Friday, February 1, 2008

Romance, ChickLit and Women's Fiction

Somebody down in the "Cross-Genre" thread asked me what I thought the difference was between romance novels, ChickLit and Women's Fiction—was the designation "ChickLit" just trying to be "more literary" than the usual image of romances? Well…

Frankly, I'd be surprised as heck if anybody regarded ChickLit as "more literary" than anything. Mind, I've read a couple of terrific novelists whose books fall into (or at least are sold as) "ChickLit"--Marion Keyes, in particular; I'd recommend her books to anyone, but they're certainly packaged as CL. Too bad if that kept anyone from reading them; they're beautifully written, with wonderful characters—great humor, but great sensitivity to underlying tragedy as well, and an understanding of what's necessary for redemption.

ChickLit does usually have a strong central romance. I think the major differences (aside from marketing--sometimes that's the _only_ difference) between ChickLit and straight romance are:

1) time period. If your romantic story is historical, it can't be chicklit. Ergo, it's either historical romance (no demand for accuracy—which is not to say that some authors are not scrupulously accurate; they are (Jo Beverly and Mary Balogh come to mind), but readers don't demand it—and a fair amount of explicit sex) or historical fiction (considerable accuracy, relatively little sex, or sex done by reference rather than exposition. (Cf. Margaret George) and a lot of the story not having to do with the central relationship).

2) ChickLit is _ipso facto_ contemporary because of the other big difference: morality. In a standard romance, the heroine doesn't have a sexual relationship (other than rape) with anybody but the hero. In ChickLit, she sluts around pretty freely, with no evidence of reservation or conscience, until Mr. Right makes himself known. (I recall seeing a re-run of "Sex and the City" recently, in which Carrie Bradshaw is typing and musing about the discovery that she and all of her friends have slept with more than 30 men--or have lost count. "Does this mean we are sexually empowered," she types, "or are we just sluts?"

At which point I replied aloud, "You mean you have DOUBTS?" [but I digress])

And

3) In a standard romance novel, the central relationship between hero and heroine (frankly, I find that terminology vaguely distasteful—it seems to imply that these characters are so stereotypical that they could easily be interchanged between books. Let's say, "main protagonists," shall we? Besides, that includes gay romances, and we are all for being inclusive, now, aren't we?) occupies 85-90% of the text, with all other plotlines being subordinated to the evolution of the relationship.

In ChickLit, the evolution of the romance is only 30-40% of the text, the rest being divided between the vicissitudes of the central character's work-life, and her sense of discovery of herself as a human being.

That said, both standard romance and ChickLit novels are courtship stories. They end (happily, always) when the central couple become mated—whether this indicates actual marriage, or merely the realization that we're going to be sexually monogamous for the next little while. And they never have sequels, because the story's over once mating is accomplished.

Now, "Women's Fiction"...this is usually code for "story about strong female relationships/quest for empowerment/mother-daughter issues/men would not be interested," and doesn't necessarily have a strong romantic plotline at all (in the most 'literary' kinds of Women's Fiction, men are generally viewed as alien creatures (at the very least), if not complete beasts. They're often rapists, abusers, manipulators, and generally a threat to whatever the central character is trying to achieve--and they _never_ understand the Sacred Bond of Sisterhood).

Mind, this is just my Very Humble Opinion [cough]—but you did ask. And it _is_ just an opinion, because I don't write in any of these genres myself. Though I guess I could be considered to be historical fiction, if it weren't for the time-travel, even though I do write about sex very well [she says modestly].

113 comments:

  1. Very well!!
    But that's neither here nor there...
    Does Chick Lit always end with the main protagonists getting together? I'm thinking of a couple of British Chick Lit books I've read (they came free with a magazine! I wish they did that in North America), such as Carole Matthews' Let's Meet on Platform 8, where the two definitely were *not* together at the end.

    Spoiler!!



    She was having an affair with a married man, they broke it off amicably (as possible), but at the end she was pregnant with his child and was not going to tell him. Aside from the morality of such a thing, does that count as "happy ending in lieu of getting together with 'hero'"? I haven't really read enough Chick Lit books to know if this sort of thing is the norm...

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  3. I must admit that I love reading your blog as much as I love reading the "Outlander" novels!!!

    Thanks for the good work!! Keep it up!

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  4. I didn't see the right place to leave the comment regarding the picture of Claire that you have on your website. I think she is lovely. I read that a major motion picture is in the works. All I can say is that I hope that when Claire is cast, they choose someone who actually resembles this picture and not someone who happens to be "hot" at the moment, like Keira Knightly, (who, in my opinion, looks like she has been hit in the face with a shovel). I love your books and have spent many a happy hour with Claire and Jamie. Can't wait to read An Echo in the Bone.

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  5. Diana,

    You write about sex very well because it is so much more then the act itself. You have the build up, the dialogue, the emotion, the humor, and the moments following. You are the best at it. It is life to the fullest, not just a sex scene.

    Thanks for that by the way!

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  6. Thanks, Diana.

    The comment was mine ... and yes I thought you'd have an opinion on the subject!!! I guess there are good writers in every genre. The trick is to find them. I thank you for your suggestions. I picture Chick Lit as a good day at the beach read and Women's Fiction for a Snow Day (I live in Canada!!!!)

    Now when a Gabaldon book comes out, at least in my household, a weekend is cleared and everyone knows not to bother Mom - she's BUSY!!!!!

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  7. Hi Diana--Great definition of CL! I just have two questions. First--you provide examples of authors who write CL, historical romance, and historical fiction. But you don’t cite any authors of “Women’s Fiction.” Could you name some authors who write in this genre? Second, CL is a contemporary genre. Do you consider “Women’s Fiction” to be a contemporary form as well?

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  8. Boy! has time passed me by (must have had my nose in a book somewhere). I never heard the phrase "Chick Lit" before. Never heard the term "graphic novel" either. I probably had genre and gender mixed up to. This blog has been an information highway for me. I tend not to classify my reading to much. It's usually word of mouth anyway. I read a book and if I like it I will glom on to anything that author has written. Which is not always good because I miss out on all that's new in the literary world. This blog of Diana's has been like taking a literary class without worrying about the tuition. The professor "ain't" half bad either.

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  9. I've always thought of DG books as 'historical fiction', which in my opinion is far more fascinating than ChikLit. Since I first began the Outlander series(I originally read it as Cross Stitch, since it was given me by a British friend, to whom I will be forever grateful!)I've been ruined for any other author. While awaiting the latest sequel, I'll pass time reading other authors, simply because I must read something! :) Speaking of other authors, and I'm not sure this is the place to ask, but has anyone ever read 'Dark Birthright' by Jeanne Treat? I am considering it while waiting for Echo in The Bone. Though I'm positive it won't come close to a DG novel - nothing can, after all.

