Outlander Panel at San Diego Comic-Con!

Outlander poster - Claire reaching back toward viewer with Jamie in the background reaching for her hand - caption What If Your Future was The Past?STARZ is about to unveil the Outlander TV series

When I first heard this, I was sure it would be horrible.  Then I heard that Ronald D. Moore was the creator and I thought, OK, maybe not. He’s the guy who brought us the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, which was a fabulous show until everyone including Ronald experienced some sort of mass insanity in the last season. 

Now I’ve had the opportunity to see the Outlander panel at San Diego Comic-Con and some footage from the show, and guess what! 

This show might not suck!  I am cautiously excited, if you can picture such a contradictory state of mind.

Here’s my notes from the Outlander panel, which included Ronald D. Moore, Diana Gabaldon, Sam Heughan (Jamie), Lotte Verbeck (Geillis), Caitriona Balfe (Claire), Graham MacTavish (Dougal), and Tobias Menzies (Frank/Black Jack Randall):

  • The actor, who plays Jamie, Sam Heughan, is huge.  I mean, he is a big guy.  The actress who plays Claire has a great intensity and intelligence.
  • Ronald D. Moore said that it was important that the story be told from Claire’s point of view and that we share her sense of disorientation, so early on there are fairly long chunks of dialogue in Gaelic (which Claire does not speak) without subtitles.
  • Sam and Graham tried to explain the process of putting on a plaid (the older, more utilitarian style of kilt).  You have to lie down on the fabric and wrap it around you.  Sam (who I believe I mentioned is a big guy) said it’s quite a difficult process in a small trailer!  Graham said that if he could he'd wear the old-style plaid every single day – he loves it.  Lotte and Caitriona praised the high level of detail on their dresses although Lotte pointed out that Claire has to spend much of the first episodes in her shift.
  • When asked what they wanted the audience to grasp about their character, Caitriona said she wanted people to get Claire's strength, and her ability to recover from the loss of one life and accept a new one.  
  • You aren't allowed to close off public land in Scotland while filming, so local people were often wandering onto the set.  The show is filmed on location.
  • Ronald D. Moore is best known for his work on Battlestar and on Star Trek.  When asked what it’s like to do a show that isn’t science fiction, he said that he always enjoys writing shows that do not have a contemporary reality.  “I like taking a fictional world and making it as realistic as possible.  Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica are period shows that just happen to take place in the future.
  • Diana stated that Outlander is a courtship story that can be classified as a romance, but that she wanted to keep the story going because “I had read many books about how two people can get married.  I had seen none at all about two people can stay married for fifty years”.
  • Diana wrote the first Outlander novel as practice – she figured that the best way to learn to write a novel was to write one.  Accordingly, they're in a number of different genres, which is why the books are so hard to shelve – they incorporate fantasy, romance, historical fiction, adventure, horror, and, in extended sections at the end, nonfiction.

Outlander premieres on STARZ on August 9th, 2014.  RedheadedGirl, Amanda, Elyse, and I will be sharing our impressions of the show each week – watch for details!

And, if you're curious – here's the trailer. 


General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    jAce says:

    I just need to say this first… Happy Objectified Scotsman Thursday!

    On-topic: I haven’t read this book. Should I turn in my romance geek card?

  2. 2
    Lammie says:

    I am almost embarrassed how excited I am about this. I feel like squeeing like a teenage girl (and I haven’t been one for a very long time). I want this to be good enough that they go on to make more seasons, so I can see Roger, young Ian, and Lord John as well. I heard that on August 2 they are streaming the first episode free on the internet, and I will definitely be watching.

  3. 3
    azteclady says:

    jAce, Diana Gabaldon has most emphatically declared that her work is not romance—and has not wasted any opportunity to diss romance and its readers.

    As much as I loved the first four books, I cannot read any more of her work without having that impinge on my enjoyment of it.

    And I’m probably one of the few fans of Outlander who would have preferred never to see it on the screen.

  4. 4
    Pamala Knight says:

    @azteclady Diana Gabaldon was at the last NYC RWA National and sat on a panel with Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli and Isles books) and Steve Berry. RWA Nationals is not to place to come if you’re going to diss the genre. She didn’t seem disparaging about romance and commiserated with those who write cross-genre books.  Not making excuses for her but OUTLANDER doesn’t fit the romance formula and maybe that’s what she meant? Did she say this in an interview somewhere?

