Not sure whether you should read or listen to the Clanlands book accompanying the STARZ Men in Kilts show with Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish? This review should set you straight.
Rovena has lived all over the world and now resides in Thailand. She has only very recently discovered Outlander. But she has certainly made up for lost time! Read her Outlander story here.
I was two when my parents packed up and left Italy for Montenegro. My father was one of a handful of Nuclear Engineers in the 80s and very much in demand. We kept migrating south, moving to Nigeria, then Saudi Arabia and finally my parents settled in Malaysia. By then I was studying in University, juggling a job tapping phones for the Italian Homicide Department in all my acquired 4 languages and meeting the love of my life, at 3 am in a pub. No we were not drinking The Sassenach, but whatever it was, it was strong!
We shortly combined our strengths and followed circumstantial signs of destiny which brought us to Thailand where we set up an Interior Design and Architecture firm which has since grown to be an Award Winning endeavour. It’s always been a rush, my whole life has been in 5th gear, jumping on and off planes, managing studio, construction sites worldwide and high-profile clients.
Then – silence. COVID_19 just ground my whole life to a halt and suddenly I had time! Time to watch a movie, time to do sports, time to be a “Woman of leisure” in Fergus’s words.
During this God gifted time, a friend of mine suggested I watch Outlander. I brushed it off quickly and said: “I will only watch a series if the lead actor is hot to trot and I will fall madly in love with him for the whole duration”. She guaranteed I would and threw in the steamy sex scenes and male testosterone moments of battle.
The first half hour of episode one left me questioning her judgment, right up to that Heaven-sent moment when Claire fixes Jamie’s shoulder. I was caught, hook, line and sinker!
50 hours of binge watching ensued, followed by another 50 re-watching it all over with my husband and another 50 re-watching it all on my own. I spent the last couple of years craving a sabbatical, I finally get the time and I spend it watching a series! Yes, of course I ordered all the books!
Yes, of course I’ve looked up hotels in Scotland to travel to Lallybroch and yes, I have consumed conspicuous amounts of G&T to keep up with all the bloody drinking they do on set. Whiskey is just a bit too hot to drink in the tropics!
So here I am now, obsessing over the narrative of this perfect man: impulsive yet understanding; powerful yet gentle; funny yet deep; handsome and fragile. Let’s face it, only a woman could have concocted the perfect man and Diana did just that.
There are heartaches! I would never have left that perfect man behind, and would not have waited 20 years to get him back! The scenes with Frank are like a dagger to my heart. I find particularly disturbing the fact that such a sweet, family man of pure values was robbed of the chance to be a father repeatedly.
And then the funny part: this perfect man we all dream about is as immoral as they come! He is an outlaw, he frees prisoners from jail, helps Bonnet escape from his death row, kills, steals, smuggles, is bigamous (ok, he didn’t expect Claire to come back!), offers his body as payment to one and all, he lives in a brothel and plays his wife’s wedding bands at cards – yet he is the most romantic character ever!
Sherry was introduced to Outlander by her husband – so that’s an unusual start to her story right there. And it doesn’t stop there. What started out as a fan experience led to her developing a keen interest in Scottish history and then writing her own book!
Read on for Sherry’s story.
I had never heard of ‘Outlander’ until my husband started to watch the first season in August 2014. We don’t usually watch the same shows, but this one looked interesting. I sat down to watch and continued the next few episodes. I was hooked. That led me to the books because I wanted to know more.
Season One ended, but I kept reading. And I couldn’t stop. I found the story addicting. Then I read about Diana Gabaldon in her ‘Outlandish Companion’ books and her website. I also joined her writing group – The Literary Forum. (Although she probably doesn’t remember me, I have talked to her and she has given me some help with my book.) I learned how she got into writing and found we had much in common especially a love for reading. I thought, I can do what she did.
My first book, my practice book, came from a handwritten manuscript – my mother’s memoir. I worked on that for 1 1/2 years and published it in 2016. But in the back of my mind, I had an idea for an historical novel that would take place in Scotland.
In researching for my novel, I have visited Scotland 5 times in the last 5 years. Going to Scotland is like going home.
Once I was done with the Outlander series, my interest in Scottish history continued. I read two books: ‘The History of the Scots’ and ‘How The Scots Invented The Modern World’. I learned about a peculiar event that occurred from 1698-1700 called The Dairen Scheme. That is when the Kingdom of Scotland wanted to be like other nations and carve out a colony in the New World. They chose an area in southern Panama, in Central America, and sent out 1200 colonists on 5 ships.
For many reasons, 75% of the colonists would die and the colony would collapse in less than a year. Scotland tried again and the expedition failed even more quickly. By the way, this failure will lead to the union between England and Scotland and create the United Kingdom in 1707. That will lead to the Jacobite uprisings and the battle on Culloden Moor in 1746. It’s all connected.
When I asked history teachers and history buffs if they had ever heard of The Darien Scheme – no one did. And so there it was – the basis for my novel. Something that few knew about. My novel is called ‘Caledonia’ (Latin for Scotland and the name of the colony). It was published in March, 2019. I am now working on the sequel and I am about 80% finished to be released mid 2021. It’s title is – ‘On The Edge of a Precipice’.
‘Caledonia’ and the sequel are historical, inter-generational novels. That means there are two parallel stories and characters who tell the tale. One is from the 21st century; the other is an ancient character. They are connected but do not know it. This is not fantasy and it is not time travel. The story is filled with adventure, mystery and romance. ‘Caledonia’ has won a first place award in fiction.
So from TV series to Outlander books to my published work, Outlander was the catalyst that changed my life and thrust me into the world of writing.