Thursday, April 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!)

Beth with Diana Gabaldon 

My next interview in the “Outlander – the fans who make it” series is with Beth Elahmar, who makes incredible cross-stitch portraits of the Outlander actors and raffles them for charity.

I first met Beth on Twitter, and then had the opportunity to meet her in person last year at the Highlanders Con in Blackpool and to admire her amazing work. The quality is so fine that, even when you are standing in front of it, it looks painted, rather than stitched. I was in awe of the fineness of the work and later, of her story.

I have only just learned that Beth is hard of hearing, as I never noticed it when we were chatting. It was a true pleasure to meet such a kind and warm-hearted person.

Here’s the interview:

● Please tell us about yourself.
My name is Beth Elahmar - pronounced E - lahk – mar. A lot of people want to pronounce it El - ah - mar, but no. It's got an "h" that sounds like a "k"- I live in Tucson, Arizona and I'm 51 years old. For the past 15 years, I've worked for a bankruptcy and collections law office as a project manager, in the accounting department. . I have 3 cats. I’m hard of hearing and depend a lot on lip-reading.
Working for a bankruptcy law firm can be a bit disheartening at times, because you are seeing debtors that have reached rock bottom. They've lost everything and have had no choice but to declare that they are bankrupt, and we're tasked with asking them for the money to pay their debts. 


One case has always stayed with me and has reinforced my determination to always be kind, to always lend a helping hand to those who have fallen on hard times.
There were parents that had lost their daughter, due to malpractice of the hospital she had been in. Not only did they suffer the crushing and devastating loss of a child, they lost their savings, they lost the money they'd won through a malpractice lawsuit and they were forced to sell the plots on either side of their daughter's grave, because the courts deemed them unnecessary and wanted the money to pay their debts. It was heartbreaking, and I’ve never forgotten it.

Since I work in the accounting office and not in the collections department, I’m blessed that I don't have to speak to the debtors on the phone, rather I read their court documents. It takes a certain personality to be a collector and I simply wouldn't be able to do it. I have too soft a heart to ask someone with nothing for more.

My hobby is cross-stitching, though I'm hesitant to call it a hobby. It's more of a lifesaver for me, as I suffer from anxiety & depression, and my stitching is my therapy. I don’t have any other hobbies, as cross-stitching is my main focus. When you create portraits such as mine, it forces you to concentrate and not think of anything other than making the item come to life, so to speak. It shuts out the noise of the world around you and you’re caught up in the creation of the portrait. I've always thought cross-stitching was like painting by numbers, only with a needle and thread, versus a brush & paint. 

I've been told many times that my type of cross-stitching isn't like the stitching of our grandmothers. I like to think it could be compared to writing a book, I suppose. You start with an idea, a plot so to speak, then the colors end up being your words. You spend so many hours, weeks and months creating it, that you literally become part of it. A myriad of emotions are stitched into it, so that, when it’s finally finished, you've created a story. It has a hero or heroine (the individual in the portrait) and many antagonists (the stitches you inevitably did wrong and have to rip out). You literally have blood, sweat & tears in it (needles are sharp little buggers and when you've spent months on a portrait only to realize you've stitched it with the fabric going the wrong way, trust me, the tears flow and the sweating starts, because you scramble to find an easy fix to it, without scrapping the whole project and starting over. The Laird is a perfect example of that complete screw up). 



The Laird
You look at the final piece and remember where you were, what was happening while you were creating it and then you're already thinking of the next one. The next story.


● What made you start the Cross-stitch project and can you tell us a little bit about that? Have you also done cross-stitch projects for other shows or only for Outlander?

I have been cross-stitching for 19 years. I'm self-taught. I started cross-stitching as a way to convey my sympathies for a co-worker, who had lost his son in a tragic accident. I sent his photo away to have a pattern made and, after completing the portrait, my father was convinced I could design my own patterns, so he bought me the software I needed to create and stitch my own patterns.

I have done cross-stitching for a few other shows, such as ‘The Vampire Diaries’, ‘The Originals’, ‘True Blood’ and ‘Scandal’, but it wasn't until I started stitching Outlander, that my charity work took off. There wasn’t a lot of interest in helping promote the raffles I had for Ian Somerhalder & ‘The Originals’, so they barely raised $1200 each. I was so disheartened and discouraged, that I swore I'd never put my work out there to be treated like that again. But, when I started The Laird, it got the attention of The Southern Sassenachs, who asked me if I'd be interested in raffling The Laird. They listened to my concerns and recommendations, regarding what I wanted to achieve with my work, and promised to give it the respect it deserved. They posted it on Twitter, and in many fan groups on Facebook, and from there it just took off. One friend brought it to the attention of Sam, and he wrote me a note expressing a desire to see the finished product, and provided me with his autograph to be included in the portrait. After that, a lot of fans from the show saw it and, the next thing we know, the raffle had raised over $10,000 for Caitriona's & Sam's respective charities, World Child Cancer & Bloodwise. Upon meeting Sam & Caitriona in San Diego, I offered to do more portraits for their charities. They were thrilled to hear that, and chose the next portraits to be completed. 



