• “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

Loch Ness, Naked Man

I don’t know why _I_ never see naked men emerging from bodies of water. Not looking at the right moment, I suppose.

Doug and I had a lovely dinner on the 19th at Castle Stuart (which sort of has to be seen to be believed), with Alastair Cunningham and his merry tour group of Australians, all of whom _had_ been looking at the right moment, earlier in the day, when they paused to have a look for Nessie and instead beheld a local gentleman emerging from the loch “in all his glory,” as one lady put it. “I couldn’t believe it; it was only _that_ long!” (fingers held about two inches apart). (Well, Loch Ness _is_ very cold, after all.)

The one drawback to Castle Stuart is its internet connections; as the castle was built in 1625, it’s rather impervious to modern wiring (though they did somehow manage to do remote-controlled fires. Really—you point a little box at the fireplace and poof! Fire. Push the button and it burns higher, push the other one and it burns lower. Click again, and poof! It goes out).

After leaving Castle Stuart, we took up with independent tour guide Hugh Allison (whom I met many years ago, when he was working at the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre) for a four-day journey around the north and west of Scotland, to places we’d never been. And _what_ places!

[Isle of Stroma - image from Wikipedia]

Orkney, for one. We took the ferry from the mainland, going past the Isle of Stroma—where the entire population emigrated en masse in the 1960′s, leaving their houses deserted. Eerie place, but well populated with puffins, who whirled off the island like a hurricane of fish-eating autumn leaves, some couple of thousand of them wheeling round the ferry, close enough to see their amazing bills.

[Image courtesy of The Royal Society for the Preservation of Birds - www.rspb.org]

I’ll tell you more about all the cool things we’ve seen—Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar, Maeshowe, etc.—but right now it’s the middle of the night at Culloden House, and we’re leaving in the morning to drive to Edinburgh (pausing to walk the battlefield at Sheriffsmuir on the way), and I wanted to post the information about Tartan Day in Aberdeen, coming up THIS SATURDAY!

Tartan Day, Aberdeen, Scotland Saturday 30 July

RED HARLAW Premiere of Mike Gibb’s new short play (with music) with a cast that includes Allan Scott-Douglas and Michelle Bruce from the Outlander The Musical CD.
Performances at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm in the historic Drum Aisle of St Nicholas Church. Admission is free

DIANA GABALDON BOOK SIGNING Courtyard of St Nicholas Kirk between 12.00 and 1.00pm

I’ll be around most of the day, so hope to see lots of you there!

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68 Responses »

  1. Off Topic: I noticed on Amazon.com that Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner is scheduled for release on November 29. Can’t wait.

  2. I have never had the opportunity to visit Scotland but hoping to someday. Your wonderful books makes me want to visit even more. My family on my dads side has been traced back to Scotland in the 1500′s. Our family name at that time was Blacklock and later changed to Blaylock. And reading your books gives me a glimpse of what my family may have experienced. And helps me to know more of Scotlands history. So thank you. Take care and God Bless.

  3. Love how you describe everyting. I get to imagine what all of Scotland is like through your descriptions as I don’t think I will ever get there. Have just recieved my copy of the anniversary editon of Outlander. It fits in with all the others of yours I have. I am happily awaiting all of your upcoming books.

  4. So glad you are having an interesting trip. I check your website every day, hoping for some sort of something from you. I am hoping that one-day, my husband and I will be able to visit Scotland. My (maternal) grandfather’s family is from there (surname-Evans) and his wife, my grandmother was from Wales (maiden name-Robinson.)

    Your books have taught me so much, about America, Scotland, medicine, our history, the old ways. I truly wish that I could travel back like Clair etal did. I wonder if I could live that way, living such as we do now, it would be hard. But it sounds so much better than the way we live now, sometimes. I wouldn’t even dare think I would be happy without indoor plumbing!

    Please oh please Diana, give us more snippets, spoilers, please, I need my fix. My husband gave me a Kindle for my recent birthday, and I told him that he needs to realize that I need the ‘real thing’ when it comes to your series. An electronic book version just won’t cut it.

  5. Sounds like some really interesting sights over in Scotland this year:)

  6. Diana’s travel posts and inspirational and evocative fictional crafting of life ‘now and then’ in Scotland has me committed!

    My husband and I are already planning our 2013 holiday to Scotland – incorporating a stay in the Macintosh Room at ‘Castle Stuart’, and stays at ‘Culloden House’, ‘The Witchery’ in Edinburugh and ‘Prestonfields’ in Edinburugh.

    We intend to immerse ourselves in glorious Scotland. I heard mass bagpipes last night when I went into the my city of Brisbane, Australia. It must be a sign. Just 2 years and a 29 hour flight away.

    Let’s hope I will get lucky like my Aussie compatriots and see a ‘nekkid’ man or two; that’s if Diana hasn’t used up all the good luck!

    123 days until ‘The Scottish Prisoner’ comes out…..

  7. Well, next time you and your man are camping or such near a body of water, see if you can’t get him to volunteer. I’m sure then you’ll be looking in the right direction.

  8. Dear Diana,

    I want to thank u for putting ur e-books on Amazon.com, as i now have Echo in the Bone on my kindle which i bought for myself recently, and will soon put ur other books on there as they come available in Australia . I do have 8 books so far in my collection some with yellowing pages, some bought from a second hand shop, and 3 books i bought brand new.

    Last October my daughter and i went to Clava Cairns and also went to Culloden Battlefield in Scotland, what a experience it was for us to see and walk among the the Cairns, and listen to the story told to us of just how many people died on Culloden field.

