Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Outlander - 'The Fans Who Make It' - Series by Roma Sars

Hello everyone! (From Roma Sars on "My Outlander Friends" on Facebook)

As a member of the Outlander fandom, I have visited many websites and blogs by fans who interview the actors, production staff and others involved with the making of the Outlander series.
I have also seen fans collect tens of thousands of dollars for the charities of their favourite actors, as well as fans making the most beautiful art and videos, all dedicated to the Outlander story.

What motivates the fans do this? Why have some of them devoted the best part of their days to the Outlander story?
So far, no-one has interviewed these fans who are behind these websites, blogs and twitter handles, some of them with thousands of followers.

So, I thought that I should be the one to do that, and I have approached some of them and found them conducive to do interviews.
In doing so, I hope to understand this obsession which has taken a hold of me ever since I discovered the Outlander story in 2015.

This will be the start of my “Outlander- the fans who make it” series of interviews.
I hope you will like what I will post, as I am sure I am going to enjoy doing it.

(This interview has been conducted by Roma Sars of, My Outlander Friends!)

This time I chose Donas the Horse (Sue Strickler) @DonasTheHorse, because I have a lot of fun interacting with all the Outlander Animals. They are all creative, funny and sweet, and entertain our fandom. It is a pleasure to learn about the people behind these great Twitter handles.

Please tell us about yourself.
My name is Sue Strickler, I am 55 years old and live in the USA, outside of Philadelphia. I work at Lehigh Valley Hospital in the Cardiac Cath Lab/Electrophysiology Lab as a Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist. My hobbies are caring for my 4 dogs, my cat & my 26 year old horse. I’ve had horses most all of my life. I competed in gymkhana, dressage, hunter/jumper, pleasure driving & combined driving. I love to travel (just got back from 10 days in Scotland!), cook, garden and read. I’m am married to my husband, Bob, my high school sweetheart going on 32 years now. He is my Jamie ❤️

What made you decide to choose the “Donas the Horse” Twitter handle and can you tell us a little bit about that? How did it make you feel when Donas did not appear in season 2 of the show?
I have been a huge Outlander fan for a long, long time. When Sam was cast, I joined Twitter and was his 277 follower! I decided to mix my love of horses with my love for Outlander - so Donas was created! I decided to create the cranky, belligerent persona because that’s just how Donas would act, right?! No one was more surprised than me how quickly my followers grew. It helped that Diana, Cait & then Sam followed me as his 666th follow - from there, the followers exploded to 11.3K. Diana direct messaged me before season 1 aired to tell me that they were unable to find a sorrel horse to play Donas and that a black Friesian was going to be used instead. She said it was hard to find a sorrel horse in Scotland that could carry both Sam & Cait, so she & Maril chose the horse you saw in Season 1. I was very surprised and disappointed when they didn’t follow the book and include the barn scene between Jamie & Hamish that includes Donas. I thought it was a missed character development opportunity for those two characters, since it fleshed them out more. As far as being excluded from season 2, I understand that some things need to be minimized and others accentuated, but it was sad that Donas wasn’t around. I was more upset that Donas got the axe in the opening credits!!

How much time do you spend every day on Outlander?
I used to work part time, so I had a whole lot of more time to devote to Outlander on social media, but that all changed last year when I went full time. I would say I devote about 1-3 hours a week on Donas on Twitter. I’m also an admin on Outlander Fit.

What do you like most about the Outlander books and show?
I love the richly developed characters and the interwoven plots. It’s such a gripping story! I remember binge reading the whole series, and then starting it again. And again! Diana also writes horses so well. She once told me for an article I wrote for Horse Nation on Outlander, that she learned about horses from her father in law (who is an experienced horseman) as well as her husband, Doug.

Which character in Outlander is your favourite (apart from Donas)
My favorite character, other than Donas, is Jamie. He’s the King of Men! He is everything that you’d want in a hero.

How has Outlander affected your life and/or lifestyle?
Outlander has affected my life in so many ways. I never imagined that I would go to Scotland because of a book! Or that I would fly to the first fan event 3000 miles from my home by myself. Or attend San Diego Comic Con! I’d never met any actors before Sam, Cait, Tobias & Graham. There was never a show that captivated me like Outlander has.

