Inspired by Outlander
Hearing Diana Gabaldon speak at the Fergus Scottish Festival recently was inspiring and motivating.
When I started reading the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon in 2000, they stoked my love of historical fiction. I was instantly a fan, drawn into her world inspired by the melding of historic Scotland at the time of the Jacobite Rising of 1745 and England during the Second World War. Outlander and its subsequent series took me back in time, vividly experiencing the plot through the eyes of heroine Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser. Suddenly, I eagerly anticipated my long public transit commutes because it meant another opportunity to immerse myself in the story. I often fantasized about a future movie or TV series since the books were so detailed, but at that time, despite being best sellers and Outlander being optioned several times for scripts, the Outlander TV series was not to be for at least another decade.
After I attended Gabaldon’s 2001 The Fiery Cross book tour and had the opportunity to meet the gracious author, I was reminded of my own interest in writing fiction. Following this I felt inspired and slowly brushed up on my creative writing skills with short poems and journal writing. When I later moved and reconnected with my roots and hometown history, I again took up the pen, taking it a step further by writing short stories and adding historical research into the mix. Then came the Eldon House ghost story research and the rest is, well, history…although it’s certainly not the end! More on that sometime later…
For the last several years, I’ve kept an eye out for news on the inspiring Gabaldon and have enjoyed the Outlander TV series that finally came to fruition. It was worth the wait!
Over the years, Diana Gabaldon has been the featured author at the Fergus Scottish Festival in Ontario. I’ve been promising myself for the past year or two that I would go the very next time the opportunity came up. Luckily the stars aligned! Despite finding out on very short notice, I recently got my chance to attend her session at the festival.
Hearing her speak about her characters, the plot, time travel and the TV series, as well as her research and creative writing process was fascinating and motivating. Seeing Diana Gabaldon in person again a decade later reminded me of how exciting it was when I first experienced her books and how characters really come alive in historical fiction when research is thorough and creativity is embraced.
I love research and writing historical fiction because I think it’s what one would expect time travel to be like…a choose-your-own-adventure type of experience. As a reader you follow the course that the author sets out for you and along the way you can use your own historical knowledge and imagination to enhance the experience. As a writer, you get to play an advanced game of connect the dots, making up what you don’t know but using historical bits as a framework. And while sometimes such time travel can take longer than expected when the research takes you deep down the rabbit hole, it’s always a ride worth the price of admission.