About 15 years ago I read a book called 'Cross Stitch'... I probably should say, I devoured it. A friend had recommended it and left it on my doorstep one day. I can pin point the approximate timing because I was on maternity leave after having had my eldest daughter, who is now 15. I then went on to read the second (Dragonfly in Amber), third (Voyager), and fourth (Drums of Autumn), books in the series. I had fallen in love with Diana Gabaldon's historical, time travel, romance, action series. It's a genre-less series. Booksellers tend to pop it on the romance shelves but it is so much more than that. True, woven through all the books in the series is a love story between the two main characters, Claire and Jamie. I guess it's a tad spoiler-ish to tell you that their story runs through the series...on several occasions one or both of them come close to dying, but the series is still going, so I guess you now know they make it. Sorry about that. (#NotSorry)
I soon discovered that the first book was called 'Outlander' in the US. When it was released to the UK, Australia and New Zealand market they made a few changes...cut out some scenes, changed words, fixed up some date anomalies and changed the title. I'll never understand why they changed the name. Cross Stitch brings up images of sewing, but it was explained as crossing in time...i.e. the time travel element to the story.
I learned that Diana Gabaldon was writing a 5th book in the series and that the series would probably end with a 6th book...a double trilogy. Leading up to the release of the 5th book (The Fiery Cross) I re-read the entire series so I could read the new book with everything fresh in my mind. It was released late in 2001. I did this again when the 6th book (A Breath of Snow and Ashes) came out (2005)! I have never done this with any other book or series. I'm an avid reader and like anyone who loves reading I have a pile a mile high of books I want to read, yet with this series I have read the books multiple times. The first many, many times. Incidentally, the 6th book wasn't the end, and Diana Gabaldon continues to write. She's just completed the 8th and has indicated that there are more to come.
About a year ago I heard that the first book was to be made into a TV series. Fantasy casting of the characters has occurred for years and years by the many different fan groups online and now it was a real thing. Ron D Moore of Battlestar Galactica fame was involved and Diana Gabaldon was incredibly positive about the adaptation. Fan groups fretted and fussed over the casting choices as they were announced. It was very exciting when it was announced an Australian partner, Foxtel's SoHo, had signed to screen the Starz series.
Whatever happened, I knew I would love the adaptation. I was a signed up, card carrying fan. They would have had to have cast Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber to have disappointed me. So, as the launch date drew nearer I started seeing clips and interviews. I watched all the interviews from the San Diego Comic Con, I read the reviews, I devoured every single thing I could find. Just over a week ago I saw that SoHo were planning to screen episode 1 for fans selected from a competition. I entered in a variety of ways and succeeded in winning tickets via Random House. (Thank you thank you)
I invited a friend who I used to work with to go with me. We had shared many 'Jamie & Claire' chats when we had realised we were both fans of the series. She was equally excited. Our drive to Richmond in pouring rain was filled with anticipation. As soon as we arrived we saw other fans. They were clutching "pocket Jamie's", eyes wide with excitement. I had started to realise just how widespread the fandom of this series was and just how much we all loved this book series...and it was about to come to life before our very eyes.
It's hard for me to review the episode without gushing. I'm not an unbiased viewer. I loved it before I saw it. As the opening credits rolled my eyes welled with tears. I could hardly believe this was happening. My favourite book had living breathing characters up on the screen. It was amazing.
Since seeing that episode, and being sworn to secrecy, then following online groups where US viewers were discussing their first viewing I've seen a glimpse into a global fan following like nothing I've seen before. Small details have been discussed to within an inch of their life. Things like character features, Jamie's hair colour, Claire's eye colour, the sound of their voices, the way they look at each other, Claire's first husband Frank, THAT scene in the castle, her watch, her belt, her dress, her hair, the Gaelic, the cussing, the voiceover, the gunshot, the music.... I can't ever remember following such an intense dissection of a television show...but these were fans of the book, who had read every sentence and chapter, usually multiple times. Maybe fans of Game of Thrones, or other book to TV adaptations have done the same.
So, the thing is. I love it...and I want you to love it too. In fact I want everyone to love it so much that Starz signs on for a second season, and then a third etc etc... And if you want me at 8.30 on a Thursday evening for the next 8 weeks... I'll be busy back in 1743!