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Diana Gabaldon is an award-winning author known for creating the beloved Outlander universe. But as it turns out, she didn’t think the world would ever hear her story. In a recent tweet, Gabaldon revealed that she never intended to release the first Outlander novel.

Caitriona Balfe, Diana Gabaldon, Sam Heughan
Caitriona Balfe, Diana Gabaldon, Sam Heughan | Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Starz

Diana Gabaldon was a college professor

Before becoming a best-selling author, Gabaldon was a professor of science at Arizona State University. According to her website, the Outlander writer holds three science degrees — one in Zoology, another in Marine Biology, and a Doctorate in Quantitative Behavioral Ecology.

When talking to January Magazine, Gabaldon said she started writing the first Outlander novel for practice. And as a college professor with access to library resources, she figured historical fiction would be an easy place to start.

“I wanted to write a book for practice to learn how to write novels, and I was thinking, what would be the easiest possible kind of thing to write,” Gabaldon explained. “And I thought maybe a mystery because I read more of those than anything. And then I thought, ‘Well, mysteries have plots. I’m not sure I can do that.’”

“I thought perhaps that would be a historical novel because I was a research professor,” she continued. “Well, I was a scientist, but I did know how to use the library, and it’s easier to look things up than to make them up entirely. So I said, ‘OK. I’ll write a historical novel.’”

She never intended to release the first ‘Outlander’ book 

When Gabaldon started writing her first Outlander book, she didn’t think it would ever see the light of day. In a recent Twitter Q & A session with fans, the author revealed that she never planned on releasing the book. 

Outlander was my practice book,” Gabaldon tweeted. “I never intended to show it to anybody; it was just for me to learn how to write a novel.  Which I did. <cough>  But then I _had_ this novel, and Stuff Happened.”

Gabaldon told another fan that she hired a publishing agent before finishing the novel when she realized she might be onto something. “I was probably about halfway through when I thought it was probably good,” she wrote in the tweet.  “And I got an agent at about that point.  He didn’t send it to editors until it was complete, though.”

Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ novel spawned several more books and the TV series

Gabaldon released the first Outlander novel in 1991. Since then, she’s written seven more books for the series. And she’s also created a parallel universe with her Lord John sequence of novels. 


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The Outlander books have gone on to become one of the best-selling literary series of all time. And the STARZ adaptation of the novels has earned numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe nomination for Best Television Series.

Gabaldon is currently working on her ninth Outlander book, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone.