'Outlander' has major fandom appeal, but will its author's stance on fanfic hurt the show?
Starz’ appeal to Internet fandom makes perfect sense, because the Outlander books have always inspired a passionate following of fan clubs and discussion forums. The TV series is definitely something that people will become obsessed with, rather than simply tuning in and enjoying every week like Downton Abbey.
Unfortunately, this media strategy is more than a little ironic once you know about Diana Gabaldon’s attitude toward fandom.
The problem is, Diana Gabaldon really doesn’t like fanfiction.
in 2010, she wrote a blog post on the topic of fanfiction, saying, “I think it’s immoral, I know it’s illegal, and it makes me want to barf whenever I’ve inadvertently encountered some of it involving my characters.” She goes on to compare fanfiction to seducing her husband or breaking into her home.
This post was quickly deleted, but not before being saved and reposted by many fans due to the furore it caused. Fan writers are happy to keep their fanfiction private and separate from its original inspiration, but nobody reacts well to being told their hobby is disgusting and wrong. This was the worst way anyone could break the fourth wall between fans and creators.
On another occasion, Gabaldon wrote that “99% of [fanfiction] is Just Awful, and it’s revolting to see your characters being made to do and say idiotic things, or be forced to enact simple-minded sex fantasies (which is what most fan-fic that comes to my unwilling attention is). Like someone selling your children into white slavery.”
This all makes a lot less sense once you learn that Gabaldon has admitted on several occasions that her inspiration came from Doctor Who. Specifically, the time-traveling 18th century Scotsman Jamie McCrimmon, played by Frazer Hines. The male protagonist of the Outlander series is, of course, named Jamie Fraser. It’s easy to argue that Outlander is a kind of fanfiction itself, or at least it began that way.