• “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

Canadian Giveaway of Signed EXILE – Today Only!

Someone just sent me this link to the Random House Canada website: They’re having a “Reader’s Gift” giveaway during November–a different book being given away each day–and TODAY (only) are giving away five signed copies of THE EXILE. (You do have to have a Canadian address to enter.)

Details are

here. Good luck!

Christmas is coming–

And the goose isn’t the only thing getting fat. As Younger Daughter said a few minutes ago (with a beatific look on her face), “Chocolate truffles for breakfast, turkey with gravy for lunch, and did you say there’s pie left? Do we have any whipped cream, or shall I go get some?”

We haven’t even hit the marshmallow-walnut fudge season, yet, let alone tamales, enchiladas, machaca and green chile. (We’re traditional; we eat Mexican for Christmas, in honor of our roots. Bar the fudge, which has no ethnic allegiance.) (“Gabaldon” is my own name, btw; my husband’s’ name is much easier to pronounce, but after spelling “Gabaldon” for twenty-five years, I was attached to it and didn’t intend to give it up. Being a Hispanic name, that means that were we speaking Spanish, it would be pronounced


(probably originally had an accent mark over the “don,” but that’s been lost sometime over the last 500 years in the New World).

Since we are for the most part speaking English here, it’s normally pronounced


(still with the long “o” sound at the end, right? Rhymes with stone? Amazing how hard it is for people to wrap their heads around that, no matter how often I tell them. No one in New York City, for instance, can make themselves not say “don” (as in mastodon) at the end. Just can’t do it.)

But I digress…

Rather than join in the gluttony (well, rather than join in it right _then_), I drove up to the Rim country yesterday–about 90 miles north of Phoenix, 50 south of Flagstaff. That’s where the Pinon (there’s a tilde over the first “n” in Pinon, btw, but I haven’t figured out how to insert one and am too lazy to go find out)/Juniper woodland begins, and thus the closest place in which to cut greenery for the family Advent wreath.

Beautiful day. Still, warm air–perfect for hot-air balloons, and I saw six of them floating over the Valley, just hanging in the air like slow-moving cherries. I could walk the woods in my shirt-sleeves, even that far north.

Now, one of the things I enjoy about wandering around in the wild is that you never know what you might see. I’ve come round a small tree and face-to-face with a surprised pronghorn antelope (I was pretty surprised, too), met mule deer and elk–once came upon a fresh elk carcass, sans head, neatly butchered, guts buried, backbone standing white like the keel of an overturned ship–with the hair on the lower legs all fresh and shining and the hooves black and still caked with dirt, as though those legs might spring up and the hooves carry off the ghostly skeleton. Eerie.

Met a porcupine once–but not as closely as the dog who came down the trail and thought that was One Strange Thing that ought to be barked at and closely inspected. Helped the owner pull quills out of the poor dog’s nose; I have five of them in a dish on my mantelpiece in Flagstaff.

You also find a lot of broken glass in the woods, because people go a little way off the road to make a fire and drink beer (and stronger stuff). Most of the people I meet in the woods are hikers, occasionally hunters–I try _not_ to go into the woods in hunting season, but what qualifies as “woods” varies, and so does various people’s notion of what constitutes hunting season–but by and large, nice folk. I do carry a gun, though, because I’m alone and nobody knows exactly where I am (that being part of the charm of woods-walking). Never needed it, never expect to need, HOPE never to need it–but I do have it (and the concealed-carry permit and sixteen hours of training that goes with it).

Anyway, yesterday I passed a small group of men and boys gathering firewood for sale, waved to them, drove on up a “primitive” road (one that’s not maintained, so could be anything from drivable to morass–but the weather was dry), and found a promising looking stretch of land, so pulled off, parked, and went agathering, pruning shears in hand.

And I found toilets.

Three brand-new, pristine, white toilets, crouched under an alligator cypress. One standing (ready for some passing bear, I suppose), two fallen on their sides. And a big mess of heavy-equipment tire marks in the clearing where these were dumped.

Your guess is as good as mine. [g] My own guess would be–given the tire marks–that the toilets were dumped by someone working on a subdivision or building a house in the neighborhood (there were houses within a half-mile). Whether these were stolen toilets, and the dumper planned to come back and retrieve them under cover of darkness, or whether the general contractor suddenly shut down construction and they were dumped in disgust…who knows? Maybe the lady of the house saw them, insisted she’d chosen _green_ toilets, not white ones, and the plumber figured it was easier to dump them than return them to Home Depot.

Anyway, I got my Advent wreath cuttings: Pinon Pine, juniper (with big, blue, aromatic berries), Arizona holly, buckbrush, and saltbush (I’m sure that will prove to be a huge mistake–it has fluffy, airborne seeds, and they’ll be _all_ over the house within hours–but it was beautiful, with the seeds shining in the sun), with a handful of tiny Pinon cones for decoration.