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  10. HI, During one of my usual "check-ins" with your site, I came across this opportunity to leave a comment...I should probably be leaving the comment on the most recent blog..however...after reading that there is a "motion picture" in the works....COOL...I just had to jump around a bit and yell...and then type...all in that order. I am so thrilled that there will be a movie!! I have been thinking how super it would be to see your books in movie form...now is this movie a compilation of all books...or each book individually? Whew...
    I envision something like the Lord of the Rings movies...where they are all long and detailed and awesome. So...congrats to you! This is the best news I have heard today so far...Yeah YOU!!!

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  11. Diana~

    Already having a sense about the difference(s) between Romance and ChickLit, I very much appreciate your input about Women's Fiction. While I'm not necessarily into the whole Man as Beasts/Rapists, I am curious as to your recommendations in this genre. I'm not sure if I've actually read anything like that....?! Also, I thank you for giving recognition to Mary Balogh and Jo Beverly. They do know their history and, thank God, the correct usages of honorifics (title) and address for members of society.

    All in all, I prefer to read books that are well paced, smart, researched, the period correctly depicted, with a sensibility to the emotions and attitudes of the times. Gosh, who does that sound like?

    Midge

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  12. Oh, my! What a delightful find! So glad I visited Diana's page this morning and found this blog. I've been hanging on every word the woman writes for more than a decade, and now to find her very own blog! Wahoo!

    Interesting discussion on the different kinds of fic. Like others have posted, Diana's is the standard to which I hold all other books I read for pleasure and still so hard to classify them because, they are so much more than historical, or romance, or even historical romance, but, boy, oh, boy does she write some great sex! And the thing that makes it so great is the characterization, before, during, after. There is nobody better, IMO.

    Great site! Go Diana!

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  13. Dear Tattood--

    Well, keep your fingers crossed; but do bear in mind that having a movie "deal" does not necessarily mean that there will eventually be a movie. The production company certainly _hopes_ there will, but it's a long road, and many (manymanymany) options lapse without even making it to the script stage, let alone all the way to the screen.

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  14. Dear Jessie--

    Mm, kind of depends. You _could_ argue that many historical romances are in fact "historical" chicklit [g], because a great many of them foist 21st-century values onto a supposedly historical character/situation.

    But putting that aside...

    No, there is historical Women's Fiction, though I'll have to think a bit to locate specific authors/titles. But historical fiction with a central female character(whether a real person or not)...Belva Plain, that's who I was trying to think of. Barbara Taylor Bradford, for another.

    Contemporary Women's Fiction ranges from good-but-nonliterary authors like Kristin Hannah (who does usually have a strong romantic plotline) and Patricia Gaffney to the much more literary end, like Sue Monk Kidd and Dorothy Allison.

    One of my very favorite authors is Alice Hoffman. She writes absolutely lovely, magical prose--and her stories are quasi-magical, too. They tend also to be very romantic--and in fact, many (not all) could _be_ considered as romance novels, insofar as most of them fulfill the two main conditions (concentration on the evolving relationship, happy ending with pair bonding)--save that they're _much_ too literary. [g] Wonderful stuff--very sensual (not in the "sex-scene" sense at all--just a pervading atmosphere of drowning in sensation. Just remarkable). I don't know anyone else who writes like her--and that's high praise. I value originality.

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  15. Me thinks we may need to leave Jaimie and Claire to each of our imaginations and forego the movie adaptation. Although each time I read the series I imagine what a fabulous movie/mini series it would make. Since many of us could be disappointed with someone else's version of our hero's, perhaps we are best left with our own personal images. :)

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  16. Dear Lily--

    Well, you know, the books aren't going anywhere. [g]

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  17. Thank God for that!! I know if a movie/mini series were to evolve, I'd be glued! But only to compare with the real deal of course!! :)

    Back to an original question - are you (or anyone out there in 'blog' land) familiar with the book Dark Birthright or it's author Jeanne Treat?

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  18. Dear Lily--

    No. I kind of avoid romances set in the Scottish Highlands, to be honest. The research is often not very good (which drives me crazy--people wearing kilts in 1765, for example, to say nothing of female chieftains (yeah, suuuuure...and named "Bronwyn," to boot, I ask you..), and the Scots dialect is generally just excruciating.

    I hope this particular books is good, though--we always need more good books, no matter what kind. Let me know, if you do read it.

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  19. Well, now I'm curious enough that I will have to read it. I will let you know. Do you know anything of the author? From the excerpt I read it may be interesting. I'm not even sure how I heard of it. I actually thought it was from you, for some reason. Anyway, I'll give it a go. :)

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  20. As an adendum, I am not a history buff. I could be told that Scotland is a province of Ireland......slight exageration, but you get my point.......and I could possibly believe it. :) I have 'NAIVE' tattood across my forehead. LOL

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  21. Diana,

    I have a Voyager question (must be seeing Voyage of the Artemis come up in my inbox all day!) Will the Brahan Seer Prophesy come up again? Or did it die with Gellis?

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  22. And speaking of Voyager .... are those soft curls I see in the author's picture on the back cover!?!!!?

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  23. Dear Jewell--

    No, those are the result of the maniac who "made me up" as what she thought an author ought to look like. [g] I actually _look_ like the author photo on the back of A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, or THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE--that one was taken by my younger daughter on a family trip to Stonehenge, and features no makeup and my natural hairstyle (it really does nothing else, unless heavily "managed" by a stylist).

    Oh, VOYAGER. I rather think we might hear more about that prophecy, yes. Though I can't tell you at the moment exactly when or where. [g]

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  24. Dear Lily--

    Not me, no. I've heard a couple of the Ladies of Lallybroch mention it--I think the author might be an LOLer. If you ever visit their boards, you might have seen someone talk about it there.

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  25. Diana,
    I thought we might ... I have goosebumps! Can't wait.

    As for the hair, I have seen you a few times now (Halifax X 2 & SIWC)and so it surprised me to see the waves on the back of Voyager. Would never have given a second glance if not for the Claire Hair Debate!!!

    Been thinking and maybe it wasn't wise to publish the poor artist's name..... for Jamie you might consider a shadow figure with INSERT PERSONAL JAMIE IMAGE HERE!

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  26. I'll check it out. I knew it was somehow connected to you. And if LOL is the way, then I'm onto it.:>)

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  27. Maybe Claire would look a bit more mature and have really curly hair. Your books always mention how unruly her curly hair is.

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  28. Thanks for clarifying, I'm now intrigued and want to read some from my personal library again to compare.

    BTW,
    I was shocked to see this appear in my inbox a few days ago, (just got around to reading it today), just goes to show that research has it's benefits! I already KNEW this info from you (TFC)!
    http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a4_196.html

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  29. Hi all, A comment on Claire's portrait....I think she is really pretty but I (as a curly haired lass) was surprised as well, that her hair was so tame. I thought it would be more curly.(not meaning to sound so picky!!) However should this be Claire in the graphic novel I will love it. What amazing artistic talent!! I am dying to see Jamie. Again I know he won't be "my" Jamie but I know I can adapt my Jamie in my mind. Oh, By the way....if Diana needs anyone to do the looksee in the highlands for an undiscovered Jamie actor my friend Amanda and I would LOVE to volunteer!! :) I don't know what our families would think but the thought will get us through this long hard winter (in Canada)!! Love these Outlander books, they are gold to me, feeding my soul, and I can hardly wait until Echo in the Bone is here!!