The Lairds Lady

When I was in NYC, I showed Sam a picture of The Laird’s Lady that I was tinkering with at the time, and he requested that I finish that one before completing the two he and Caitriona had chosen. The Laird's Lady has been nearly completed and will be raffled by The Southern Sassenachs at the end of July.


Cross stitch of other fandoms

● How much time do you spend every day on your cross-stitch project?

I work full time. So, when I'm not working, I’m stitching. For example, when I get off work at 3, I'll come home and I'm stitching by 4pm and will keep at it until about 10 or 11 at night. Then, on the weekends, I'm up at 5am and I'll stitch all day until about 10 or 11 as well. It's normal for me to spend about 30-40 hours a week stitching. Sometimes more, time permitting.

● What do you like most about the Outlander books and show? How much time do you spend on Outlander?



I’m one of those fans that hasn't read the Outlander books yet, though I finally took the plunge and read the Lord John Grey series. I was brought into the Outlander world by my good friend Pilar and another friend Karen R. Frantz, the artist. I fell in love with Karen's work first and she insisted I watch the show. Pilar seconded that motion and, before I knew it, I was binge-watching the first season until 2am, because I couldn't turn the bloody thing off. I was captivated. I started researching every image I could find and decided to make a portrait of Jamie as The Laird.

● Which character in Outlander is your favourite?

I'm fiercely loyal, like Murtagh, so I relate to him the most. I love how he is always solid, yet you know there is a story that lurks behind his eyes. He keeps everything close to his chest, except when he's with Jamie. He's someone you always want in your corner.



● How has Outlander affected your life and/or lifestyle?

Outlander is the focus of my creations right now. I have several projects in the works including a personal portrait for a former cast member that'll I'll be working on when I'm finished with The Laird's Lady. If all goes according to plan, I'll be delivering it to him personally when I travel to Scotland this summer.

Outlander has played a huge part in getting me to finally travel abroad. I knew that, if I wanted the cast to see my work, I was going to have to go to them. At the time, the conventions were all in Europe. So, I got my passport for the first time when I turned 50 years old and booked my first flight.

I want to experience every aspect of it, not only from the filming locations aspect, but also from the actual historical parts that Diana has woven into her beautiful story. I’m planning to stand on Culloden battlefield on my birthday in July. I want to feel it. Diana has stated in the past that there’s something about the area that you can’t help but feel. The spirits are there. I want to experience it whole heartedly.

It has also allowed me to raise funds for a very dear cause that is close to my heart. I lost my brother to suicide 34 years ago. In October 2016, I started a portrait of The Highlanders to help me through my grief of losing my father and decided, when it was done, that I wanted to raise money for people with mental issues, specifically the ones that suffer from depression like I do and like my brother did. I talked it over with Sam at the San Diego Comic Con and told him I wanted to use it for that reason. He was very supportive, as were the rest of the actors in the portrait. As of today, it has raised over $13,000 for Bring Change 2 Mind, a charity started by the actress Glenn Close to bring awareness to mental health issues and encourage people to talk about it and help prevent suicide.


The Highlanders 

● Is this the first fandom you are a member of? What made you decide to join this fandom, rather than any other one? What do you like and dislike about being part of a fandom?

I was part of The Vampire Diaries & The Originals fandom for a few years. I think that, the difference between Outlander and the rest of the fandoms I've been part of, is the age group. TVD & TO are mostly geared towards teenagers and young adults. They don't really see the actors as actors, but rather as the character they portray, which I've always felt was a disservice. Outlander fans don't do that. I've been to several Outlander gatherings and have noticed the behavior of those attending. They see the entire cast as human beings, who happen to have a really cool job. That's not to say that there aren't a few that cross the line.

One of the things I dislike, is when they attack the cast & crew, simply because a scene didn't get filmed exactly the way the author wrote it. There's nothing wrong with being disappointed or passionate about a particular scene and how you think it should be filmed, but when you start demanding a pound of flesh with your complaints, that is crossing the line. It’s very easy to sit behind a screen and be an armchair director, producer, writer, but it's not an easy job to actually perform the work. I wish those that do this would take a breather, before launching an attack that involves name-calling and just plain nastiness. There's no need for it. I fear it will cause the cast and crew to pull back from social media platforms.

