Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon
Diana J. Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon at a book signing in August, 2007.
Born January 11, 1952 (1952-01-11) (age 59)
Arizona (U.S.)
Pen name Diana Gabaldon
Occupation novelist
Nationality America
Period 1991 – present
Genres Fiction, Time Travel, Speculative Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Adventure


Diana J. Gabaldon (b. January 11, 1952 in Arizona) is an American author of Mexican-American and English ancestry.[2] Gabaldon is the author of the best-selling Outlander Series. Her books are difficult to classify by genre, since they contain elements of romantic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, adventure, and science fiction (in the form of time travel). Her books have so far sold more than 17 million copies[3] in 23 countries, and have been translated into 19 languages.


Early life and science career

Diana J. Gabaldon was born on January 11, 1952, in Arizona, (U.S.A.). Her father, Tony Gabaldon (1931–1998) was an Arizona state senator from Flagstaff.[4] He moved to Flagstaff from New Mexico at the age of thirteen.[1] Her mother's family are originally from Yorkshire (England); her great-grandfather immigrated to Arizona from England in the 1860s.

Gabaldon grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona. She has received three degrees from two different institutions: a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Zoology from Northern Arizona University, 1970–1973; a Master of Science (M.S.) in Marine Biology from the University of California, San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 1973–1975; and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Northern Arizona University, 1975-1978. Her M.S. research topic was "Agonistic Interactions of Hermit Crabs." Her Ph.D. dissertation title is "Nest Site Selection in Pinyon Jays, Gymnorhynchus cyanocephalus)." Gabaldon received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL) degree from Northern Arizona University in 2007. Gabaldon Hall, a dormitory on the campus of Northern Arizona University, is named in honor of her father.

As a full-time assistant professor in the Center for Environmental Studies at Arizona State University in the 1980s, Gabaldon did research, was a scientific computing and database expert, and taught university classes for college credit in anatomy and other subjects. An expert in scientific computing, she was the founding editor of Science Software Quarterly, a journal for scientists that chronicled the rapid advances in hardware and software during the decade when processing power began to migrate from the mainframe to the desktop. The journal featured reviews of software for scientific word processing, laboratory data acquisition, statistics, databases, computer languages and compilers, computer utilities, and books, mostly for IBM-PC computers and clones running MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 At its peak, the journal had a circulation of over 4,000.

During the mid-1980s, Gabaldon also designed and taught personal computer courses part-time as a faculty member of the ASU Computer Institute, located in the Tower Shopping Center in Phoenix. The ASU Computer Institute offered non-credit, one-day, evening, and Saturday classes for students, business professionals, and others who wished to learn PC computing. Students received a certificate and could obtain Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for classes they completed successfully. During this period, she wrote computer articles and software reviews for popular national computer publications such as Byte magazine, PC Magazine, and InfoWorld. During this time, her husband founded and ran a successful company which provided computer programming services and support to Phoenix-area businesses.

Gabaldon currently lives in the Phoenix, Arizona area with her husband, Doug Watkins; they have three adult children.[5]

Novel writing

In March 1988, Gabaldon decided to "write a novel for practice, in order to learn how." She did not intend to share it with anyone at the time, or to try to get it published. While "casting about for an appealing time and place" for the novel she happened to see an old Doctor Who rerun on PBS, titled "War Games." One of the Doctor's companions was a young Scot from around 1745, a young man about 17 years old named Jamie MacCrimmon, who provided the initial inspiration for her main male character, James Fraser, and the mid-18th century time period. She used the name “Jamie” from the Dr. Who character, though she has stated that "other than the kilt and the first name (which I used in compliment to the Scottish inspiration), there’s no resemblance between Jamie MacCrimmon and James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser."[6]

The use of time travel came when Gabaldon decided it would be interesting to have "an Englishwoman to play off all these kilted Scotsmen," but her female character who "took over the story and began telling it herself, making smart-ass modern remarks about everything." Gabaldon realized that she would have to provide an explanation for the character's modern behavior and attitudes, and chose to do so using time travel.[6]

Later in 1988, Gabaldon publicly posted a short excerpt of her novel on the CompuServe Literary Forum, also called the "Lit. Forum," a hangout for people who like books (the forum is still extant, but is now called The Compuserve Books and Writers Community [2]). She was an active member of this book-discussion community, and had posted several pages of her unfinished novel to strengthen her points in an argument with a male forum member regarding what it feels like to be pregnant. Within days, a science fiction and fantasy agent read her short post and offered to represent Gabaldon. She decided, however, to procure an agent who would sell her works as general fiction. Another forum member, published science fiction author John E. Stith, was impressed by her post, and introduced her to his agent.[7] The agent, Perry Knowlton, represented her on the basis of an unfinished first novel, tentatively titled Cross Stitch. Knowlton sent large excerpts of the book to five editors, and within four days, three of them had made offers on it. Her first book deal was for a trilogy, the first novel plus two future sequels. The title of the first book was changed from Cross Stitch to Outlander in the United States before release, but it bears the original title in the U.K. About this name change, Gabaldon says, that Cross Stitch was " a play on "a stitch in time", and that the British publishers liked it. The American publisher, though, said that it "sounded too much like embroidery" and wanted a more "adventurous" title.[6]

Gabaldon resigned her faculty position at ASU after the first book deal was finalized, and became a full-time fiction author.