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  30. Diana or anyone else who remembers,
    It was mentioned earlier that a bodice was ripped in each of the three books. I can remember the one in Outlander, and the one in Voyager, but can't for the life of me remember one in A Dragonfly in Amber. This is driving me crazy, does anyone remember?

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  31. I can answer the question about the ripped bodice in DIA since I just finished reading that scene about a half hour ago. Jamie ripped Claire's bodice to convince poor young Lord John (known as William Grey at that time) that she was his captive and that he was about to ravish her in front of his eyes if he didn't tell Jamie about the rest of his troop in the forest.

    Emilie

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  32. Hmm, thanks for responding. I think I got DIA and Outlander confused. Was the one in Outlander during the witch trial?

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  33. Dear Mstodt--

    In OUTLANDER, Black Jack Randall slices Claire's bodice open while attempting to terrorize her, after he nabs her while she's trying to escape to the stone circle.

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  34. Dear Diana,

    I am curious ... when do you sleep?!!? I have read interviews that say you are often just getting started at midnight. Have you just conditioned yourself to do this (with three kids I suppose in the early years what other time is there?!) Do you sleep late in the morning or catnap in afternoon?!?!?

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  35. Dear Jewell--

    Well, I did learn--when my kids were small, and I had two full-time jobs--to sleep in chunks, and it's a useful skill. [g]

    These days, I do get plenty of sleep, but I still sleep in pieces. When my husband goes to bed, I tuck him in (around 10) and then go lie on the couch with a book. If nobody calls me with a crisis of some kind (and that's rare these days, thank God), I'll fall asleep in 10 or 15 minutes. I sleep for a couple of hours, then wake up naturally somewhere between midnight and 1--whereupon I get a Diet Coke and go up to my office, and work 'til 4 AM or so, when I write in my journal (it's just a record of what I did during the day, not Deep Thoughts), read the Bible, and go to bed. I'll wake up again--naturally--around 9, which is when I officially get up. [g]

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  36. Diana,

    As a single mom, I find myself getting up at 5am to fit in some writing time before getting the kids off to school and me to work. My best writing time, however, is between 10am - 3pm. Worked great as a stay-at-home mom, not so great now. I do find that if I get a bit in early it hums in my brain all day. So that is something.

    Have you ever thought about how many hours it takes to write one of your novels? I mean the first draft and pre editing, etc. I can only imagine!

    Also, are you willing to share a wee hint as to what you are working on currently?

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  37. That's totally different from my sleeping habits. :)
    I just finished Ireland,A novel by Frank Delaney and it's really great.A good bit of Irish history and the search of a boy for the storyteller of his childhood.If anybody has read it tell me if you liked it.

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  38. Diana
    Just re-reading some of the comments. The depth of passion people have for your novels made me set back and analze my own. I read them twice and each time got more and more out of them. Unwittingly my husband was the recipient of some of your chapters. Sometimes he looked surprised but most of the time he had a big grin on his face. Not that I fanatized he looked like Jamie (more like a Isiah Morton}, but more like me remembering the man I married 38 years ago to the man he is today. He just gets better and better. The depth of feelings you gave Claire and Jamie over time and distance made me look to my own. Thank You! Now that I have this warm and fuzzy feeling I think I'll go see if I can't put a surprised look on his face. UM! maybe not, he's snoring right now.

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  39. Wow Sharaf! You said a mouthfull. Such true words about the rereads becomming more and more of a clearer picture.( I am on my 4th go round and STILL find that true) and whist my husband is not close to Jamie I guess it takes me back to the start(sometimes! LOL).....I admire good writers (like Diana) who make me reflect on my life through their words. I am so ready for new reflection with the new book and the graphic novel and really torn with the movie...though I am certain without a doubt there is a "Jamie" awaiting discovery and it seems to me Diana would be very sure he was the Jamie she "created". Ohh I seriously get butterflies when I think of even a possible face to Jamie. Then I do the well maybe its better left to each with their own Jamie thoughts, I don't know. Depends on the day. My friend Amanda posted me two tidbits from Echo in the Bone and now I am really starving for more...I am not wishing away a year but those Outlander books are getting another "go round" in preparation for Echo.

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  40. Karen
    Usually when I say a mouthful my foot goes in right behind it.
    I must be in a reflective mood today. When I was a young girl I would fanatize what it would be like to live in earlier centuries. Long beautiful dresses, castles, dashng men. Now I realize I wouldn't last a week before I'd make a beeline for the stones (maybe hesitate a little if I thought I would meet a Jamie Fraser). Give me a pair of shorts and a Tee-shirt on a hot day, air conditioned house, and a squatty little man and I'd be happy as a clam. Don't even want to think about a outhouse. Been there done that. I have embraced the twenty-first century completely. Diana has made it possible for me to safely enjoy that time period without having to rough it. I try not to get reality and fiction mixed up to much. She's such a phenomenal writer it hard to keep it that in mind.

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  41. Sharaf,

    You are spot on about staying put and enjoying the past through Diana's writing. The contemplation of a medical emergency or the use of what was soap then makes me shudder. Oh, and don't forget about oral hygiene and the lack thereof. Yuck! I become even more convinced I am a product of my times when I think about butt-wiping. {{{{{{shiver}}}}}}

    Diana makes it safe and tolerable, even if she keeps writing about the bits and pieces of leaves in Jamie's hair or his natural scent -- and (sorry, ladies) all I can think of is stinky B.O. I've tried, believe me I've tried, to tolerate my hubby's odour all in the desire to have my own Jamie. (Hubby is only 5'11", but has blue-blue eyes, auburn hair gone silver, with public hair still as red as it comes) It always ends the same -- I insist on a shower and generous use of deodorant.

    Midge

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  42. Merrymags
    Just read your comment. I was smiling all through it until I read you last few words, then I had to laugh out loud. Did you mean PUBIC instead of PUBLIC? Or are they one and the same to your husband?

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  43. I think it is time to insert one of Diana's "coughs" per the last two posts. Here we go! ;-D

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  44. Sharaf--

    OMG!!!! Now this is an embarrassment. I did mean pubic, and there is a difference for my hubby (who is very private and has to suffer the consequences of marrying an extrovert). Thank you for calling my attention to the typo but, sadly, it comes after the fact and I've already made an ass of myself.

    Midge

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  45. I cannot even get into the hygiene issue because the thing that makes me most nuts about dreaming of Jamie, or being offended by Jack, of being proud of Claire is that we're really feeling all this about Diana, right? These are all aspects of our author no matter what conscious or subconscious place certain prose may flow from.

