Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What makes it work

This has been an intense couple of weeks for me. The good part was having two of my grandchildren here for part of it. They come every summer to the farm and to their cousins' and usually we divide their visits into two-- a week early in summer and a second later. It's a delight to have them, get time to know them better than I ever can on family visits; so that was great.

For Saturday (the 9th), when they would still be with us, I decided to do a little pre-exploring regarding episode one of the series Outlander (which I had been eagerly anticipating). I wanted to know how the sex would be since I had read the Diana Gabaldon books, which although not remotely erotica, they do have sex in them and some tough subjects. 

Luckily Starz was letting that first episode out online as a tempter for people to sign up. The part I saw looked good but way too much sex for teen-agers when visiting us. If their parents let them see such, I'm fine with that decision but not happening on my watch to possibly end up with the parents saying-- what were you thinking?! 

Monday we did the annual hand-off in Glide Oregon to our daughter's family where the grandkids will have their next family time with their cousin, and I was back to my regular routine-- such as that ever is.

A few days later I found time to watch on the television that first episode. Whether you read Diana Gabaldon's books or not, you can enjoy this film, set in the Scottish highlands. It's beautifully acted and filmed but definitely a bit graphic for sex and violence if that kind of thing bothers you. I have not heard how long it will run, but since there are eight books, so far, it could go a long time if it's popular.

Outlander is time travel set right after WWII and in Scotland, 1740s. Although the first book is all told from the heroine's viewpoint, in first person, through her eyes you meet the reason, I believe, that these books are so popular-- the hero, Jamie Fraser. 

Oh I know it's supposed to be all about Claire who is the time traveler, the outlander, the outsider who rides two worlds with two lives. If you are familiar with them at all, you know this kind of love affair from readers rests mainly on Jamie's broad shoulders. It is why she matters and why others (men and women) revere or even desire him so highly. Yes, Claire is intelligent, daring and passionate, but she, as often as not, gets herself into situations where he saves her. She does some of this because she's outspoken and there are eras where that works better than others-- okay, in women not many of them ;).

In Jamie, Gabaldon created a hero for the ages, and he is more than any real man could ever be, but her books are fantasy set in that historic accuracy. Put those two together and you draw in a lot of fans as she has over more than twenty years. 

The redheaded Jamie isn't just a hunk. Yes, he is extremely handsome with rugged features and described again and again in every book I've read. He's bigger than men of his time, 6'4", but it's far more than being tall and handsome that makes him so desirable. 

Jamie is very intelligent, confident in himself, a born leader, responsible, wily, honorable, brave, curious, passionate, not afraid to be emotional, and at times the sacrificial hero, the nearly Christ figure (leaving out the religious part of that). He is the warrior hero who can fight but also use his head; always he puts his people ahead of his own needs. He is a leader of the type humans seek to find and never do-- except in imagination, mythology, and fiction. 

For the series, the hour long first episode was excellent (in my opinion) for casting and the beauty of Scotland where it was filmed. In watching the first episode, it brought me back to her other books, some of which I bought and read, some not. The first time I would have read these, I'd have been writing but not nearly into it as I am now. It changed some of how I see them. I related to the following quote from Voyager.
"It was not Monsieur Arouet, but a colleague of his-- a lady novelist-- who remarked to me once that writing novels was a cannibal's art, in which one is often mixed small portions of one's friends and one's enemies together, seasoned them with imagination, and allowed the whole to stew together into a savory concoction."                                 Diana Gabaldon
Getting back to her writing made me think long and hard about my own books, my heroes and heroines, why they work or don't for readers.  She writes about a time in history that is very popular with readers but where I have had limited interest. 

Her ability to tell a story is important wherever the writer sets it. She puts in a lot more detail than I personally care to read, frankly a lot more action where it seems sometimes the hero and heroine go from one disaster to another with no breaks, but nobody can deny she has a wonderful story-telling gift, which does bring to life a piece of history, colored by bigger-than-life fantasy. 

Into each life a little fantasy should come. It's healthy-- so long as we don't confuse it with reality. :)


Tabor said...

I will head to Ireland and miss Scotland and regret that as I understand it is more beautiful. I do not mind sex, but tend to want it more romantic and do not like graphic violence. I am too close to death for that these days.

Rain Trueax said...

Most who love her books are big fans of details and history. But on the other hand, you can skip about 400 pages worth of an 888 page novel and still have a darned good story. Unlike the Potter books, these books are really about the history of a man and woman although time travel permeates them many places by others traveling to the future or wherever. She is a detail person and definitely not in the mode of Elmore Leonard who said he leaves out all that readers skim over. She delights in those parts (from what I can tell). What's neat about them, and I haven't read them all, is how it tells the story of the history of Great Britain for how they treated the Scots and then come to the Colonies and the same thing for how they ruled over things until Americans had had enough. It's not a pretty tale of how the mighty can take away rights just because they can. But historically it does take the books (so far) from 1740s until 1780s and the characters do grow older as new family members come along to take up the story also of a fight for justice and freedom. To me though, in them all, Jamie is the hero and Claire can annoy me as much as I might understand she's got a pushy and unthinking personality that leads to some of her problems. She does not though think ahead like Jamie does.

The author Diana Gabaldon had never been to Scotland when she wrote Outlander. Frankly anybody can write a novel based anywhere using research that is available. She later did go more than once but it didn't require it. And a lot of the way people travel, they never get a real feel for the land anyway. It takes 'being' somewhere and most travelers just count coup on scenery ;)