We're considerably lucky, in this day and age. I remember having to send a letter to a fan club, just to get an autographed photo. They didn't have conventions and gatherings earlier, where you could actually get a hug from your favorite celebrity.

The thing that I like best about the Outlander fandom, is that there is a sense of camaraderie. A feeling of kinship. I've said that the Outlander fandom is filled with some of the most generous, kind and amazing people I've ever met. I've met a few people that I now consider very close friends, and a couple I'd consider family. There is fierce loyalty towards protecting the integrity of not only the story Diana has created, but also the performances and privacy of the cast members and crew. I love that.


Beth and her brother

Monday, April 16, 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!)



My next interview in the Outlander – the fans who make it” series is with Ruth Ann Carr, one of the founders of Clan Heughan, a group with tens of thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Ruth Ann twice, once at Jibland in Rome and a second time in Scotland for the Highlander Fling, both in 2017.
I have experienced her as being an intelligent, sweet, kind and interesting person, so it was important for me that she be involved in this project.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.



● Please tell us about yourself.
Hello, my name is Ruth Ann Carr.  I am 66 years old and live in Norman, Oklahoma.  I was fortunate to marry an amazing man, Tony, who supported all my dreams and was comfortable in his own skin. We have three terrific children together, two girls and a boy. I’m a grandmother, and of course my grandchildren are simply the best.


Tony was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2008.  He died in February 2009 after fighting a courageous battle.  Then, our first grandchild was diagnosed with leukemia in September of 2009 when he was two and a half.  During this time, I was Superintendent of a large, highly diverse, high poverty school district. It was a very taxing job and a very difficult time in my life.  As a result of all the stress, and my desire to help my daughter as much as possible with the care of my grandson, I retired in July 2011. But something amazing came out of those dark days. My grandson is a leukemia survivor and celebrated his eleventh birthday this week.  


Professionally, I am a retired educator.  I’ve taught at all levels from elementary through undergraduate and graduate school. I was an elementary principal, a junior high/high school principal, a Dir. of Personnel, Asst. Superintendent and Superintendent of Schools. While working, I also attended graduate school obtaining a M.Ed. and a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction and Administration.  I could not have completed my degrees without the support and encouragement of my husband and children. Although I am retired, I continue to conduct training for principals and superintendents in our state. It’s a great part time job, and I feel like I am giving something back.


I love to read, attend sporting events, and watch movies and quality TV.  I’ve always loved many types of genres in both my reading and viewing habits. My husband and I used to read many of the same books, but he drew the line at my romance novels.  I also love to travel. I’m very interested in history, architecture, and learning about other cultures. Beautiful vistas refresh my soul and spirit, and I love being in the mountains.   


● What made you start the Clan Heughan site and can you tell us a little bit about that?  
Four women who had never been fan girls in our lives decided to start Clan Heughan.  We wanted to put our own spin on a fan group. Lori Kuhns, Jamie Lynn Hunkins, Vickie Darago and I talked and dreamed about what we wanted Clan Heughan to be for several months, and then opened the group on January 1, 2016.    
    
We never anticipated that Clan Heughan would grow as it has.  We are nearing 17,000 members that live in 99 different countries.  We have some truly wonderful fans in our group. They are generous, respect Sam, and vote like maniacs in contests.  
The four of us wanted fund raising for Sam’s charities to be a central part of Clan Heughan.  We all had family and friends who had battled cancer, so it was very personal for us. We started raising funds for Bloodwise during our first month as a group. We also wanted to support My Peak Challenge and encourage our members to participate in MPC.  Many, many of our members are also members of MPC.


Secondly, we wanted to show our support by voting in contests and polls. We firmly believe that voting and participating in Twitter events are important avenues for increasing the profile of Outlander in the media and getting more viewers. We are like most other fans and want to see all of Diana’s books brought to TV and we want to do whatever we can to help make that happen.   
We also wanted to assist and support Diana, Outlander and Sam’s costars. There is perhaps a misconception that we only support Sam. Sam is our focus and always will be, however, we support Diana, Outlander, and the other actors.  We love Outlander and want it to flourish.


One of our rewarding projects was to design a Clan Heughan pendant and kilt pin.  We worked with Gordon Young of Hamilton and Young Jewelers. We are very proud of the way it turned out. Gordon was so kind to work with us, and his input was invaluable. Our group motto, Semper Te Experire reflects and honors the way Sam lives his life.  It means “always challenge yourself.” The motto is incorporated on the pendant.  
We also marketed and managed the orders and payment, and shipped the first two sets of orders ourselves, worldwide.  It was both exciting and surreal to sit at my kitchen table and prepare a box to go to India. Our members can now order directly from Hamilton and Young.  It has been so much fun to meet our members at Outlander and MPC events all over the world, and to see that they are wearing the pendant.
  