    This was why when I first wrote to Diana, way back in the olden days, I told her to say hi to Jack for me. She is he, he is she, even if only in small doses of imagination. Not that she'd going around ripping bodices to terrorize, but that she'd create someone who would. Or that she would create protagonists so believable, compelling, and intriguing that we've taken them and made our very (and in some cases very, very, very ) own.

    I too feel a bit sorry for the artist on the graphic novel - big shoes and all, but I trust Diana to be a guiding force and cannot wait to see (not Jamie like most of you), but Claire in motion because I believe that will be the truest test of the artists skill. To portray not just how she looks, but who she is - which will go along way toward soothing the "curled" feathers.

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  46. Dear Jewell--

    I, um, don't _do_ "first draft and pre-editing." I just write, and fiddle while I'm writing. I can NOT leave a sentence alone, if I don't think it's right. Consequently, I fiddle a lot, and am very slow. [g]

    So no, I've never tried to figure out how many hours it takes. Besides the actual sitting at the keyboard, there's a lot of research and thinking and...fermenting, is the only way I can describe it. And I couldn't begin to quantify that.

    By and large, though, I'm actually putting words on paper for 2-3 hours a day. More some days, but almost every day.

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  47. I have to ask.. was it planned? Did you plant the image of Claire on your website to lure us into the new blog? It's working!

    3 of my favorite authors hail from the South. Diana of course, Barbara Kingsolver, who develops my social conscience, and Susan Wittig Albert whose mysteries, herb lore and recipes help me find my inner domestic goddess.

    For all of those multi-faceted women (and men!) who are waiting so patiently for An Echo in the Bone this seems like a place to mention an excellent book review site for women- Story Circle Book Reviews. I am not affiliated with the site, just enjoy it myself.

    I love the title An Echo In the Bone.. but the irreverent side of me wonders why it couldn't be An Echo In Our Ulnas.. thereby bestowing the acronym AEIOU for handy reference.

    Diana, wishing you a muse at your elbow and very nimble fingers!

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  48. Diana,

    Hmmm .... fermenting. And that is why we wait (or should wait) patiently for the next installment... would never want to rush the process.

    Jewell

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  49. Dear Mary--

    Rofling over "AEIOU"!

    No, actually it was the other way around--the graphic novel editor said she couldn't wait to hear the response to my posting Claire's portrait. At which point, it dawned on me that I don't have any facility on my website for people to _leave_ comments.

    The quickest way to address that problem seemed to be to start a blog (I having been told that was very easy--as indeed it was), and just put a link to it on the website.

    So voila! Here we are. [g]

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  50. Dear Deniz--

    Hmm. I don't know--in re whether ChickLit always ends with the protagonists together. I'd guess not invariably, given the book you describe--sounds like the "self-realization" aspect of the story was uppermost in that one. I do read ChickLit--I read anything [g]--but I'm not _well_-read in the genre (i.e., I just pick up books I come across that seem interesting, rather than scanning the shelves and reading reviews).

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  51. Merrymags
    I feel your pain. The new excuse I use for my spelling and typo's is "I'm text-messaging".

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  52. Sharaf:

    At least you text-message. In my defense for not texting, I say it's another attempt at undermining the masses, returning us to a place of illiteracy, and not a transcendence to a higher plane. And I always try to proof my comments before submittal because, like Diana, I am a product of a Catholic school education -- to have misspellings in inconceivable. Thank you, Sister Mary Concepta from the Sisters of Notre Dame.

    Midge :D

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  53. diana, I wondered if you had ever read "Amusing ourselves to death" by Neil Postman. Its a quick read about the possibility of Huxley's view of the futuristic demise being realized. I think you may enjoy it and wondered what your thoughts were in that direction. Thanks, Charlotte Carroll

    p.s. I have read your previous response to my post to my hubby and friends while beaming with pride. Thanks for your response. It made my day.

    oh, and re: fermenting. I am married to a fermenter. He spent 1 year writing his thesis for his MFA {100 pages) and didn't write more than a single page every so often. When I would accuse him of procrastination, his response was to say, "I'm mulling." Once completed, his thesis was phenomenal. I'm glad you're a fermenter, however; I'm also glad that I just found your books and didn't have to wait what must have been an excruciating length of time for Voyager to come out after Dragonfly in Amber. [g]

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  54. Midge:

    Hey, not all good spellers are products of Catholic schools! I have always been an excellent speller; like you and Diana I find it inconceivable to make spelling errors (bar the occasional typo [g]). In my case, though, I am a "visual" speller. I can visualize the written word as I think it, and I know when it doesn't look right.

    I won a district spelling bee in the 8th grade with the word "dahlia". It's a type of flower, but I don't believe I knew that at the time. I had seen it written before, and that was enough for me to be absolutely certain how it was spelled. The judges of the spelling bee asked if I wanted the definition. I said no, and correctly spelled it without hesitation, because I could "see" the word in my mind.

    I don't know if that sort of "feel" for correct spelling can be learned or whether you have to be born with it, but that's what has always worked for me.

    Karen

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  55. I see I have missed spelled FANTATSIZE in several of my comments. Since I was told spell-checking is a "stench in the nostril of the Lord" I will type it on my computor 100 times before a good Sister raps my knuckles with a ruler. I did have that happen to me in the fourth grade, I have never like that teacher to this day. She wasn't even a Nun.

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  56. Karen and sharaf:

    While using spellchecker may be "a stench in the nostril of the Lord," I say it's better to use it if you're less than an expert typist (which is the category I fall into) than not. I failed typing in high school yet spent most of my life afterward typing in some form or another for college, work, etc.

    BTW, I, too, was the 8th grade rep. for the district spelling bee. Top spot was a knock-down, drag-out between Mark Shitinski (No foolin') and me. To this day I can't spell *privilege* without using spellchecker because that was the blasted word that kicked my butt.

    As I've gotten older I find I've forgotten the rules of proper sentence structure and composition. What the hell is a gerund or a dangling participle?

    One of my absolute favorite items from Diana's Books are the letters written by the characters. They reflect a grace and use of language that is beautiful. It never ceases to amaze me that DG captures these elements of times gone by. Without checking to confirm, I believe I bookmarked an Internet site that published the letter of a Civil War soldier to his wife. It represents a lost art form. If you'd like, I'll post it but let me know where.... I could at my blog or if DG allows, I'll post it here. Only with Herself's permission, though.

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  57. re: Your book covers.

    I love your book covers. They are very tasteful. I find that I am less inclined (to put the feeling mildly) to read a novel with a "flamboyant" cover (covers with the gold lettering and embossed roses come to mind). They are just, well, tacky. I find I cannot "get past" the cover to actually enjoy the book. I suppose that is the same reason I knit with only natural fibers and would always pick the glass version rather than the plastic, the real rather than the synthetic, and the classic rather than the modern. So, that being said, I think your book covers are tastefully done. They are artistic but not at all tacky.

