Every viewer of Outlander comes to the community with a vastly different background and set of expectations. Millions of novels have been sold, including the corollary Lord John series and several ancillary novellas and short stories, the graphic novel The Exile, and The Outlandish Companion. Many viewers have read them; many have not. Many read the books in hardcover years ago. Others are eagerly swiping e-pages in advance of the April 4th return of the series. Some fans have no intention of reading the novels, a valid (if incomprehensible) choice.
I’m somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. I read the Big, Enormous Books (Diana’s words) once each, as well as The Scottish Prisioner novella. The only books I read exclusively on paper were Voyager (paperback, on a long road trip on my way toward and returning from summer vacation) and Written in my Own Heart’s Blood (hardcover, voraciously, this summer). I read most of the novels using audio, ebook, and hard copy simultaneously. The multiple formats each suited different circumstances of reading opportunity, providing me with unfettered Claire and Jamie access, any time, any place.
Last summer, I revisited the audio book of Outlander in advance of the the television series premier, and I’m listening to it yet again to prepare for writing recaps that examine the difference between the written (or, in this case, spoken) word and its performed interpretation. Ah, Davina Porter. Disciplined, meticulous, intense, yet measured in her faithful narration of all of the unabridged Outlander books, her voice is inextricably interwoven with my recollections, just as Sam Hueghan and Caitroina Balfe have supplanted the images that I’d conjured in my mind-casting of their roles.
What I’m wondering is whether the time, location, or medium in which you read the books has imbued your interpretation of the text. For instance, I can remember sitting in a parking garage and listening to the last chapter of Outlander. It was summertime. I had the engine turned off, the CD playing on accessory mode. It kept clicking off, timing out, so I’d have to turn the key in the ignition to restart it every few minutes. To avoid taxing the battery, I wasn’t running the air conditioning, and to hear every last word, I had the windows closed tight. I was sweating bullets, as much from what was happening in the story as from the ambient temperature. This was better than the occasions, also while listening to the audio book, that I literally had to pull over in order to process what I’d just heard, glancing surreptitiously into the other cars around me to see whether they had any idea what I was hearing.
I also think about fan art (which Diana selectively praises), the myriad critique and commentary blogs (many of which she endorses, even promotes), and fan fiction (which she vehemently opposes). I’d love to know what personal associations you’ve consciously or unconsciously created with the Outlander novels, and whether those associations are influencing your experience of the show.