Stephen Walters – “Angus Mhor” than meets the eye.

Like the titles play on words? I promise, it is true.

Every time I send a request, whether it be a current or past cast member, someone in production, close to production or a fan account I always expect them to say no. It’s in my nature to expect nothing, not because I am “suck joy Sherry” but I find this way I will always be thrilled when something good comes from it. Call it handy self-preservation.

I’ve had it in mind to approach Stephen Walters to participate in #TheLOVELANDERProject from the start. He being an original cast member that made us fall in love with Outlander, a part of an ensemble that has become a revolving door for fans.

What held me back? I am going to be honest, intimidated isn’t the right word, I have always had the impression there is something about Mr. Walters that goes…well…beyond. I have watched his career closely since he left Outlander, also digging back for his previous work. I highly recommend you do the same because DAMN. My concern was “Would I be ABLE to interview Stephen Walters? Would I be able to do this man justice?” I suppose, now, you will be the judge of that.

Here he is…as impassioned, authentic and veracious as they come.

You grew up in Merseyside Liverpool, England. What was your childhood like there? I am one of four children. The third of four and so a middle child. I come from a working class background. My parents were both from that generation that never really received what one would deem a “proper education”. From a social and political perspective, it still rankles with me. As a good education should be the God given right of any child. Sadly it’s still not the case. In those days (the 1950’s) young people were expected to go out into the work place and make a living. Mum and Dad made sacrifices for their children. In retrospect it was a poor upbringing on a monetary level but that cliché of ‘but we were happy’ was true for me. My mum particularly was a genuinely spiritual person and I got most of my life philosophy and teaching from her. It’s never left me. My dad was and still is a clown, so it was perfect yin and yang situation. I may not have received inheritance in a typical sense, money, a house, etc. The usual perception of that. However I received something way more valuable than that. A spiritual inheritance that has never left me. There was also an atmosphere of ‘you can do anything’ in our house. I was never not encouraged to be creative, which is so important for any child. It was a tough environment but there was humour and a real community of people. Sadly, that’s lacking more and more nowadays, that sense of helping your fellow neighbour, of being able to turn to someone in times of shortage. I have lovely memories of the mother’s sitting outside on the wall, talking, laughing, putting the world to rights. We were always, as kids, up to mischief, inventing some new game, digging a ditch, swinging in some tree, the estate was like one big playground to me. You could play out and you knew it was safe, everybody knew everybody else. The sense of memory is honestly fond and full up. I feel blessed by my childhood. Sometimes I go back and it’s a shell of what it was. That’s kind of sad to see.

I hear you speak of your childhood and it may not be filled with the fields or beaches of some, it does have have the quality children need. On the surface, it was rough however it was a beautiful nurturing environment. One that obviously encouraged the creativity we have been blessed to witness. When did this performer in you, start showing up? I started to learn guitar at ten years of age. My neighbours the Caulfield’s, were 3 older teenage boys, Kevin, Mark and Chris. They taught me a few chords and allowed me access to their record collection. It’s where my love affair with music and in particular the Beatles started. It really affected me, the sound, the philosophy and the talent. Their story inspired me, in that you could come from a place like Liverpool and ‘do something different’. So the seeds of creative allegiance and creating a better world were formed then.

An interesting aside, I wrote a song about my mother at 17. Sadly she passed with cancer the same year and this same song I sung on stage in New York in 2018. My son was also present. Her spirit, her energy, her memory and her belief in me, was standing right beside me. Sometimes, if your blessed, you have moments in life that ‘you couldn’t write’.

Thank you piscesfel250 for uploading this to YouTube so Stephen to could direct me to it. I’m not crying…YOU’RE crying!

Acting wise, I did the usual nativity at school, progressing from shepherd to Joseph. I remember the buzz of the lights in the church (the play was always performed on the church alter, in the evening). I felt comfortable, at home, escaping into a world of my own imagination. Later, l studied drama at Southport collage and then finally trained at the Bristol old Vic. The latter was tough to get in. There were 15 places in my year and there were thousands of applicants. It was another moment that ‘Mum was watching down on me’. In those days there were educational grants, otherwise there was no way a kid from my background could afford to go. This is no longer the case and in many areas still represents a marginalisation, an exclusion of the working class from the arts. Ironically it never escapes me that I am in ‘a middle class, privileged profession’.  