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  58. Dear Midge--

    You're welcome to post things here--but only if they're not copyrighted. I'm sure the Civil War letter would be in the public domain, though. [g]

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  59. DIANA
    I WAS READING YOUR BIO. DO YOU EVER MISS BEING A PROFESSOR? I THINK I WOULD HAVE LIKE TAKING YOUR CLASS. ALSO DO YOU THINK THE LITERARY WORLD IS LOSING GROUND TO THE INSTANT IN YOUR FACE MEDIA? WILL YOUNG READERS HAVE THAT CORE IN PLACE TO WANT TO TAKE THE TIME TO SIT AND ENJOY A GOOO BOOK?

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  60. Dear Sharaf--

    No, no, by all means use your spell-checker. [g] I said it was Microsoft's _grammar_ checker that stinketh.

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  61. Dear Charlotte--

    No, haven't read the Postman thing, but will keep an eye out for it. And thanks for the kind words re the book covers; I'm pleased with the current US ones (some of the foreign covers have to be seen to be believed, and even then...).

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  62. Diana,

    Thank you for allowing me to post that love letter I referred to in my previous comment. It is quite long and will take some space here.... so, if anyone wants to read it, please click on my avatar and it will take you to my blog. I posted it there so as not to compromise page length here.

    Midge

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  63. Diana, I just wanted to say that I am listening to voyager (read it twice) and that I had never heard the song that you mentioned entitled, "In the heather's my bed." After listening to it and reading the translation, I find that this was the perfect song for that moment. How must Jamie must have felt when he was dancing with "her" (sneer)? It seems to bring back all the separation and loneliness of cave dwelling again. After hearing it, I can understand how it was possible for him to want to feel again and looking at this woman to possibly help. Very well written. I find that having already enjoyed your books immensely, I enjoy them even more when I do a little research as well. It also proves that your writing goes further than mental expression but also transcends other senses as well. -charlotte

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  64. Dear Sharaf--

    No, I miss teaching--I like to teach--but I do get to do that, with writers conferences, seminars (I was "writer in residence" at Northern Arizona University last year, and got to do a weeklong series of seminars on research, as well as organizing panel discussions with other writers and so on), etc.

    I'm interested in the research, and every now and then have a good idea for a "natural" experiment (one that can be investigated mostly by observation and comparison of existing situations, rather than requiring a laboratory environment and an artificially engineered experimental paradigm), which I write down--but I don't miss departmental politics, grant proposals, and that kind of thing. [g]

    And the bottom line is that I've always known I was meant to be a novelist. It's nice that I had the nerve to try, and that it worked out.

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  65. Hi Diana—

    Thanks for the examples of women's fiction. I’m interested in genre-crossing, and your post does a neat job of explaining the distinctions among CL, romance novels, and women’s fiction.

    But I would also like to ask about the distinction you made between literary and nonliterary authors. How do you differentiate one from the other? Barnes & Noble classifies certain books as “Fiction and Literature” (Amazon uses “Literature and Fiction”), and I’m wondering if this is the bookstores’ euphemism for “literary.”

    In a B&N store, your books are in the “Fiction and Literature” section, but writers of romance, mystery, detective fiction, and science fiction/fantasy are shelved according to genre. But the genre exclusions are not airtight. Jane Austen’s romances are in shelved in “Fiction and Literature,” but contemporary romances are shelved in “Romance.” Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five is in “Fiction and Literature,” but Frank Herbert’s Dune series is in “Science Fiction & Fantasy.” Most alternative history is in Science Fiction/Fantasy, but you won’t find Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America there. It didn’t even do time there; it went directly to “Fiction and Literature.”

    What does the “Fiction and Literature” classification mean to a writer like you? Does the label imply a critical assessment of some kind, or is it purely driven by the marketing forces in the publishing industry?

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  66. I wanted to provide my two cents about Hoang's version of Claire. She is beautiful, but blatantly sexy with a Jolie, collagenesque quality to her lips. They are pretty though, but not quite the girl-next-door I'd pictured. The eyebrows are a bit dramatic with their arch and with someone who is supposed to have a hard time hiding her emotions, I think the eyebrows could be a bit fuller and not quite so perfect... My two cents! The artwork is stunning!

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  67. Dear Diana,

    Do you ever get overwhelmed by the number of stories waiting to written? I am thinking of Master Raymond, Brian and Ellen, not to mention the remaining Outlander books. Or, is it comforting to know you have unlimited material to draw on.

    Also, what is the status of your present day mystery? Will it be hitting bookstores any time soon?

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  68. Jewel:
    Diana has created such vivid side characters in the novels that each one could have a book to themselves.
    The one I would like to see expanded is Dr. Joe Abernathy. Gellis' name was Abernathy in the Voyager. Umh! Just think of the possibllities on that one.
    Diana has turned me in to this insatiable monster, the more she writes the more I want. Want badly to see her contempory novel finihed to. See! more, more, more.

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  69. The picture is purrrfect for a graphic novel. Big ta ta's, wasp waist, ample hips and all. She is be-u-ti-full. Not the Claire that I envision though in the novels. I see Claire as a no fuss no froo froo type of woman. She grew up with her archeologist uncle on dig sites with mostly adult male companionship, not a finishing school type girl.
    Just finished the Lord John Grey stories and loved them. As usual very graphic love scenes. Have you gotten any comments from the your gay readers?
    I'm an RN "gas passer" (CRNA) by profession. We are a somewhat mysterious and secret society. No one really knows what we do even the people (MD's & other RN's) who are in the OR with us every day. I and my friends who read your novels were very pleased by your accuracy about Claire trying to find a way to provide medications and anesthesia to her clients. Can't wait for the next book. Thanks for the blog site. Love it!!! Happy Mardi Gras Ya'll!!!

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  70. Just a nod to Grant....I have to agree with what you have said about Claire's new portrait. Also as a curly-haired lass (to say the least!) without "hair product" there is no taming natural curl. It has a unique style unto itself.....that's all i can say about the hair. My friend feels that the portrait is too perfect and Harlequinlike....as I reread the descriptions of Claire I may be inclined to agree. Gorgeous artistry though!! SHARAF! I know you were replying to another poster but YES I share your feelings re the Outlander books! re the insatiability!! OMG I seriously think I have problems....then I read that there are so many like us( insatiable!!) and I feel "normal" I LOVE these books!! They truly "take me away " and for me personally I know that is what I want ( and need) from a good(scratch that) GREAT book!! Odd question here for anyone....IF you were at the standing stones and felt "something" heard the hum or what have you.....would you approach? Would you walk between the stones?? Just curious!!

