Outlander. Just the word makes knees weak and hearts quiver all over the world. People scope out social media for the latest news and updates. They read then re-read the books. They watch then re-watch the series. People can quote the lines from The Wedding episode word for word and probably backwards. On Saturday nights and then on Sunday nights, there was a hush around the world as new episodes aired on STARZ and threats were made on social media that any disturbance while the new episodes aired would be met with violence.
Believe it or not, it wasn’t always that way for me. Outlander? Who cares? Fiddle faddle and all that stuff. Yeah, that was me just a few years ago. My best friend kept telling me about these books and that I MUST read them. My pat answer was “I just don’t have time,” then I would brush her off with a look that probably said “Get a grip, woman. You are obsessed.” Well, then a little over three years ago, she had the nerve to broach the subject again one night at dinner. There’s a show now, she said. You must watch it, she said. Geez, woman, I thought. Can you not just give it up?!?! Why would I want to watch a show based on a book that I have no interest in reading? Then, she pulled out her phone and showed me a picture of Sam Heughan. Well, he’s pretty likable. I mean, he’s really likable. Honestly, he’s pretty lovable. For Pete’s sake, he’s about the best looking thing I’ve ever seen. Maybe this Outlander thing might just be worth a try to look at him. I mean, I’m married and very happily so, but I ain’t blind and looking at this actor might just brighten up my week – even if the show isn’t worth a flip. (OK...I hear you laughing out there.)
Well, I went home and the next week watched the first episode of the first season. Good glory! I was hooked. Not only did Sam Heughan live up to my expectations (and yes, he did considerably brighten my week) but Caitriona Balfe was beautiful and gutsy as Claire Randall. But, what surprised me even more was the story – it was absolutely fascinating. I promptly proceeded to watch the next seven episodes, the last one ending with Jamie sitting in the window with a gun trained on that wicked, despicable, not-worthy-of-the-air-Jamie-breathes Black Jack Randall.
At that point, the story had taken over my thoughts. Was I becoming, horrors of horrors, obsessed like my friend? What was happening to me - this stable, we-won’t-say-how-old woman who now wondered if perhaps it might just be possible to travel through time and meet someone like Jamie Fraser? I had completely lost touch with reality. Outlander had consumed my waking thoughts and even my sleeping ones. I hate to admit it but when I would get up to go to the bathroom at night, I couldn’t go back to sleep for thinking about the show and wondering what was going to happen next.
Quite unwilling and still more unable to go through countless sleepless nights, I ordered the first book with Amazon Prime two day shipping. Surely, I could survive two nights of sleeplessness. Surely, my husband could endure watching me walk around the house like a zombie muttering words like Sassenach, sláinte and kilts, randomly shouting "Tùlach Àrd!" and dreamily repeating the phrase “To bed? Or to sleep?”
Amazon did not disappoint and here came the first book on the second day. Game changer! It was over. I started reading that book and realized that Outlander was a whole lot more than pretty faces. This was a story – a love story – for the ages and I could not get enough. I finished up Book 1, downloaded it on my Kindle, then ordered Dragonfly in Amber plus downloaded it on my Kindle. (May I ask? Can one have too many ways to access these books? Not me! I even ordered the audible versions!)
All seemed well with the world until I began reading Dragonfly. I promptly threw the book on the floor, texted my friend that I hated her and yelled as one can only do with a text asking her what in the world had just happened. If you have read the book, you can sympathize.
She told me calmly to keep reading. OK. Maybe I didn’t hate her after all so I took her advice and continued to read and read and read and…..well, you get the picture.
I read until I got to Drums of Autumn. I didn’t throw the book on the floor this time but my friend had failed to tell me something very important. This beautiful story brings Jamie & Claire to North Carolina! What? Why would she have not told me that? Really? Like me, she lives in North Carolina too. Did she not think that was important information? I decided that I hated her again because I might would have started reading the books a whole lot sooner. Geez, girl!
Anyway, that’s when I began wanting to know everything about the places that Jamie & Claire visited and/or lived in North Carolina. Yes, I’ve lived in North Carolina all my life but it’s a pretty big state and I’m no expert outside of my own local area. I connected with a great Facebook group (NC Outlander Fans) who are all North Carolina residents by requirement (if you qualify, check them out). I learned so much from this group but knew there was still much more to learn, to see, and to do. So, I thought to myself, “Self, wouldn’t it be great to discover the places Jamie, Claire & clan went to in North Carolina with fresh Outlander eyes? And wouldn’t it be great to share all those discoveries with others who may or may not live in North Carolina? And, better still, wouldn’t it be great to write about the history & places of North Carolina and how they relate to Outlander beginning with Drums of Autumn and weave Jamie & Claire’s story in at the same time?"
As a result, here I am today, realizing a dream which had been in the making ever since I read Drums of Autumn and all the later books. What dream, you ask? I started a blog where I could write about all the “real” history and places of Outlander in North Carolina. Just for fun, of course, and I named the blog Outlander North Carolina. Well, as if I wasn’t having enough fun just reading the books, watching the show countless numbers of time, and writing the blog, I started a new Facebook group which is also called Outlander North Carolina. We now have over 1000 members from not only North Carolina but from all over the United States and beyond! Seeing that I still wasn’t having quite enough fun, a member of the group approached me with the idea of having a “gathering” in NC and she told me she knew the perfect spot, Leatherwood Mountains Resort. I went, I saw and A Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming was born.
A Fraser’s Ridge Homecoming, to be held September 20-23, in Ferguson, North Carolina, will give Outlander fans everywhere the opportunity to experience firsthand the history of Jamie & Claire Fraser’s beloved 18th century North Carolina home.
Unlike many other Outlander events, the Homecoming’s primary focus will be on the history of the area – not on the stars of the TV series. Over the course of four days, Homecoming attendees will be treated to historical presentations and activities, period music by local musicians and themed meals. In addition, visits to historic Whippoorwill Academy & Village, where an entire day is being devoted to Outlander, and Fort Defiance, the 18th century home of General William Lenoir, is also awaiting Homecoming attendees who are coming from 16 different states – so far!
And, there you have it. That’s the very long short story of how this Outlander insanity started and where it has led me. How about you? I’d love to hear your Outlander story. Misery loves company, you know. Also, I’d also love to know if you’ve ever visited North Carolina. If so, did you visit any of the locations from the books? What did you think of this wonderful state?
P.S. I decided not to hate my friend anymore. I finished all eight books and thanked her for sharing them with me. Now, she looks at me like I’m the crazy one. I think she’s right. You can check out my diagnosis here.
Beth Pittman is a wife to one, a mother to three and a grandmother to three. She is a breast cancer survivor of seven years and owns a home somewhere near the Fraser’s Ridge area where she is constantly on the lookout for Jamie & Claire. Since she has not yet figured out how to time travel, she enjoys reading and watching historical fiction and drama in her free time.
Much thanks to Beth for guest blogging this month! Great job!! Can't wait to attend A Fraser's Ridge Homecoming!!!
For information and tickets:
*Stay tuned next month for giveaways celebrating this websites one year anniversary*