Thursday, August 20, 2015

Diana Gabaldon at Denver HNS Conference

Diana Gabaldon and Me in Denver!

Diana G. wowed the Denver crowd as well as participants in the 6th annual Historical Novel Society Writer’s Conference June 26-28 at the Hyatt Regency. As her biggest Minnesota fan, I was once again in the presence of my inspiration. (Two years ago, we met at the 4th annual HNS in St. Petersburg, Florida. Every other year, the Historical Novel Society has a conference in England.)
The popular author participated in a panel session on Midwifery Saturday afternoon, then signed books continuously for two hours. As the keynote speaker at dinner that evening, she filled over 400 conferees in on how the Starz cable series of Outlander was born at another dinner with Producer Ronald Moore of StarTrek fame, his partner and their wives. The wives were gushing over the bestselling Outlander books they were reading—a perfect new project!

An option was already held by someone else for movie rights to Outlander, but condensing the book to a two-hour movie was not in the script. When the option was finally released to Moore, Outlander became the 16-episode series that has collected raves, awards, and an incredible following of international viewers who have flooded social media with proof of their dedication as old…and new fans. The charismatic actors have truly brought Diana’s book to life. Season one ended as summer began, and “Droughtlander” became the new word coined for the period between seasons (and books in the series).

Diana was also hostess for the late night “spicy” readings after the Saturday banquet. I had signed up to read—among 30 or 40 others—but lost my voice to laryngitis. Great timing for an opportunity that was probably steamrolled by a case of nerves, anyway. Diana graciously offered to read for me, and I gave her a copy of my own romantic time travel with pages marked. As it turned out, the evening was shortened when the hotel staff needed to clean the dining room. The dinner, awards, a hilarious costume skit and the readings had extended the day to 17 hours for intrepid HNS travelers.

Fans of the more celebrated attending authors signed up to meet their favorites in Sunday morning “Coffee Klatches.” Diana had three 45-minutes sessions scheduled in her suite, We learned she writes in a "gridwork design," scenes that eventually string together like a network of Christmas lights. Are Jamie & Claire in the Starz mini-series an item in real life? (Sadly, no; just good friends and charismatic actors.) Advice to fellow writers? Write somthing every day, even if you think it stinks!
“Ye Hielands and Ye Lawlands” for the last hour of the Conference was one of my favorite sessions, probably because free samples of Scottish whiskey from all regions of Scotland—became instant balm for a sore throat. With her rigorous schedule, I was amazed that Diana still had her voice, and gracious good humor. “If you want to sell books,” she chuckled, “get a TV series.” The best writing advice I ever got advocated a benchmark to follow: Emulate, Equal, then Surpass your favorite author! Dynamic Diana makes that reach nearly highland impossible!

Cj Fosdick
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