And what I started out to tell you–before I got sidetracked by toilets in the woods–was that Christmas is coming–and so is a brand-new, spectacular, completely redesigned website!

The designer finished work on it this week, and as soon as I can put in all the new content (kind of a massive job, but I’m on it), we’ll unveil it–with luck, December 1st!

Ooookay….You sure you want to Know, now?

Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving! We had a wonderful time with family and friends (to say nothing of the pleasant company of a twenty-pound fruit-stuffed, herb-rubbed turkey), after which the football fans sank into a contented stupor on the living-room couch and the dogs and I went off to enjoy a similar state of nirvana on the Taos bed in the lounge. (Dogs presently including Otis the pug and Charlie the corgi, as well as Homer and JJ, the two standard dachshunds. Charlie prefers to sleep -under- the bed, which is a good thing. Eighty pounds of assorted caninery generates a lot of heat.)

Anyway…I said that if nobody guessed the error I mentioned in THE EXILE, I’d tell you tonight, and as of last checking, nobody had. (I must say, y’all must be _terrible_ at those “find six things that are different between these two pictures” kind of puzzles…) But if you _do_ want to know….
Which of Jamie’s shoulders is wounded? It’s the left one, right? Until Claire starts doctoring it at Castle Leoch, when it’s the right one. Then during the fracas in Hall (and after), it’s the left one again.

Told ya it was a head-smacker. [g] Happy Thanksgiving!

Jamie’s Butt Model

Two things:

1. The editor of THE EXILE tells me that the book has been on the NYT Bestseller list for seven weeks so far. This is Very Cool Indeed, and thank you very much!

2. As a secondary thank you [g], here is a link to the original French painting that supplied the model (literally) for page 5. (It took a -lot- of hunting to find the right butt, believe me. I kept sending the illustrator, Hoang, links to Rober Mapplethorpe sites and the like, but Random House’s porn filters wouldn’t let Betsy, the editor, look at them.)

I would post the image itself, but am really not sure about the copyright of an image of a painting held by a museum–I mean, the museum certainly owns the painting, but not sure about the image. Don’t want to infringe inadvertently, though–and the web page has some interesting information about the painting, anyway.

(No, if you want to see Page 5, you’ll have to borrow somebody’s copy, or sneak into the graphic novels section at Barnes and Noble.)

"Leaf" is out today!

The new anthology, SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH, is out as of today! It has a number of great stories, by wonderful authors from Neil Gaiman to Carrie Vaughn and Robin Hobb (all enthusiastically recommended)–and it does, of course, have one by me.

This story is titled “A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows,” and tells the story of Roger MacKenzie’s parents. It also fills in the interesting hole I opened in ECHO, wherein we learn that Jerry MacKenzie probably wasn’t shot down in his Spitfire during the War, and there is Much Speculation as to what really did happen to him.

This story will tell you. (Though one rather perceptive–if cynical–commenter observed that while I may have filled in that particular hole, I undoubtedly did it with dirt dug from another one. How well you people know me….[g]). I think you’ll enjoy Jerry MacKenzie, though, and his story.

The book is available in both hardcover and Kindle e-book formats, here.

Thanks to all those who’ve read the story already and written to tell me what you thought!

St. Simon’s Island writers conference

Someone asked for a repost of the information about the Scribbler’s Retreat writers conference this weekend, on St. Simon’s Island, GA. I haven’t been to this conference before (basically, I said I’d go because I’ve heard about St. Simon’s Island and wanted to see it [g], but I’m sure we’ll have fun), so can’t tell you a lot about it.

Here, though, is the link to the conference website, which has details and schedule.

See some of you there!

Days of the Dead and Ginger Rodents

Hope y’all had a happy All Saints Day! Here in New Mexico, today and tomorrow are Los Dias de los Muertos—the Days of the Dead. Today we celebrated the presence in our lives of those who’ve gone before and await us in heaven. Tomorrow (Nov. 2) is the Feast of All Souls, when we commune with our own beloved dead. May all your own families be with you in love today, no matter on which side of the veil.

And for a change of mood….

Got the following message yesterday from a British (and half-Scottish) friend [g]:

Light the Fiery Cross Diana,
An insult beyond bearing has been flung down at the feet of all things red and hairy!

At the Labour Party’s annual Scottish Conference yesterday Harriet Harman MP (Dep. Leader of the ousted Labour Party) declared Scottish MP Danny Alexander a “ginger rodent”, adding that while she was all for conservation she didn’t want to see one in the Highlands again. And this from the former Equality Minister, who has previously been known for being so politically correct that she more usually goes under the name of Harriet Harperson.

