• “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

And Now for Something Completely Different…

There doesn’t seem to be any way to include a playable mp3 file in one of these blogs, so I’m going to provide a link, here.

What is this? Well…

When I went to Edinburgh last year, I met a lovely gentleman named Mike Gibb, a lyricist/playwright, who said that he’d fallen in love with OUTLANDER, and that he and his friend, composer Kevin Walsh, would like to do a song-cycle–a musical telling of the story in the form of 14 or 15 songs. (There’s a possibility that this song-cycle might eventually be the bones of a stage production, but for now, it’s just songs.)

So this is one of the songs. I’m going to put up a full-scale announcement on my website a little later this week, describing the project, and giving the address from which those interested can order a CD of the Whole Thing, and am planning to post this particular song with the announcement, as sort of a free sample. So I thought I’d try it out on you guys, first.

(Note that the copyright to this song is mine, and I got Kevin and Mike’s permission for y’all to download–and share if you like–this song for free. Hope you enjoy it!)

Appearance this weekend – Flagstaff Celtic Festival


Owing to the knee surgery, I’m not going many places in June and July. One exception, though, is the Flagstaff Celtic Festival, which is held on the 17th and 18th of this month, at Foxglenn Park.

This increasingly popular festival features “heavy events” (caber-tossing, hammer-throwing, etc.) and Highland Dance, as well as bag-piping, music by popular Scottish performers, whisky-tasting (and beer-drinking), and the odd special event, such as me.

Now, the Festival does run two days, but I’ll be there ONLY on the 17th, this Saturday. I’ll be doing a reading at 1 PM (readings and performances are usually either _in_ the beer tent, or close by), and will be signing books (which will be available for sale) for a couple of hours afterward.

What will I be reading? No idea, but there _might_ be a few pieces of Book Eight, picking up cliffhangers from ECHO [g]—and/or bits from new short pieces featuring Roger MacKenzie’s parents, or Young Ian’s brother Michael. Or, just possibly, a few bits from LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER. Whatever it is, it’ll probably be interesting—or at least I hope so. [g]

See you there!

[For further information, see www.nachs.info, the website of the Northern Arizona Celtic Heritage Society, sponsor of the Festival.]

UK Mass-market edition of ECHO – Sept. 30

Now, let me note that the UK readers are not left out of the paperback ECHO celebrations! True, British/Australian/New Zealand fans don’t get the famous Green Slime trade paperback, nor do they get the EXILE eight-page full-color excerpt. Nor do you get THE EXILE itself, unless you can convince Orion Books that there is indeed a market for graphic novels on your side the pond. [g] On the other hand…

September 30th heralds the publication of the UK mass-market paperback edition (that’s the smaller size) of AN ECHO IN THE BONE! Besides the very snazzy cover shown above (it’s actually covered with gold flakes, not just yellow; very eye-catching, though not green [g]), you also get a nice chunk of what the UK publisher tantalizingly describes as “end-matter.” [cough]

This is stuff they put at the end of the book, in hopes of providing new purchasers with something special. In this case, UK fans will get:
1) Potted biographies of a number of prominent characters,
2) An essay on the Life and Times of Scotland in the 18th century (not written by me, but a nice job by whoever did write it),
3) _Beautiful_ (and geographically correct!) maps, both of the Scottish Highlands, and of the American Colonies, circa 1776. Aaaannnnddd…

4) An excerpt from Book Eight, which tells you What Happened to Jem in the Tunnel. Which I will give you a small taste of here….

Copyright Diana Gabaldon 2010

He must be getting near the end of the tunnel. Jem could tell by the way the air pushed back against his face. All he could see was the little red light on the train’s dashboard–did you call it a dashboard on a train? he wondered. He didn’t want to stop, because that meant he’d have to get out of the train, into the dark. But the train was running out of track, so there wasn’t much else he could do.

He pulled back a little bit on the lever that made the train go, and it slowed down. More. Just a little more, and the lever clicked into a kind of slot and the train stopped with a little jerk that made him stumble and grab the edge of the cab.