That is something that stands out for someone living it but will often go over the heads of people who haven’t faced it, tell us more, please…Drama school was full of young people with a plan B. They were mostly from families that had money, or a family business, or another option. I had no plan A and even then I was winging it on the drapes of my trousers! *laugh* Acting and music are part of the same spring well of activity, be it poetry, writing stories/scripts or singing. I can’t act in the shower but l always sing! It’s all expression. Sometimes these disciplines have merged on the screen like in a show I did called “Tin Star” or another called “Ragged” for Sky Arts. In my mind I do not separate these expressions. They are simply different branches of the same tree.

I loved you in Tin Star, you were shady af but we will talk about that in a bit. I want to delve a little deeper into how your journey started. You had your first acting job at 16, that’s impressive…Here’s the strange thing. The first job I ever did was a thing called “Ghost Story” for a series “Dramarama” A lad called Gary Brookes and I both knocked on the door of the only agent in Liverpool at the time, called ‘ART’. It was run by national treasure, Ricky Tomlinson. On this particular day, these two snotty nosed kids knocked on the door and there he was. It was the first famous person that I ever saw. We asked ‘were there any acting jobs going’ and by chance there was a show being cast and he sent us along. I got the job whilst still in my final year at school! I was completely blind to the whole situation. I remember ‘Ghost Storycoming out on the tv and all the family sat round the television screen to watch. It was another surreal, special moment. With my first ever pay cheque I bought mum a ‘brand new red bike’. I wanted to show my thanks to her. Unfortunately she passed away the next year but gladly she rode it for many miles. I still have that bike. 

It does seem like this life was the one that was meant for you, Stephen. The one thing I felt I always had, was good instincts to read a room and people, although I had no formal training to speak of. Long story short, 23 years later, I ended up playing the real Ricky Tomlinson in a biopic about his life on the screen.

Here it is…and it is…once again, brilliant.

Serendipity and synchronicity have always followed me around. The director a guy called, Julian Jarrold, I also went on to work with, in a show with Robson Green called Touching Evil.

That’s incredible when you think of it. I find the way your history webs together fascinating. Not all actors have this ability but you become the characters you portray so thoroughly … often physically morphing into them. Some actors talk about their method, if you have one, can you tell us about it? The method is precisely that. It’s ‘your method’. These things get convoluted and unnecessarily complicated. I have played many accents and different roles, so it’s your job to nail that as best as possible. I think my working class roots, bring me a working attitude, that you are there to do a job. It’s always grounded and informed my approach to the business I am in. More important than this though, is to find ‘the truth of the character’. Without it, the aesthetics mean jack shit. The truth is always something connected to your own life. It helps in order to sympathise with the character, to relate and understand it. That’s why a life outside of what you do is so important. It will feed and seep in to what you do. There is an element of intellectual observation but it has to be married by choices from the heart…from the gut. I also think good acting is brave, it has elements of courage and heart felt desire. Add to that the ‘imagination level’ then somewhere in the mix is your character. 

A storyteller at heart, Stephen, there is no doubt…I love that it’s a process and it’s not set in stone. From a learning perspective this always appealed to me. Some actors are gregarious and brilliant, some are quiet and focused. It’s horses for courses really. My old acting teacher, a method teacher from the old school by the name of Rudi Shelley (he was Russian) always told me …”Stephen find out for yourself”. It’s served me well. I ask questions and I probe. There’s also a mystery element to any character, that you should never explain, a private space between you and yourself. Sometimes a brilliant director unlocks a door and the quality of the script always comes into play. There’s nothing worse than fighting an incoming tide. So many elements make up the whole part.