● What motivates you to organize collections of tens of thousands of dollars for Sam’s charities annually?   
It really is a matter of having experienced the pain and trauma of having loved ones fight cancer. It’s a very personal motivation for each of our admins and for many of our members. We truly hope to see a cure for blood cancers soon.  We really appreciate Sam for actively supporting Bloodwise and sponsoring research studies into potential treatments for adults and children. One of the things I learned during my grandson’s treatment, was that research results have truly gone global. Thanks to technology, his doctors, were in touch with researchers and knew of cutting edge treatments from all over the world.  No matter where the research is conducted, it has the potential to be shared with doctors and hospitals all over the world. We think that is important since our members are from so many different countries.

We are particularly glad that Sam chose to add Marie Curie to his list of charities this year for My Peak Challenge. Again, on a personal level, we have experienced firsthand the support and importance of hospice programs.  Many of our members have had similar experiences. We are currently in a fundraising campaign for Marie Curie. The response of our members has been amazing so far.

We also have a special connection with Youth Theatre Arts Scotland. We believe Sam is an amazing actor, and we know that he feels a special kinship with YTAS.  Our first funding campaign for YTAS came about as a suggestion from one of our members. It has been great to see how dedicated our members are to our fund raising efforts.  
We have a great relationship with Kenny Mcglashan, the Chief Executive Officer of YTAS.  We have regular communication with Kenny and his staff about our fund raising. We generally try to support a specific project that they are working on. Three of our admins have visited with Kenny in Edinburgh. He took us on a tour of the theatre where Sam acted as a teenager. We have been able to share information about YTAS projects in our group.  Those connections help make our fundraising for YTAS more personal for our members.

We are also supporting Sam’s current fund raising campaign for Cahonas Scotland and his two marathons in two months.  



● How much time do you spend every day on Outlander?     
I probably spend way too much time on Outlander every day.  I find myself fitting the rest of my life around Clan Heughan and Outlander.  It’s like having a full time job except there are no weekends off. When we are voting in contests, we spend even more time.  But I enjoy every minute of it. Well, almost every minute.
  

● What do you like most about the Outlander books and show?
I love so many things about the books and the show.  I have always been fascinated by an author’s use of language. Diana’s writing probably contains the most enjoyable yet complex use of language that I have read.  Diana creates amazing characters who represent such a depth and breadth of human behavior and emotion that it is impossible to be bored with them. Diana’s books have so much packed into them that I have read them several times, and each time I get more out of them.  But what I like most is the story. The story of two people who brave whatever life throws at them because of their love and devotion to each other. It is the story of a marriage in all its perfection and flaws. It is the ultimate love story, and it is about a couple, not an individual.  


As for the TV series, it is first and foremost a visual and auditory feast that just envelops the viewer with beauty even in its darkest moments. It brings my favorite books to life. The music, costumes, sets and cinematography are all wonderful.  But the best thing about the show is the actors. There has not been a miss in casting, and the entire cast does a superb job.



● Which character in Outlander is your favorite?
My favorite character is Jamie, and I think Sam was born to play the role.  Jamie reminds me so much of my late husband. They share so many of the same character traits. I love Jamie because he never shirks what he sees as his responsibilities, and there are many.  He loves Claire, his children and his extended family with a sacrificial love. That type of love is very special. Although Jamie is my favorite, it is really not possible to think of Jamie without thinking of Claire as well.  It is their marriage, their bond and their interactions which are the heart of the books.



● How has Outlander affected your life and/or lifestyle?
Outlander has had an amazing, positive impact on my life. I came to the Outlander party late, because I did not discover it until 2014. Fortunately, Outlander came to my attention when I most needed something joyful in my life. I was still grieving for my husband and had lost interest in almost everything.  However, Outlander was like a magic elixir. In reading and watching Jamie and Claire’s love story unfold, I was able to reclaim the joy in the 38 years of marriage I had shared with my husband, rather than focusing on the sorrow of his death. I have been fortunate to be able to thank Diana for the gift of her books in helping me through my grief.        
Because of Outlander, I’ve met some truly amazing women and men.  They are friends for life. This love that we share for Outlander brought us together, but it also enriches our lives separately and together in so many ways.  
For instance, our admins and some fans that we know met in Scottsdale, Arizona last November. Two ladies traveled from Australia, others from Canada, Michigan, California, Virginia and Oklahoma.  We had the pleasure of taking Diana to lunch and visiting with her for about two and a half hours. We also watched episode 311, Uncharted, together and visited the Poisoned Pen. But mostly we hung out and laughed. It was so wonderful to finally see each other in person after just interacting on Facebook. I would not know these wonderful ladies without Outlander.      