An electric train didn’t make any engine noise, but the wheels rattled on the track and the train made squeaks and clunks as it moved. When it stopped, the noise stopped too. It was really quiet.

“Hey!” he said out loud, because he didn’t want to listen to his heart beating. The sound echoed, and he looked up, startled. Mum had said the tunnel was really high, more than thirty feet, but he’d forgot that. The idea that there was a lot of empty space hanging over him that he couldn’t see bothered him a lot. He swallowed, and stepped out of the tiny engine, holding on to the frame with one hand.

“Hey!” he shouted at the invisible ceiling. “Are there any bats up there?”

Silence. He’d kind of been hoping there were bats. He wasn’t afraid of them–there were bats in the old broch, and he liked to sit and watch them come out to hunt in the summer evenings. But he was alone. Except for the dark.

His hands were sweating. He let go of the metal cab and scrubbed both hands on his jeans. Now he could hear himself breathing, too.

“Crap,” he whispered under his breath. That made him feel better, so he said it again. Maybe he ought to be praying, instead, but he didn’t feel like that, not yet.

There was a door, Mum said. At the end of the tunnel. It led into the service chamber, where the big turbines could be lifted up from the dam if they needed fixing. Would the door be locked?

Suddenly he realized that he’d stepped away from the train and he didn’t know whether he was facing the end of the tunnel or back the way he’d come. In a panic, he blundered to and fro, hands out, looking for the train. He tripped over part of the track and fell sprawling. He lay there for a second saying “Crap-crap-crap-crap-crap!” because he’d skinned both knees and the palm of his hand, but he was OK, really, and now he knew where the track was, so he could follow it and not get lost.

He got up, wiped his nose, and shuffled slowly along, kicking the track every few steps to be sure he stayed with it. He thought he was in front of where the train had stopped, so it didn’t really matter which way he was going–either he’d find the train or he’d find the end of the tunnel. And then the door. If it was locked, maybe–

Something like an electric shock ran right through him. He gasped and fell over backward. …

(You _were_ paying attention, weren’t you, when I told you I was really Black Jack Randall…?)



www.poisonedpen.com or call them at 480-947-2974. Normally, they can get UK books without much trouble, and I’d be delighted to stop by the bookstore and sign them for you.

The GREEN SLIME thanks you!!

You know, what with knee surgery, new stories, travel, new website developments, etc., etc., etc.—I really hadn’t paid all that much attention to the new Green Slime edition of AN ECHO IN THE BONE, other than to briefly admire the cover. [g]

I find that y’all have been busy, though! I opened my email this morning to hear that the new Green Slime edition has hit the New York Times list—I _think_ that’s the first time one of my trade paperback editions has done that! It’s also #4 on BookScan’s bestseller list, mentioned in USAToday (today), and has stunned the publisher (in a happy way [g]) by selling lots more copies in its first week than the trade paper edition of A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES did—and they thought _that_ was good!

So anyway—MANY thanks to all of you who’ve been buying and (I hope) enjoying the Green Slime version of ECHO. And the publisher bids me tell you that in response to all this great news, they’ve done a deal with Borders and Walden’s bookstores, whereby if you buy one of the Green ECHO’s, you can get another for half off. In case any of you belong to book clubs. [g]

Oh—and do remember that the Green Slime edition has the eight-page excerpt from THE EXILE (the new graphic novel telling Jamie’s side of the story) in the back! Have any of you read that excerpt yet? I’d be Most Interested to hear what you think of it.

A Closer Look

OK—this is what it looks like on the inside. Just had my post-surgery checkup—all well—and the surgeon kindly presented me with a souvenir X-ray of my right leg, with unicompartmental knee in place. [g] (This is, if I’m not mistaken, a back view of my right leg (taken while I was unconscious following surgery). I _think_ that they flipped the negative while making the copy, thus making it look like my left leg.)

Many thanks to all the kind people who’ve sent me flowers, Starbucks cards, get-well cookies, and lovely cards and emails! Buoyed by so many positive vibes, I did get back to work after only a few days of blissful drug-induced stupor [g], and have been beavering away. Mostly on a story for an anthology, which is really due pretty much Right Now, but it’s nearly finished.