Said rodent, Danny Alexander, came back fighting Tweeting “I am proud to be ginger and rodents do valuable work cleaning up the mess others leave behind.”
I know, not exactly pistols at dawn is it?

So on behalf of our beloved gingers, I’m inviting you to lead the call to arms. (I would have asked Allan SD, but typically, where’s the Big Yin when ye need him? Likely basting himself on a Madeiran beach, probably resembling a smoky bacon crisp by now if I know Scotsmen in the sun.)

Is it to be borne that the English seek to rubbish Scots Pride once more with impunity … I think not (although it has to be said that Danny Alexander is more usually likened to Beaker from the Muppets and may therfore prefer this comparison)

Jamie wouldn’t stand for it … Claire would have her guts for garters

Light the Fiery Cross and gather the Clans!
Declare yourselves …The McDowall’s are here!


(Here’s a link to the full story should anyone be interested http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-11658228)


Dear Sorcha–

As soon as I get up off the floor, I’ll go dig through the woodpile for a couple of suitable sticks. [G] Though as it’s Halloween, were I to march down San Antonio Street tonight with a fiery cross, people would likely just applaud and shout “EEEha!”, rather than inquiring into the just cause of such an incitement to riot.

As for the Big Yin, he tweeted once to say he’d survived the flight, wasn’t so sure about his job–and wouldn’t have internet until next week. You’re likely right about the beach, though I just went and looked, out of curiosity as to just how warm Madeira _is_ in almost-November. It’s 68 degrees F. as of 6 PM today, so probably quite toasty enough for a basking Scot. (It’s about that on my back patio in Santa Fe just now at noon; I’m wearing a sweatshirt and calf-high Uggs.)

May I have permission to quote your rallying call to arms on my blog, though? Would hate anyone to miss such eloquence.

Ginger rodents of the world, UNITE!!



And another friend, Ron Wodaski, helpfully supplied this Uncyclopedia page on the subject.



Copyright 2010 Diana Gabaldon

“In the chilly season, when the air grows cold and the spiders die, comes a thin time. The days are short, so all the light of them is concentrated, squeezed between the dawn and dark. This is why the light is different, and each thing has a Shadow. This is when the other worlds draw close, and the barriers between grow thin. In a thin time, they say, you must be careful, because you might walk through a cobweb unthinking, and find yourself Elsewhere.

There is more than one other world; no one knows how many. Some beasts can see one; the dogs will sometimes stare at a blank space on the wall of a cave, and their hackles rise at what they see.

Sometimes, I think I see it, too.”

Happy Samhain!


Oookay. For those of you who’ve already read THE EXILE several times (and _thank_ you, btw! The editor tells me that the book is still hovering around the top of the NYT list–at #2 next week–and we’re still beating the author of Captain Underpants, which gratifies me deeply), and are beginning to write me, wanting to know When Is The Next Book Coming Out….

Well, not immediately. It does take me 2-3 years to write one of the big OUTLANDER novels, and about a year to write a Lord John novel (and I do work on more than one project at once; keeps me from having writer’s block, and makes me much more productive. So I’ve been working on both Book Eight _and_ LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER). It’ll be a little while.

However, I do have a suggestion to offer. A new anthology titled SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH (edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois) is coming out on November 16th (i.e., in a little over two weeks). This includes a story of mine titled “A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows.” It’s a little unusual, in that it’s about Roger MacKenzie’s parents–but it does fill the interesting hole regarding Roger’s father that I opened up in AN ECHO IN THE BONE.

Here’s a brief sample:


It was two weeks yet to Hallowe’en, but the gremlins were already at work.

Jerry MacKenzie turned Dolly II onto the runway–full-throttle, shoulder-hunched, blood-thumping, already halfway up Green leader’s arse–pulled back on the stick and got a choking shudder instead of the giddy lift of takeoff. Alarmed, he eased back, but before he could try again, there was a bang that made him jerk by reflex, smacking his head against the perspex. It hadn’t been a bullet, though; the off tire had blown, and a sickening tilt looped them off the runway, bumping and jolting into the grass.

There was a strong smell of petrol, and Jerry popped the Spitfire’s hood and hopped out in panic, envisioning imminent incineration, just as the last plane of Green flight roared past him and took wing, its engine fading to a buzz within seconds.

A mechanic was pelting down from the hangar to see what the trouble was, but Jerry’d already opened Dolly’s belly and the trouble was plain: the fuel line was punctured. Well, thank Christ he hadn’t got into the air with it, that was one thing, but he grabbed the line to see how bad the puncture was, and it came apart in his hands and soaked his sleeve nearly to the shoulder with high-test petrol. Good job the mechanic hadn’t come loping up with a lit cigarette in his mouth.

