Sunday, July 18, 2010

Steinkreis 1.1

In an amongst all the exciting and impending New Stuff, I mustn't omit to note the recent publication in Germany of DER MAGISCHE STEINKREIS, which is...

Well. For starters, the book that was published in the UK as THROUGH THE STONES, and in the US as THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION, was published in Germany as DER MAGISCHE STEINKREIS. Now, personally, I dislike this title very much; it means [gag me with a spoon] "The Magic Stone Circle". As I keep telling careless interviewers, there isn't any magic anywhere _in_ the books, unless you want to count a little voodoo in VOYAGER. [g]

But that's what the German publisher called it (I'm not all that mad about any of the German titles, but most of the rest aren't awful, either).

Well, the original COMPANION/STEINKREIS has been very popular, for which I'm glad. The book was an attempt on my part to answer all the questions that people have asked me over the first ten years and four books of the series. And people have been kind enough to tell me that they've found it entertaining in itself, as well as a helpful adjunct to an enormous, complicated...chronicle/legend/saga/series, whatever.

Right. Now I am working on (slowly, in the interstices of Real Writing [g])the second volume of the COMPANION, but that's nowhere near finished and won't be for awhile. The German publisher, though, got the bright idea of updating the original volume--sort of a COMPANION 1.1, if you will.

I told them I was WAY too busy to undertake anything of the sort, but they asked Barbara Schnell, my valuable and excellent translator, if she might undertake it, with occasional suggestions and assistance from me. She very nobly did this, and the devil of a sweat it was, too, I can tell you.

I actually ended up writing synopses for THE FIERY CROSS, A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, and AN ECHO IN THE BONE, which are included in this updated volume. I also gave Barbara _all_ my interview files [g], from which she culled an enormous new FAQ section. She also removed some of the material (like websites) that was obsolete, and included some of her own spectacular photography of Scotland, and me in Scotland, and so on. And we found a couple of "out-takes" from the series to include, in lieu of excerpts of upcoming books.

ANYway...that's what it is. I know some people have been wondering--and one misguided soul has (I'm told) already put up a comment on accusing me of "finding a new way to rip off readers."

(Now, normally, I just don't read amazon comments, even in English; there's just not world enough or time. And generally speaking, I'd pay no attention to the opinion of someone who patently hasn't looked at the book, and does not understand the concept of free choice. HOW, exactly, does one "rip off" anyone by offering anything whatever that people are free to look at and then buy or reject as they like? But I will admit to finding this a little raw.)

OK. The book _is_ available only in German. There will NOT be a version 1.1 in English--because there WILL be a _completely_ new VOLUME II in English, probably within the next year or so (this will include FC, ABOSA, ECHO, _and_ the Lord John series, plus recipes, costumes, maps, and timeines, among other things). But...we don't want the English readers to feel left out, entirely. [g] (I may update the first volume, too, but only insofar as deleting obsolete references and maybe redoing the Glossary.)

So here's one of the out-takes we included in DMS. From the date on the file, it was originally written for FIERY CROSS, but just didn't really fit anywhere. This doesn't happen often; usually a bit that doesn't fit in one book _does_ fit into the next one (waste not, want not, you know). In this case, though, that didn't work, both because Jemmy's age and Roger's knowledge of Gaelic were too advanced by the time I got to work on ABOSA. So here you go:

I could hear Jamie and Roger on the other side of the screen of bushes that divided the clearing from the creek. They were talking casually together in Gaelic as they stripped for bathing, and Brianna tilted her head toward the bushes, frowning in concentration as she listened.

"It's a lovely language, isn't it?" I said.

"Unique, at least," she said, grinning as Roger repeated a phrase several times. Whatever it meant, it began with a peculiar noise that resembled nothing so much as the inadvertent exclamation of someone stepping unexpectedly on a slug. "What did he say?"

"I don't know. I don't think I've heard that one before."

Jamie's voice came back, sounding amused and questioning. Evidently he hadn't heard it, either. There was a splash, a high-pitched exclamation, another splash, another exclamation, and a chorus of breathless male laughter. Bree smiled, listening.

"Do you know very much Gaelic, Mama?" She reached out a hand and deftly collared an escaping Jemmy, grabbing him under the stomach and swinging him up onto her lap.
"Here, a chuisle, let Mama wipe your face."

"Well, I understand quite a lot by this time," I said. "Which is occasionally very helpful indeed. I'm not sure I could _speak_ it if my life depended on it, though. I have inborn prejudices that inhibit me from making some of the necessary noises."

In fact, I understood Jamie much better than I did Roger, when it came to Gaelic. The language appeared to have evolved somewhat over the two hundred years between them, and while the overall effect seemed quite the same to the naked ear, Jamie spoke something Roger referred to --with an academic fascination that Jamie bore fairly patiently--as "Erse."

I had been exposed to the dialect Jamie and other Highlanders spoke for some time, now, whereas I had never heard much modern Gaelic at all.

"_Cac_," said Roger, through his teeth. I did know that one.

So did Brianna, evidently.

"Are you all right?" she called through the bushes.

"Fine," Roger shouted back. "Stubbed my toe on a rock. The water's murky here."