There are presently seven novels in the main Outlander series, with the eighth installment, "Written in My Own Heart's Blood," to be published in 2013. The novels center around (Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser) and (James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser), and are set in Scotland, France, the West Indies, England, and America. The Lord John Series is a spin-off from the Outlander books, and centers on a secondary character from the original series.

Gabaldon's works have expanded beyond the printed word to other media. A graphic novel titled The Exile (An Outlander Graphic Novel) was released on September 21, 2010 at a launch party in Scottsdale, Arizona.[3] A musical based on Outlander was introduced in Aberdeen, Scotland, on July 31, 2010,[4] created by two fans of her books. Music from this production was also released on a CD in July, 2010.

Besides the Outlander series, Gabaldon is working on a contemporary mystery set in Phoenix titled Red Ant's Head, and has published short stories in numerous fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, and science fiction anthologies.

Writing process

Gerri Russell interviewed Diana Gabaldon surrounding the release of An Echo in the Bone for the November 2009 issue of RT Book Reviews Magazine[8] In the article, Gabaldon revealed she creates individual scenes out of sequence and brings them together to create her completed work. She also advised aspiring authors to "...read anything and everything. Write. That is, unfortunately, the only way of learning how. And don't stop."


Outlander series

  • Outlander The first published novel by Dr. Gabaldon introduces Claire Beauchamp Randall, an English ex-combat army nurse, who travels to the Scottish Highlands on a second honeymoon with her husband Frank after World War II.[9] While exploring a circle of standing stones, Claire touches a cleft stone in the center of the circle and is transported through time to 1743.[9] In the past, she is rapidly accosted by a British Army officer and then abducted by a gang of Highland Scots on the run who are unsure if she's a spy for the English or a damsel in distress. Either way, they decide it's safer to keep her with them, and Claire is taken away by force deeper into the Highlands and away from the stone circle back to her own time.[9] In order to save herself from life threatening circumstances, she chooses to marry a young highlander named James Fraser. While Claire spends much of her time trying to return to the circle of standing stones and to her husband Frank in 1946, she is delayed by the struggles of 18th century life and her own inner turmoil as she finds herself falling in love with Jamie Fraser, the man she's been forced to marry in 1743. Claire and Jamie's lives, as they are woven together through time, are the basis for her bestselling and acclaimed Outlander series. The original title for this work in the U.K. is Cross Stitch[5] The first hardback edition was released in the U.S.A. in July, 1991 by Delacorte Press (Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.), First hardback edition ISBN 0-385-30230-4. A special commemorative 20th Anniversary Edition of Outlander was published on July 5, 2011.
  • Dragonfly in Amber is the second book in the Outlander series, continuing the story of Claire and Jamie. First released in the U.S.A. by Delacorte Press in August, 1992. ISBN 0-385-30231-2.
  • Voyager (1994)
  • Drums of Autumn (1997)
  • The Outlandish Companion[6] (Through The Stones in the UK.) (1999), A guide to the Outlander series containing synopses, a character guide, and other notes and information.
  • The Fiery Cross (2001)
  • A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2005)
  • An Echo in the Bone (2009) — released in several countries (including Canada, Australia and New Zealand) in September 2009; UK release date January 7, 2010
  • The Exile – An Outlander Graphic Novel (2010)
  • "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows," a short story in Songs of Love and Death, an anthology edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Release date: November 16, 2010. From her blog entry (http://voyagesoftheartemis.blogspot.com) from October 30, 2010, Dr. Gabaldon says, "It's a little unusual, in that it's about Roger MacKenzie's parents--but it does fill the interesting hole regarding Roger's father that I opened up in An Echo in the Bone."
  • Written in My Own Heart's Blood (forthcoming) - Book 8 of the Outlander series. Publication date not yet known. Diana Gabaldon has said she expects to finish writing this book by the end of 2012.

