The story behind writing the story
Earlier this year, I wrote a travel story on Scotland and the Outlander effect which was published online via New Zealand’s Fairfax stuff.co.nz
So to explain why I wrote the story. Go back to April when I celebrated one of those milestone birthdays, many of us would prefer to forget. One of my besties presented me with a birthday present, saying “I know you’ll love this.” With a knowing smile she handed me a small, wrapped gift. Before your imagination goes elsewhere, the gift was a DVD set, the first eight episodes of Season 1 Outlander. A long time ago (two decades actually) the same friend leant me her copy of the book “Cross Stitch,” the first in the series of eight novels by American author Diana Gabaldon. (The book has since been renamed Outlander.) I enjoyed the book so much, I went on and read the next two books in the series. I hope to read the next five sometime in the future when time permits. (Have you seen how many pages are in The Fiery Cross?)
Hooked on the TV series
Fans of Diana Gabaldon’s books have imagined their own personal versions of how the various fictitious characters will look. The beauty of imagination is no two readers will have the same body image for the various characters – we all know who our own Jamie and Claire looks like. To then transfer these fictional two dimensional characters into human form for TV was always going to be a daunting task. And one that would be debated over by the millions of Gabaldon fans, when actors were chosen. To then capture the essence of some very complicated story lines into one hour TV episodes, created a monumental challenge for script writers, directors and producers. Considering all those challenges, I purposely refrained from having high expectations for the TV series. But after watching episode one, I was hooked.
Scotland is centre stage in the series
Ronald D. Moore – the executive producer known for his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is the man responsible for bringing Outlander to television. Moore knew how important it was to film the series in Scotland, the scenery and historic architecture integral characters in the show. Author of the Outlander series of books, Diana Gabaldon is reportedly happy series 1 was filmed in Scotland. “Ron (Moore, the producer) said from the beginning when he realised we could film in Scotland – what he and I both wanted – that it must be as much a character in the show as any of the actual cast members, and it certainly is, it’s just spectacular,” said Gabaldon.
Outlander Fans speak out
After watching the first series, I turned to social media to determine what others thought about the Outlander TV series. I discovered a massive fan base in social media land – a phenomenal world-wide passion for anything Outlander. But what’s also neat is fans, who’ve been captivated by the books, in circulation for over 20 years, are experiencing a new fever, created by the release of the TV series. And viewers of the TV series are now reading the books. And yet another spin-off with the TV series, has been a renewed interest in tourism to Scotland.
So why write a travel story that connects Scotland to Outlander?
As I was studying a writing course, which required me to write a story as part of the assessment, I thought why not write a Travel Story on two of my favourite topics: Scotland and Outlander. Researching the story, I uncovered a uniqueness about Scottish folk dispersed around the world. They have a tendency to passionately cling to their heritage and strong Scottish roots (no doubt helping the series’ popularity.)
And it just so happens, Scotland is part of my own ancestral history (with a name like Johnston go figure!) Blame this for my passion for many things Scottish – its cursing through my veins. But sadly, 25 years have passed since my first visit to Scotland. In my 20’s I lived in London for a few years, so popping over the border was easy. Much like Queenslanders heading south to New South Wales for a weekend. But now I’m living in Australia, Scotland is just a wee bit further away than a quick train ride! Seems I’m getting my dose of anything Scottish through Outlander.
Re-visiting Scotland from my Brisbane desktop while researching the impact Outlander’s popularity has on Scottish tourism never felt like work. And how the web connects you to people on the other side of the world made for a fun project (and many late night emails – thanks to the time difference!)
What’s not to love about the show? The quality of production, detailed sets, gourmet and painstakingly accurate costumes, dramatic scenery and the wonderfully talented bunch of actors playing the fictional characters with oscar winning performances – all work to produce a series deserving of accolades. Yes it’s obvious, I’m a keen Outlander fan (not apologising,) There will be more Outlander posts to follow – watch this blog!
Outlander updates from Starz