Is this the first fandom you are a member of? What made you decide to join this fandom, rather than any other one?
This is the first fandom I’ve been a part of. When all the craziness started in 2013, my family didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about. Now most all of the women in my immediate family are huge fans as are a few of the guys in my family.

Which personality from Outlander did you enjoy meeting the most? And who would you like to meet as yet?
I enjoyed meeting Sam the most. The first time I met him was at San Diego Comic Con inside the Hard Rock Hotel, right before they did a photo shoot for EW. My friend, Vicky, noticed all of them (the entire cast plus Diana & Ron) coming down the hall towards us. They all turned to get on the elevator and I yelled Sam’s name, and he came out from the back of the pack. 

I told him my name & he shook my hand, and said “nice shirt” (I had my Caitrionation shirt on). I told him that he followed me on Twitter, and that I was Donas the Horse, and he broke out in a huge smile and said “DONAS!!!” I asked if I could get a picture, but the elevator came. He told me to wait outside the limo area, and he would find me. So I did, and he found me! I’ve met him a few times now, and he’s always been so nice & accommodating. We actually made it on Japanese TV too, with a group picture of me & my friends! 

I also met Diana in Philadelphia when she did a book signing. For some reason, I thought it would be funny to wear a horse mask, that I had at the meet & greet. It was kinda funny, but I think Diana thought I was a lunatic! Actually, she was very kind and a good sport! - not my finest moment!!

I’ve said Hi to Tobias twice now and, I guess if I had anyone I’d like to meet and talk to more, it would be him. He’s been in so many shows I’ve watched, before he came to Outlander - just recently ‘The Terror’. He seems very nice, so talented and intelligent, but I might be a wee bit scared of him

All graphics and edited formats for this blog by, Dorianne Panich 

Gold Derby 2018 interview with Caitriona Balfe

Season 4 details.

Friday, June 15, 2018

WaterAidAmerica has teamed with Tobias Menzies in an Outlander Sweepstakes!

WaterAidAmerica and Tobias Menzies are hosting an Outlander-themed sweepstakes. Their mission, to provide clean water to everyone everywhere by 2030!

What you get if you win..

So, how much do you want this quilt?

Captain Jack is egging you on! Go on!

To enter the Outlander Sweepstakes, please donate below.

Grand prize package includes:
An autographed handmade quilt
Two tickets to the Outlander Convention in Secaucus, NJ, August 17-19, 2018
A photo opportunity with Graham McTavish, Cesar Domboy and Stephen Walters
A tour of the WaterAid offices in NYC (arguably the highlight)
A WaterAid SWAG Bag!

Sweepstakes link to enter

Video message from Tobias, explaining the beautiful signed quilt, and what the sweepstakes is for.

Thank you Tobias'Tribe, for all the info... @TribeTobias

Thursday, June 14, 2018

“Loyal to the Laird” - an interview with Keith Fleming by your Aussie Blogging Lass

Outlander Homepage originals 

The world of Outlander is famous for its couples. Across the 3 seasons that have screened so far, fans of the STARZ series have watched different duos interact with Jamie Fraser. Sometimes these relationships - like those with Colum & Dougal, or Rupert & Angus - have been stormy and complicated, while other characters, like Ross & Kincaid, show nothing but loyalty. 

In season 3, after the horrors of the Battle of Culloden, a new pair of characters enters Jamie’s social circle: in the form of Lesley and Hayes. From fellow prisoners at Ardsmuir, to erstwhile smugglers in Edinburgh, to fellow crew on board the Artemis, Lesley and Hayes will do anything for Jamie. So what is it like to play one of these characters? Keith Fleming, aka Lesley, sat down to tell us. 

While most actors in Outlander can go to Diana Gabaldon’s novels for their character research, Keith didn’t have that luxury. Lesley is a written-for-tv addition, so we wondered how Keith went about creating his character. 

“Well the writers created Lesley really,” Keith replied, “but like any part, you bring yourself to what is written. On a basic level, a  character is very much the sum of what they say and what they do. So you look at what is similar within you and what is different, asking yourself, ‘How can I change myself to suit the character?’ After that, it's about imagination and making sure that you serve the scene or story. It would be too simple to say that Lesley is a comic character. He is fiercely protective of Jamie, Claire and his pal, Hayes. He is brave and willing to get stuck in, always prepared to put himself in harm’s way for them.”

