Outlander: Diana Gabaldon on brush with Dundee police and where she would like to live in Scotland

Outlander author Diana Gabaldon has spoken of her many travels through Scotland and revealed the night she was stopped by police in Dundee and the place in the Highlands that she could call home.

Diana Gabaldon photographed during a visit to Scotland last year at Culross Palace in Fife. PIC: VisitScotland.
Diana Gabaldon photographed during a visit to Scotland last year at Culross Palace in Fife. PIC: VisitScotland.

Ms Gabaldon shared details of her many trips Scotland in an exclusive interview with VisitScotland ahead of the release of season 5 of Outlander, the time travelling fanstasy which is partly set in 18th Century Scotland.

She recalled visiting Scotland for the first time with her husband while researching the second book in the series, Dragonfly in Amber.

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Unable to get a room in Edinburgh due to the festival, the couple ended up staying in Dundee where she encountered some "Scottish genteel hospitality" with a local police officer.

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"My husband was driving our rental car. He had driven up from London and was fairly comfortable but in the dark he lost his bearings for a moment and turned into the wrong lane. It was a stop light...and a police car comes up beside us.

"My husband rolls down the window and the police car window goes down and he says 'are you by any chance Americans?'"

"He said 'yes! We are sorry!'

"And the officer said, that's all right, just turn around there. That was our first experience of Scottish genteel hospitality."

She said the Highland capital reminded her of the Arizona mountain town where she grew up.

Ms Gabaldon said; “We went to Inverness and booked into a small hotel on the river and we were just enchanted by that.

"It’s a small town. It’s got a very peaceful vibe to it. I grew up in a small mountain town, Flagstaff, Arizona, and Inverness has much the same feel about it. It’s just a very nice place. I wouldn’t mind living there.”

Diana Gabaldon’s Travels in Scotland was filmed at Hopetoun House near South Queensferry, in the wake of the author picking up her “International Contribution to Scottish Tourism” award at the Scottish Thistle Awards, for the Outlander Effect.

In the interview, she also talks about her time in Orkney, visiting Smoo Cave in the Highlands and exploring the Jacobite site of the Battle of Sheriffmuir in the Ochil Hills, Clackmannanshire.

Ms Gabaldon never visited Scotland whilst writing the first Outlander book, published in 1991 as Cross Stitch in the UK, and used her skills as a researcher to create an accurate picture of the Highlands in the 18th century.

She said: “Because Scotland is so beautiful, there is an immense amount of pictorial stuff. Back then, it was VHS video tapes, but there were also picture books and magazines, so I knew what Scotland looked like. I was quite surprised when I got here to find it was even better than it looked in the photographs.”

A further seven novels and nine spin-off books have been published in 43 countries and in 39 languages, selling more than 35 million printed copies worldwide, and in 2014, Outlander was adapted for television by Sony Pictures Television.

Outlander follows the romantic adventures of English World War II combat nurse Claire Randall, who travels back in time to 18th century Scotland where she meets and falls in love with Scottish Highlander, Jamie Fraser.

The books and television series have had a massive impact on tourism to Scotland.

Visit Scotland's paper 'The Outlander Effect & Tourism paper' now reveals that attractions used in the television adaptation of her novels have seen visitor numbers rise on average by 40%, from the year before their appearance on-screen.

Jenni Steele, Film and Creative Industries Manager at VisitScotland, said: “We’re continually amazed at the effect Outlander has had on Scotland and would encourage fans who haven’t ventured to our shores to do so, where they can walk in the footsteps of Claire, Jamie and even Diana herself.”

In June, the University of Glasgow is set to host a major conference to look at the history, customs, politics, culture, clothes and music featured in the Outlander TV series.