Thursday, September 4, 2008


Copyright 2008 Diana Gabaldon

[Please note: "Copyright" means that this piece may NOT be reposted or otherwise published anywhere, without the written permission of the copyright holder--which would be me. You're more than welcome to provide a link to it from your own website, if you like, but please don't cut and paste it. The publisher is already antsy about my posting excerpts on the Web; we don't want to give them terminal heebie-jeebies. [g])

Copyright 2008 Diana Gabaldon

Inverness-shire, Scotland

"We are alive," Brianna MacKenzie repeated, her voice tremulous. She looked up at Roger, the paper pressed to her chest with both hands. Her face streamed with tears, but a glorious light glowed in her blue eyes. "Alive!"
"Let me see." His heart was hammering so hard in his chest that he could barely hear his own words. He reached out a hand, and reluctantly, she surrendered the paper to him, coming at once to press herself against him, clinging to his arm as he read, unable to take her eyes off the bit of ancient paper.
It was pleasantly rough under his fingers, hand-made paper with the ghosts of leaves and flowers pressed into its fibers. Yellowed with age, but still tough and surprisingly flexible. Bree had made it herself--two hundred years before.
Roger became aware that his hands were trembling, the paper shaking so that the sprawling, difficult hand was hard to read, faded as the ink was.

December 31, 1776

My darling daughter,

As you will see, if ever you receive this, we are alive...

His own eyes blurred, and he wiped the back of his hand across them, even as he told himself that it didn't matter, for they were surely dead now, Jamie Fraser and his wife Claire--but he felt such joy at those words on the page that it was as though the two of them stood smiling before him.
It was the two of them, too, he discovered. While the letter began in Jamie's hand--and voice--the second page took up in Claire's crisply slanted writing.

Your father's hand won't stand much more, she wrote. And it's a bloody long story. He's been chopping wood all day, and can barely uncurl his fingers--but he insisted on telling you himself that we haven't--yet--been burnt to ashes. Not but what we may be at any moment; there are fourteen people crammed into the old cabin, and I'm writing this more or less sitting in the hearth, with old Grannie MacLeod wheezing away on her pallet by my feet so that if she suddenly begins to die, I can pour more whisky down her throat.

"My God, I can hear her," he said, amazed.
"So can I." Tears were still coursing down Bree's face, but it was a sun-shower; she wiped at them, laughing and sniffing. "Read more. Why are they in our cabin? What's happened to the big house?"
Roger ran his finger down the page to find his place and resumed reading.
"Oh, Jesus!" he said.

You recall that idiot, Donner?

Gooseflesh ran up his arms at the name. A time-traveler, Donner. And one of the most feckless individuals he'd ever met or heard of--but nonetheless dangerous for that.

Well, he surpassed himself by getting together a gang of thugs from Brownsville, to come and steal the treasure in gems he'd convinced them we had. Only we hadn't, of course.

They hadn't--because he, Brianna, Jemmy, and Amanda had taken the small hoard of remaining gemstones to safeguard their flight through the stones.

They held us hostage and rubbished the house, damn them--breaking, amongst other things, the bottle of ether in my surgery. The fumes nearly gassed all of us on the spot...

He read rapidly through the rest of the letter, Brianna peering over his shoulder and making small squeaks of alarm and dismay. Finished, he laid the pages down and turned to her, his insides quivering.
"So you did it," he said, aware that he shouldn't say it, but unable not to, unable not to snort with laughter. "You and your bloody matches—you burned the house down!"
Her face was a study, features shifting between horror, indignation--and yes, a hysterical hilarity that matched his own.
"Oh, it was not! It was Mama's ether. Any kind of spark could have set off the explosion--"
"But it wasn't any kind of spark," Roger pointed out. "Your cousin Ian lit one of your matches."
"Well, so it was Ian's fault, then!"
"No, it was you and your mother. Scientific women," Roger said, shaking his head. "The eighteenth century is lucky to have survived you."
She huffed a little.
"Well, the whole thing would never have happened if it weren't for that bozo Donner!"
"True," Roger conceded. "But he was a trouble-maker from the future, too, wasn't he? Though admittedly neither a woman, nor very scientific."
"Hmph." She took the letter, handling it gently, but unable to forbear rubbing the pages between her fingers. "Well, he didn't survive the eighteenth century, did he?" Her eyes were downcast,
their lids still reddened.
"You aren't feeling sorry for him, are you?" Roger demanded, incredulous.
She shook her head, but her fingers still moved lightly over the thick, soft page.
"Not… him, so much. It's just--the idea of anybody dying like that. Alone, I mean. So far from home."
No, it wasn't Donner she was thinking of. He put an arm round her and laid his head against her own. She smelled of Prell shampoo and fresh cabbages; she'd been in the kailyard. The words on the page faded and strengthened with the dip of the pen that had written them, but nonetheless were sharp and clear--a surgeon's writing.
"She isn't alone," he whispered, and putting out a finger, traced the postscript, again in Jamie's sprawling hand. "Neither of them is. And whether they've a roof above their heads or not--both of them are home."