And how would Keith describe Lesley in just 3 words?

“Loyal, witty and earthy,” was his response.

So far, Outlander has traversed different countries and landscapes in order to tell its story. But is there such a thing as a “typical day” on set? We asked Keith if he could share his daily routine with us. 

“Well, it starts with an early pick-up,” Keith said. “I’m running over lines in my head through the fog of sleep! When I arrive at the trailer, I put on my basic costume, then head to hair and make-up, where I share a wee chat with the girls to the back-drop of some great tunes. Once I receive my confirmed schedule for the day, I eat breakfast . Then I head onto set to rehearse the scene or run lines whilst the crew set up for the first shot. After that it’s back to wardrobe, hair and make-up for final checks.”

When we asked if there was a lot of specialist make-up for Lesley, Keith answered with the same quick wit that he attributed to his character. 

“Of course, you realise that it takes a long time for me in make-up,” he joked, “as it takes a lot of effort to disguise my stunning looks. Before they start on me, you could be forgiven for thinking that Sam and I are twins!!!”

 And once this amazing transformation is complete? 

“Then we are ready to shoot,” Keith continued. “Hopefully we all know our lines, our intentions, the shape of the scene and the fight choreography, so that it all goes smoothly. Then it's a question of the director giving some feedback, before we do it again with different angles and set-ups. We try to make sure there is no corpsing (breaking character and laughing) before we have lunch and move on to the next scene.”

It certainly sounds like everyone is busy!

 “The crew are amazing,” Keith agreed. “They work their socks off and look after you so much. They’re a brilliant team...a dream team! Finally it's a wrap, and I can get out of hair and make-up, pick up my schedule for the next day and head home.”

While there are plenty of dramatic scenes in season 3, Lesley and Hayes also appear in one of the funniest - when they encounter the disapproving, goitre-suffering Geordie in the print shop. We asked Keith if he could tell us a bit about that scene. 

“Ahhhh yes, the famous print shop scene,” Keith replied, with a grin. “Obviously people mean the 'goitre' bit when they mention it,... surely!! Hahahaha! That scene was a gas. Lorne, the actor who played Geordie, had been given a note to make him more 'sassy'. He interpreted that as 'camper'. I nearly hurt myself trying not to laugh, or trying to make him laugh. I'm not sure if you can catch it, but when I'm looking at Lorne, I'm doing a wee pout. I figured that Lesley would certainly mock him and his prissy, acidic attitude.”

And was there any ad-libbing?

“No,” said Keith, “but perhaps there was the occasional natural reaction and response!”

With such a busy schedule, we asked Keith for his idea of a perfect day.

“A perfect day?” Keith repeated. “Wow, ok. It would begin with breakfast in either Jason Bakery or Clarke’s Bar & Dining Room. (These were two places we frequented in Cape Town.) Then it would be time for some football, watching the Hibs defeat the Jambos or Sevco. They are our main rivals and it’s always a joy to beat them! Next, I’d explore some secrets of the Rye with my pal, whilst sipping an Aviation or a glass of Nuits-Saint-Georges. I’d enjoy the company whilst listening to music - The Beatles, The Stones, or Stone Roses - and open a bottle of fizz. Last of all, I’d have some Chinese and round it off with the best drink of the day - a cup of tea!”

Finally, we asked Keith where he would choose to go if he could travel through the stones. 

“I think I would probably go to the 60s,” he answered. “My musical taste is really embedded in that era. I’d love to experience Beatlemania, psychedelia, and that liberation of music, creativity and hope. The world is in such a bad state just now, we need a bit more of the ideology of peace and love. And as for the state of music these days, don't get me started! Obviously I would like to be right in the middle of it if I was back in the 60s, so I'd be a rock star. Maybe the band would be called ‘The Standing Stones’ and our first album would be the ‘Ardsmuir Prison Blues’!!”

Whilst time travelling is probably not on the agenda anytime soon, Keith did suggest another type of Outlander related journey. 

“It would be good to get to some of the conventions,” he said,  “so that I can meet you guys.”

