SDCC Interview – Diana Gabaldon – Outlander

Q: When the plotting of season two began, what were the discussions like on how you were going to begin? If we haven’t cast Brianna and Roger, it is obviously not going to start how the book did.

Diana: Well, they actually could because they shoot things out of sequence, so, in fact, that doesn’t actually tell you anything except they have not cast them yet or at least they haven’t told you that they have. No, I was actually not involved in the discussion of how to break the story, so to speak. They do show me the script outlines and the scripts. They show me the footage that they shoot and rough episodes as they come together which is great. I love to see that, but I am very seldom actually in the writers’ room or discussing things with them. That is their job. I am happy to contribute opinions. Sometimes I will read a script, and all say, “Hmm. I understand why you did it this way, but you could do it that way and get more of the original book in and then move this little piece over here.” And sometimes they will do that, about nine times out of ten if I have a concern or suggestion, they will take it. And the tenth time, they will explain why they can’t.

The MacGuffin: You have been quoted in a few articles that you will fight for certain scenes, and sometimes that does not always work out, like the hot springs scene. Has there ever been a point where you thought, “ Hmm. When I sold the book rights, maybe I should have put a little more control in that contract.”?

Diana: No, you can’t. You just don’t.

The MacGuffin: Well, with E.L. James, for one, with Fifty Shades.

Diana: Maybe she shouldn’t have. (laughs)

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The MacGuffin: A nightmare, exactly. There you go. So you would never want to be super that involved.

Diana: No, I wouldn’t. I actually don’t think that is a good thing as a whole. An adaptation is a separate art form unto itself. What makes a good novel does not necessarily make a good screenwriter or showrunner. I don’t know whether I would be good at writing a script because I have not done it, but I am positive I would not be a good showrunner. I think it is much better to let the experts do that. I can quibble over details. I can say to them, “Well, you can do this historically or can’t do that historically or it really was this way, but I see why you have done it this way, but maybe could you change this for a little bit more accuracy.” Things like that. That can be helpful, but I totally don’t want to be in control.

Q: When you started writing, who were your literary influences and now how do you feel about being a literary influence yourself.

Diana: I am very flattered. I had five literary role models to start with, people who I was consciously taking craft from, so to speak. Those would have been Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Dorothy L. Sayers, John B. McDonald, a thriller writer and from him I learned narrative drive and pacing and how to control a series character. P.G. Wodehouse, a British comic novelist who is just fabulous with manipulations of language. A lot of Claire’s, you know the way she talks, and her sarcastic interior monologue has come from that.

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