Monday, May 23, 2011

A Date with Destiny and Diana Gabaldon

I mentioned a while back that I was finally going to get a chance to meet my all-time favorite author ~ Diana Gabaldon. After a twenty year wait and an 1100 mile roundtrip drive, I can now mark it off of my bucket list!  Of course I hope to get a chance to see her again sometime without that long of a wait.

Outlander (20th Anniversary Edition): A Novel
available July 5th!

This trip came about because several things came together in time and space:
  • I have been a MAJOR fan of Diana Gabaldon for over 20 years ~ just a fact
  • My inlaws live in Kingman, Arizona
  • Diana Gabaldon would be in Kingman for KABAM from May 11-14th
  • I had furniture that I needed to take to my father-in-law
  • My mother-in-law had a ton of stuff to send back with me in the truck
  • Two of my dear pals (also Diana fans) were up for a little girlie road trip
  • ALL of us really, really wanted to meet Diana and have her sign our books

Cindy & Jeanne in the desert somewhere

Soooo..... Jeanne, Cindy and I loaded up my truck and trekked/trucked down to Kingman. Over 500 miles and about 9 1/2 hours later, we arrived on the inlaws' doorstep. The next day we ran around Old Town Kingman checking out a museum, thrift & antique stores and of course, book stores! The best book store was the last one of the day where we were first in line for the much anticipated KABAM book signing featuring - Diana Gabaldon.

I need to note here, I have had never been a person to get starstruck. Over the years I've met many famous and well-known people. My opinion and reaction has always been the same ~ they're just people like everyone else. Now I have to admit that I was beyond excited about meeting Diana and have come to understand what a rabid fan feels. Diana was extremely gracious to me and my mother-in-law who was also really thrilled to be there. I started her on Outlander well before I married her son - my own Red Jamie.

Outlander and the rest of Diana's books have been constant companions of mine for the last twenty years. I've mentioned before that I was a member of that original Lit Forum on Compuserve way back then. Diana began posting excerpts from her "practice book" after another member (a male) started arguing with her regarding what childbirth is like for a woman! We will all be forever grateful to this now-informed man for taking on a woman with the experience of three births who also just happened to be trying her hand at novel writing. 2011 marks the 20th Anniversary of Outlander and there is a special edition coming out in July. I think it's sort of poetic that this is the year I finally managed to meet her!

Anyhow, the next day Diana was doing a talk about An Echo in the Bone and reading excerpts from her upcoming book. It was held at the Kingman Library and was a really special event. The hostess from the library outdid herself and had scrumptious treats and drinks for the group. ~ I must confess to eating THREE of the huge, chocolate-covered strawberries!

Diana has a distinctive speaking voice as well as that for the written word.  She made her characters come alive for us during her readings.  We are all in for a HUGE treat when these new books come out. Diana read two different beginnings for her next installment in the Lord John series: Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner. They just made us all want more, more and more. (Mature fans of Jamie will love this excerpt that she shared with us. It made one of the much older ladies at the presentation gasp out loud and cause us all to giggle!) It will be very interesting to see if this one or the beginning with Lord John is chosen to start the book.  I really liked them both and would have a hard time picking.

Her dry sense of humor and very quick wit both come across in person as much as in Diana's writing.  She patiently answered lots of our questions and was very nice about explaining various aspects of the books.  Because of the small venue we were actually able to have conversation with this lovely woman who is very generous to her readers.  She shared a lot about herself, her life and her writing. It really struck a chord with me when she detailed her unorthodox way of writing a story. She told us that she might write Chapter 7 or 16 before she starts on Chapter 3 or even 1. She doesn't write in the "linear" method that is taught in most places. Her stories come to her in chunks that she then has to piece together and make fit into the overall puzzle. This truly was a light bulb moment for me and I'm sure, others in the audience who dabble in writing. I have never been able to write an outline and then follow it.  I tend to go backwards with it and make my outline fit what I've written.  My creative endeavors have always been little nuggets that don't always flow together or in a logical order, but do belong to the same story. Thank you for letting us all know that it's OK to write in whatever way suits us!

The girls and I were on our way out of town on Saturday when we stopped at the festival in the park that was wrapping up KABAM's happenings for the week. Diana was also scheduled to speak there, but we were disappointed to find out that it was one of the last events of the day. Due to the fact that we had a 9+ hours drive ahead of us, we decided we would have to miss it and get on the road. As we were walking back to the truck with our purchases, who do you think was pulling in? The lady herself! I must say it made my day when she recognized us and stopped to chat for a few minutes. It was icing on the cake to get to say our goodbyes to her and thank her again for being so patient and gracious to some of her rabid and adoring fans.

If you'd like to learn more about Diana and her world, you can visit her website and Twitter. The books that are available now are:

Outlander  Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander, Book 2)  Voyager (Outlander)

Drums of Autumn   [DRUMS OF AUTUMN] [Paperback]  The Fiery Cross (Outlander)  A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander)

An Echo in the Bone: A Novel (Outlander) 

Lord John and the Private Matter  Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade  Lord John and the Hand of Devils

***I will be writing a bit more about our girl's road trip over at my other blog:  MoonCat Farms Meanderings later this week.  You'll have to check out a couple of the creatures we met on the road!

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  1. How fun it was to read your post, and how happy I am that you finally got to meet this fabulous author! I, too, had the meeting of a lifetime with Diana last summer when I flew to AZ for a book event sponsored by the Poisoned Pen. The venue was small and I was actually introduced to Diana and I was TERRIFIED all of a sudden! I was so star struck I could hardly breathe and every ounce of intelligence left me! ha! She is so beautiful and gracious, and it was truly a very special memory for me. Glad to meet another true fan! :)

  2. Hi Joanne, it's nice to know I'm not the only one who had that experience! I was just grinning from ear to ear the whole time. I felt like an idiot afterwards :) I think I started talking a mile a minute which is very unlike me. No other celebrity has ever had that effect on me - truly shows how special she is to so many, many readers.

    GRACIOUS seems to be the first word to pop in mind for most of us when describing her, as well as beautiful. My mother-in-law picked that as her favorite adjective for Diana as well. But she really is lovely as well. Very pretty lady.

    Thanks for stopping in and sharing your experience too.

  3. How awesome that you got to meet her! She came to Australia last year but the event in my city was $75 a ticket. I love her but at that particular moment in time I couldn't justify spending that kind of money!

    One day I will meet her I am sure.

  4. What a cool experience!! WOW
    Thanks for linking to Bloggerverse!

  5. Sounds like an awesome roadtrip. Glad you had so much fun. I've heard Gabaldon read/speak and she is amazing.


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