• “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

Two Excerpts to Celebrate March 6th

Diana-Outlander-cover-with-quoteOn March 6th, 1988, I began writing a novel. For practice. I didn’t intend to show it to anybody, and had no idea what it might turn out to be about. I just wanted to learn how to write a book.

And I did. <g>

So, here are TWO brief excerpts from the tenth offspring of that line, to mark the 36th <cough> anniversary of the beginning of OUTLANDER.

[Excerpt from Book Ten (Untitled), Copyright © 2024 Diana Gabaldon]

[Excerpt One]

How to pack for a rescue operation in which one has no idea where one may be, for how long, or under what circumstances?

Clothes… well, the possibility of having to hob-nob with the sort of people who would be disaffected by my normal wardrobe was remote, but couldn’t be totally discounted, either. We might need the good will of someone with influence.

I had two gowns that might be called decent, one of which needed mending… but the thought of someone with influence ineluctably switched my mental gears to thoughts of Hal.

Where was the bloody man? William thought his uncle was headed to New York, with the intent of finding his errant eldest son, dead or alive and…. doing what?

I’d had sufficient acquaintance with his Grace, the Duke of Pardloe, as to think that while he was nearly as pig-headed as Jamie, his feelings for his family were also nearly as exigent. Given the choice between being shot for desertion or leaving his eldest son in a dangerous position, Hal would most likely have written Sir Henry Clinton a letter declaring his immediate intent to depart the army upon a personal errand, and followed this with a terse note headed “To Whom it May Concern” stating that he would be happy to attend a court-martial at the army’s convenience, upon his return.

What was the bloody man going to do if he had another bad asthma attack, on the road? Well, I’d taught him how to breathe through one, so he might survive…

I sighed, said a brief prayer for Harold, Duke of Pardloe, fathead and father, and reached for the small packet of Ephedra sticks on the second shelf. I heard the swiff of the old quilt that hung over my doorway. Damn. And just as Jamie was getting strong enough to make me a real door. Oh, well, I’ll be gone anyway…. I turned to see Germain and Jemmy, side by side, shuffling their feet and looking deeply criminal.

What have you been doing?” I asked, giving them a narrow look.

“Nothing, Grannie!” Jem said, attempting a look of wounded innocence.

“C’est vrai, grandmere,” Germain assured me. “We are pure as—er… as…”

“Babes unborn?” I suggested, putting a bottle of laudanum into my kit. “Or the driven snow, perhaps?”

“I don’t know about babies before they’re born,” Germain said doubtfully. “Maman curses a lot when they kick her in the liver.”

“I don’t blame her in the least.”

“Mrs. Cunningham told Germain he was born guilty,” Jem offered.

“Guilty of what?” I asked.

“She didn’t say.”

I sighed and straightened up, looking down my nose at them.

“Well, if you haven’t done anything… what are you planning to do?”

They looked somewhat happier at that.

“We’re coming with you and Grand-da and Uncle William,” Jem said confidently. “To help find Lord John.”

“We thought we would tell you first,” Germain said, looking cunningly up from under his long black lashes. Not that far up, I noticed. Now that I was looking at them directly, I saw that both stood well above my shoulder. In fact, were bloody near to being able to look me straight in the eye.

“Oh?” I said. “And you expect me to persuade your Grand-da—and doubtless your parents—that this would be a good idea?”

Both of them nodded vigorously.

Grandmere Jenny told the Sachem that Grandpere would tie himself in a knot if you asked him to.”

“Indeed,” I said, diverted. “What did the Sachem say to that?”

“He said he wasn’t sure why a woman would want a man tied in knots, as it would prevent him being of much use to her in bed, but if Grandmere desired this of him, he would try.”

I decided to let that one alone, and returned to the point at issue.

“I don’t think…” I began, but was interrupted by both of them.

“But we can go places you can’t!”

“We can steal food!”

“I have a knife!”

“So do I!”


A deep Scottish noise from the hall stopped them as though they’d been turned to stone.

“What are ye plaguing your Grannie about, ye wee gomerels?”

[Excerpt 2, from Book Ten (Untitled), Copyright © 2024 Diana Gabaldon]

Hal gave up the notion of neatly folding his uniform coat—it looked simple enough when his valet did it, but as with many things, practice evidently mattered—and rolled it into a sort of thick sausage, which he folded in half and crammed into his saddlebag, moleskin breeches, clean neckcloth and gold-laced epaulets stuffed in on top. Anything else?

“Shirt, God damn it,” he said aloud, clutching the front of the one he was wearing. Cursing under his breath, he pawed through the armoire in search of a clean frilled shirt. The search not only resulted in a shirt—already folded, too!—but focused his mind to a sufficient extent as to remind him of stockings, dress boots and… what? Something else was missing…

“Oh, gorget, yes. Can’t forget that.” ‘That’ was on his dressing table, as usual. He picked it up, weighing it in his hand as he usually did before putting it on, for the tactile pleasure of it. Solid, smooth silver-gilt, gracefully made, with his regimental insignia embossed upon it. He reached to drop it into the saddlebag, then impulsively put it on instead, tucking it down inside the rough shirt he’d put on for the journey.

He took a deep breath, and with it, found the last scrap of courage that he needed.

He closed the flap of the saddlebag, set it with its fellow by the door, and sat down at his desk to write to his wife.

I had hoped to surprise you with an early return to England, but Things have fallen out otherwise. Ben is alive—but I forget, you likely don’t know he was supposed to be dead. He’s not. He has turned his Coat, though, and I must go and—

He broke off and eyed the paper, twiddling the quill between his fingers.

“And what?” he said aloud. Reproach Ben? Kidnap him? Kill him?

“God knows,” he muttered, and wrote, “mend Matters. I love you.”

His stomach growled; he hadn’t eaten anything yet today, he hadn’t been hungry. He glanced at the case that lay on the desk, and the hunger pangs disappeared.

He knew everything was in order, but flipped the case open anyway, unable not to check yet again.

The brace of duelling pistols lay gleaming somberly in their lambskin beds, facing each other like the men who would hold them.

Please visit my Book Ten webpage for more information about and excerpts from this book.

These two excerpts were also posted on my official Facebook page on March 7, 2024.

3 Responses »

  1. Great excerpts, can’t wait for more.

  2. Thankyou for the Excerpts can hardly wait for the book!

  3. I was on the pre-order wait list for Bees when it was released in 2021. When it was delivered, I opened the package and immediately started reading. You can be sure I will be on the waiting list again for your next book. To get through Droughtlander, I read (and re-read) your books. They are so rich.

    My ancestry is almost 100 percent U.K., and predominantly Scottish, so along with my auburn hair (faded at age 70) I feel a particular kinship with the characters. I nearly fell off my chair when working on my family tree, when Ancestry turned up William Gordon, 6th Viscount of Kenmure as my 7th Great Grandfather. He was a commander of the Lowland Jacobite forces during the 1715 Rising. No happy ending for him – beheaded in the Tower of London in 1716 for his treasonous crimes; his title and estates forfeited.

    Looking forward to attending the Tea on April 6, virtually, as I live just outside of Richmond, VA adjacent to the site of the Battle of Beaverdam Creek (Civil War). History is all around me and I love it.

    Thanks for your wonderful books!

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