Outlander: When 'a hand on the bottom' brings a character to life

Posted: August 07, 2014

  "IF YOU have a character who is smelling and tasting green onions and also has a hand on their bottom, your audience understands them better," said Diana Gabaldon, the mega-best-selling author of the Outlander series.

Gabaldon was explaining why she needed to travel to Philadelphia in order to write the most recent entry in the series, Written in My Own Heart's Blood, which takes place during the Revolutionary War. If she imbues her characters with more sensory details - from bad breath to some backside-related flirting - her faraway characters become real for her readers, who have gobbled up 17 million copies of her books in print. Starz starts airing a series based on the first entry Saturday.

It was important for Gabaldon, who lived in Philadelphia briefly in the '70s while her husband attended Wharton, to immerse her characters in what it felt like to be a part of these battles.

"[Main character] Claire, for instance, is doing triage at a church, but they won't let her in so she sets up outside," Gabaldon said, setting a scene. "We see her drinking water laced with brandy to get rid of dehydration. It's hot and the sweat is running down her legs, and you can smell the pollen in the air."

Gabaldon wanted to feel what her characters felt.

"I've seen the ravines and the creeks, and I've known what the vegetation is like. It wasn't as hot when I walked the battlefields but I've lived through those muggy Philadelphia days."

She continued: "I'm just absorbing sensory impressions. I don't take pictures or write things down. It's with me and I can use it however I want."

Metro buys City Paper

The free daily Metro newspaper has bought alternative weekly (and former place of employment for this gossip columnist) City Paper from Milton Rock, according to sources. The two papers already share a floor in their Center City office building, although there's a strict division between newsrooms.

"We are evaluating strategic alternatives and cannot comment on specific ones at this point," said City Paper publisher Nancy Stuski. Metro echoed a no comment.

Sources tell me that CP employees were asked to reapply for their jobs yesterday afternoon. I heard that the alt weekly will continue to publish independently from Metro, which is owned by Swedish company Metro International.

Deep Kuts

On Monday, Power 99's DJ Diamond Kuts became the first female DJ to accompany New York radio personality Angie Martinez on Power 105.1 during their Live at Five mix.


* I hear that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid enjoyed an early dinner at Alma de Cuba (1623 Walnut St.) on Monday evening. His security was seated at a separate table nearby. Reid apparently dined twice that evening: He was in the area for a $2,600-plate fundraiser at Caffe Aldo Lamberti (2011 Marlton Pike West, Cherry Hill) for New Jersey state Sen. Donald Norcross, brother of former Daily News owner George Norcross.

* Katy Perry's pops, Keith Hudson, saw his daughter perform Monday night at her show at the Wells Fargo Center, where Perry discussed the virtues of cheesesteaks (despite being allergic to gluten) and the importance of Philadelphia in American history (it's like, totally, important). Hudson, who shares his daughter's fashion flare (as evidenced by his on-point eyewear), stopped and posed for any fans who asked.

Simply the 'Best'

Philadelphia magazine is hosting its 41st annual Best of Philly party Tuesday, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., at Citizens Bank Park (1 Citizens Bank Way). This is your chance to hang out with the one, the only, the heavily eyebrowed David Gambacorta, who won Best Beat Reporter for his work in the People Paper. For tickets, go to phillymag.com/bestofphilly.

Email: eichelm@phillynews.com

On Twitter: @PhillyGossipDN

Online: ph.ly/DNGossip


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