No one can combine science, suspense, sass and romance like Diana Gabaldon does in her bestselling novels. When I saw her at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, she repeated a rhyme that she recited as a professor, one she used to get the attention of the sleepy football players taking her science class. Let’s just say that the rhyme had to do with contraception practices from centuries ago: a man would “use a sock to wrap around his…” Well, I’ll let you fill in the rest yourself. And before you get on me about being PG-13, I’ll remind you that Diana said it, not me. *smile*
Here are some other things that I learned about Diana Gabaldon.
- About her background: She is a scientist, by education and by trade. She has three science degrees, including one in zoology. Makes sense when one thinks of the technical care that she gives to the medical and botanical topics in her Outlander series.
- About writing before she was a novelist: She wrote Walt Disney comic books “on the side” for about 18 months.
- About the concept of not having enough time to write: She wrote a book while raising three children under the age of six. “If you have 10 minutes a day and do that (write) every day, by the end of a year, you’ll have a book.”
- About her writing process: “I don’t write in a straight line. I write while things are happening.” She jots down scenes that come to her mind as they unfold, even if they’re “out of order.”
- About writing historical fiction: She researches and writes concurrently. And if she reads an interesting historical fact, she’ll make a side note of it and see about weaving it into her manuscript later.
- About the hit show Outlander: “They listen to about 90% of what I say.” She is a consultant for the series, which she recognizes is a rare situation for an author. She also noted her appreciation for the fact that they take heed of her opinions. When they don’t take her advice, it’s usually because of logistical reasons.
- About the character Jamie: She was watching an episode of the TV show Dr. Who one day when “a nice-looking Scotsman” from 1745 “showed up in a kilt.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, was how James Fraser came to be.
- About why she finds a man in a kilt so appealing: “It’s the idea that you could be up against the wall in a minute.” Well, well, well—no additional commentary needed.
- About writers block: “Keep putting words on paper.” Work on something else, other than your main work-in-progress. Eventually, “you’ll get unstuck.” She claims to have worked on 3, 4, 5, 6 projects at a time.
- About killing off a character: “I don’t plan to kill people; they die.” She specifically mentioned one of her Outlander-series characters who she wouldn’t have imagined dying, until she heard his neck snap. Ouch!
- About the 9th book: She hinted that it takes place in North Carolina, and it involves beekeeping. Is her character Claire the beekeeper? It’s anyone’s guess, because she gave no more hints than that.
- About her husband: She met him in the French Horn section of the Arizona Marching Band. They’ve been married 45 years. I personally don’t see how that’s possible, unless she married him in kindergarten.
Do you have any other fun things to share about Diana Gabaldon?
Also while at the National Book Festival, I learned 10 things about David McCullough.