I've been thinking a lot about stories these days. I've always been addicted to them, though until recently I don't think I would've ever described it as that. But I am, you see, so addicted to stories. I suppose it started somewhere around the age of three that it really set in (or maybe it's just the earliest memory I have). I loved to watch the same movies over and over (and over) again. I know that's not particularly unique, but that desire never really went away. When Piggy and Kermit parted in Muppets Take Manhattan? I cried. Every. Single. Time. I remember my mom being on the phone, long cord forming curlicues to the floor, laughing at me because I was in tears again. I still can't hear "Saying Goodbye" without tearing up, y'all.*
And yeah, I guess I assume most people probably grow out of that? I just haven't figured it out. Sure, I eventually pick up new stories; it just takes me a bit longer than is maybe normal. I'm still driving my mom crazy: Yes, I'm on my third run-through of the West Wing and I watched it for the first time less than a year ago. Stop judging me!
I've been knee-deep reading stories these days, too. Well, one story/series in particular. Maybe you've heard of it? It's called the Outlander series, by Diana Gabaldon. She's been writing these books since the early 90s (the first novel was published in 1991), but I've just recently come down with the Outlander bug. It took me almost a year to give the first book a shot by the time I had it in my hands, but late this last year I picked it back up again, and while I was reading I turned some invisible story-corner that hurtled me into READ ALL OF THE OUTLANDER territory. If you've read the series, you probably know what I'm talking about. If not, I can only hope you give it a shot. It pretty much has everything you need: Strong female lead, historical fiction, romance (which normally makes shudder, but not this one), sci-fi elements, and a ton of action and suspense... And I'm not even mentioning all the sex and kilts and violence and magic and medicine.
So a couple of my newest homegirls, Ginny and Jess, and I traveled down toward Seattle for an author event & book signing with Diana Gabaldon. We and about 800 other nerds sidled into the commons in a building that lost its air conditioning earlier that day (on the hottest day so far this year, of course) to hear Gabaldon speak, and also settle once-and-for-all how to say her last name. She was funny, slightly bawdy, and as whip-smart as you might expect a woman who weaves history and fiction together so beautifully.
It was thrilling to hear her talk about how she became a novelist (secretly, to see if she could), and to listen to the powerful reminder that it's never to late to try something new. She was about to turn 35 when she decided she'd try her hand at writing a novel. She was no old maid by any means, but bold to recognize what she wanted and not see her already established life as a roadblock. I can't tell you how often I hear women my age talk about what they would do if they could start over, if they didn't already have a family, a job, the bills, etc... Diana's story was a great reminder that you don't necessarily have to intend to start over. You just have to start.
Outlander is about to become a television show on Starz, with Ronald Moore (of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Carnivale fame) at the helm (I swear I'm not getting paid for any of this Outlander talk right now-- I'm just THAT excited). A show or movie will never be the same as a book, and for that I'm grateful. It means a new interpretation of a story I'm in love with, a chance for me to get acquainted anew with the characters I've spent so much time with, and an opportunity to feast my eyes (and not just my brain-eyes) on what's sure to be an incredibly beautiful setting.
Outlander will premiere online on August 2nd, and I'll be working on a cocktail for you to drink while you're watching. Outlander fans: What would you choose as inspiration for the first episode of the series? I just might take you up on your suggestions!
*Yep, even right then. Good lord.