Jamie said something I didn't catch, and both men laughed. The splashing grew louder, and Jemmy made urgent noises and struggled to get away, obviously wanting to go join the fun with the other boys.

"Cut it out," Bree said firmly. "Here, look here. Look, where's Mommy?" She held up a linen towel in front of her face, then lowered it, peeking over the top. "Peek-a-boo!"

Jemmy gave his funny deep laugh, and watched enchanted as the towel went up again.

"Boo!" Brianna appeared again suddenly. "[Where's Mommy?"]"

It occurred to me to wonder why Jamie had at once begun teaching Brianna Gaelic; he had never tried to teach me, though he would obligingly translate for me in any setting where the talk was chiefly Gael.

"Did Roger teach you any Gaelic?" I asked, curious.

Bree lowered the towel, stuck out her tongue and wiggled it at Jemmy, who went into ecstasies.

"No," she replied, pulling up the towel again, "he doesn't know a whole lot himself--just bits he picked up from the fishermen he used to work with in the summertimes. He says it's a real education to talk to Da."

"Yes, it must be," I said, privately wondering what the hell else Jamie was teaching Roger. The two of them were up to something, that was clear enough--to me, at least--and something they thought a mnai--the women--were better off not knowing. I wondered whether Brianna was also aware of it, and whether I ought to say something.

Jamie wasn't given to keeping secrets from me, no matter how unpleasant the news. If he was doing it now, it could only be because Roger had decided not to tell Bree.
Sloshing noises on the other side of the bushes announced the emergence of one of the men from the water. "Whoo," said Roger under his breath, quite near to hand. Noises came like a dog shaking itself, and drops spattered on the ground as he squeezed water from his hair.

"Boo-boo-boo-boo-boo!" Brianna emerged from her towel, and tickled Jemmy into a frenzy of giggles, her long hair falling down over him as she bent forward.

Jamie said something from the creek in a mildly imperative tone that sounded like "..._seil-uisge a cnapach_."

"Eh?" said Roger, on the other side of the bush.

"_Seil-uisge a cli\pachd_," Jamie said, quite clearly.

"Aye?" Roger sounded questioning. "[What does cli\pachd mean?] [and] _cnapach_?"

"Cli\pachd is the floppy bit under a turkey's chin," I called back, seized by a desire to show off. "You know--the wattle. I don't know what a _cnapach_ is, though."

"A little bump or a lump, I think." Brianna looked up, hair falling back from her flushed face. "And _seil-uisge_ is a leech, right?" She made a moue of distaste at the thought; no one shared my regard for leeches, no matter how I sang their praises.

"Oh, aye?" Roger sounded rather uncertain, as well he might. No turkeys about that I could see. "It's a colloquialism of some kind, then? A, um, popular term that means something besides the formal meaning of the word?"

There was a moment's silence. I could feel Jamie--who knew quite well what a colloquialism was--choosing his words carefully.

Then he spoke in English, with the clarity and diction of a BBC announcer.

"I _said_," he repeated in slow, cultured tones, "there is a leech...on...your...cock."

[end section]


  1. Ha! Laughed out loud at that ending! Brilliant!!! I was thinking the 'wattle' was referring to a man's nether regions.

    I very much enjoyed Companion and will be looking for the next volume.

  2. LOL! That is wonderful! Very funny!

  3. Thank you so much for the outtake! That kind of made my day. Poor Roger, he always seems to get the short end of the stick.

  4. Oh God! Too Funny but yet so Jamie. Loved it!

  5. LOL! Enjoyed that so much! Thank you!

  6. I enjoy your writing SO much! Thank you for the outtake! It makes me look forward to the 2nd Companion almost as much as I look forward to book 8. ;-)

  7. I just woke everyone in the house with a very loud laugh. I had better tiptoe now.

  8. Getting back to Claire's question...why did Jamie teach Gaelic to Bree but not to Claire? Is it because Claire is English, but he considers his daughter to be Scottish?

  9. Dear Saqqara--

    Well, he didn't teach her in the beginning, because he had no reason to suppose that she'd necessarily stay with him. And he does value her "otherness"-her _being_ a Sassenach; he probably subconsciously wants to keep that aspect of her. And he may also worry about what kind of trouble she might get into if she was able to join Gaelic conversations. [g]

  10. I wish I could read german--that update sounds fab.! I'll just have to wait patiently for the updated English version so you can "rip me off" by sucking more money from me ;-D Honestly who can call purchasing anything Outlander related as being anything more than a sound, yet oh so sumptuous investment? :D Love the out-take! Poor Roger!

  11. Thanks so much for posting that out-take! Would have hated to have missed that scene. So nice to see Jamie, Claire, Roger, Bree and Jemmy just enjoying some time together. Then add in that classic bit of humor at the end... loved it!

    Very much looking forward to the next Companion, too. :-)

  12. Haha, that was awesome! I laughed so much! Thank you for posting that :)

  13. I am really excited for "The Companion II", Diana. I LOVE the first one. It's such a wonderful compendium (I love how that word sounds ) of information about the series. Just can't wait for the next one!

    Can't stand the "rip off" promoters! They really should get a grip.

    Thanks for the excerpt!


  14. *laugh*! That outtake was great, thank you for sharing it. :D

    I also like seeing the rawness of your excerpts and blips, the process of writing is fascinating to me, in that there doesn't seem to be one universal Right Way to go about it. :D

  15. Best laugh I've had in a couple of days! Thanks Diana!

  16. Bwahahahahahahaha! I so do love those guys!

  17. "A leech on your...." Bwaaahaaahaa!!

    I have such a mental picture right now of everyone slowing turning and staring toward poor Roger's nether regions, with Claire ready to pluck the offending creature (meaning the leech) off for future use. Priceless! Thanks for the giggle!



  18. I don't know if I will buy the updated version or if I just wait for the second volume.

    I found AEITB in the alternative history and timetravel section of a bookshop in Sweden.

  19. Thank you so much for this outtake. Quite the predicament for poor Roger. Wonderful humour with Jamie's explanation. Diana, you are Queen of setting the scene.

  20. Thanks for the outtake! I await your visit to Kansas City sometime in the future. Or at least some city that I can travel to for a chance to meet you. Awaiting the Companion II and the next installment :)

  21. Now there's a mental picture that'll keep me smiling this evening :0)
    Thanks for sharing!

  22. That little bit was the perfect antedote for a bad case of the Mondays. Jamie always brightens my day. Thanks, Diana!

  23. Hahahaha! I love anything with Roger, Jemmy and Jamie in it, there's always a couple of laughs in it! Boy, I wish you posted this years ago, "Erse" is always in the Chicago Tribune crossword puzzles!

  24. Love the excerpt, thank you!

    At one time there was an excerpt posted with Claire and William in a burning stable, in which Claire updates William about his paternity... guessing that this is now an outtake too?

  25. Couldn't laugh out loud (cuz I'm in the office, and it would have garnered me a couple of strange looks - but then, what else is new?)but did chuckle inside. Your out-takes (and excerpts) are always eye-opening, and keep the fires burning while we wait. I do read some German, but what with the US and UK versions (Cross Stitch and Through the Stones thanks to JudyL and the tour of scotland I did in '06) and a beginning to the French (Canadian) volumes (of which I need to get back to), I think having a 3rd language set might be a bit over the top. I'll try to wait for Vol II of Outlandish Companion instead.

  26. That was good! By the way, how's your knee?

  27. The knee's good, thanks! Still some stiffness and swelling, but that'll go away gradually over the next few months. I can pretty much do anything I want to, though, including stairs [g], though going down is still slightly awkward.

  28. Took me two readings to catch that Jamie referred to Roger's male appendage as a little bump or lump. Gracious! And LOL!

  29. I loved this! Your books truly elicit the full rainbow of human emotions, and it's amazing how even an outtake from a book - an outtake that didn't even make it in anywhere into the proper books - has the power to do the same. To be touching, witty, wistful and mysterious, and end with an honest-to-God belly laugh. I hope we get to someday read every scribbled outtake you ever penned :-) And, I'm glad to hear your knee is doing well :-)

  30. I realize this is perhaps late, but I would like to make a suggestion for the next companion book. I'd LOVE to see floor plans for the significant buildings in the Books: Lallybroch, Castle Leoch, the Manse, the Big House on the Ridge, maybe Lord John's Boston house.

  31. Love it. Thanks for the outtake.

  32. Thank you for the out take! I loved it!

  33. Great out take! I've listened to both the Outlander and Lord John series on audio book AND LOVED THEM! You picked two narrators who really know how to bring characters to life! For your next series, have you thought about Jocasta's story? I would be fascinated to hear more about her - or about Jaime's mother growing up and running off with his father.

  34. Diana, Thx for posting this it was great. I'm currently feeding my addiction to your books by listening to the audio books repeatedly. Do you have an update on when the unabridged versions of Fiery Cross and ABSAA will be available?

  35. Excellent! Thank you so much for sharing.

    I had wondered to myself why Jamie never tried to teach Claire. I had a personal suspicion on why that was and now you have confirmed it! So thanks again!
    "And he may also worry about what kind of trouble she might get into if she was able to join Gaelic conversations"

    I love reading the parts in your books where you have written times when Claire tries to talk in Gaelic and then you add that Jamie is grinning or biting his lower lip or smirking...I just picture that so well. Love them!

  36. That is hilarious!!! Love it. Thanks for posting it for us. These people are so "real" to me, even though they were outtakes, it just seems like another story in the lives of the people I care about so much :) Like good friends.

  37. LOVED it, esp. Jamie's Measured Tones. Lovely bit, that!

  38. I am new to your books and purchased the fifth one first, so I am in process of getting them in order, also for years being a Scot stuck in America since birth, I have sought to speak Gaelic I thank you for your wonderful use of this and I pray it is not a dead language such as Latin one day. It is essential we keep it alive. I am also honestly working on my own novel just have no clue what to do with it when done, where to send...who to edit and I need that!

  39. Lol! So funny. Not only are you a great writer, but you have the greatest comedic timing :-D Thanks for sharing this "outtake"

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