• “The smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting 'Scrooge McDuck' comics.”—Salon.com
  • A time-hopping, continent-spanning salmagundi of genres.”
  • “These books have to be word-of-mouth books because they're too weird to describe to anybody.”
    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor

HOW Long ’til the next book?!?

I have, as you might suppose, been getting a certain amount of agitated mail following publication of ECHO, [g] all centering on one question: HOW long is it until the next book will be out?!? (This accompanied by various pleas of increasing age or senility on the part of some readers. It’s not that I’m not sympathetic, and I _am_ flattered–but the fact that you think you might not live long enough to read the next book really can’t make me write any faster. Look, just exercise and take your vitamins; you’ll be fine.) As to the question…

It wouldn’t do much good to speculate; I’m always wrong. The books are invariably longer and more complex than I think they’ll be, and _always_ take longer to finish than I think they will. Sufficiently so, that anyone who’s had the misfortune to work production on one of the OUTLANDER books emerges from the experience with several new white hairs and trembling visibly in every limb.

General observation is that in terms of actual research/writing/etc., it takes me _about_ two to two-and-a-half years to write one of the big novels of the main series. That’s baseline. However…

A) The books get increasingly popular. While this is, generally speaking, A Good Thing, it has side-effects. There’s a HUGE demand on my time, in terms both of physical travel and in-person appearances, and the smaller drag created by endless email, propositions, invitations, cover quote pleas, and now–with the upsurge of online venues available–the demand to create TONS more subsidiary material for blogs, online chats, interviews, phone apps (don’t even ask about that one; the publisher just suggested it and I have _no_ idea), enhanced e-books, viral animated videos, etc. I lose at least two/three months a year, if not more, to this kind of stuff (much more, in years when a new book is out and several different countries want me to come and tour. So far this year, I’ve done Scotland, the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia–for a total of two and a half months _just on the road_–and will be doing the UK in January, Germany in March, and some miscellaneous Scottish stuff [g] in August. Three European trips in one year? It has its fun aspects, but man, it eats up your work time.

B) I don’t work on one project exclusively, for the most part. I never have. Being able to switch mental tracks keeps me from ever having writer’s block, and it’s good for the separate projects, insofar as pushing one off the front burner while I deal with something else lets the first one simmer peacefully on the subconscious’s lower heat–so the result has _lots_ more flavor and subtlety than it would if I cooked it at a furious boil and splashed it scalding into people’s bowls (cf. James Patterson, if you want to know what _that_ looks like).

So (for instance), while the pub date for ECHO was four years after that for ABOSA, it doesn’t mean that I spent four years tapping away on ECHO without cease or respite. I also wrote (and published) two other books in that time (LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE, which was a complete novel, and LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS, a collection of novellas), wrote the complete script for THE EXILE (the first “Outlandish” graphic novel), did work on a contemporary crime novel (about half-done at present), worked on THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION, Volume II (rudimentary stuff, but still work), consulted on a film script, and poked around in the research material, coming up with bits and pieces of other, future books (like the first Master Raymond) that I haven’t started working on in any focused way, but that are waiting on the sideboard for their turn.

So I have no idea when Book Eight’ll be up. Not for at least two and a half years (the publisher does need _some_ lead time to actually print the book), but that’s _all_ I could tell you for sure.

Now, I _can_ say what I plan to be working on during 2010 (putting aside all the roaming around the world stuff, promotion for the graphic novel, and Eldest Daughter’s upcoming wedding): I’ll be feeling my way into Book Eight, working in a serious way on LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, ditto the OC II (because I’d like to have that one done before the end of the year), and seeing if I can pull together the contemporary crime novel (which is about half-done, and I think I know where the other half _is_, more or less).

You will get a couple of things in 2010, though: 1) THE EXILE. This is the much-talked-about graphic novel, due out September 28!, 2) a new Lord John novella, “The Custom of the Army” (due in March from Tor books, in an anthology titled WARRIORS), and (probably) 3) “A Leaf on the Wind,” a short story in a Penguin anthology titled STAR-CROSSED LOVERS. This one tells the story of what really happened to Roger’s father, for those with a particular interest either in MacKenzie family history and/or time-travel. [g]

So you will get something to read, and fairly soon. As for Jem…don’t worry about him; he’s a pretty resourceful little guy.