I have to ask about these complex roles. There is always something ‘behind’ the eyes of the characters you play. I guess I like complex roles. Life is complex. People are complex. Situations are complex. It’s all a discovery of those strands. It’s more interesting to play a multi dimensional character. It’s more of a challenge and if your not being challenged, your not developing, growing as a performer. It’s just the way my career has gone, that I tend to play people on the periphery of things, on the outside, just how I like it. I remember my acting teacher saying once “Stephen stop trying to walk in a room like John Wayne because you will never be John Wayne…walk in it using your physicality”. It’s about utilising your strengths, your physicality, your way. Keep it true.

The more we peel back, the more I see how complex you are, this is all making a lot of sense to me. Speaking of complex characters, let’s chat Charles Manson. You became him in the short film, I’m Not Here. I have to say, it was disconcerting to watch as I didn’t connect ‘Stephen’ to the person on screen…at all. What made you want to be a part of that project? Manson was a frustrated artist. A lot of people don’t know that. He was a talented one too. He was from a broken home and was probably destined for a life of crime. His story is one of ‘what if’? Aren’t all our lives and stories? I know people in my own school year died of drug over doses. My brother Brian passed in a similar manner. He was a brilliant artist, a beautiful mind and no less talented than most people l work with. The sad irony of that a that he understood that. He was my greatest supporter and I always feel his presence around. If your really honest, or your really awake, you know life is never that simple. “There but for the grace of God go I”. There’s a lot of wisdom in those gutters. Anyway, back to Manson. Charles was close to a record deal and it nearly happened for him. There’s also people in our industry that but for a break or a chance encounter, could have gone ‘the other way’. Not necessarily to the extremes of Charles Manson but it’s all margins. There is something interesting to investigate there. Plus we demonise people, label the monsters and put them nicely in a box. We were all children once, from the king on the throne to the guy in the doorway. That’s how I feel and see it. It’s my spiritual out look, that does it’s best not to look up to anyone or down on anyone. 

The outlook you have shared here is one I hope readers can take and use going forward. I believe it may be a piece of this puzzle our world has lost over time. Many of us are able to grow from each of our experiences, good and heartbreaking. What have you taken from each of your experiences on set, in both those large and small productions from your early days to now? That each experience is different from the last one. People who are good at their job, barring the odd exception, tend to be the best to work with. It’s those with opinions of themselves that are not grounded, that are not really rooted into some kind of reality, that are most difficult to work with. Each role one plays is the roll of a dice, there’s a lottery element to it. I think for me, it was always about trying to create a quality body of work. To not look back, that you are only as good as your last job. It’s only when someone puts a question like that to me, that I think about those things. Lovely that it is to reminisce, it’s always about moving onto something else. Other wise it’s like staring down and admiring the same old shoes! *laugh*

I get that, still, I’m going to get you to check out that rear view mirror for a bit longer *smile*. You worked on a series in Canada, not just Canada but in my province of Alberta. In fact, the small town my uncle lives, High River Alberta is where Tin Star was set. What was your time like here? I was in Calgary for about 8-9 weeks. The Canadians are such polite folk and the place is so ‘clean’. I remember canoe rafting in Banff which was stunning. The clear blue water and the mountains. The place looked like a country and western set. I was mostly with a brilliant actor Ian ‘Pulverston’ Davies and we had digs that shared panoramic views of the city. There are many moments like that when I wish mum and brother Brian (or even Dad) could have had. They paved the way for these things to happen to me. You count the blessings and you never take it for granted. I think if you do, the games up. I’ve see that happen to people. You have to hold on to you and the journey that gets you there. 

I remember driving with SatNav (GPS) and getting lost in Alberta too. I remember pulling over on a road to watch a black bear and it’s cubs about 50 metres from myself. I remembered a deer running across my path, as I drove on the road. I loved my character and got to sing/play guitar. In fact the song that plays out the end of episode 3, I wrote. What more can a man ask for?

It sure ticked a lot of boxes, I haven’t even gotten to see a mama bear yet. The song at the end of ‘The Comfort of Strangers’ was hauntingly beautiful. It would be nice to see you not die in a series…I have come to the conclusion, I have seen you die on screen enough.