This one is for an anthology titled DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS, which has a sort of mystery/thriller-with-fantasy-elements theme. I’m not sure as to the title; I have been calling it “Terror Daemonium” (that’s Latin for “Terror of Demons”—it’s from the Catholic Litany of St. Joseph, in case you couldn’t quite place it), but for the last couple of days have been thinking of calling it “The Space Between.” I’ll know better when it’s finished.

Anyway, the story itself deals with Michael Murray—Young Ian’s elder brother, another of Jamie Fraser’s nephews—whom we saw briefly in AN ECHO IN THE BONE—and with Joan MacKimmie, Marsali’s younger sister, whom we also saw briefly in ECHO.

Joan has a vocation to be a nun, and—there not being many convents in the Highlands—is going to France in order to do so. Michael, junior partner in a flourishing wine business in Paris, has offered to see her safely there. The road to the convent may present a few challenges, though.
This bit takes place on the Channel ferry, taking them across to France. Joan has just gone up for air, leaving the passengers in the cabin.

“Terror Daemonium”
Copyright 2010 Diana Gabaldon

“What a waste of a wonderful arse,” Monsieur Brechin remarked in French, watching Joan’s ascent from the far side of the cabin. “And mon Dieu, those legs! Imagine those wrapped around your back, eh? Would you have her keep the striped stockings on? I would.”

It hadn’t occurred to Michael to imagine that, but he was now having a hard time dismissing the image. He coughed into his handkerchief to hide the reddening of his face.

Madame Brechin gave her husband a sharp elbow in the ribs. He grunted, but seemed undisturbed by what was evidently a normal form of marital communication.

“Beast,” she said, with no apparent heat. “Speaking so of a Bride of Christ. You will be lucky if God Himself doesn’t strike you dead with a lightning bolt.”

“Well, she isn’t His bride yet,” Monsieur protested. “And who created that arse in the first place? Surely God would be flattered to hear a little sincere appreciation of His handiwork. From one who is, after all, a connoisseur in such matters.” He leered affectionately at Madame, who snorted.

A faint snigger from the young man across the cabin indicated that Monsieur was not alone in his appreciation, and Madame turned a reproving glare on the young man. Michael wiped his lips carefully, trying not to catch Monsieur’s eye. His insides were quivering, and not entirely either from amusement or the shock of inadvertent lust. He felt very queer.

Monsieur sighed as Joan’s striped stockings disappeared through the hatchway.

“Christ will not warm her bed,” he said, shaking his head.

“Christ will not fart in her bed, either,” said Madame, taking out her knitting.

“Pardonnez-moi…” Michael said in a strangled voice, and clapping his handkerchief to his mouth, made hastily for the ladder, as though sea-sickness might be catching.

It wasn’t mal-de-mer that was surging up from his belly, though. He caught sight of Joan at the rail, and turned quickly aside, going to the other side, where he gripped the rail s though it were a life-raft, and let the overwhelming waves of grief wash through him. It was the only way he’d been able to manage, these last few weeks. Hold on as long as he could, keeping a cheerful face, until some small unexpected thing, some bit of emotional debris, struck him through the heart like a hunter’s arrow, and then hurry to find a place to hide, curling up on himself in mindless pain until he could get a grip of himself.

This time, it was Madame’s remark that had come like a dart out of the blue, and he grimaced painfully, laughing in spite of the tears that poured down his face, remembering Lili. She’d eaten eels in garlic sauce for dinner—those always made her fart with a silent deadliness, like poison swamp gas. As the ghastly miasma had risen up round him, he’d sat bolt upright in bed, only to find her staring at him, a look of indignant horror on her face.

“How dare you?” she’d said, in a voice of offended majesty. “Really, Michel.”

“You know it wasn’t me!”

Her mouth had dropped open, outrage added to horror and distaste.

“Oh!” she gasped, gathering her small pug-dog to her bosom. “You not only fart like a rotting whale, you attempt to blame it on my poor puppy! Cochon!” Whereupon she had begun to shake the bedsheets delicately, using her free hand to waft the noxious odors in his direction, addressing censorious remarks to Plonplon, who gave Michael a sanctimonious look before turning to lick his mistress’s face with great enthusiasm.

