Diana Gabaldon gives insight to early creation of Outlander series

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly
Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly /

Outlander series author Diana Gabaldon talks through her thought process of how she created the concept back in the late 1980s as a budding writer.

We all start from somewhere. Beginning a writing career is never easy, but through hard work and determination, we can all grow as scribes. On our quest to put some good words from pen to paper, we find Outlander series creator Diana Gabaldon is no different.

Gabaldon began her writing career back in the late 1980s as a fan of science-fiction television, working as a research scientist. Inspired by an episode Doctor Who, Gabaldon took her first stab at writing novels during that time. A Scottish character from the 18th century would be the inspiration for Outlander main character Jamie Fraser.

Photo credit: Outlander/Starz Image acquired via Starz Media Room
Photo credit: Outlander/Starz Image acquired via Starz Media Room /

Gabaldon says this all started as “an accident.” She just wanted to practice writing novels and everything took off from there. Being that she read mostly historical novels and wasn’t certain of herself in being able to come up with plot structure at first to create science fiction, Gabaldon went all-in on constructing her novel certain around 18th century Scotland.

Of course, a few things had to change for us to get to where we are in the series. At first, a major holdup had been that main character Claire Randall didn’t really fit into the 18th century Scottish vibe. So the idea of time travel was created to better evolve the story.

More from Claire and Jamie

From what initially started out as a historical novel gradually warped into a science-fiction, romance novel and the series took off from there. While it was challenging at first to classify to readers what Outlander was, people started really get into the story regardless. From there, Gabaldon has published eight books in the Outlander series and it has served as the backbones for the television series that has run on Starz since 2013.

There are obviously lessons to be learned from Gabaldon’s transition from research scientist to science-fiction author. Perhaps the biggest is that ideas evolve. What you envision from day one may not be the course on which a great idea will follow.

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Because Gabaldon was willing to give novel writing a shot and adapted her idea along the way, we are now able to enjoy the massively successful franchise we all know as Outlander. As stated before, we all have to start from somewhere. Let Gabaldon’s literary success be an ever-present reminder that anything is possible if you’re willing to put in the work.