The appeal of a man in a kilt: A talk with Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series

author, Diana Gabaldon and I

I have had a fascination with the Outlander series for quite some time now. And even before I was able to actually read the books myself, I knew of them. My mother had borrowed the first three books from my aunt, and these ones had the really old covers from when they were first published. I remember flipping open the cover that had the secret hole in the centre to then reveal the full cover image on the first two preliminary pages. I specifically recall a tall red-headed woman with wind-swept hair. I was clueless then that I would be a future Outlander addict obsessed with Claire, the pictured woman I had absently admired, and Jamie’s turbulent love story in historical Scotland.

Written in My Heart's Own BloodOn June 21, 2014, I attended a segment of Diana Gabaldon’s Canadian Tour for Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. This is the second time I’ve seen Diana in person—the first was at Fergus’ annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games last year. I waited in a very long line to ensure I got every single book in the series signed, aside from the newest edition to the series (only freshly signed last month). While the line up in a London Chapters was not quite as long, it did wrap around the store in a snake-like fashion.

Diana is an amazing speaker. She is definitely up there as one of the top authors I love to hear speak in person. And despite her telling the same anecdotes I had previously heard in Fergus, I was enthralled and, frankly, she has some pretty great lines that don’t get old. My favourite is the rhyme she would tell at the beginning of her science classes when she frequently came up against a row of half-sleeping jocks:

“In days of old, when knights were bold and condoms weren’t invented, they wrapped old socks around their cocks and babies were prevented.”

Needless to say, these words got the jocks’ attention very quickly, and they also certainly have the ability to also grab an audience of adoring Outlander fans. Hearing it for a second time, I still chuckled to myself.

Another line I absolutely love is her reference to a time when she was asked by a German journalist (I think) what the appeal of a man in a kilt was. Her response? “Well I guess it has something to do with fact that you can be up against a wall with him in a second.” A shocking revelation said matter of factly that this journalist never forgot, and it is one that I have taken a liking to. Who wouldn’t want a dashing fellow in a kilt with a Scottish accent up against a wall? Especially an eighteenth-century man such as Jamie Fraser.

In addition to Diana’s book during this tour, there is also the added excitement of the new television series based on the Outlander series, which will be airing this August on STARZ. Whether or not the adaptation will live up to fans’ expectations has yet to be revealed, but Diana seems optimistic, and she warns against fans expecting producers to be able to “read minds” when every readers has a different fantasy concocted. Frankly, if the author has given the seal of approval then I have a lot of faith in the upcoming show.

Meeting Diana for a second time was amazing, and there was also the added pleasure of being recognized by the publicist on duty as one of the many interns at Random House of Canada last fall. I’m so glad I made a lasting impression there and that I had the opportunity to work where great storytellers like Diana Gabaldon see their work published. As a reader and publishing professional, I have never felt more privileged.

If you want to learn more about Diana’s tour, her books, or just her personal musing in general, which are often highly entertaining, then check out her blog. If you didn’t get a chance to get up close and personal with her during this tour then her blog is the next best thing.

One question Diana did answer was when/if the series had a foreseeable conclusion? Diana provided us eager listeners with a very flippant and , in my opinion, appropriate response: “Not yet.” Therefore, Diana can’t promise what book number in the series will see Claire and Jamie’s long love story end, but her fans, myself included, can make a promise: We will all be eagerly awaiting the next one, and the next one after that.

Me and the Outlander TV series standup ad




I’M SO EXCITED!!!! (for the show and to be this close to a cardboard apparition of Jamie)