Diana J. Gabaldon (b. January 11, 1952 in Arizona) is an American author of Mexican-American and English ancestry. Gabaldon 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). Her books have so far been sold in 23 countries, and translated into 19 languages.
Diana J. Gabaldon, Ph.D., was born on January 11, 1952, in Arizona, (U.S.A.). Her late father, Tony Gabaldon (1931—1998) was an Arizona state senator from Flagstaff. He moved to Flagstaff from New Mexico at the age of thirteen. Her mother's family are originally from Yorkshire (England); her great-grandfather immigrated to Arizona from England in the 1860s.
Gabaldon grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona. She has received three degrees from two different institutions: a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Zoology from Northern Arizona University, 1970—1973; a Master of Science (M.S.) in Marine Biology from the University of California, San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 1973—1975; and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Northern Arizona University, 1975-1978. Her M.S. research topic was "Agonistic Interactions of Hermit Crabs." Her Ph.D. dissertation title is "Nest Site Selection in Pinyon Jays, Gymnorhynchus cyanocephalus)." Dr. Gabaldon received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL) degree from Northern Arizona University in 2007. Gabaldon Hall, a dormitory on the campus of Northern Arizona University, is named in honor of her father, Tony Gabaldon.
As a full-time assistant professor in the Center for Environmental Studies at Arizona State University in the 1980s, Dr. Gabaldon did research, was a scientific computing and database expert, and taught university classes for college credit in anatomy and other subjects. An expert in scientific computing, she was the founding editor of Science Software Quarterly, a journal for scientists that chronicled the rapid advances in hardware and software during the decade when processing power began to migrate from the mainframe to the desktop. The journal featured reviews of software for scientific word processing, laboratory data acquisition, statistics, databases, computer languages and compilers, computer utilities, and books, mostly for IBM-PC computers and clones running MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 At its peak, the journal had a circulation of over 4,000.
During the mid-1980s, Gabaldon also designed and taught personal computer courses part-time as a faculty member of the ASU Computer Institute, located in the Tower Shopping Center in Phoenix. The ASU Computer Institute offered non-credit, one-day, evening, and Saturday classes for students, business professionals, and others who wished to learn PC computing. Students received a certificate and could obtain Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for classes they completed successfully. During this period, she wrote computer articles and software reviews for popular national computer publications such as Byte magazine, PC Magazine, and InfoWorld. During this time, her husband founded and ran a successful company which provided computer programming services and support to Phoenix-area businesses.
In March 1988, Gabaldon decided to "write a novel for practice, in order to learn how." She didn't intend to share it with anyone at the time, or to try and get it published. While "casting about for an appealing time and place" for the novel she happened to see an old Dr. Who rerun on PBS, titled "War Games." One of the Doctor's companions was a young Scot from around 1745, a young man about 17 years old named Jamie MacCrimmon, who provided the initial inspiration for her main male character, James Fraser, and the mid-18th century time period. She used the name “Jamie” from the Dr. Who character, though she stated, "I’m afraid Jamie Fraser has nothing else in common with Jamie MacCrimmon save the kilt."
The use of time travel came when Gabaldon decided it would be interesting to have "an Englishwoman to play off all these kilted Scotsmen," but her female character "refused to shut up and talk like an 18th century person." This idea gave rise to Claire, the beautiful and stubborn English nurse "who took over the story and began to tell it from her viewpoint."
Later in 1988, Gabaldon publicly posted a short excerpt of her novel on the CompuServe Literary Forum, also called the "Lit. Forum," a hangout for people who like books (the forum is still extant, but is now called The Compuserve Books and Writers Community ). She was an active member of this book-discussion community, and had posted several pages of her unfinished novel to strengthen her points in an argument with a male forum member regarding what it feels like to be pregnant. Within days, a science fiction and fantasy agent read her short post and offered to represent Dr. Gabaldon. She decided, however, to procure an agent who would sell her works as general fiction. Another forum member, a published science fiction author, was impressed by her post, and introduced her to his agent. The agent, Perry Knowlton, represented her on the basis of an unfinished first novel, tentatively titled Cross Stitch. Knowlton sent large excerpts of the book to five editors, and within four days, three of them had made offers on it. Her first book deal was for a trilogy, the first novel plus two future sequels. The title of the first book was changed from Cross Stitch to Outlander in the United States before release, but it bears the original title in the U.K. About this name change, Gabaldon says, that Cross Stitch was " a play on "a stitch in time", and that the British publishers liked it. The American publisher, though, said that it "sounded too much like embroidery" and wanted a more "adventurous" title.
Dr. Gabaldon resigned her faculty position at ASU after the first book deal was finalized, and became a full-time fiction author.
There are presently seven novels in the main Outlander series, including the most recent, An Echo in the Bone, released on September 22, 2009 in the U.S. The novels center around the time-travelling, 20th-century English nurse (Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser) and her 18th-century Scottish husband (James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser), and are set in Scotland, France, the West Indies, England, and America. The Lord John Series is a spin-off from the Outlander books, and centers on a secondary character from the original series.
Gabaldon's works are expanding beyond the printed word to other media. A graphic novel titled The Exile (An Outlander Graphic Novel) will be released on September 21, 2010 at a launch party in Scottsdale, Arizona. A musical based on Outlander was introduced in Aberdeen, Scotland, on July 31, 2010, created by two fans of her books. Music from this production was also released on a CD in July, 2010.
Besides the Outlander series, Gabaldon is working on a contemporary mystery set in Phoenix titled Red Ant's Head, and has published short stories in numerous fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, and science fiction anthologies.
Gabaldon currently lives in the Phoenix, Arizona area with her husband, Doug Watkins; they have three adult children.
Gerri Russell interviewed Diana Gabaldon surrounding the release of An Echo in the Bone for the November 2009 issue of RT Book Reviews Magazine In the article, Gabaldon revealed she creates individual scenes out of sequence and brings them together to create her completed work. She also advised aspiring authors to "...read anything and everything. Write. That is, unfortunately, the only way of learning how. And don't stop."
The Outlander series has been released in unabridged audiobooks (read by Davina Porter) and abridged audiobooks (read by Geraldine James). The licenses for the abridged books have not been renewed and the unabridged versions, which Diana Gabaldon prefers, will be the only ones available when the licenses expire. Several of the Lord John books have been released in audiobook form, read by Jeff Woodman.
Because of a non-compete clause in the abridged-audio contract, the unabridged versions cannot be sold in retail outlets (including bookstores and audible.com) until the license of the corresponding abridged book has expired. For this reason, The Fiery Cross and A Breath of Snow and Ashes are not yet available on audible.com, but will be as soon as those licenses expire. In the meantime, unabridged recordings of these books are available from Recorded Books, Inc..
As a brief illustration of relative length, the abridged version of A Breath of Snow and Ashes contains nine CD's. The unabridged version of this book includes 48.
July, 1992 Diana Gabaldon received the RITA Award given by the Romance Writers of America in the category Best Book of 1991 for the novel Outlander.
September 24, 2006 Diana Gabaldon received the International Corine Book Award 2006 in the category Weltbild Readers Award, which was determined by a public vote on the web page of the German publisher.
October 10, 2006 Diana Gabaldon received the Quill Book Award in 2006 in the category Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror, which was determined by a public vote on the Internet. To receive the nomination, the author was required to meet one of several possible criteria, such as an appearance on the best seller list of Borders Group Inc., or a starred review in Publishers Weekly.