On March 6, 1988, she wanted to know what it took to write a novel and whether she really wanted to do that “for real.”
Diana Gabaldon began bashing away at Outlander, historical fiction about a Second World War combat nurse thrown back in time 200 years. Split between two loves in two different times, Claire Randall is in an impossible position.
It was Gabaldon’s first book, but certainly not her last. Outlander was followed by seven more New York Times’ best-selling novels.
She has just published the eighth epic novel in the Outlander series titled “Written in My Own Heart’s Blood,” which has reached the number-one spot on the New York Times’ best seller list for hardcover fiction.
Her writing also serves as an inspiration to many, including those attending the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (SiWC), at which Gabaldon is a regular fixture.
Even after 26 years of writing, Gabaldon is hard-pressed to describe her genre.
She calls it “big, fat, historical fiction, à la James Clavell and James Michener.”
Gabaldon is just one of a host of presenters coming to the SiWC Oct. 24-26 – many of them inspired by Gabaldon’s work.
Laura Bradbury read Gabaldon’s Outlander in 2003 and was transformed by it.
She joined the Compuserve literary forum where Gabaldon often posts. Bradbury attended SiWC the following year.
She has a degree in English literature and has read all of the greats, but she was completely enamoured with the plot offered in Outlander.
It’s the story that transfixes the readers of Gabaldon’s books.
“The Surrey writers’ conference is all about that, it’s all about storytelling,” Bradbury said.
Bradbury always loved to write but hadn’t written a book for “fear of failure.”
The conference got her writing, she said, but she couldn’t finish the books she started.
In 2012, she was diagnosed with a rare liver disease.
“My life changed from one minute to the next,” Bradbury said. “I went from a healthy, globe-trotting, writing mother of three, to looking my mortality very closely in the face.”
With new resolve, she decided to finish the three books she started.
She has already published her first book, a memoir, called “My Grape Escape” in November of last year. She self-published it using Kindle with the help of local social media guru Sean Cranberry.
“The sales have been extraordinary. I’m a Canadian best seller already,” Bradbury said.
My Grape Escape is at the number-one spot in Amazon France and holds the top 100 spot for Amazon memoirs.
A sequel called “My Grape Village” is coming out before this year’s SiWC.
Bradbury will be sharing her success story as a keynote speaker at the event that kindled her success.
She will be talking about how life is short and writers who are thinking about it should get busy.
“Creativity, and writing specifically, has been a lifeline for me,” she said. “The future is uncertain and you have to seize what you are. You are a writer.
“You have to honour yourself, to write and to finish,” Bradbury said.
The SiWC began in 1993 and was first held at Johnston Heights Secondary School with 100 attendees.
It is now a packed annual event at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford that attracts authors and speakers from around the globe.
It runs Oct. 24-26.
More information can be found at www.siwc.ca