As much as I loved you as Angus, the role of Thomas Malone in Shetland is my favourite, thus far.  Your portrayal of this misunderstood and complicated character made those watching confused and empathetic. It was a wild ride. What attracted you to this character and why do you think others became so invested in his story? It was a gift of a role written by David Kane. Brilliant show and great writing, with fine actors. A rich six episode character arc, full of plot twists and turns. Thomas Malone is a maligned and misunderstood character. Often in episodic stuff, you play the killer, or the killed, or a filler role and there is no real context. No real meat in the bones. Here’s the thing. It’s much much harder, to make an impact with limited screen time. The more screen time you have, it’s just easier. You can allow a character to breathe, to pace it, to take your time. The camera can ‘indulge’ the character more, watch and observe him/her. This series of Shetland explained and expanded upon why this man was so broken. It delved into why someone is the way that they are. That’s what good drama does.

I was gutted by his death, it seemed so…pointless. What are your thoughts on that? I was shocked when I read the final script but here’s the thing. Things happen out of the blue in life and often to people who least deserve it. It was the final gut wrenching blow to the solar plexus. People still come up to me now and mention that moment. Drama has the power to move, to change feelings, to relate and to fascinate. 

I recall you mentioning in previous interview that writers can describe a character as in depth as possible, but it is the actor that ultimately brings them to life. In playing Angus there were many things you added that weren’t included in the ‘written description’. It’s more an attitude. A lot of that was complimented with Rupert played by Grant O’Rourke. He’s a big fun energy, and it infused scenes before we played them. That’s how I felt anyway. The superstitious side of Angus, was made up from reading a book about a Scotland in that time period. The humour was something that happened more organically than planned. Anyone who visits Liverpool will tell you that everyone is a comedian. Ken Dodd a famous comedian said the Liverpool audience, is the inky audience that thinks it’s funnier than the comic! *laugh*. So it’s in the genes somewhere I think. The more serious you play a character like Angus, the funnier it can be. No matter how ridiculous the situation may be, if you play it straight, something true will always come through it. 

These two butted heads like two alpha rams – I laughed like a fool at them (most of the time).

One of my favourite things about Angus was his erratic nature. One-minute laughing and joking, the next raging and wild. Did you formulate a back story for him that would explain why he was the way he was? I think that’s more the invention side to creating a character. Of acting. There are characters like Angus, from way back in the Liverpool memory bank. Unpredictable, keep you on your toes people and you’re not sure what they are going to do next. What’s interesting about that question is this. Is it by design… or is it they simply don’t know what they are going to do next!? *laugh*

You and Grant O’Rourke seemed to have had a chemistry that was natural and easy. It was said by Ron Moore in his podcast it was because you were so good together it was a natural progression to keep moving in that direction. Was this immediate between the both of you? Like, we got something that could be a lot of fun…let’s do this? Grant like I said is funny…’he’ has funny bones. I can be like that but it’s more personal, more specific. He often entertained the troops whilst waiting for long set ups, in between takes and I admire that. I tend to more fade into the background. Like I say, I consciously plugged myself into that. Chemistry is there or it isn’t I guess, it can only be manufactured to a degree. It’s difficult to be objective but l think we did have ‘something together’ on screen. It was a love hate thing. Angus loved Rupert, Rupert hated Angus! *laugh*

That’s hilarious! *laugh* You two definitely had ‘something’ and it was a joy to watch. Who am I kidding, it is STILL a joy to watch. What would you say were your most enjoyable scenes to film on Outlander? I enjoyed the physical things. The fights were a hoot. The sporting games with wooden bats. I remember one particular day, getting carried away and biting this poor stuntman’s ear and it bled. I was in shock and felt so bad and this big cockney guy stands up and says…*wiping the blood away from his ear*…”Don’t worry mate…it’s all in a days pay!”*laugh*

That sounds challenging, for him…*laugh* What would you say were the most challenging for you? The elements were challenging. The huge set ups, waiting around in the mud, the wind and the rain. There was always someone with a funny story, a joke, something to relieve the boredom at times. Roy Ramsay, God bless his soul, was one of the horseman. He had a neck like Mike Tyson and hands the size of a garden shovel. A big, gentle giant. I loved his stories and his strange mad wisdom. Something of Roy, bled itself into Angus somewhere. I’m always looking for a clue, an inspiration, a fact, a spark that may start a fire. 