“Oh, Jesus,” he whispered, and sinking down, pressed his face against the rail. “Oh, God, lass, I love you!”

He shook, silently, head buried in his arms, aware of sailors passing now and then behind him, but none of them took notice of him. At last the agony eased a little, and he drew breath.

All right, then. He’d be all right now, for a time. And he thanked God, belatedy, that he had Joan—or Sister Gregory, if she liked—to look after for a bit. He didn’t know how he’d manage to walk through the streets of Paris to his house, alone. Go in, greet the servants, face their sorrow, order a meal, sit down…and all the time wanting to throw himself on the floor of their empty bedroom and howl like a lost soul. He’d have to face it, sooner or later—but not just yet. And right now, he’d take the grace of any respite that offered.

He blew his nose with resolution, tucked away his mangled handkerchief, and went downstairs to fetch the basket his mother had sent. He couldn’t swallow a thing, himself, but feeding Sister Joan would maybe keep his mind off things for that one minute more.

“That’s how ye do it,” his brother Ian had told him, as they leant together on the rail of their mother’s sheep pen, the winter’s wind cold on their faces, waiting for their Da to find his way through dying. “Ye find a way to live for just one more minute. And then another. And another.”

He ‘d wiped his face—he could weep before Ian, while he couldn’t, with his elder brother or the girls, certainly not in front of his mother—and asked, “And it gets better after a time, is that what ye’re telling me?”

His brother had looked at him straight on, the quiet in his eyes showing through the outlandish Mohawk tattoos.

“No,” he’d said softly. “But after a time, ye find ye’re in a different place than ye were. A different person than ye were. And then ye look about, and see what’s there with ye. Ye’ll maybe find a use for yourself. That helps.”

“Aye, fine,” he said, under his breath, and squared his shoulders. “We’ll see, then.”

Don’t Look if You’re Squeamish

I mean, it’s not _that_ bad. But still mildly gross. [g]

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jog

Well, I’m home—and thrilled to be here, believe you me. [g] I actually got sprung late afternoon on Friday, earlier than expected. Possibly because I was standing beside my bed, dressed in my street clothes, when the surgeon came in to see me (very funny; there was an RN and a LPN in the room at the time, and he apparently thought I was one, too. He glanced at the empty bed, then—startled—at me, and blurted, “Oh, you’re the _patient_! I didn’t recognize you.” No reason why he should, after all—I look quite different when out cold with my head in a bag).

Anyway, all’s well so far, but I’m not going to write much because I _am_ significantly Under the Influence of pain meds and rat poison. The knee is hugely swollen, of course—and was wrapped in layers and layers and layers of cotton batting and Ace bandage, as seen in the accompanying photo (my other leg is wearing an elastic compression stocking, to assist with circulation).

I got to unwrap it this morning, which was a great relief, though the underlying flesh is a nasty sight. (My husband took a photo of the incision-plus-steri-strips, but says I ought not to post that, as being too gross and indicating a tendency to egomania, assuming that people would be interested in looking at my gross knee. Now, personally, I’m always interested in looking at gross things, but I’ll bow to his better judgement here, since he’s _not_ on pain pills.)

Good to be home, though—and many, many, many thanks to all the kind people who’ve kept me in their thoughts and prayers!

Meet My New Little Friend

Meet my new little friend. The reason I’m not going anywhere much in June and July is—aside from my needing to stay put and write books—that I’m having partial (or at least I _hope_ it’s partial) knee replacement surgery tomorrow.

I went to see an orthopedic specialist at the behest of Elder Daughter (an OR nurse), when what I thought was chronic tendinitis in my right knee got suddenly worse. She said a cortisone injection might clear tendinitis up entirely, and could certainly make it feel better. Worth a try, eh?

So I went, and they took X-rays of my knees. In comes the doctor, remarking, “You’re awfully young to have so much arthritis.” Then he glanced at my chart and said, “Oh! You’re 58!” (I suppose this is a more respectable age to have so much arthritis.) He then said, without preamble, “You need a partial knee replacement”—adding, somewhat more kindly, “It’s probably hereditary.” (My total lack of cartilage, he meant.)