That sounds like a job for the Outlander fans - so who’s up for a challenge? Let’s convince the powers-that-be to get Keith to a convention as soon as we can!

This interview was conducted by Susie Brown, a writer and teacher-librarian who lives in Australia. She’d like to thank Keith for giving up his time and she would definitely buy a copy of the “Ardsmuir Prison Blues”!

Set up and blog layout by Dorianne Panich

Caitriona Balfe for Tatler Irish magazine

Video of shoot.

And from the same magazine 17 years ago

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Progress Versus Preservation: The Road to Killiecrankie by Nancy McGehee Fontenot

Outlander Homepage originals

Loretta, a local resident and member of Killiecrankie1689, (the dedicated group from this Scotland historical site, of the same name) explains a specific modern day struggle going on in Scotland between, remembering the sacrifices and moving industry forward. And as Loretta said, the "Outlander effect" is helping in a small way.

Everyone is making much of the "Outlander effect" on Scotland. The tourism industry is rejoicing.  I see press releases on the subject.  But politicians are only paying lip service to the need to protect matters relating to history, heritage and archaeology.  Killiecrankie battlefield (the location of the first Jacobite engagement in Scotland) could well be a casualty in the new A9 road plans.

Of course we wanted to find a way, to get the petition really moving and perhaps make a difference. Outlander fans are interested in Scotland history and very generous with their time.

Nancy McGehee Fonenot explains.....

Outlander fans love Scotland, traveling across the pond to see for themselves the majestic Highlands, where our favorite story originates. Of course, Culloden serves as a tourist mecca, for history buffs, genealogists, and of course Outlander fans, but have you ever heard of Killiecrankie? Did you know that it is the site of the first Jacobite battle? Did you know it’s in the heart of the Highlands, just bristling with history, as well as plenty of outdoor activities such as biking, bungee jumping, and hiking alongside the River Garry? Outlander fans may also find it interesting to know that recent filming of our fave Fraser's saga has taken place very near the battlefield. All that being said, if you are planning a trip, or have your bags packed awaiting your flight, Killiecrankie Battlefield is definitely a place you will want to add your itinerary, if it isn’t paved over by Transport Scotland before you can get there.

killiecrankie (Coille Chreithnich) is a tiny village located near the battle field of the same name, and while it’s not exactly a hotbed of tourism, there is plenty to do there, especially if you love the outdoors, Jacobite/Scottish history, and Outlander. Located on the southern edge of Cairngorms National Park, between Pitlochry, and Blair Atholl, Killiecrankie is nestled at the Pass of Killiecrankie, bordered by the River Garry. It was here, July 27, 1689, during the first battle of the Jacobite Rebellion, that several legends were born.

John Graham of Claverhouse, aka Viscount Dundee, one of James Stuart’s first supporters, led his army of recruited clansmen in a Highland Charge against King Williams troops, led by General Hugh MacKay, who were taken by surprised, and trapped in the pass; the rushing waters of River Garry on one side, their backs against the steep hillsides. Overwhelmed, and defeated in short order, one of the Redcoats, Donald MacBean, cleared the 18ft. pass from one bank to the other, in a desperate leap to escape the attacking Jacobites. The spot where he successfully jumped is known as The Soldier’s Leap. In spite of victory, Viscount Dundee did not survive the battle of Killiecrankie, but the “Bonnie Dundee” still lives on in legendary folk songs, and poems, penned by Robert Burns, and later, Walter Scott. Considering the rustic charm, natural beauty, and historical value of this lesser known area, would you allow the government to expand the A9 highway through the middle of it?

Listed in the Inventory of Historic Battlefields, one would rightfully assume that such historically valuable land would be protected, especially considering the real possibility, though not yet proven, that a three hundred twenty nine year old battlefield might also be a burial ground. Yet, in spite of numerous objections from local residents, Historic Environment Scotland (HES), Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust, and Cairngorms National Perk Authority, Transport Scotland is pushing to expand the current A9 road within the Inventory battlefield boundaries. Area residents are fighting mad about this proposal, and now they are fighting to preserve their local history. 

