Diana Gabaldon goes east & becomes a dame

It started with pure luck and persistence. Nosing around the interwebs can prove to be fruitful, especially when you discover your favorite author will not only be in town but for 2 different events in 2 places you’re very familiar with–the local renaissance festival and your university alma mater.

I mean, let’s talk about geeking out here.

Ever since I became obsessed with the Outlander book series (and television show) last year, I’ve been keeping close tabs on Diana Gabaldon’s event schedule, should she make her way east. And then, she finally did.

Part One: The Maryland Renaissance Festival

Let’s start with the first event of the weekend: The Maryland Renaissance Festival. Now this is a spectacle within itself—no famous names need to be mentioned to get the crowds to show up, just nice weather. Well, in this case, we had both and it was equal parts crazy and fantastic.

While I normally rent a costume (yes, yes I do and don’t knock it till you’ve tried it), there was no time for dilly dallying on this day. Not if you wanted a seat at the venue. The crowds descended, and my friends and I squeezed our 3 tushes between strangers onto wooden benches. An hour of awkward and uncomfortable sitting passed by, but it was all worth it.

You know, I don’t think there can be an event involving Diana Gabaldon without a piper, or four. At this point, they go together like peanut butter and jelly—or like Claire and Jamie. So as the hour approached, a set of pipers named Cu Dubh came out and played a fantastic set and with so much energy. They were followed by The Mediaeval Baebes, who sang the Sky Boat song with an amazing ethereal sound, while leaves floated down from the trees around us. It was as close to magic as you could get. Quite fitting.

By the time introductions were made, the crowd was buzzing. Diana made her way on stage dawning her own renaissance attire and began with a reading from the currently untitled Book 9 of the series. Next was a Q&A session with a local journalist. Her wit and sass made for a great interview and the interviewer was a great sport as well (see my Periscope recording of the entire event below). There were a few stories she told, which I had come across before, but hearing about how fetching she thought a kilt was and how that thought during an old Doctor Who episode was enough to spark the beginning of my favorite book series never really gets old. With Diana, you’ll always get a straight answer, and a correction if necessary. I find it refreshing.

So the interview ends and you think that’s it… Oh, but wait, King Henry VIII comes out to greet Herself. He compliments her, thanks her for coming and creating such a strong English character with Claire, and then deems her Dame Diana Gabaldon of Rebel Grove (the fictional name of the renaissance fair realm). Yep, Herself is now technically a dame as well.

The entire event ended with a book signing, not only for the 150 lottery winners (myself, included), but every single fan who was standing by hoping that maybe they could be added to the line. From what I heard, she stayed longer than planned to sign books for everyone, and for that I’d say we fans are not only grateful, but are even bigger fans because of it. Definitely worth a curtsy to Dame Diana.

Me, a mere peasant, with Dame Diana
Me, a mere peasant, with Dame Diana

Stay tuned while I take a sip of my wine and prepare to bring you part two: Outlander narrator Davina Porter gives a talk at George Mason University and charms us all.

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