So we’re doing that. In about eight hours. For the curious (and un-squeamish), here’s a link to the surgical manual for the operation.

I’ll probably be in the hospital only two days, if everything goes well. Will try to write again and describe events, as soon as I feel up to it, but if you want to, you can check in here, on the “Diana’s Knee” thread in my Compuserve Books and Writers Community folder; my assistant Susan will post brief updates there until I’m back.

Many, many thanks to all the kind people who’ve been praying for me and wishing me well—I appreciate it HUGELY!

See you in a couple of days! [g]

Yes, the Green Slime _will_ have THE EXILE excerpt

Image copyright 2010 Hoang Nguyen

Just a note to answer the question about the graphic novel excerpt (I have no idea why, but the blog won’t let _me_ post comments now). Yes, the new (green) US trade paperback edition does indeed have an eight-page, full-color excerpt from THE EXILE.

THE EXILE, for anyone who wasn’t plugged in over the last six months or so, is the official title for the graphic novel based on OUTLANDER. This is being billed as “Jamie’s side of the story”–and it is that, though Jamie’s is not the only viewpoint. The bulk of the story is told from Murtagh’s viewpoint, but that’s obviously a harder sell for the poor marketing people. [g] And we do indeed get to see all the things that Claire _didn’t_ see, wasn’t privy to, or didn’t understand–which means that there’s a whole new storyline weaving through the events that you’ll recognize from OUTLANDER.

And all of it _gorgeously_ illustrated by the remarkable Hoang Nguyen.

Edited to add an image of one of the pages (now that I figured out how)–this is one of my favorite “takes” of Jamie, down in the last panel, and gives you some idea of how the dialogue is handled. (And no, Jamie doesn’t have pointed ears; his hair is just overlying the top of his ear.)



Back in the day, when I was sixteen, I won a speech contest. The contest was sponsored by the International Order of Oddfellows, and the prize was a three-week trip (by bus) to New York City, and a week at the UN, with other winners from all over the country.

I traveled on a chartered Greyhound bus with thirty-three other sixteen-year-olds, winners from California, Arizona, and New Mexico, and it was one of the big highlights of my teenage years, not only for the trip itself, but for the lasting friendships made there.

As groups do, we evolved all kinds of in-jokes and catch-phrases, one of which was “Beware the Green Slime!”—because there was a horror movie by that name (“The Green Slime”) playing at theaters in what seemed like every small town where we spent the night. So…all kinds of Green Slime jokes, and we later published The Green Slime Gazette—a newsletter for the group—etc., etc.

So the term “Green Slime” is one of affection and delight, to me. It’s also the first thing that sprang to mind when I saw the new cover for the trade paperback edition of AN ECHO IN THE BONE.

Yes, I hear you all shrieking “Whyyyyy?!?”—whether in shared delight or horror. Well, because The Publisher (a person, rather than the company overall) thought that the black version of the cover—striking as it is—would be “lost” on a bookstore table in the scrum of trade paperbacks, and suggested that we change the color to something more vivid.

It…IS…vivid, you have to admit that much. [g] And I did say I liked green, and I do.

Anyway, this new US trade paperback will be released This Month, on June 22nd.

No, I’m not doing a book-tour for it. For one thing, one usually doesn’t tour for a paperback release, only for the initial hardcover publication. For another, I’m doing only two appearances in the early part of this summer, both local:

June 26th – I’ll be doing a multi-author event sponsored by The Poisoned Pen bookstore, held at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. See here for details!

July 17th – I’ll be appearing at the Arizona Highland Celtic Festival, which is in Flagstaff, Arizona. I usually do a public reading at this event (will be reading excerpts from Book Eight, as I now have a few!—in case you want to know how some of those cliffhangers turn out…), and will be signing books much of the day. More details anon, but the basics of the Festival are here. ]

See you there—and if I don’t, I hope you’ll enjoy the vivid new addition to the jewel-toned US covers!