KilliecrAnkie1689 www.killiecrankie1689.scot was created at the start of 2018, in an effort to prevent Transport Scotland from implementing their poorly planned highway expansion that targets the historically protected battlefield.

The web page, is very detailed, with well researched information, historical facts about Killiecrankie, Battlefield, and includes a petition that even “Outlanders and Sassenachs” can sign.

Petition link

Killiecrankie played a key role in the Jacobite Uprising, and today it plays a key role in preserving not only it's centuries old, rich, cultural history, but protecting what could one day be an archaeological goldmine. So much is still unknown about the Battle of Killiecrankie, and archaeological exploration currently underway is the key to gathering important answers to a number of questions, both historical, and ethical. Mainly, how would the discovery of human remains affect plans to expand the A9? Would such a discovery change Transport Scotland's plans?

Well, seems to be quite a bit hanging in the balance here, which is why Outlander Homepage will be posting a series of articles about the history of Killiecrankie, current updates and events regarding the A9 expansion, as well as an interview with local resident, and founders of the grassroots group working to protect their history and heritage.

In the meantime, please click on www.killiecrankie1689.scot to learn more, show your support by signing the petition and stay tuned for more information, updates. Oh and if we are lucky, hopefully some news about current Outlander filming.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Outlander - 'The Fans Who Make It' - Series by Roma Sars

Hello everyone! (From Roma Sars on "My Outlander Friends" on Facebook)

As a member of the Outlander fandom, I have visited many websites and blogs by fans who interview the actors, production staff and others involved with the making of the Outlander series.
I have also seen fans collect tens of thousands of dollars for the charities of their favourite actors, as well as fans making the most beautiful art and videos, all dedicated to the Outlander story.

What motivates the fans do this? Why have some of them devoted the best part of their days to the Outlander story?
So far, no-one has interviewed these fans who are behind these websites, blogs and twitter handles, some of them with thousands of followers.

So, I thought that I should be the one to do that, and I have approached some of them and found them conducive to do interviews.
In doing so, I hope to understand this obsession which has taken a hold of me ever since I discovered the Outlander story in 2015.

This will be the start of my “Outlander- the fans who make it” series of interviews.
I hope you will like what I will post, as I am sure I am going to enjoy doing it.

(This interview has been conducted by Roma Sars of, My Outlander Friends!)

The next interview in the ‘Outlander- the fans who make it” series is with Laura Ewing, who is a graphic designer & illustrator and makes beautiful fan art.

I met Laura through Social media a couple of years ago, when we collaborated on the designs of two of my scarves in the Outlander scarves series that I make. We had some animated conversations via email and via the phone, and it was fun doing those designs. The pictures of the designs are below.

Please tell us about yourself.
My name is Laura Ewing, I'm 29 years old and live in Madrid, Spain. I am part Spanish, part Scottish. This has given me the opportunity to explore very different cultures and landscapes. I usually spend my days drawing, travelling, and in search of yummy food. I'm an illustrator, who loves to play around with characters and the journeys they take. It probably originates from the amazing bedtime stories I got to hear. At the moment, I'm discovering storyboarding and loving the visual narrative tricks I get to pick up along the way. Visually guiding someone along is always a fun challenge.

How long have you been a graphic designer? What made you start doing your edits for Outlander? Which other shows do you make art for?
I was lucky enough to attend a high school that had an art program. There aren't many in my area. It was the perfect solution to my weak academic results. I was never a stellar student, but certain teachers could really bring some decent work out of me. Those usually were the literature and art related subjects. I guess I always wanted to be an illustrator. In reality, I have earned a living as a graphic designer/illustrator for 3 or 4 years, but I have had small jobs here and there since I was 18.

I started doing the edits for Outlander because I was reading the books and could picture the characters so vividly. It was fun to draw things as I read. I started imagining different situations in which the characters would have to face odd challenges in modern life. I guess it made me giggle. It was a great way to combine reading with drawing.