[end section]


  1. You know, I rarely read your excerpts, I prefer to be surprised when the book comes out. Besides, I don't spend all my time imagining different scenarios that I know are probably not even a thought in your head :-)

    But I couldn't help this one and thank you! I felt like I too, was reading the letter over Roger's shoulder.


  2. Hi Diana,

    Thanks for posting this wonderful section of AEITB. I am one of those readers who has been slow to warm to Brianna (while Roger, on the other hand, I have loved from his first five year old appearance ;)), but now I am ALMOST as anxious to hear about her story as I am of Jamie and Claire. I couldn't help but feel tears form in my own eyes as I read with excitement along with Brianna and Roger. Please tell me you are planning swinging through Chicago again on your next book tour?? And when are are your new podcasts going to be posted??


  3. That was really very, very nice of you to publish such a great piece. Tell the antsy publishers I want to buy the book even MORE now; hell, tell them I will buy two.

    For the Saratoga scenes, did you/will you be doing any local research? Just curious, since that is my neck of the woods...

  4. Dear Diana,

    Thank you for such a lovely gift. My heart is full and I feel as though I've received a surprise visit from long-lost friends. I cannot begin to describe my joy.


  5. YOUR THE BEST!!!! thanks so much for posting excerpts it makes the waiting bearable. By the way I have to tell you that your writings have actually influenced me to major in History.(I just switched my major this week!) When I started reading your books I found myself researching all the places and people you wove into the plot. That lead to other people and places and now I cant seem to stop.

    Maybe if I have to do a presentation on Scottish History you can drive over to ASU and be my guest speaker! jk. I can dream.

  6. Hi Diana
    Thank You x 100!
    As a newbie to the series (I read them back to back at the beginning of this year), I just love reading excerpts - it helps to pass the time while we "Wait and see" *vbg*. I am in awe of those who had to wait between DIA and V.
    Janelle N

  7. Dear Erin--

    I don't set the itinerary for book-tours--the publisher just tells me where to go. [g] They do usually send me to Naperville, though; there's a good independent bookstore there.

    As for the podcasts, those should be starting to come up just about any time now; they're meant to publicize the trade paper release of BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE and HAND OF DEVILS.

  8. Dear Melanie--

    I've walked the battlefield at Saratoga twice; the last time only a year or two back. _Really_ interesting place!

  9. Dear keighley--

    Yeah, I can't understand the people who ask me "how much research do I have to do"--there's _always_ more you could find out! But that's why I do the writing and the research concurrently; one thing just leads to another, as you say. [g]

  10. That's a really great excerpt.
    Do they publish the book in Germany at the same time again?
    Do you know, that you have also a group on Facebook?
    Bye Julia

  11. Oh thank you, thank you. I feel like I've received an incredible gift from a long lost friend!
    Reading your excerpt, tears beginning to pool, I felt among friends and "home" myself.
    I CAN wait until it is published in it's entirety, but the days will be long and sorrowful!
    Thank you again Diana.

  12. You...are wonderful! Brianna and Roger reading the letter was about the first thing I was looking forward to in the next book.

  13. Diana,

    All I can say is thank you. Thank you for all of it....

  14. Dear Julia--

    Well, that's the plan. [g] To publish at the same time in German, I mean. Barbara, the German translator, has already started working on one of the 'chunks' that was ready to go.

  15. With just

    Inverness-shire, Scotland

    "We are alive," Brianna MacKenzie repeated, her voice tremulous. "

    you made me cry. Sheesh... :)

  16. Diana,

    Many thanks for sharing this excerpt. I just finished ABOSAA (in many ways my favorite novel of the series) over the Labor Day weekend, so this was a timely and treasured treat!


  17. Diana,

    Many thanks for sharing this excerpt. I just finished ABOSAA over the Labor Day holiday and I think in many ways it's my new favorite novel of the series. So reading this was a very timely and treasured treat!