I have learned so many new skills as a result of my involvement with Outlander.  I seriously doubt if I would have been on Twitter or Instagram or even been in a Facebook group without Outlander. Outlander fans taught me what I know about social media.  

And, of course, there is travel.  I have traveled to Scotland four times and am going back in June. So far I have visited 35 Outlander filming sites and will visit some others this year. It has been so much fun to walk in Jamie’s and Claire’s steps.  But my trips to Scotland are for more than Outlander. Scotland is an amazing country, breathtaking in its beauty and fascinating in its history.
Last year I went to Seattle to Emerald Con (my first con and quite an experience), attended two Outlander in the City events in NYC, and traveled by myself to Rome for Jibland2.  I extended my Rome trip with an amazing tour of Italy. I had never traveled out of the country by myself before, and it was a great adventure for me. My involvement with Outlander and MPC gave me the courage to travel alone.  
This year I’m going on Diana’s author cruise through central Europe. I’m also attending Outlander events in Kansas City, Chicago and North Carolina. Outlander gives me a great excuse to travel, meet friends and share amazing experiences with them.  


● Is this the first fandom you are a member of?
Yes, this is the first time I have ever been a fan girl. These are the only books and series that could have inspired me to be this involved.  There are other shows and books that I truly enjoy, but my love for Outlander is different.
 

● Which actor did you enjoy meeting the most?  
I have been very fortunate to have met quite a few of the actors.  I cannot pick just one as my favorite because the meetings have been so different.  I met Sam at Emerald Con and then in New York at Barbour and at the NYC Sam/Cait event.  We had a great conversation about Clan Heughan and fund raising. He also took a picture with Clan Heughan members who were there.  It was a huge fan moment for me.
The second favorite moment was meeting Cait in Glasgow while they were filming the Boston scenes. It was totally unplanned.  We received a text from a friend telling us that Outlander was filming near the university. We happened to be in that area. We found them and stood in the rain from mid-morning until late afternoon. We briefly saw Tobias as he was leaving for the day.  Cait continued to work throughout the afternoon. When they finished filming, we were able to meet Cait and speak with her for a few minutes. It was a relaxed meeting, and she took her time talking to us in spite of the rain. It was a “pinch me” experience.




When I was in Rome, I had meet and greets with Graham, Duncan, Steven, and David. I also attended a welcome party and an evening in Rome with them.  It was an amazing experience, and they were all so much fun. I found them all fascinating conversationalists and very genuine people.
A common theme in all my encounters with the Outlander stars has been their sincere appreciation of the fans.  It is truly wonderful that they feel this way. They have certainly brought this Outlander fan amazing experiences and opportunities.  I’ll always be thankful that Diana wrote a book.


Friday, April 13, 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!)



In my second interview in the Outlander- the fans who make it – series, I chose Jacki Lippman.



I first met Jacki on twitter at the end of 2015. We got in to a conversation about the Outlander fandom right after she had posted the message below on her twitter feed and I had picked it up and Retweeted it and got hundreds of likes:
Dear New Twitter Follower,
Thank you for following me.  It was a mistake to do so. 
You may see things in my Twitter feed that will ruin your life.  The least I can do is warn you.
Do yourself a favor.  Don't ever read "Outlander" or watch the tv adaptation on Starz. 
I used to have a life.  Interests.  I loved my husband. And my cats and lots of things. I had hobbies and many friends I cared about. I knew how to count to ten and beyond.  Now I count to 8 and then wait.
I enjoyed a variety of television programs like Ray Donovan and Boardwalk Empire and Fargo. I was a Whovian and devoted to all things Sherlockian. I thought many actors were talented and enjoyed watching their performances.  Now it's pretty much the cast of Outlander out in front and everyone else trailing a distant second.
I used to read other books.  I enjoyed Philip Roth, John Updike, Stephen King, Edith Wharton...
Now, I just want to re-read and then re-read the 8 Outlander books and the tiny crumbs of the imminent and blessed be BOOK 9 (cue the trumpets).   And there's a new voice in my head, murmuring, "When will Season 2 of the television show premiere? Now?  No?  Ok.  So then, now?  No?  Ok.  How about now? No? Ok."   And so forth.
I want to speak with a Scottish accent.  I want to find a man with a Scottish accent and do...things... to him.  I'm not...healthy.
You seem nice, New Twitter Follower, so I'm warning you.  Stay away from my twitter history.   You might accidentally see something there that makes you think to yourself,  "Hmm Outlander.  Maybe I'll check that out."
Don't do it.  Look away.  Save yourself. 
Sincerely,
A formerly well rounded member of humanity.