    Thank u once again,


  9. Hi Diana,
    sounds like an amazing trip, I love Orkney / Shetland.
    Puffins are great little things, aren’t they? Well, not so great when you’re ringing the feisty wee buggers, but hey ;-)
    Oh, and can I do a little nit-picking? The P in RSPB is for Protection. I worked for them a couple of times, it’s been hammered into my brain :-)

  10. This may be a stupid question; but I hope to take my daughter to Scotland someday. What is a reputable tour company? I made the mistake of going to Ireland by myself – no tour – and was very overwhelmed (and lost).

    • Hi, just saw your request on Diana’s Website re tour operators for Scottish Tours.
      My husband and I have had two great tours – one last year where we met Diana and Doug
      at Culloden House, and another one this year. We used a company called Celtic Journeys.
      It is run by a great woman from Virginia, called Judy. You can reach her at:
      Judy@CelticJourneys.US. There seems to be another company in Scotland with a similar
      name. but do go to Judy. She uses a very good small tour bus company, great drivers, and a
      lovely Scottish woman guide and narrator called Alison. The places to visit, places to stay,
      and places to eat are topnotch. I have no business connection to Judy – just saw her website
      and tour info on a Scottish website. She is now a good friend and we got along so well with
      her. She makes you feel that you have known her forever!

      Do contact her, and do go to her website. It will show you upcoming tours, and I know you
      would enjoy them all.

      Warm regards,
      Shirley Stewart

  11. Seems that you’ve run into naked men on other of your travels…..Is there something about you?

  12. How exciting! I just got back from Scotland myself! The Highlands blew me away! And I took a boat across Loch Ness. I was all over– and I kept my eyes open for hot guys in kilts. (=
    I’ve read four of your books and several other histories on Scotland lately– and it was a blast to be there and see it all for myself.

  13. I can not believe I didn’t know you were there! We just got back from Scotland today! It’s my own fault for neglecting to read your blog more often. We just missed the naked man by a few hours ourselves. It was a magical trip. Esp Clava Cairns and Culloden. I love that people left flowers on the Fraser marker. I completely enjoyed our time there and my DH was ever indulgent to let me see all the book references I could. I am so bummed I will miss your book signing. That would have been very special indeed!

  14. Dear Diana,

    My husband would be delighted to emerge naked from any water source for you.

    See you in Fergus,


  15. Diana, an absolute delight to meet you today in the sunshine in Aberdeen. Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip. By the way, as a Scot reading about Scotland from the past, it’s like visiting “kent places wi’ freens”. Thank you.

  16. Wow, Diana… I was skirting around Scotland while you were actually there! I just got home from a 12 day cruise around the British Isles. We spent the 19th (my birthday) in Edinburgh walking down the Royal Mile. On the 20th we took a tour of Urquhart Castle, a boat ride on Loch Ness (didn’t see either Nessie or any naked men, darn it!), and spent some time at Culloden Battlefield. I was very moved by my visit there and noticed there were flowers left at the Fraser Clan stone. I wonder how many people visit that site and think of Jamie while they’re there. I know I did! Thank you for opening my eyes to a very beautiful country!

  17. Diana,
    I’m so glad to see you are alive and kicking. Been checking daily lines, well, daily and started to worry you might have disappeared through those stones in Scotland. Glad to see I was worried about nothing, as you were merely taking time to admire the view of the mini Loch Ness. Safe travels.

  18. On my ride into work today, I was thinking about your trip and all the wonderful sites you visit. I was wondering, based on the amount of research and the accuracy you try to stick to; do you walk into some of these old castles and historical areas and see them as they were way back in that time?

    Can you envision what it was like and does that help you with your writing? Sometimes you write as if you are very intimate with the surroundings, we the reader can almost feel it ourselves.

    Have you ever come across a castle or grounds that affect you so profoundly that you have to include them in your writings? When you visit, do you run your hands over old mantles, and antiques trying to feel the ages, willing them to talk to you and reveal their past?

    Your books have made me want to recreate a way of life. Of course I would include indoor plumbing no matter what! But it seems like we’ve come so far in the world with technology that we have left behind what made life worth living.

    • Dear Patty–

      It’s _nice_ to visit some of the locales I’m writing about–but usually not essential. I like to visit battlefields, particularly; they sometimes have a vibe, but it’s generally the terrain I’m looking at, the light and the vegetation. Buildings…sometimes, but they rarely have much to say, and often are remodeled or have been replaced, so only the siting is really useful.

      But yes, I do see things now and then that I write into a story. Was _thrilled_ this morning, on a bus-tour of London (love bus-tours {g}), to have the driver point out White’s, the gentlemen’s club that began as White’s Chocolate House back in the 18th century–that’s Hal’s club. He also mentioned the anecdote about a man collapsing outside White’s, whereupon all the members ran outside–not to help, but to take bets on whether he was alive or dead. (I’d come across that story in my research, and used it in BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE.) Neat when that happens. {g}


  19. Diana,
    I just recieved my 10 free copies of Outlander, and am thrilled to soon be handing them out to many who I am sure will become new fans of your books! But, I will still be your most loyal Number One Fan!

  20. Uncanny timing. Been gently pestering my overworked husband (’cause pestering is just what he needs, snort) that we must get away from phones and internet and business for a bit. He’s agreed to 5 days (not a whole week – that’s just craziness) and we’ve settled on Scotland. Was online to look for castles, checked goodreads first (set up my author page just last week) and here it is: vacation planning courtesy of Diana Gabaldon. Too funny.

    Funnier still, I picked up ‘Echo in the Bone’ this morning.

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