  18. Hi Diana,

    I just finished reading ABOSAA and was so sad that the story was over. I read all of the books back to back including Outlandish Companion. Thinking that there were only going to be six books I came to you site to suggest maybe writing a book comprised of Claire and Jameie's letters to Briana...How excited was I to read an excerpt from the next book...!!!I hope I can last a whole year!
    Thank you for a truly enjoyable read. I loved it!!

  19. That's great.Can't wait for it any more.
    Barbara is pretty fast in translating, isn't she?
    My parents alwys ask me when your next book comes out and say you should hurry up a bit. :)

  20. more more more! I'm insatiable! LOL xoxo melzie

  21. Dear Julia--

    Tell your parents I write as fast as I can do it, and still have a good book. [g]

    But yes, Barbara's last name is "Schnell," and she is. [g]

  22. Thanks so much for posting this! I've been reading the series since I was 15, and have purchased Outlander, Dragonfly, and Voyager three times each (you're welcome, :> ) because I keep reading them to tatters.

    It's lovely to get a glimpse of what's next.

  23. Thank you for sharing this excerpt with us. I *just* finished re-reading ABOSAA, to catch the details I missed the first time through. I look forward to reading and re-reading An Echo in the Bone next year. :)

  24. You inspired me to begin writing historical fiction. Actually, I'm a tech writer/editor (LOTS of short, declarative sentences and bulleted lists). I'm doing well with research (12th century Spain), but haven't written a thing worth keeping. Any hints on how to make the jump from geek-speak to flowing literary style? Thanks!

  25. Diana -

    I passed over this excerpt to read the rest of what you've been working on because I didn't want to spoil my reading of Echo. didn't last long. Curse that Curiosity! I'm glad I did though.....oh! reading it stirred the soul and flooded back memories from the previous books. Thank you so much for willing to share a wee bit and tie us avid readers over.


  26. Dear Galen--

    My best suggestion would be to read a ton of "flowing literary stuff." [g] Kind of immerse yourself in it, then re-read the things you liked the best. Around the third reading, you'll probably start noticing how it's done, in terms of the nuts and bolts of technique. That _might_ make it easier to apply those techniques in your own writing.

    Mind, there are lots of things to be said in terms of description, use of detail, etc.--but that's workshop stuff; not really the place for it here.

    You might want to check out the Compuserve Books and Writers Community, though--we have a Research and Craft section where folks discuss just this kind of thing. (Googling it is probably the easiest way in.)

  27. Thanks so much for giving us a peek at what's ahead! I just discovered the series last fall and read them back to back. I'm anxiously waiting for the next installment. I have a new "rescue" dog and named her Lally (guess what that's short for). Thanks for everything. Hope you make it to St. Louis.


  28. Cheers Diana!
    I can't wait to tell everyone it's here. I was getting a little tired of making up my own endings.

    Is there any chance of a 'now time' connection with Lord John?

  29. Oh Diana, thank you SO MUCH. We've just moved to the country (2 whole weeks ago now) and after getting our internet connected earlier in the week, I'm slowly getting through all the blogs that I read, and Oh La! Here is an EXCERPT from you! And just yesterday evening on the train home, I was listening to one (ok, more like 5 - it's a long train trip) of your podcasts! It's a sign - I must read the books again!!!

    So very very delightful :) You made my eyes tear up, and absolutely made my night!!!

  30. Dear bookfreak--

    You mean will Lord John be in ECHO? Yes, sure.

  31. Thank you so much, like many I started with Outlander when it first came out. You have taught me patience in a way no else could. I have learn to enjoy what comes and not look for anything else. The best surprise was ABOSAA, I didn't follow your web site, so I had no idea it was coming out. You would have thought I won the lottery when I saw it, I grabbed it up and had to make sure it was YOURS, then jumped around the bookstore like a 5 year old. I came home with LOTS of frozen dinners and locked my bedroom door. My ladies have learned to not knock when this happens. Thank you for sharing your self and your talent

  32. The last chapter is my fav of ABOSA - and this has just brought it all alive again.

    "Roger had goosebumps..." I had goosebumps, as well as tears welling up.... it's going to be an emotional rollarcoaster ride when it's finished!

    But I am so looking forward it! And as someone else said, I did love reading over Roger's shoulder *g*

  33. Diana, Thank you soooo much for this excerpt! I was about to go in to DT's, now maybe I can hold out until the book is published. I can't wait to get my hands on it! I'm an ob nurse, and you would not believe how many new mother's bring your books to the hospital to read during their stay! It gives us a "special bonding" teehee.:)
    Michelle, the giver of china bowls

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