● Please tell us about yourself (name, age, country where you live, profession, hobbies, etc)
My name is Jacki Lippman, I am 55 yrs old and I live in BOSTON, MA USA
I am a film producer 
Hobbies - animal rescue, reading, filling my brain with useless trivia and travel

● What made you decide to become a film producer and tell us about the projects you have done so far?
I became a film producer by accident. I was working for many years for a man named Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist and the Father of the microcredit movement.  In 2006, Professor Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize for his global impact on poverty alleviation, and some people became interested in making a film about him and his work. As part of my job, I became responsible for helping that project along.  Hard to believe, but 12 years later that film is still in the development stages. (It was harder than we thought it would be to come up with a good script, but we finally have it and hope to start filming later this year!).
That project lead to others and now I spend most of my time developing new projects and scouting finished projects for distribution deals.  My most recent producing effort has been Adam Sigal's latest work, "Sargasso." Graham McTavish is in it, and I look forward to his Outlander fans seeing it!  I am also working with Adam on a couple of other projects, including his next film, "The Chariot," which we hope to shoot later this summer.  Toward the end of the year,  production will begin on an animated film I've been shepherding since early 2017, and if schedules permit, Outlander fans may recognize some of the voices in that film as well.  

What do you like most about being a producer? What do you like the least?
What I like most is the opportunity to work with such fun and creative people.  I'm also looking forward to sharing some extraordinary stories that I hope will have a positive impact on people who see them.  What is the most frustrating is the time it takes to complete a project.  There are so many moving parts and if one piece gets stalled, everything can grind to a halt.  A film project can literally be a few weeks from shooting and still fall apart completely.  My friend, Allison Burnett, saw that happen with the film, "Oxford," which he wrote.  (Outlander fans may recall that Sam Heughan was set to star in that film with Melissa Benoist.)  There are just so many great films that ALMOST get made that it's easy to get discouraged.  Also, though most of the people I've met in the film business are bright, talented artists with a genuine love for their craft, there are some people who don't have that kind of integrity and sometimes you have to work with them to get where you want to go.

● What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a film producer in L.A.?
That's a tough one.  I definitely didn't follow a conventional path, but what I've experienced makes me believe it's all about relationships and having skills that can be useful. So a good place to start would be to learn everything you can about filmmaking and then make yourself valuable to someone for some aspect of it.  You've really got to want it enough to deal with all the obstacles!


Which of your projects are you most proud or excited about?
That's a tough one.  I'm pretty excited and proud to get the film about Professor Yunus' work finished sometime this DECADE (!)  But Sargasso is amazing.  Very proud to be involved with Adam's work.  He's extremely talented, and he deserves for people to really see that.

What do you like most about the Outlander books and show?
I read the first book around the time the second half of season 1 started airing. I was immediately charmed by the very unusual relationship between Jamie and Claire.  By the time I finished the book, all of season one was available on demand so I watched the entire season over the course of two weeks! I thought the show did a great job being faithful to their characters and their relationship, which is the thing I think distinguishes this story from other historical dramas.  

Which character in Outlander is your favourite?
I'd have to say the character of Jamie is the most unusual. So as much as I enjoyed his portrayal in S1,  it has been a problem for me that the tv production has not continued to be faithful to this book character.  In the books, Jamie is endearingly flawed, but he is also consistently honorable, wise and hard to fluster.  I'm just not seeing that as much on the show anymore.
How has Outlander affected your life and/or lifestyle, if at all?
I have met some terrific people in this fandom and I've learned a lot about Scottish AND AMERICAN history!
Is this the first fandom you are a member of? What made you decide to join this fandom, rather than any other one?
I have been a huge fan of Doctor Who since the 80s and have read all the Sherlock Holmes stories over and over.  I also love all things Joss Whedon and Monty Python.
However, this is the first time I've been INSIDE a fandom.  Outlander fans are something special.
Which actor did you enjoy meeting the most?
I'm embarrassed to say I haven't met any actors from Outlander!  But I have met some really interesting people over the years because of my work with Professor Yunus. For example, Brad Pitt hung out with me while waiting to speak with Professor Yunus and took my phone away from me to spend 10 minutes chatting with my 15 year old niece. What a sweet guy.  I also spent time with Hugh Jackman, whose dad is an economist and once told his son that getting to meet Professor Yunus meant his acting career had finally paid off!  
(Fun fact: while Sam is a fan of David Mustaine, his bandmate, Kiko Loureiro, is a fan of Professor Yunus!)


I look forward to meeting Graham McTavish when Sargasso premieres and I hope to meet other Outlander cast members on future projects since I think they are one of the most talented casts I've ever seen, and I would be thrilled to work with all of them!


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Son of “Mac” An interview with Clark Butler, by your Aussie Blogging Lass



Outlander Homepage originals by Susie Brown 


“He’s spoilt and stubborn,” he said softly. “Ill-mannered. Loud. Wi’ a wicked temper.” He swallowed. “And braw and bonny and canty and strong,” he said, so softly I could barely hear him. 

