TCA 2015: ‘Outlander’ author on whether the Starz drama has blurred her imagination

Diana Gabaldon was in Pasadena on Friday during the Television Critics Assn. press tour to promote the upcoming second half of the fantasy drama's first season.
(Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

Diana Gabaldon, author of the popular time-traveling book series “Outlander,” is now finding it hard to separate fiction from fiction.

Since the launch of the TV adaptation of her first novel, about a WWII combat nurse who travels from 1945 to 1743, on Starz last summer, Gabaldon hasn’t been shy about her initial doubts in the casting department, particularly lead Sam Heughan as the swoon-worthy Scottish warrior Jamie Fraser. (If you’ll remember, she thought the Scottish actor looked “grotesque” after she searched him online.)

The lines have blurred since then.

Gabaldon was in Pasadena on Friday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour to promote the upcoming second half of the fantasy drama’s first season, along with stars Heughan and Caitriona Balfe and executive producer Ronald D. Moore. And when asked if she’s able to interact with the actors without thinking of them as their characters, Gabaldon admitted one gave her pause in real life.

“Caitriona and Claire, I’ve been able to keep separate,” Gabaldon told reporters. “But [Sam] kind of flickers in and out for me.”

Guess one might say Gabaldon, who serves as a consultant on the drama, isn’t displeased with how her first novel has been interpreted for the TV screen?

“They’ve done beautifully,” she said. “They’ve done much much better than I thought they would. I didn’t think this was actually possible.”


Gabaldon, who experienced renewed attention in the wake of the show’s launch, is working on the ninth book in the series and said seeing the TV show come to life and the route it takes won’t -- well, can’t -- influence the next installment.

“Claire and Jamie are approaching their early 60s,” Gabaldon said of the characters’ stage in life in the new book. “So, no, they don’t alter my view of Claire and Jamie at all. What they’re doing now [on the show] can’t possible affect what happens 40 years from now.”

But will Starz keep it alive long enough for us to get there. Starz CEO Chris Albrecht told reporters earlier in the day that he’s “hopeful that we’ll get through every book. We have plans to continue with the franchise.”

The sci-fi drama was recently renewed for a second season, which will tackle the second book in the series, and will begin production in the spring.

The second half of the first season premieres on the premium cable network on April 4. Fans who need some help in making it that long can catch a quick sneak preview during the premiere of the pirate drama “Black Sails” on Jan. 24.

The first episode in the next batch of episodes gives viewers a different perspective -- with the voice-over switching to Jamie to broaden the second half of the season to Claire and Jamie’s story together.

“We did that for a couple of reasons,” Moore said. “It was an opportunity to shift points of view. It was interesting to tell those events from Jamie’s point of view. It was a chance to pivot.”

Twitter: @villarrealy