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  71. Karen..YES! I would go through the stones! Without a look back! I'm not a doctor...but I know enough (I think) to get by..I've always felt I'm in the wrong time, although I do enjoy the Internet...and hot baths and my cell phone..those things not withstanding...I don't like how we've spoiled the earth and how we seem to have diminished our own importance by spreading over the planet like a scurge. Back to literature folks...I am going to be reading Drums of Autumn (yet again) I like to pick up the series every few years or so...and reread them...like part of my family...Thanks Diana for giving me such a great escape!

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  72. Folks:

    Since Diana has yet to gift us with new thoughts, and since my post before this directs you to my blog to read an example of "art in letter form," I have just updated my blog..... FYI, this isn't a sleazy way to get readers, but just to let you know to scroll past the new post and go the the next. (Although the new one had me laughing so hard I almost wet my pants.)

    Midge

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  73. Karen:
    My answer to your question is, Yes! But only if I had not read the Outlander series. I would out of curiosity, head for the humming stones. POOF! I'd be gone. Then again I've read the novels and the answer would be H--l No! I am perfectly content to let Claire have all the glory.

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  74. Sharaf,

    I would love to know what happened to wee Hamish. I am thinking he grew up to be a fine young man - look wise but I wonder what traits he picked up from Dougal!!! Diana has said he ended up in Nova Scotia - I am particularly interested in that storyline as I am a born and raised Nova Scotia girl. I believe we will see him as the war heats up. I sure hope so.

    Hey Diana .... any chance of a short story or novella on Hamish?

    There is a story I would dearly love to read!!!! I think of the conversation between he and Jamie with Claire up in the loft! He showed lots of spunk and MacKenzie heart....

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  75. I believe I would go thru the stones, if I were near and felt that pull. Or, maybe I would wait and go home first, pick up lots of toilet tissue and makeup and whatever else I felt I couldn't live without. But if I thought my Jamie was waiting on the other side..............Gone in a flash!! Better hope my honey of 38 years doesn't see this one. :>)

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  76. Dear Jewell--

    You'll see Hamish again in the new book (ECHO).

    Sorry, y'all--I spend the day in Tucson, doing a booksigning at the UofA bookstore, so back late. I'll try to answer some of your other questions tomorrow.

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  77. Dear Diana,

    Really? That is amazing. I thought Hamish was coming later.

    Pushing luck I know - can't help but ask ..... so will we see more of William as well (I mean more than brief glimpses we have had to date)?

    Hamish and William will be fighting for the same side (English), right? And against Jamie. Talk about personal stakes, tension on every page, and conflict at every turn!!!

    Very Exciting!!!!

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  78. After reading all these blogs I decided to add my 2 cents. Regarding the Claire drawing, I think she looks too much like a 21st century woman (like Brianna) and not someone from the 40s/50s. Beautiful, though.

    In searching for a Jamie lookalike, try the Formula One racecar driver David Coulthard. And he's a Scot!

    I'd like to add my thanks, Diana, for this blog. It keeps the excitement growing.

    Anita

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  79. This is my first time on the blog, so I have some catching up to do. I do want to comment on the Claire drawing…. I think she looks too much like a late 20th century woman (more Brianna) that someone who was a young adult in the 1940s/50s, especially with the bouffant hair.

    In searching for a Jamie lookalike, I came across Formula One racecar driver David Coulthard (who IS a Scot). Do a search on his Web site to see what I mean.

    I, too, want to thank you, Diana, for this blog. It is certainly keeping the excitement growing.

    Anita

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  80. Sorry about the duplication. I'll try to avoid that in the future.

    Anita

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  81. Dear Jewell--

    You'll see quite a bit of Willie, yes. [g]

    Back later--have to go get ashes!

    A peaceful and blessed Lent to all of you!

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  82. Diana:
    Just wondering...are there certain literary critics you know who you do not want to review your books? No matter what you write they will have their nose in the air. Have any of the Outlander series--EVER--gotten an unfavorable review? I can't imagine it. What qualifies a person to review certain authors and their style of writing? Are all author fair game or do certain critics review certain writers?

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  83. dear Diana, Being a Presbyterian like Roger, I may not understand to the fullest what exactly lent entails (giving up something, right?) but I think I speak for all of us when I say please don't give up the blog or writing "Echo" for lent. :) I implore you to give up something like Sleep. and write more. {huge smile) much love-charlotte

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  84. I just received my audio book today in the mail. This will be my third go around with Outlander, having read it twice before. I am already on disc 2 and I am totally thrilled!

    Diana, thank you with all my heart <3!

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  85. DDWinton!! Would you please tell me about the audio books? What type of voice reads them and how? is there Scots brogue? I have never listened to one and when the idea has crossed my mind I wonder what to expect??

    Charlotte carroll!! You are a hoot!!!! gave me some big smiles 'n chuckles over your post!!!Thanks! I needed that today! :)

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  86. Karen,

    If you want to hear all about audio books from the true source (Diana) go to her blog from January 27! You will get all the info you need. I am so excited to finally hear what everyone is talking about from the blogs!

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  87. I'm thinking Women's fiction, per diana's description, would be something like the movies they show on the Lifetime network. Its nice to find a writer who likes men as much as I do. :)

    Karen, thanks. Tee hee. one has to try to be clever when writing on a writer's blog. lol.

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  88. Karen,
    I have never "read" the books but listened to them (With a 2-hour daily commute, I listen to all books these days). Davina Porter does the reading on the unabridged versions and she is the best I've ever heard. She differentiates male from female voices and character from character. Not being a Scot, I can't verify her Scot accents, but they are certainly fluid. I can't imagine going back to the written word.

    Anita

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  89. I wanted to expand on my comments the other day on critic's and criticism.
    I was remembering my daughters last year in college. She was a design major. She had a Chinese professor that was particularly brutal in his comments and criticism of their work. I asked her how she could stand it. I was told he was trying to weed out the one's who could not take rejection. That no matter how hard you may have worked there will always be someone who doesn't like your work, who wants to change it, or who won't even look at it. I imagine this can also be true for novelists. Of course she was in a field where the client has the last word. I think I would have been the one weeded out first. This blog has given me a little confidence to put my thoughts out there for everyone to see.

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  90. sharaf:

    I agree with you about posting here and developing a sense of confidence. The opportunity to exchange dialogue with someone as skilled as Diana is a gift in itself (for all the obvious reasons). It takes guts for us mere mortals to expose ourselves to everyone's avid, rabid, and voracious interest in all things Gabaldon. What I find especially gratifying is the exercise in recalling and practicing the requirements of writing well.

    Midge

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  91. Dear Anita--

    Yes, Davina is wonderful! As for her Scottish accents, they're impeccable [g]; she's half-Scottish herself, and is married to a Scot.

    I highly recommend the audio versions of the Lord John books, too--Jeff Woodman, who reads those, is every bit as good. I couldn't be happier with the unabridged audios.