“And yours,” I said. His hand tightened on mine, holding it against the soft stubble of his cheek. 

“And mine,” he said.

(Voyager Chapter 59) 


When Jamie Fraser speaks of his son in Diana Gabaldon’s third Outlander novel, the reader is left in no doubt as to the fierce pride he feels for the boy that he cannot raise as his own. In season 3 of the Starz series, viewers were able to witness this bond forming between the two characters, courtesy of the two actors who portray them, Sam Heughan and Clark Butler. So what was it like, as a young actor, to play such an important role? We were thrilled here at Outlander Homepage when Clark Butler agreed to tell us! 



We began by asking Clark to give us his opinion of young Willie and wondered how he went about creating the role.

As he is a little Lord, I thought he should be bossy,” Clark said. “Willie thinks he can boss everyone around and grown ups have to listen to him so I enjoyed doing that!”  


As for creating his character, Clark found his costume a useful starting point. 

“The old fashioned clothes help to get into character,” he said,  “but the jacket was itchy!”
Itching aside, Clark had a wonderful time on the set. “Being on set is fun,” he told us, before adding, “I did have to do school work in between scenes though!”


Location also helped with Clark’s character creation. 

“The giant house was lovely and standing outside pretending it was my house helped me imagine that I was a Lord, which was cool,” Clark said.  “We filmed the Papist scene in a small dark real stable barn in the grounds.”



And while Scotland may be famous for its challenging weather, it didn’t phase the young Earl of Ellesmere in the slightest.

“Scotland was cold, but it was great,” Clark enthused. “It even snowed while I was there and I got to build a snowman outside the studio!”


On finer days, young William could be seen riding a horse in some scenes. We wondered whether riding came as easily to Clark as it did to the character he portrayed.  

“The horse riding was kind of a challenge as I hadn't ridden a horse before,” Clark admitted, “so the first day I was taken to a horse riding place for lessons. It was so much fun and I really enjoyed it.”


As viewers know, the final scenes between Jamie and Willie are quite heartbreaking. When we asked how difficult it was to film these moments, Clark let us in on a little secret.

“Well, the last scene was actually the first one we filmed, so it was all new and exciting,” he explained. “Our director, Brendan, was very good at giving me instructions.”


As for his co-star, Sam Heughan, Clark had nothing but praise. 

“Sam is a great guy,” he replied. “In fact, everyone was lovely and really looked after me.” 



After such an amazing experience on Outlander, we asked Clark if he wanted to be an actor for the rest of his life. He explained that William is not his first foray into performing.

“I’ve done lots of modelling for Marks and Spencer online and for Harrods in their magazines and acting in their online mini films,” Clark told us.  “I was even on the side of one of their vans eating an apple!  I also played the role of the Candy King, in the Amazing Adventures of Super Stan, and have just been in We Will Rock you at school.”

Clark during his modelling shoot

And in the future?

“I do enjoy acting so it would be good if I could be an actor,” Clark said, “but I know that you have to be lucky too.  I'd also be happy being a scientist.”


While we have no doubt that he would make an excellent scientist one day, it certainly seems as if acting is the focus right now.

“I am in a short film called Cold Hill that hasn't been released yet,” Clark said, “and I am busy rehearsing for a musical called Made in Dagenham where I am playing the role of Graham. It's my first role that I will have a singing solo, which I'm nervous about but looking forward to.” 


Finally we asked Clark which time period he would like to visit if he could travel through the stones.

“I'd like to go to 2600AD,” he answered, “to see what it will be like in the future.”
Perhaps, one day, scientist Clark will make that happen!


Clark at the Glasgow airport 


This interview was conducted by Susie Brown, a writer and teacher-librarian who lives in Australia. She’d like to thank Clark (and his family) for taking the time to answer our questions.



Wednesday, April 11, 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.

My first in the series is with Outlander Homepage. The blog and event producer Dorianne Panich. 

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

(left) Dorianne Panich with Laura Michelle Martin of Outlander Forever at the Print Shop exhibit NYC 2017

● Please tell us about yourself (name, age, country where you live, profession, hobbies, etc...

My name is Dorianne Panich, I'm 53, from the East coast of the USA. I live in the suburbs around NYC, in New Jersey, about 7 miles outside Midtown. My husband and I both work in the city.
I am a Hair Colorist in salon, (26 years) and a Hair Stylist, when I can get the work, doing Ad shoots with an industry management company…
I guess I would say, my hobby is my work since I have 0 time for anything else, but I am an animal activist with the ASPCA, (mostly financial donation) and I've got 2 rescues at home who dominate my life along with my Husband, Jaime, who is the love of my life.
We (hubby and I) ride Harleys, which is how we met through our motorcycle chapter.
I also run and cycle as much as I can, which keeps me sane.

