Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Fiction: Time Travel With an Arizona Author

--by Hanje Richards

Diana Jean Gabaldon Watkins (b 1952 in Arizona) 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, and science fiction (in the form of time travel). For your convience, we have shelved her books in our general adult fiction section; however, the newest title, An Echo in the Bone, is available on the New Fiction shelf on the main floor of the library.

Gabaldon grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona. She has received three degrees from two different institutions: B.S. in Zoology from Northern Arizona University (1970-1973); M.S. in Marine Biology from the University of California, San Diego, Scripps Institute of Oceanography (1973-1975); and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Northern Arizona University (1975-1978).

She also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Northern Arizona University in 2007. In addition, Gabaldon Hall, a dormitory on the campus of Northern Arizona University, is named after her father, Tony Gabaldon. Gabaldon currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband, Doug Watkins; they have three adult children.

There are presently seven novels in the main "Outlander" series, including An Echo In The Bone, released on Sept. 22, 2009. The stories center around a time-travelling 20th-century English nurse (Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser) and her 18th-century Scottish husband (James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser) and are located in Scotland, France, the West Indies, England, and America.

If you would like to take a trip through time and space look for these titles by Diana Gabaldon in the fiction section at the Copper Queen Library.

Outlander (1991) A 600-page time-travel romance, in which strong-willed and sensual Claire Randall leads a double life with a husband in one century, and a lover in another. Torn between fidelity and desire, she struggles to understand the pure intent of her heart. But don't let the number of pages and the Scottish dialect scare you. It's one of the fastest reads you'll have in your library.

While on her second honeymoon in the British Isles, Claire touches a boulder that hurls her back in time to the forbidden Castle Leoch with the MacKenzie clan. Not understanding the forces that brought her there, she becomes ensnared in life-threatening situations with a Scots warrior named James Fraser. But it isn't all spies and drudgery that she must endure. For amid her new surroundings and the terrors she faces, she is lured into love and passion like she's never known before.

Dragonfly in Amber (1992) The second book in the series takes readers along on Randall's quest, as she hopes to find a state or time (like that of the title's dragonfly suspended in a piece of amber) where Fraser still exists.

Voyager (1994) Sweeping us from the battlefields of eighteenth-century Scotland to the exotic West Indies, Diana Gabaldon weaves magic once again in an exhilarating and utterly unforgettable novel.

Drums of Autumn (1997) A Scottish couple travels back in time to Charleston on the eve of the American revolution and seeks peace and freedom in the mountain wilderness.

The Fiery Cross (2001) In this pre-Revolutionary War period, Claire Fraser and her husband, Jamie, have crossed oceans and centuries to build a life together in the bucolic beauty of North Carolina. But tensions both ancient and recent threaten not only Claire and James, but their daughter, Brianna, her new husband, Roger, and their infant son, Jemmy, as well as members of their clan.

A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2005) Set during the three years leading up to the American Revolution, this compulsively readable mix of authentically set historical fiction and completely satisfying romance maps both violent loss and strong family ties. On the eve of war much is changing on Fraser's Ridge, and Jamie and Claire encounter much harm. This vivid and haunting novel, therefore, brings an aching sadness, but it is balanced with sheer joy, revelation, and solace.

An Echo in the Bone (2009) While Jacobite Jamie Fraser reluctantly participates in the American rebellion with a foreknowledge of the fledgling country's victory, his time-traveling wife, Claire, worries about the ultimate price of the war while struggling to safeguard her family.