Lord John series

  • Lord John and the Hellfire Club (novella) (1998, initially an audio-only release). A complementary "Collector's Special Edition" in trade paperback of this story was printed by Bantam Dell Publishing Group in 1998 and distributed at science fiction and fantasy conventions and publishing events. In the introduction to the special edition, Dr. Gabaldon describes the special printing as "the only short story I've ever written and published" as a standalone. The story was "written by invitation for a U.K. anthology."
  • Lord John and the Private Matter (novel) (September 2003)
  • Lord John and the Succubus (novella) in Legends II (book), edited by Robert Silverberg. Legends II is the anthology to the highly acclaimed Legends, and is an anthology of original short novels by "some of the greatest writers in fantasy fiction." Each author in both anthologies returns to the fantasy universe that he or she made famous throughout the world. Legends II also includes novellas from Orson Scott Card, Robin Hobb, George R.R Martin, Anne McCaffrey, Neil Gaiman,Tad Williams, Raymond E. Feist, Elizabeth Haydon, Terry Brooks, and Robert Silverburg. Released in the U.S.A. in January, 2004, by Del Rey books. ISBN 0-345-45644-0.
  • Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (novel) (August 2007)
  • Lord John and the Haunted Soldier (novella) (November 2007)
  • Lord John and the Hand of Devils (collection) (November 2007), a collection of three novellas)
  • The Custom of the Army (novella) in Warriors (anthology), edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (March 2010)
  • Lord John and the Plague of Zombies (novella) in Down These Strange Streets (anthology), edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. (October 4, 2011)
  • The Scottish Prisoner (A Lord John Novel) (Forthcoming. Release date November 29, 2011.)


  • Red Ant's Head, a contemporary mystery set in Phoenix, Arizona, United States, featuring private investigator Thomas Kolodzi. Dr. Gabaldon is currently working on this book along with the eighth book in the Outlander series. (Information from her official web page, posted in October, 2010.)

Short stories and novellas

Below are short stories and novellas by Dr. Gabaldon that are independent of the Outlander and Lord John series:

  • "Humane Killer," a short story written with new author Samuel Sykes in The Dragon Book: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois. This anthology has dragon stories from a wide variety of notable authors such as Jane Yolen, Jonathan Stroud, Tanith Lee, Harry Turtledove, Tad Williams, and Cecilia Holland. Released in hardcover by Ace Books in the U.S.A. on November 3, 2009. ISBN 0441017649.
  • Phoenix Noir (2009) [7], a short story collection with fifteen other authors. It is a departure for Gabaldon, as the character she writes about is very different from the characters in her Outlander and Lord John series.

Other works

Note: This is not yet a complete listing of all of Dr. Gabaldon's published works. See her official home page for more listings: http://www.dianagabaldon.com.


The Outlander series has been released in unabridged audiobooks (read by Davina Porter) and abridged audiobooks (read by Geraldine James). The licenses for the abridged books have not been renewed and the unabridged versions, which Diana Gabaldon prefers, will be the only ones available when the licenses expire. Several of the Lord John books have been released in audiobook form, read by Jeff Woodman.


  • July, 1992 Diana Gabaldon received the RITA Award given by the Romance Writers of America in the category Best Book of 1991 for the novel Outlander.[10]
  • September 24, 2006 Diana Gabaldon received the International Corine Book Award 2006 in the category Weltbild Readers Award, which was determined by a public vote on the web page of the German publisher.
  • October 10, 2006 Diana Gabaldon received the Quill Book Award in 2006 in the category Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror, which was determined by a public vote on the Internet. To receive the nomination, the author was required to meet one of several possible criteria, such as an appearance on the best seller list of Borders Group Inc., or a starred review in Publishers Weekly.


  1. ^ Diana Gabaldon's official site the 'Influences' section
  2. ^ Alamogordo Daily News (NM), "Santa Fe author ready to release new book"(August 26, 2009); "Gabaldon is 57 years old, but looks at least 10 years younger, with dark hair framing perfect skin, possibly a legacy from her English and Mexican-American ancestry."
  3. ^ Bantam Summer 2011 catalogue
  4. ^ http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2000-11-30/restaurants/science-fiction/
  5. ^ http://www.dianagabaldon.com/about-diana/bio/
  6. ^ a b c Diana Gabaldon.com – FAQ: About the Books, accessed February 22, 2011
  7. ^ Hemmungs Wirten, Eva (1998). "Global Infatuation: Explorations in Transnational Publishing and Texts. The Case of Harlequin Enterprises and Sweden" (PDF). Section for Sociology of Literature at the Department of Literature, Number 38 (Uppsala University): 56. ISBN 97-85178-28-4. http://www.abm.uu.se/evahw/Global_Infatuation.pdf. Retrieved 2007-08-24 
  8. ^ Russell, Gerri (2009-11). "Echoes of the Past". RT Book Reviews. http://gerrirussell.net/articles/2009/09nov_RT_diana-gabaldon.php. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  9. ^ a b c http://www.dianagabaldon.com/writing/the-outlander/outlander/
  10. ^ "RITA Awards: Past Winners". Romance Writers of America, Inc.. http://www.rwanational.org/cs/contests_and_awards/rita_awards/past_winners. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 

External links

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