Magazine article American Libraries

Newsmaker: Diana Gabaldon

Magazine article American Libraries

Newsmaker: Diana Gabaldon

Article excerpt

Diana Gabaldon reads everything--and lots of it. When she started writing her first book, just for practice, it didn't even have a genre. More than 20 years and eight books later, the Outlander series is still a cataloging conundrum that fits on a variety of shelves, including sci-fi, romance, historical fiction, military fiction, and fantasy. Last summer, the story also became a hit TV show on Starz and was picked up for a second season airing in April. Gabaldon spoke with American Libraries about the importance of research to her writing, the impact of the internet, and the differences between Outlander and Game of Thrones.

Was the depth of research involved in developing Outlander overwhelming since you had not been to Scotland? DIANA GABALDON: No, I wrote a book to learn how; essentially, just for practice. So I said, "What's the easiest possible sort of book to write ? " After a bit of thought, I decided historical fiction. I was a research professor. I know my way around a library. It's much easier to look things up than make them up. If I turn out to have no imagination, I can feel things from the historical records, which actually works pretty well. Where should I set this? I saw a Doctor Who rerun with a young Scotsman in a kilt and the rest is history.

Is the series dependent on the research? The nature of research is that there's always more you could find out. With these characters and this background, we're moving to the second half of the 18th century, which is a time of immense change. The research is a lot easier these days. At the same time, there's a lot more available, and that means you need to exercise discrimination in how much time you spend looking for stuff. And then what are you going to do with it? People who've gone to a lot of trouble to find out all these fascinating facts want to tell them to you whether it serves the story or not. It takes a lot of discrimination, judgment, and experience to know how much of what you know you should tell people, because I know much more than is ever in the books.

Are you a library patron? I've sort of lived in libraries all my life. …

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