I haven't done as much art for one show as I've done for Outlander. I have a few drawings of Game of Thrones and one or two of The Handmaid's Tale. Harry Potter always pops up for Christmas, too. I guess it just depends on what I've been watching. You can really tell what shows I like just by having a look at my posts on Instagram. I enjoy being a fan :)

How much time do you spend every day on art for Outlander?
It depends. In the past, I used to draw something every time a fun situation came up in the books. Then I started imagining them in our world. I had a period of time where they were off doing their own things, popping into other shows that I was enjoying at the time, and eventually drew random ideas. I tried to draw something for every episode in season 3, but couldn't really keep up with it. It sometimes felt forced. Now I only draw it if I feel inspired by fans suggestions, or if someone special, like the Southern Sassenachs' charity group, needs drawings for a fundraiser.

What do you like most about the Outlander books and show?
It's always exciting when you find a book you can't put down. It had been a very long time since I'd had that experience. Outlander was a happy mistake. I was looking for something to read and remembered a show called Highlander. I bought Outlander thinking it was connected. To my surprise I LOVED every second of it. I got to learn about Scottish history in a way I never had before, and share facts I'd learned with my Scottish father.

I love the story in the books, the rich characters and plots. I am thrilled the TV show has really kept the magic from the books alive. The music and cinematography really help it come together in an epic way. It makes me proud of my Scottish roots.

Which character in Outlander is your favourite?

I love Claire's character. She's an outsider. I felt that she was similar to me in that way. My visits to Scotland were always as a young foreign girl. I had a different accent, but loved spending my summers there. Claire finds a way to fit in, and is such a brilliant and strong woman. A great role model for many girls out there. Plus, she can hold her whisky! (That is not something I have ever mastered)

How has Outlander affected your life and/or lifestyle?
It has affected me in many ways. It connected me to my roots. It gave me an amazing fan art experience and it also made me want to study storyboarding and camera work. The show is of great quality, with amazing acting and commitment to the books. Bringing something as gorgeous as that to the screen is a work of art in itself, and has made me want to be part of a production team that makes things like that happen. 

Is this the first fandom you are a member of? What made you decide to join this fandom, rather than any other one?
I was (still am) a real Potterhead. That was my first fandom. I followed it like crazy. There was an artist call Tealin who was my idol. She (I think it was a she) posted all sorts of Harry Potter fan art. As a teenager, I would spend my days trying to draw like her. When Outlander came along I just started drawing the characters. Somehow people found my work online and seemed to like it. I got invited to the Fandom and discovered the passion and love everyone has for the books. It has been amazing to be a part of it.
Have you met any of the actors from Outlander, or Diana? If so, which personality from the Outlander stories did you enjoy meeting the most? If not, who most would you like to meet?
I sadly haven't met anyone in person BUT I have been lucky enough to receive nice. tweets from Duncan Lacroix and Diana herself. I bounced around when I saw those. I was also lucky enough to design Matthew B. Robert's logo on Instagram. That has been thanks to the amazing comments people have made and the encouragement I've received.

I have no idea who I'd like to meet. Everyone in that cast is AMAZING. I guess if I were to choose, it would be Cesar Domboy. He came in later, and was able to expand on a character that we had already grown to love. It can't have been an easy role to portray. I've loved drawing his character.

Please tell us how you got involved in the Southern Sassenachs charity?I've always liked working with charities. I've volunteered my whole life, and this is one more way to be able to contribute to a great cause. I received an email from the Southern Sassenachs', asking if I would be willing to donate some work and help raise money for a great cause. It was a fun challenge to try and design something Outlander fans might like, while knowing that all proceeds were donated to charity.

It started as a one-off, but it has now become somewhat of a tradition each year. It's fun to figure out something that introduces old and new characters in ways that suit the plot for each season.

What keeps you connected to the Outlander fandom?
I guess I feel the connection more when the charity is raising money with my drawings. When people contact me because they've seen Outlander designs, and want to get a drawing of their friends surrounding Jamie (for example), or at fun times when someone in the fandom sends me something I might enjoy on Twitter.

I love all those interactions. It's amazing to be thinking of a scene for a drawing, and being able to ask a question about something really specific on Twitter and have an answer that's bang on. The Outlander fandom is unreal.

What do you have coming up next?
I'm not sure. I thought of a book with a lot of the Outlander drawings I've been posting during the years (with new ones of course), but I've not had a chance to really plan it out. We'll see.

Below are all the ways for people to find me on Social media:



All graphics and edited formats for this blog by,  Dorianne Panich