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  92. Diana, I am a devoted fan, practically evangelical when it comes to encouraging other people to read your books, and I have never been disappointed by anything you have yet written. BUT, I have to take issue with the "slut around pretty freely/lack of morality/lack of conscience" tag you have stuck upon women in contemporary novels. I teach a contemporary literature course, and we read many novels commonly dubbed "chicklit," a phrase I quite despise, by the way, and I do not share your opinion of the main characters. I'm a teensy bit shocked and fascinated that you express (what reads like anyway) such a harsh opinion of these women! Interesting. Change my mind?

    Addie

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  93. Diana,
    Claire's picture is beautiful but i thought her hair was darker brown and more curly. I love your outlander books so much. I read all 6 n 7 weeks last summer and again several times since. I wasn't much of a reader until then. Now i read all the time mostly so i won't continue to obsess so much about Jamie and Claire. I miss them like i miss friends. is this normal?

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  94. Dear Lynnm,

    Normal reaction to reading a novel or series? No. Normal reaction after reading Outlander and Co ... oh yes! The next thing is the relentless witnessing you will feel compelled to do ... bringing the world of Jamie and Claire to the masses.

    One great tip I learned over at the Ladies of Lallybroch was a way of finding out if someone is a DG follower or not - without coming off as an obsessed crazy. I actually tested this in Montreal in mixed company of new acquaintances. I had a feeling one of the ladies liked celtic things a bit more then usual (...she was wearing a dragonfly pin, too!) so I say: "Do you happen to know Jamie and Claire Fraser?" Now if you are mistaken the person will simply say 'no' and no explanation is needed on your part. In my case it was .... "YES!!! OMG! Have you EVER read anything like Outlander?" I had a new friend in that moment!!!! It was great fun. You should try it sometime!!!

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  95. Diana,
    How nice to actually get a response from my comment on the recorded books.
    I have listened to the Lord John books and do enjoy the reading by Jeff Woodman, except in one case. In a scene with Jamie in The Private Matter, his voice was so different from what I'd been used to with D. Porter that I was shocked. His reading put a very different tone on the J.Gray/J.Fraser relationship. But I'll be prepared next time.

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  96. Jewell! BRILLIANT!!! I just read your comment regarding "how to approach fellow Outlander lovers". What a fantastic approach!! I shall be borrowing that idea. I love this blog! I normally do not cruise boards and blogs but ...I'm glad I have here!....I have learned that I am not "abnormal" with my obsession over Jamie and Claire.

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  97. Dear Addie--

    Doubtless sampling error (plus ancient value system [g]) on my part. I don't, as I said, read widely in women's fiction/chicklit--just books that are particularly recommende to me, or that I come across by accident (that's how I found Marian Keyes, who as I say, is wonderful). So I may well have encountered a disproportionate and nonrepresentative sample.

    When I say "slut around," I mean specifically that there's a pervasive contemporary attitude displayed in many chicklit books, indicating that casual sex is not only normal, but expected. Not so much that the heroine of such a novel pursues men or is a nymphomaniac (is such a concept even _possible_, these days?)--but that she (speaking very generally here) often has sex with a man she's just met, or has sex with more than one man--or if she is married, has sex with someone else to whom she _isn't- married.

    I'm sure it's extremely old-fashioned of me to think this habit of going from "hello" to bed is deplorable, but there you are. (And I do realize that contemporary women's fiction is not _causing_ this permissive general attitude, but merely reflecting it.)

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  98. Diana:

    I'm just 8 years younger than you, so maybe it's a generational thing, but I think your comments are right on about the pervasive, relaxed sexual attitudes in contemporary literature written for women.

    Is it simply that writing reflects current attitudes? Or, is it an indication that the double standard has been torn asunder? My dear 83 year old mother has said (more times than I can count) that, in her day, there wasn't this obsession with sex as there is today. Yet, if one believes what one sees on the History channel, their program THE HISTORY OF SEX states rather clearly that the pursuit of free, unadulterated, sexual congress is as old as the hills. Institutions, specifically the Church (I'm Catholic, too) first rendered a consciousness to sex, and as a result, such things as courtly love and monogamy arose.

    We know there was sex happening all over England during Victoria's reign, although it went undercover, and there was a proliferation of special houses that catered to specific tastes. We have the Roaring 20's and that was followed by Hollywood and Hayes (Hays ?) Commission. I could go on, but I won't.

    So, I guess what it boils down to is: Does the writer reflect current mores or does the writer assist in engendering them? And now would be a good time for you to write your promised sex blog. ; )

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  99. Diana, thank you for your response! I was so excited you replied. I cannot wait for the sex blog that Merrymags referenced. I think as women we can't have a thorough enough discussion on this topic. I have wanted to teach a class called Sex Thru the Ages, or Sex in the Modern World, or Sex: What's Your Position? [g] for a long time, but I am an English teacher and suppose that a sociologist or anthrpologist would be a better choice for said class.

    Sex in literature is a HUGE topic, however, and one of the main reasons I initially loved Outlander and got into the series. Favorite scene for me: "You are mine" in Castle Leoch after Jamie and Claire return as newlyweds. (Will this be a part of the graphic novel? I ask wickedly). Also, when Jamie talks about not wanting to "possess" anyone but Claire (in BOSAA), that rings as so TRUE, so right.

    As far as sex in novels engendering sex in real life, I am going to take a shot in the dark here and guess that the ladies out there going from 'hello' to bed are not the same ones curled up on the sofa with the latest Jennifer Weiner. And hasn't sex always been an obsession with human beings? The only difference today is the ability for information to be so widely available and in our faces, and perhaps it seems like society is more sex-obsessed than ever before, but in my opinion, it has never ceased being rampantly sought after since time began.

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  100. Diana,

    I don't think Claire is that delicate. I know she's small to middle size, but not that frail looking. And her mouth is all puckery like that. Good hair though.

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  101. amen! I think that this type of writing is a reflection of our culture. I am an artist. I think the old saying of the chicken and egg sort of applies here. Does art reflect the culture? or Does the culture reflect the art?

    It could be a generational gap, but as you say there has always been sexual deviancy underneath the surface. In this day and time, it just is more publicly accepted. Historically, you see the decline of a culture with the rise of pornographic imagery and sexual deviancy widely accepted in the culture, out in the open. (Rome and Greece) In that light, I wonder where our culture is headed. Also, I wonder about the women's lib. movement. They claim to be so liberated by sexual promiscuity but in reality they are allowing men to use them without any consequences or responsibility for their actions. They have in a sense objectified themselves. I think its very sad, and somewhat masochistic.

    I am only 28, and I completely agree with your "old fashioned values". Casual sex (as well as things like friends with benefits) is expected in our culture. I think for morals to be present, there has to be a concept of right and wrong.

