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.