Speaking of that, though–which is the storyline _you_ most want to see addressed Right Up Front in Book Eight?

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177 Responses »

  1. After reading some more of the comments, I'd like to add a bit more to my last post: I don't know if you, Ms. Gabaldon, read these comments, and Lord knows you don't need any suggestions from me :-). Asking you to keep writing more is really just a wish from the soul that this series won't end. It really is exceptional.
    And, I too would love to see Bree and William have a relationship. He was already captivated by her when he met her and didna know it was because they share the same blood! And, it would be great to see Jenny take a long walk off a short pier. I used to love her, but her scheming ways and bitter hatred of Claire have really bummed me out. Jamie needs Jenny to be as awesome as Claire is, so if she can't shape up, ship out :-)
    And, did I mention, please never stop writing about Jamie and Claire? The other stories – Lord John, Raymond, Jamie's parents, Rog's parents – are wonderful to add to the mix, but I'd love to keep learning about Claire and Jamie's lives together, um, forever :-)

  2. also, any problems I had with continuity may have been on my end.
    It did go ny faster than the pac of previous books considering the magnitudew of events, so it's probably just that I missed a few things :-) Because although I was a little bewildered, I did love the books

  3. I want to know about Jemmy. I'd like to see a lot more about time travel. If not people doing it, more character research and the characters hypothesising how it works. It was the time travel that got me into the books originally and I have been disappointed it hasn't featured very much since the early books.
    Please, please, please leave off the sex with Jamie and Claire. They have more sex than I do and I'm half their age. It seems so ridiculous that they are always at it like rabbits. I always skip those bits as irrelevant to the story.

  4. Dear everyone,

    I am an antsy Nancy and just read all the comments posted, hence spoiling the ending of EITB for myself. Now I am suffering the consequences of needing to know what the heck happened between Claire and Lord John. Why did I do this to myself?? I still have more than half way to go to finish. Waaahhh!!!

  5. Just to echo Sheena's post, I have to say I can TOTALLY sympathize! For me, I had to read a spoiler somewhere that told me that Jamie and Claire would reunite after their separation, But I did kinda regret it!
    And I also would like to add, Dear Ms. Gabaldon, please don't cut back on the intimate moments between Claire and Jamie! One of the best things about the series is how deeply connected they are to one another, and sex is one of the ways that humans in love show each other how they feel. In fact, with a really passionate love like jamie and claire, I dinna think they could stop it if they tried! Remember when Jamie said the only time he wasn't in pain was when he laid with Claire? Don't take that away from him! I want to believe that you can be as frisky in your 60s and 70s as in your 20s! Dinna stop, Ms. DG.

  6. TJ speak for yourself. I love the sex LOL Its so well done and gives me chills.

  7. I want to see Young Ian finally get his happily ever after. Poor guy, all the crap happens to him. He's got a lot of baggage to carry. So I want to see him find the right girl (is Rachel the right girl? I'm not certain…), find closure, and find a place to call his own.

  8. I have spent the last few months reread book 3,4, and 5. (I needed to be surrounded by my "friends" while waiting for the new grandbaby!)
    Anyway after finishing Fiery Cross I have something else I hope will find it's explaination before you end it all.
    Who, or What is Raymond???????

  9. Since the moment in Echo when Lord John acquired "carnal knowledge" of Claire, I've wondered how Jamie will react. And I will wonder anxiously until the 8th book…

  10. Ok, now that I've had some time to decompress and chew over the whole series, there are a couple of things I'd like to see:

    1. Good things for Young Ian (as mentioned above).

    2. An explanation on why Jack Randall's tombstone was where it was. We know why the one with Jamie's name on it was there, but Randall supposedly died at Culloden, too, and as Claire observed, it's an awfully long way from the battlefield. There was never really any closure on his death; it was rather anticlimactic after all he put Jamie through in the beginning of the series, I felt.

    3. A reappearance of Master Raymond. He's my favorite minor character! Eagerly awaiting his first book, of course, but I'd love to see him back in the main action once again.

    BTW, y'all, that is NOT a love triangle. There's no force of attraction on the Claire-John leg of the thing, in either direction.