I know fans carry memories of Angus and his antics still. Do you have any particular memories from your time on the Outlander set that you feel you carry with you? Every job has a memory I carry. The people and the place I would say. I was lucky enough to film Shetland so north of the border is ‘in the bones now’. Duncan La Croix (AKA La Crotch) was my first port of call on the job. I just remember we spent months just talking. A lovely soul. Andy Gower was special connection. Scott Kyle, Ronnie Goodwin, all good people. Through the conventions, we sometimes meet up and there’s a commonality, a sense of a shared experience. No matter what you do next, these things cling to the heart in some way. 

You have one of the unique experiences of being a part of the cast that created the Outlander universe. Every week more people are discovering this world and in turn, you. Falling in this weird love with this wild character of yours and then being absolutely devastated when he dies. As incredibly sad as Angus’s death was, it was heroic in the same breath. His friendship with Rupert, as humorous and sometimes volatile as it is, at it’s core there was a love for one another. He sustained a blast in order to save his friend, in turn, his own life was taken.

Do you believe that Angus would have done the same thing, had he known the outcome? I think the scene around the camp fire says it all…”what’s yours is mine” etc…they were soul brothers. Had each other’s backs. It’s a friendship that goes through all the 4 seasons, sometimes in one day as the old song goes. It’s a weather beaten friendship, it’s challenged and it’s often fraught but there is love there. That’s the making of any true connection. They would have taken a bullet for the other person. A strange, paradoxical nature line comes to mind…” I can call you a fuck head but no one else can!! *laugh* It’s that sort of thing”

I just know you are going to have fun with this one. If you could describe the following cast mates with one word – what would it be?  Caitriona Balfe-Grafter. Grant O’Rourke-Melancholic. Graham McTavish-Fanny. *laugh* Lotte Verbeek-Exotic. Nell Hudson- Warm. Annette Badland-Sweetheart. Sam Heughan-Tall. Duncan Lacroix Cunt. *laugh smh*. It seems men do that thing too, well, I do that thing with my friends. Gary Lewis-Socialist. Andrew Gower-Tommy.

Speaking of Andrew Gower’s Tommy reference, this was the short film he starred in, that you wrote and directed called Humpty Fu*king Dumpty . It was funded by a Kickstarter campaign that was very well received. You ended up releasing the film online during the lockdown as special gift to the fans worldwide. We thank you for that, as it was brilliant! What was it about Tommy Quickly that made you want to tell his story in this way? Thank you to the fans first. They allowed us the opportunity to physically make the film. That was a really beautiful thing. Tommy has similar parallels to the Manson story, the only difference being Tommy actually made a few records. Ultimately it’s the story of failure, or of when something doesn’t turn as planned. Every project we under take as actors, walks the fine line between flying or falling flat on your arse. It’s part of the joy of it all for me. Sink or swim mentality. It’s a heat instruction for being in the moment. Tommy had the world at his feet and something never clicked. It’s almost like he was ‘in the wrong place at the right time’. Maybe it was a chemistry thing?… Maybe he wasn’t cut out for show business?…Maybe he just wasn’t good enough? However there were people of less ability, who went on to greater platforms. These things are never black and white. What’s important is to ask the difficult questions without ever expecting any definitive answer. 

I am incredibly curious about this production. Could you share with us what went into bringing it to the screen? Passion projects have such rich stories behind the scenes…It started on a late night flight to Morocco. Andrew and I both did a biblical show called AD. It was a chance meeting. We got talking about Tommy and he knew the song written by Lennon/McCartney, “Tip of my Tongue” given to Tommy

Tommy Quickly had been an impulsive obsession of mine for years, almost like a macabre running joke. I started to formulate an idea for a story, then wrote it. Andrew had to play Tommy. I think for what it’s worth, that it’s his best performance. So brave, so nuisanced, so bold. I wanted an actor I knew I could safely push beyond their comfort zone. There’s not many actors that could do what he did in that role, to be so emotionally naked and available. I deliberately stylised the piece as ‘a mini head movie’. Like we are experiencing the protagonists dilemma, his pain, his point of view. I wanted it to feel like a dream, one foot in reality, the other in the subconscious. See, I told you that I love those fine lines. We are in pre production on a feature film, based around the premise of “Humpty Fu*king Dumpty”. We have a producer and it looks promising so watch this space.