● What made you start the Outlander Homepage site and can you tell us a little bit about that?

Wow, Outlander Homepage has been a journey….
I originally started the site with my friend who is a writer in 2015, (she is no longer involved with the blog) after chatting in an Outlander group for about a year regarding the upcoming show, and then about the show versus books during season 1. This was a chat group about the Outlander books, when it first came to Starz, (with other like-minded book lovers) since Diana’s books have been out for 20 years.
Incidentally, these ladies all went on to have their own successful sites, Outlander Central, Outlander Headquarters and Whiskyisms.
We had talked about doing and eventually did our blog in order to be invited to the Premiere as a fanclub, since the NYC event was coming up that Fall. (Yes, we were sent the passes to the season Premiere.)

Dorianne is in the back on the right

● What do you like most about the Outlander books and show?...

The story of course, but the love for the show was so visceral after seeing our characters on screen, that the blog exploded with interest. People who loved writing about the characters and storyline especially, vying for space to express their thoughts, Artists too. I have a love affair with creatives, so I include all the Outlander art and writing I can find from the talent on social media.


● How much time do you spend every day on Outlander?....

I am personally not a writer.. I am strictly visual due to my occupation, I handle, getting in touch with the actors for interviews and then adding graphics which set up the articles. I also handle, what news is picked up on the blog from what's being featured that week on Outlander Starz, and in what order things are published. Aside from the notifications on social media, so a few days a week.

(Our blog writers are Susie Brown and Nancy M Guillory with guest writers frequently to date)


● How has Outlander affected your life and/or lifestyle?....

Our first cast follow was Graham McTavish on our page. He created the opportunity for the rest of the cast to follow Outlander Homepage, Lotte Verbeek followed us soon after and since that time 4 years ago, we have many of the cast following us and from every season. As a result we've managed to do many interviews too! Saltire Comics was our first, and Graham was our second. Getting to know these creative souls has been an interesting process. It's like getting to see their life from a personal perspective, and it has enriched all of us who participate on the blog.

Dorianne and Graham at his charity dinner.

● What made you decide to start doing the “Outlander in the city” charity events and can you tell us about the events you have done so far?....

From that first cast follow, we had the idea to do a charity benefit for Graham McTavish using his ambassadorship with Action for Children. My friend Lisa Michelle Woody of Outlander Forever, knew he would be in Manhattan in October 2016, so we got in touch through our page and he agreed to attend.
Our charity events were inspired from a kinship with the cast from pure Outlander love. We realized the actors had charity interests from their Twitter posts, with the actors on social media showing excitement for our book character's, as they were each cast in their roles on the show. It seemed natural to explore doing fundraisers as a way to bond with our favorite characters and the actors playing them, while doing the charitable thing.
We have successfully organised 3 charity events as a result of that first, over the past 2 years, with all of the main Outlander cast including Sam and Caitriona attending. We mingled with the actors while raising money for very worthy causes and to date have raised approximately $75,000.00 through these dinner events. Each were soul giving, that meant the world to us to organize and hopefully more to come. Our events have introduced fans who became friends and my production group who became sisters for that space in time, and it was magical.

The production group of The NYC Voyage with Sam and Caitriona.
From left.
Jaime Panich, Laura Michelle Martin, Bonnie Terbush, Carole Braun, Dorianne Panich, Sandya Dawar, Lisa Michelle Woody, and Liz Mercado.

● What do you like most about the Outlander books and show?....

My sister in law Kim Murphy, an Irish lass, introduced me to the Outlander series about 15 years ago. I am of Celtic origins as well. My father is from Ireland and his mother is of Scottish descent, her surname played a role in Scottish politics during the period of Robert the Bruce and I believe goes as far back as 10th century Scotland, so it's my lineage. Who doesn't love the thought of going back in time and having the attentions of a Highland warrior when your ancestry links you to it.

Voyage charity event with Kim Murphy Winslow and her husband Larry.

● Which character in Outlander is your favourite?....

Wow, my favorite character has to be Lord John Grey… He's witty, and let's not forget, educated, loyal, honorable, a soldier (so) brave and handsome.


● Which actor did you enjoy meeting the most?.....

Nell Hudson was just the sweetest. Although Caitriona Balfe was a very close second…
Nell is a “girls” girl, and so am I. She was such a sport at our event. She was exhausted as filming the show “Victoria” was ongoing and flew in and out in 24 hours. She was honest, really cool, and a fun spirit.

Dorianne's husband Jaime, with Nell Hudson at the OITC event..