Congratulations to Alison (agboss) who won Susanne Dietze's The Reluctant Guardian!

Congratulations to Elise Jehan who won a copy of The Secret Admirer Romance Collection!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Characters in the Flesh - Outlander's Jamie Fraser

(by Debra E. Marvin who is wondering if that use of 'flesh' and 'Jamie Fraser' in the same title will cause a traffic jam in Inktropolis?)

One day in the nineties, my mother came home from the library with a big thick book. She’d picked it up because it had a tartan plaid on the cover and a Celtic feel.  I knew she’d read some hefty books before but I had my doubts. Not only did she read it, she inhaled it, and handed it off to me. I handed it off to friends.

Diana Gabaldon’s first book, Outlander was published in 1991. Seven books later, her fans have had many years to pine for a movie, though there was no way all that story could be packed into 2.5 hrs. With legendary fanaticism, Outlander lovers created all sorts of examples of their ideal Jamie and Claire.
Outlander is not for everyone. It has a significant amount of grisly, bloody detail of war and a bit of torture thrown  in. Lots of sex (mostly of the married variety) and some swearing, vulgarity, and things your mother or grandmother might object to. (Apparently not my mother!) But there's something magical about their lead characters and the way Ms. Gabaldon has hooked us in for seven books and thirty some years of their lives.

As writers, we know how it is to create people who become alive in our head. We become responsible for them. We fall in love with or want to be one or the other of our protagonists. We have to.  Or you won’t.

Well, the wait is over. Starz cable network and famed producer Ron Moore (multiple Star Trek series, and Battlestar Galactica) have begun work on a mini series based on the first book and due on screen in 2014.  All the lists of Jamie Fraser ACTORS (Chris Helmsworth, Gerard Butler, etc, etc) would not do. We needed a relative unknown. Scottish Actor Sam Heughan has been chosen for the role. From now on, Outlander readers need not imagine what Jamie Fraser will look like. It’s exciting and a bit sad too. Why? Because of the same reason, I pictured Scarlett O’Hara as Vivien Leigh from the first time a Tarleton twin looked at her. I would never have the chance to create Rhett Butler in my mind when Clark Gable had done it for me.
Okay, so they'll have to work on the Red Hair but there's your James Alexander Malcom Mackenzie Fraser, folks

Part of my excitement over learning a Jamie had been chosen was some kindred writer thing. I couldn’t imagine how author Diana Gabaldon felt upon seeing Sam Heughan’s try out videos and admitting “He BECAME Jamie”. If she saw Jamie, it was good enough for me. And, so over the top amazing, it awed me for days. "It's alive!"

We are all Dr. Frankensteins. How cool when the body gets off the table/ page and starts to talk!

My closest encounter with this was finding a photo of an actor who finally represented one of my most long-standing (and unpublished) characters, Ewan Chandler. We do odd things like run our characters through Myers Briggs tests, and make them write journals. I knew him like a best friend – well enough to know how he’d react in any situation yet pleased to still be surprised at times by what he said. (Yes he speaks with a Scottish accent, by the way) .
Elliot Cowen as Egyptologist Jean-Fran├žois Champollion, or as I see it, my character Ewan Chandler playing Elliot Cowen playing Champollion...

When people ask ‘how do you keep all your stories and characters separate in your head?’, I answer easily. They are real people to me. I don’t get my family and friends confused! Not yet.

The day I watched a DVD with Elliot Cowen in the role I most closely associated with my character Ewan, I did a lot of carrying on. The dog and cat handle these things well. His facial movements, body language and personality matched the character I’d made up in my  head – or was close enough to be just a bit freaky. When at one point, he laughed and his eyes sparkled and his dimples deepened, I lost it.

So here’s to all authors who create their characters and then have the pleasure to see them come alive through the artistry of an actor! (Nowadays,  Nicholas Sparks doesn't count as he reportedly picks a star first and then writes the book.)

I don’t think I’ll ever by tweeting with an actor who has ‘become’ one of my characters like Diana and Sam do, but I’m happy to follow along.(okay, so I do follow Elliot Cowen on Twitter, but I'm not stalking him or anything... really.)


  1. Fun post. We writers are an odd lot. My characters are my imaginary friends, with their own habits and personalities. (Alas, it does sound like I have a psychiatric disorder when I put it that way.)

    I guess I need to read Outlander. I know, I know! Shame on me for not reading it! Everybody talks about it!

  2. Ah yes, a movie deal, the ultimate fantasy. Pretty good pick for Jamie. Can't wait to see him with the hair.

  3. Fun post, Deb. I only read the first Outlander book.

    It's funny how characters come so alive in our minds, isn't it? For me, it's both as a reader and a writer. I just love books. Sigh...

  4. Thanks ladies. It's good to be around others who live with 'the voices'...

    I'm excited about the new Outlander series. I just have to figure out how to get Starz. Of course, it's one thing to read the fiction vs seeing it on Cable.

  5. Hey Deb, I "cast" my novels too. It's amazing to me how it helps to picture facial expressions and mannerisms, etc.