  11. Jamie and Claire, Jamie and Claire, Jamie and Claire….I don't think their story will ever get old.

    I'm with Kara on her comments, but would like to add..please bring the family back together, in the past preferably. Jem misses his Grandda and Brianna misses her mother. They should be together.

    And what of Buck? Is he not the same one that tried to kill Roger?

  12. A friend gave me Outlander last January and I read straight through to Echo, finishing a couple nights ago, and all I can say is "You have nay soul" to leave us hanging! Personally, I think your series has at least 2 more books in it because we do have so many story lines to complete, a revolution to finish, and what had best be some semblence of happily-ever-after for poor Jamie & Claire.

    Let's do start the next book with them…we, your gentle readers, love them and love them together. I personally can't swallow that they would've actually separated for the perilous trans-Atlantic voyage in the first place, given what they've been through. I'm also disappointed that Claire couldn't have the strength and character in mourning that Jamie showed in the years after Culloden. Maybe they need to broach these subjects in their relationship as they heal? Just please, please don't make it that Jamie actually lost his v-card to the nameless French girl but forgot about it because he was whacked in the head with an axe.

    I love the detail you pour into your writing and your insight into the human psyche. Now get going on that Book 8….please.

  13. I am definitely dying to know what happens with Roger/Brianna/Jemmy. Over all, I'll just be happy to have the book in my hands!

  14. I'm still stuck on some of the older story lines.
    The war is just a big distraction.

    1. Is ARCH BUG really dead?
    The letters claiming that he was the #3 man of the Gold heist (Culloden time) were dropped off (in Scotland). Philadelphia (printshop) happened after.

    I can't wait to hear the REAL story of the GOLD (Culloden end). Gold type fonts. Gold in the Cave…Gold Astrolabe (maybe a stretch-but maybe not)

    2. What was in the little pouch that Jamie HAD to get from Fergus-before he even saw Claire..Must be important.

    3. Michael Murray..he has been off in the wings doing things in France…(I think of Voyager and the current that went between Jamie and Ian Sr. when mentioned at Lollybroch.) I think he has been involved at odd moments of Jamie & Claire's adventures…I'm suspicious of that one!

    4. Duncan Kerr: Have we ever gotten the connection between why Duncan Kerr knew about Geilie's/Sandringham/Silkie stash…The question of was he dropping it off or picking it up?

    5. Geilie: 1967 vs. 1968
    Dougal's message 1-9-6-7.
    She looks really different from the what 6-7(?) months or so since Claire/Roger/Brianna saw her go through the Stones all young and slim. ( I haven't dug hard enough to find a post explaining this. I'm not sure if the 1945/46 thing would cover this.)
    Claire planned to come in 1967 but cancelled, then coming in 1968.
    Geilie had the Compte St. Germain's Grimoire in Outlander (in Attic). (Silkie Stash/Sandringham)
    OH YES-and Geilie claims to have had 5 husbands since….(Jamaica?) What about her time in France?

    6. What else was in that garage of Reverend Wakefield's?

    7. Martletts, suns etc…Percy's letters (Seals at Black Chamber) Looking very much like Claire's Q. Lamb's genealogy packet. Confirm the Beauchamp thing-(Percy not aware of having any kids yet-)

    8. Philip Wyllie-PW? 9. The Sin Eater-(S&A)

  15. I've just finished my first run through of Echo in the Bone. in the forward you say that every book takes you three years to write so I was calculating and hoping that three years starts from last year which means 2012. Now I'm maybe having to face the fact that it could be 2013…or even…God forbid…2014! This is what hell must be like. Do try to hurry? Although I do take your point about James Patterson. LOL!

  16. *New Fan Alert* Almost two years after the last comment I come along digging through years of your blog for anything I can find about Echo. I’m late & you’ve already started writing…I have to admit I didn’t read all 176 comments but I didn’t see any that said what I want to read first. While it does pertain to the Claire/Jamie/John issue I specifically want to hear Claire’s first person account of her feelings about what happened between her and John. I want her to tell me how she went out on the docks like a mad woman in disbelief looking for Jamie when John told her he’d died and how appalled she is and disgusted with herself for sleeping with John. That will do to set me on the right track in addition to that upper cut he gets from Jamie. Thanks for asking. :)

    • DearJHRC–

      You’re entitled to your opinion. [g] I don’t know why you’d think Claire would be disgusted with herself, though; she’s done nothing wrong.


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