    Not arguing with you but just asking :)

    I’m also cautiously excited about this series. Carrie, thanks for letting us know that Sam is a big guy. From the internet pictures I was prepared to be disappointed because he doesn’t “look” like he’s big and in my mind, Jamie is. I’ll be here for the watch along. Thanks!

  5. 5
    Joanna says:

    azteclady: I agree with you I wasn’t sure I even wanted them to film it, so many ways to screw it up!  But I have to admit the trailer has me intrigued – not enough to pay for Starz – but I am now interested.

  6. 6
    Kristin says:

    I loved, loved the first two or three, but I gave up after that. Too much melodrama.

    That being said, I’m totally watching this.

  7. 7
    Carly says:

    Every sneak peek and new clip makes me more and more excited to watch this show when it finally airs.  I’m currently on book 7 and am facing the end of the series with a bittersweet outlook – maybe that just means it’ll be time for a reread!

  8. 8
    jimthered says:

    And here’s what the show isn’t quite about: http://pvponline.com/comic/2014/07/29/outlandish

  9. 9
    CarrieS says:

    I also saw Diana in Sacramento recently.  She talked about her books and romance and explained why Outlander best fits the mold but the other books don’t – and she’s right.  Even the first book deviates considerably from most romance books and the further books aren’t romance novels at all although they contain a lot of romance in them (no HEA, romance not focus of story, main couple has already come together).  I’ve read her website pretty extensively and heard her talk twice and she’s been respectful of the genre, just as she’s respectful of fantasy.  But she also points out that her work doesn’t fall neatly into a particular genre, which is true, and helpful to a reader.  She’s won romance awards and horror awards and is a little confused by both (it’s not quite romance or horror)  but also seems pleased.  In Sacramento, she talked specifically about how much she loves romance and listed several authors she admires.  You may, of course, have heard quotes I haven’t – she’s a prolific speaker.  But my personal experience is one of respect for the genre mixed with a caution that her books are not romance books, per se.

    Link to notes from Sacramento interview:  http://geekgirlinlove.com/2014/06/16/an-evening-with-diana-gabaldon/

  10. 10
    Pamala Knight says:

    As always, @CarrieS has eloquently laid out what I tried to explain in my own clumsy way :) Thanks for the link to the interview.

  11. 11
    Joanna says:

    Lammie is right – they are streaming the first episode for free, not just on the internet but if you have On Demand they list the cable providers that will also stream it for free starting Saturday on the Starz website (I think they mean if you are not a Starz subscriber.  They have first episodes of several of there series available, like The Whiten Queen, I’m sure as a way to get new subscribes)

  12. 12
    Stephanie Scott says:

    I listened to the recordings of that NYC RWA with the author on a panel; my personal frustrations with Outlander made sense after hearing her discuss her writing process. It makes a lot of sense that was her practice book. There’s a lot to like in it, but it’s messy. It’s strange. For example Claire punches a wolf in the face.

    What I found most interesting is how she developed her characters. She’d never written anything but had been inspired by Scottish historicals and decided to try her hand. The female heroine she wrote kept wanting to be modern, or something along those lines, so she thought, well how do I make that work? Thus the device of time travel. So when my mom told me she had a time travel book for me to read, ultimately I was not impressed because the time travel is only a device to make the story work. It’s not really ABOUT time travel. So those muddled genres can skew your opinion depending what you are looking for. As historical fiction romance, it makes more sense.

  13. 13
    azteclady says:

    Watch this at youtube, all the way through to the end. It’s interesting and entertaining, and I enjoyed it very much…until I heard what she said about romance having her books in the “effing romance section” of bookstores.

    This is what I wrote (in a draft for my own blog, sometime in February) when I first saw this clip:

    Why the assumption that people would automatically NOT buy her books if they are classified as romance? She was perfectly willing to use the selling power of putting her books in front of hundreds of thousands of potential readers, but now her work is too good?

    And frankly, she hasn’t read a lot of romance if she thinks anything of what she writes can’t be found in romances, plenty of which are very well written too.

