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.
I’m a big fan of audiobooks and already have all the Outlander books in my audio library. They’re like old friends that I often have there in the background while walking, driving, doing the dishes — you get the picture. When I heard that Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish were narrating their own book, that was an extra drawcard. It’s like sitting in on a long conversation between the two of them.
Interesting, engaging, informative and often hilarious. The story of two men and their cohorts roaming the countryside connected to an intravenous drip of whisky. What could go wrong? How they didn’t all end up in hospital with liver damage at the end of it, I don’t know!
Cynthia has been an Outlander fan for since 2016. A tragic event spurred her to take her fandom to a new level, and she set to work with others on some special Outlander-related projects. For Cynthia, Outlander is much more than books and a tv show, it’s family, community, and a feeling of unconditional love and acceptance. Cynthia finds her fellow Outlander fans to be a source of inspiration and her projects are a labour of love.
Here is Cynthia’s story.
In July 2017, my husband Keith, a fellow Outlander fan, lost his battle with cancer. As his wife and caregiver, this affected me deeply, and so, I set out to find ways in which to honour his memory.
First, I created a life-sized prop doll of James Fraser ‘Our Hero Scot’, a symbol of strength, courage, resilience, loyalty and love. He was handcrafted with kindness and respect for Diana Gabaldon and Sam Heughan. Since its creation, ‘Jamie’ has been used in my documentary project (read on for details) for various creative sequences, and has made appearances at fan events.
When first introduced on social media he drew some lovely comments from Diana Gabaldon. ‘Jamie’ then made his public debut at the 2018 Outlander convention, in Las Vegas, ‘filling in’ for Sam Heughan, whose appearance was cancelled due to other obligations. ‘Jamie’ shared the stage with Caitriona Balfe and Lotte Verbeek, during their Q&A. He was a hit with Sam’s fans and everyone, including the cast, seemed to enjoy interacting with him. Soon after that weekend in Las Vegas, life became a whirlwind of travel, events and meeting new people.
I wanted to be a voice for Outlander fans affected by cancer or other illnesses and, backed by entertainment industry veterans, artists, and students, I started Outlander Fan Documentary. Since embarking on this journey, I’ve found a sense of positive growth, and healing. There are so many stories to tell, from each event, and on all of our documentary filming locations. There is also a charity aspect, which is still being developed. It has been a personal challenge, as a female artist and filmmaker, but I have been so grateful for our supporters & cheerleaders, which happily includes a few of the Outlander cast & crew.
It has been a life changing experience for everyone involved. The project has been through many incarnations, starting as a coffee table book idea. Eventually it evolved into the current film project, which is run by a core group of Outlander fan volunteers, who wear many creative hats. Participation in our documentary project is open to all Outlander fans & fan groups, as a celebration of this fandom, and our way of ‘Uniting the Clans’. It is dedicated to all Outlander fans who have been affected in some way, by cancer or other illness.
Announcements are made throughout the year, for volunteers, and the many creative ways fans can participate. As a thank you for the support, we also hold a yearly giveaway during the holidays. At the completion of our project we intend to hold a fundraising silent auction, for one or more of the many charities endorsed by the Outlander cast.
I took my first trip to Scotland in summer 2019, and was fortunate to see a bit of Outlander season 5 filming. 2020 promised to be the busiest yet, starting with a trip to Wizard World, in New Orleans, the Outlander Ball, in San Francisco, St. Andrews Society’s Burns Supper, Scotsman’s Ball, Outlander Season 5 Premiere at the Hollywood Palladium, and so much more. However, after the Outlander Premiere, and Sam Heughan’s Bloodshot Premiere, the world had other plans for us all. (yep, the virus) I am hopeful of returning to some semblance of normal (or, new normal), eventually. Meanwhile we’re keeping positive, staying safe, and educating ourselves, as we continue to move forward. As far as the documentary is concerned, I’m simply taking every day, one step at a time.
Although we will eventually wrap up, currently we have no projected completion date set. I do hope everyone will enjoy the end result of this artistic endeavour, created by the fans, for the fans, cast and crew.
A quick shout out to our Director of Photography, Allen Pettebone. An Industry veteran of 50 years, with impressive credits under his belt, he is also a heart and kidney transplant recipient, and a Vietnam Veteran. For 16 years, I have been proud to call him friend.
P.S. The holidays are getting closer, and the annual giveaway is coming up. Also, people can sign up to receive this year’s OL Fan Documentary holiday card (limited to the first 40 people who sign up!) Head to Outlander Fan Documentary for all the details.
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.