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Outlander books were almost 'cancelled' by publisher before first release – here's why

Outlander fans have no doubt struggled to give details about the books when discussing them with friends. While the day-to-day pages of Claire Fraser and Jamie Fraser’s lives are relatively non-conforming to genre definitions, the books have a lot to them. Although Claire is trapped within a period drama setting, Diana Gabaldon placed her there with some science fiction.

As fans know, Claire can travel through time with the help of the mysterious stones that are in both Scotland and America.

When the time travel has been completed, however, she is often deep in dramatic stories involving politics and lust.

An interview from 2017 details author Gabaldon explaining how this was an issue for her when she first wrote the story.

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Whilst speaking to Penguin Random House with a live audience, she explained how she struggled to get her book contract to go through as they didn’t know which genre to put it in.

READ MORE: Outlander: What is the Jamie Fraser prequel about? Diana Gabaldon reveals all

Talking about publishing her first book – Outlander – she explained that, at the time, the internet was not the main way of selling books – book shops were.

She said: “Book stores have shelves with labels. You could only put a book in one place in a book store. It had to have a label.”

Gabaldon then explained that it took her publishers almost “18 months” to come to a decision with what to do with her book.

She went on to add that it almost cost her her publishing contract in the first place.

“Well, they came very close to cancelling the contract and giving me back the book,” she revealed.

“Because they couldn’t decide how to sell it.”

Eventually, the publishers told Gabaldon that they would be selling the book as romance – but the writer was not too happy about this.

“I said: ‘What!?'” she explained. “‘I’ve read romance, I like romance, but I’ve read enough of it to know that’s not what I write.'”

Going on to dictate why she didn’t like this decision, Gabaldon continued: “I said: ‘I’ve got two objections: If you sell it as romance I will never be reviewed by the New York Times.

“‘Which is true – I can live with that. But I said, on the other hand you’ll cut off the entire male half of my audience which is more of a problem!'”

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Thankfully, it all worked out, as Gabaldon asked her publishers at the time to go ahead and sell it as romance – but with “dignified” covers.

Later in the interview Diana spoke about book nine – Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone – and how it may include some details about the late Frank Randall.


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