    The clip was posted back in March 2012. Now you tell me she was at RWA this year (or last year?), so she’s probably happy once more to expose her non-romance writing to the hundreds of thousands of romance readers, and reap the financial rewards.

    More power to her, really, because whatever she says about writing as art, she’s clearly thinking about the money, but that doesn’t endear her to me too much, and taints my enjoyment of her work.

  14. 14
    Susan says:

    I’m a fan of this series (especially the first several books), but I’ve been trying to keep a tight lid on my excitement over the series in case it was so horrible that it might cast a lasting stink over my enjoyment.  As a result, I’ve been staying away from reading/watching anything about it.  But little bits keep coming to my attention (like this post!) and I find myself getting excited.  Now I just have to hope. . .

  15. 15
    Anne says:

    Thanks for the summary of the ComicCon panel about Outlander.  It sounds promising.  I always have mixed feelings about adaptations of books to the screen—sometimes they can be great and other times, disappointing. 

    I read Outlander in the early 1990’s, shortly after the second book was released.  The book was recommended to me as historical fiction focusing on the Jacobites, with a time travel twist.  I enjoyed the book and have re-read it several times to refresh my memory before reading the next installment.  So, I’m a long-time fan and will definitely be watching the series.  I look forward to reading recaps/comments here. 

    I guess that I missed the controversy about whether or not Outlander and the rest of the books were romances.  I can understand why the first book or two was marketed as romance, because they are a little hard to describe.  I always thought of them as historical fiction, with romantic elements and a little supernatural twist.

    In that respect, the Outlander series is like “The Eight” by Katherine Neville and the books by the late Judith Merkle Riley’s books.  They are set in the past so there is real history, but the main character is fictional and there are some supernatural/paranormal/fantasy elements that create conflict or intrigue and keep me interested because I’m entertained or fascinated by the author’s imagination/premise.  There is also a love story.  I think that “The Eight” was marketed as literature and the Riley books as fantasy.  I read all of them in the early 1990s (when I was in my early 30s) and still recommend them to people today, without characterizing them as a particular genre.

    Admittedly, I get confused about genres with regard to books.  I read things that interest me or are recommended by someone and don’t rule books in or out, based upon how they are marketed.

    If you haven’t read Outlander, it is worth a try.  The series is long, the books are complex and get longer and longer, but I still keep reading.  (Just like I still keep reading Elizabeth George’s mysteries—which also keep getting longer and longer.)

  16. 16
    Michele says:

    I am a 20-year fan of the Outlander series and can be a rabid purist about page-to-screen adaptations of books I love. I have pushed those books on more people than I can count (men included), and there is something in them for fans of many genres. I was worried when I heard about the series, but I have been following the updates since last fall and have been getting more and more excited.

    So I watched the free first episode online last night…and it is AMAZING. Casting, production values, score, everything. Moore and his team are to be congratulated. the STARZ execs (who actually READ all of the books, which is unusual) said, “Make it for the fans first and foremost and others will follow.” What a smart decision.

    I could not be happier and eagerly await new episodes. I don’t have cable any more (Roku/Hulu/Amazon/Netflix, etc. streamer) so I was really hoping that they would be available for purchase on iTunes or Amazon Instant concurrent with the season (like HBO does with GoT and AMC does with Mad Men), but it doesn’t look like they will be. Friends with STARZ are taking pity on me, though, and inviting me over to watch with them. ;-)

  17. 17
    Michele says:

    Oh, and re: azteclady’s comment about Diana dissing romance novels, I think she gets justifiably annoyed that the Outlander novels get pigeonholed into ANY genre because they really aren’t genre-specific, even though there are elements of historical fiction, romance, fantasy, etc. in them. I have heard her get equally annoyed that they are shelved in science fiction and even historical nonfiction! I always describe them to people as “historical adventure with touches of romance and fantasy.”

    And she does attend quite a lot of romance events. I met her at the RWA con in NYC a few years ago. Now, one thing that DOES seem apparent about her is that she is a very precise and thorough person, and I assume that’s why the pigeonholing gets on her nerves. It’s also an aspect of personality that I see a lot in nerd/geek communities.

  18. 18
    Sarita says:

    Your description makes me want to read these books. The shift through multiple genres in the same series is one of the things I love most about the Vorkosigan series.

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