    All this to say that I do not think your ideals are old fashioned but biblical, and that I appreciate your writing characters who have honor and a moral compass from a biblical stand point. These books show what means to have a marriage built on trust and respect. To find a book where the sex that takes place is actually in a marriage and where the characters actually work on their marriage is very unique. I've been thinking lately about this issue. Its not that you can't separate the sex and the love, you can. Its that once you do, it creates a barrier between sex and emotion; once in place, that barrier is very difficult to break down. You write these characters where the two are united, the sex and the love. I love in "Dragonfly in Amber" where you have Jamie say something about loving and wanting being the same thing to him. I think this so true. They are supposed to be the same or as he says, damn close. :) I don't think I ever realized that before. Thanks for your wonderful insights. Oh, and I love the insight you gave into motherhood. In Voyager, you were speaking about the love of a mother being one of boundaries and restraint. What an incredible insight!? That only with your husband should you feel safe to love with complete abandon. As a mother of 3 babies under 4 years old, I find myself strongly attached to them and finding such a satisfaction in my job as their mother. It is easy to let that love take you over. anyway, I am rabbling. I just found that response to Addie very interesting. -charlotte

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  102. I have been thinking over the last few comments. The endless debate on human sexuality. The Outlander novels take you through so many avenues of emotion. You have man/woman, man/man, enduring love, brutal rape, and obessions. There wasn't one scene that didn't have me completely captivated. Diana wrote these scenes with taste, humor and complete believabilty. I did not read one scene that was there just to titiltate. The passage where Claire was raped was especially riveting. Even though rape is the ultimate violation, she gave us an insight to these men's misguided gravings. She gave us different points of
    view on what motivated these men. It was extremely sad (even though extremely wrong) the man who call out his wife's name during the rape. Loneliness, war, an sometimes a pack mentality can make you do things you never would have dreamed you where capable of. As long as there are human's on this earth the sexual debate will be endless. After all, we are all animals, some of us are on a higher level, some us are not. Which is right, which is wrong.

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  103. My mind is going ninety miles an hour on this subject. Through my many decades, I have read books depicting so called strong men--weak women. Me cave man I will drag you to my cave. To weak(maybe weak is not the right term) men trying to get in touch with their feminine side (what's that all about)--to women who think they have the right to f--- anything in sight. I think each generation of author's are a product of their times. Not always good, not always bad. It's when these generations over lap that the debates get heated up. All I want is for them to keep on writing. I will sort out what I want to read and what I don't.

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  104. Diana,

    The way you write about sex and love is the way you write about everything else-believable and true to life. I have to say though, your description of motherhood is amazing and so beautiful. I once wrote you a letter telling you how you touched me deeply by your many writings about pregnancy and what it means to be a mother. I have 4 children and I have read to my young adult children excerpts from your books, because they were so right on and beautiful.

    In The Fiery Cross, when they find Mrs. Beardsley baby and Jamie asks Claire if she wants to keep her and after much consideration she thinks, that "As a mother, I had the lightness now of effort complete, honor satisfied. Mission accomplished." and for me who is now watching my children begin to leave home one by one, it hit home with me. It is so hard watching them leave, but also so satisfying.

    When Jenny is describing what it is like to be pregnant....so beautiful

    Thank you for all of that and so much more.

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  105. Hi Diana—

    Outlander in the news…

    Today’s (10 February) issue of Book World in The Washington Post included a survey of readers’ favorite love stories. Included in the “Historical Novels” category is the following: “The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldon. She has a husband in one century and a lover in another.” (Another example of how accuracy can get sacrificed in the name of brevity, or maybe this is just sloppiness. It would have been just as brief to say “a husband in one century and a husband in another”). Anyway, I wasn’t surprised to see your books included in the list; in fact, I would have been surprised if they hadn’t been.

    But the opening of the article that accompanies this list illustrates how successfully your novels have defied the conventions of the love story. The article, a Michael Dirda review of an anthology of love stories, opens with a quote from the collection’s editor, Jeffrey Eugenides: “’When it comes to love, there are a million theories to explain it. But when it comes to love stories, things are simpler. A love story can never be about full possession. The happy marriage, the requited love, the desire that never dims—these are lucky eventualities buy they aren’t love stories. Love stories depend on disappointment, on unequal births and feuding families, on matrimonial boredom and at least one cold heart. Love stories, nearly without exception, give love a bad name’” (my emphasis).

    I hope you are one of the exceptions Eugenides had in mind.

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  106. I must be honest...
    I literally fell in love with this wonderful love story....
    I read the Outlander in 3 days...
    And I think that it will be my fave book for life...
    Thanks Diana for giving the world the wonderful story of Jamie and Claire, thanks for making me dream when I read your books...
    Sorry for my bad english
    Ale from Italy

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  107. Diana
    I started to ask if you have read books by Frank Yerby or Leon Uris, but the voracious reader that you are I think I know the answer. What I would like to know is what genre you would put these author's in today or would they be put into any catagory? These two author's started me on my never ending quest for great books to read. I put you right up there with them. I just remembered that Frank Yerby was an Africian-American author. Amazing what this man accomplished in the era he was born, raised, and lived in. It's been years since I read any of his work. I think I will go back and reread his novels while I am waiting for Echo of the Bone. They are timeless.

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  108. Diana and Charlotte, (and everyone else, but these two ladies specifically), I respect both of your comments on trust, values, and morals. JUST out of morbid curiosity, however, I must ask for clarification with one burning question, one that arises often enough in literary discussions in my classes. [deep breath] SHOULD a woman be a virgin on her wedding night? IS it an all-or-nothing proposition? Okay, that was two questions. =) I am a married mother of three, consider myself a moral person, though not particularly a religious one, and I believe the answer to the first question is 'no way.' I am NOT advocating for Sex and the Cityesque relationships by any means, but would think that a little say, experimentation, pre-marriage is perhaps even healthy. Men seem to have no such qualms, labels, or problems with these questions: why are women so often targeted, needing to be pure/unspoiled? etc. Hmmm.

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  109. For Diana,
    You mentioned to Lily that there are no female clan chiefs.....my Clan Chief is female and georgous to boot (so is her 6'9" husband). She became Chief upon her grandmothers death (to make it more interesting, her brother is Chief of another Clan - the plot thickens). Or were you referring to the time period of the 18thC?

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  110. That picture of Claire on your website is amazing. It fits her perfectly, and it's very beautiful. I really hope a film does get made, although it will have to be fantastic to do the books justice.

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  111. Diana:
    This if off topic, but I have a question to ask. I'm reading "INTO THE WILDERNESS" by Sara Donati. I just read the passage where her characters mention Ian Murray, Claire, and James Fraser. This was at the battle of Freeman's Farm in 1777. I know she asked your permission to use their names in her book. What I want to know was how did she know that Jamie & Claire Fraser and Young Ian would still be alive at the time of her writing this into her book? She published this book in 1998. From the excerpts in Echo of the Bone this event will take place in your book. Which is being written in 2008-9. Is this where you write a passage thinking you could use it later if and when you decide to write another book? Am I getting all mixed up here? Do you understand what I'm trying to ask? Did you share with her this passage? See, if I had read her book when it first came out I would have known later that they would not die at the end of A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES. Of course I wouldn't have known that you intended to continue the series.

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