He rolled out from under the plane, sneezing, and Gregory the mechanic stepped over him.

“Not flying her today, mate,” Greg said, squatting down to look up into the engine, and shaking his head at what he saw.

“Aye, tell me something I don’t know.” He held his soaked sleeve gingerly away from his body. “How long to fix her?”

Greg shrugged, eyes squinted against the cold wind as he surveyed Dolly’s guts.

“Half an hour for the tire. You’ll maybe have her back up tomorrow, if the fuel line’s the only engine trouble. Anything else we should be looking at?”

“Aye, the left wing-gun trigger sticks sometimes. Gie’ us a bit o’ grease, maybe?”

“I’ll see what the canteen’s got in the way of leftover dripping. You best hit the showers, Mac. You’re turning blue.”

He was shivering, right enough, the rapidly evaporating petrol wicking his body heat away like candlesmoke. Still, he lingered for a moment, watching as the mechanic poked and prodded, whistling through his teeth.

“Go on, then,” Greg said in feigned exasperation, backing out of the engine and seeing Jerry still there. “I’ll take good care of her.”

“Aye, I know. I just—aye, thanks.” Adrenaline from the aborted flight was still surging through him, thwarted reflexes making him twitch. He walked away, suppressing the urge to look back over his shoulder at his wounded plane.


Jerry came out of the pilots’ WC half an hour later, eyes stinging with soap and petrol, backbone knotted. Half his mind was on Dolly, the other half with his mates. Blue and Green were up this morning, Red and Yellow resting. Green flight would be out over Flamborough Head by now, hunting.

He swallowed, still restless, dry-mouthed by proxy, and went to fetch a cup of tea from the canteen. That was a mistake; he heard the gremlins laughing as soon as he walked in and saw Sailor Malan.

Malan was Group Captain and a decent bloke overall. South African, a great tactician—and the most ferocious, most persistent air fighter Jerry’d seen yet. Rat terriers weren’t in it. Which was why he felt a beetle skitter briefly down his spine when Malan’s deep-set eyes fixed on him.

“Lieutenant!” Malan rose from his seat, smiling. “The very man I had in mind!”

The devil he had, Jerry thought, arranging his face into a look of respectful expectancy. Malan couldn’t have heard about Dolly’s spot of bother yet, and without that, Jerry would have scrambled with A flight on their way to hunt 109’s over Flamborough Head. Malan hadn’t been looking for Jerry; he just thought he’d do, for whatever job was up. And the fact that the Group Captain had called him by his rank, rather than his name, meant it probably wasn’t a job anyone would volunteer for.

He didn’t have time to worry about what that might be, though; Malan was introducing the other man, a tallish chap in army uniform with dark hair and a pleasant, if sharp, look about him. Eyes like a good sheep dog, he thought, nodding in reply to Captain Randall’s greeting. Kindly, maybe, but he won’t miss much.

“Randall’s come over from Ops at Ealing,” Sailor was saying over his shoulder. He hadn’t waited for them to exchange polite chat, but was already leading them out across the tarmac, heading for the Flight Command offices. Jerry grimaced and followed, casting a longing glance downfield at Dolly, who was being towed ignominiously into the hangar. The rag-doll painted on her nose was blurred, the black curls partially dissolved by weather and spilled petrol. Well, he’d touch it up later, when he’d heard the details of whatever horrible job the stranger had brought.

His gaze rested resentfully on Randall’s neck, and the man turned suddenly, glancing back over his shoulder as though he’d felt the stress of Jerry’s regard. Jerry felt a qualm in the pit of his stomach, as half-recognized observations—the lack of insignia on the uniform, that air of confidence peculiar to men who kept secrets–gelled with the look in the stranger’s eye.

Ops at Ealing, my Aunt Fanny, he thought. He wasn’t even surprised, as Sailor waved Randall through the door, to hear the Group Captain lean close and murmur in his ear, “Careful—he’s a funny bugger.”

Jerry nodded, stomach tightening. Malan didn’t mean Captain Randall was either humorous or a Freemason. “Funny bugger” in this context meant only one thing. MI6.

[end section]

Fake Hair-Product Review

Hm.  Someone just emailed me to ask whether I had posted a fulsome review of a hair product online.  I hadn’t (as should be obvious to anyone who’s read my books.  As IF I would write run-on sentences…!), but the name on the review was Diana Gabaldon.

Now, in all justice, I’m not the only person in the world with that name. [g]  I’ve met at least two others, and there may be more.  But I definitely didn’t make positive comments about any sort of hair product, ever.  Just so you know.