sold for many years. She’s never said exactly how many scripts she’s looked at over that time, but I get the feeling…a lot.  She told us that quite a few talented scriptwriters have ” had a go”  at adapting her book.  We’ve all heard how disastrous those attempts (anybody remember the turn white or burst into flame comments) were.  She had to be afraid someone would actually go ahead and film anyway.  I believe she said she couldn’t have stopped them because the rights were sold.  How scary!  Thank God no one ever did or I’m not sure Ron would have gotten his chance.  How do you pitch that one?

I wonder if she knew Ron had been trying and planning for three or more years, to get permission to pitch a TV series. When I heard it was being made into a series, I was so relieved.  How relieved was Herself when they came and pitched their ideas? I could only compare the feeling to sending your young adult child into the world and having them bring home a series of not so suitable prospective mates.  Finally, they bring “home” the right one to meet momma!

What a weekend that must have been! What was she thinking when she closed the door on that visit? I have this little mental picture of her being folded into Doug’s arms with a sigh of relief. And since then….they involved her!  I know she has said over and over that they are kind to listen to her and are under no obligation to take her advice, but they appear to be smart people who recognize a good thing when they see it!  Why would they not want to take advantage of such a valuable resource?  As Ron said in one of the trailers, ” the experience with Diana has been delightful”.

I know it’s silly. We are not best buds, but I feel protective of Diana.  Her books have become an important part of they my life and as a result, so has she. I get excited that she got a tour of the set, that they ask her advice, that she has relationships with the actors, and that she’s being filmed and interviewed everywhere!  I’m happy for her! I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.  A reporter, who attended one of the San Diego events, wrote that she was surprised that even though the actors received warm welcomes from the fans the largest applause was reserved for the author.  I’m not surprised. I was proud of my fellow fans. Seeing our characters come to life is lovely and exciting, but we love Diana because she wrote _books_ that mean something to us.

Diana herself has expressed how odd and wonderful it is that one of the off shoots of her writing these books are the connections people have made with each other.  There are Facebook groups and Twitter groups that range from a shared  interest in knitting to sharing how Diana’s books have changed lives.  Some folks have even been inspired to write a blog (tee hee). She means a lot to a lot of people so, yeah, we are excited for our favorite author!

Tell me how thrilled we all were to see Diana’s moment in the sun on national morning TV and to see her resplendent and smiling on the red carpet!  So, this weekend we are sharing another “fallen down the rabbit hole experience” with Diana.  Herself is going to be an actress!  Millions of fans will be glued to their TVs hoping to catch a glimpse.  What a wonderful experience. We love you Diana and we are so excited for you and proud of your success.  Break a leg!