I am always watching this space but now I will now be tuned in on the daily. Of course in this world of covid, I have lots on tune in time. Speaking of which, it has certainly changed many things in our lives. What is it that you miss the most about the world pre-covid? I miss going the shop or to work without having to wear a mask. I miss seeing people’s faces. I miss a more innocent time, even though this whole mess kicked off only 9-10 months ago. I missed picking up my son from school. So many things.

Same…Stephen…Same…We do things to feel, well, normalish. During the lock down you started Radio Roger, little blurbs of hilarity on Sound Cloud that adds a glimmer of laughter and…’man, I KNOW that guy’ moments. *laugh* Is there a plan for Roger … what’s the scoop? Roger radio was done on the spur of the moment. I just record it into my iPhone and play the voices. It’s often unrehearsed and in the moment. I’ve always been fascinated by the people who ring into radio stations. I can’t believe that stupidity can reach such levels. I seriously worry for some callers, for their mental health, their observations etc…but the dark side to my humour thinks it’s hilarious too. Roger is also “Mr. Neutral” which bugs me in away. I know it’s the role of the adjudicator to be an ‘unpartisan’ role but it’s annoying, especially when it’s clear to the audience, what their affiliation is. 

It is a relief that you aren’t playing out a segment of your own personality there.*laugh* I think I have a general idea to the answer of this next question but to be honest Stephen, you as a person, are as complex as many of the characters you play. I find you fascinating. I would love for you to tell me what you would say make Stephen Walters tick. Love makes me tick. Life makes me tick. 

That might sound simple, but most of us know, the depth of love and the intricacies of life…that’s a whole lot of ticking going on.

Since you are an incredible musician and actor, this question is a must ask, is there a dream biopic about anyone you would love to be in? I am working on a feature length version of the “Charles Manson” short film I made, “I’m Not here”. (as seen above) It would be a different angle to the usual musical biopic. Paying Bob Dylan would be amazing, or Woody Guthrie his genius predecessor. I would love to play Sam Cooke but that might be a stretch too far.

I mean, you are a great actor but I do think the Sam Cooke idea might be pushing the envelope a tad far.*smile* Now, Bob Dylan and Woodie Guthrie – I am paying good money to check those out. As for a feature length of you as Charles Manson in the same vein as I’m Not Here? That is going to be dark and delicious. Riding the same path here, are there any people you have on a ‘bucket list’ to work with in the future? I am working on a project right now that has one of my ‘acting heroes’ in. I can’t say much about it but will do when I can. I don’t believe in heroes if I’m being honest, but there are a rare breed of artists that changed the game of their profession, who made the world sit up, who had a massive  ‘impact’ on the senses. 

You for one, Stephen, have had an impressive and consistent resume since you began acting. Between music and screen, is there anything else you could imagine doing? Yes! I have started writing/directing and will continue to do so. I have made about 6-7 short films now. Each has been insightful, instructive and just a treat to be honest. I am developing a comedy right now and I have so many stories I want to tell. Writing is something I have secretly been watering, tending to that particular garden, in the safety of my own privacy. So yes, making and creating my own films, forming my own philosophy/perceptions. I also write poetry, I love constructing words. I love writing lyrics to songs. It’s all expression in the end. We come into the world screaming and I want to leave it screaming. * laugh* That scream is a pure expression of ‘I’m here’…it’s a manifestation of something so deep, it’s a longing to connect and be connected too. That’s in each and everyone one of us.

It feels serendipitous to be in the world at the time you are in creation mode. I look forward to the stories you have to tell.

I have probably exhausted you…but I have three more requests.  I would like you to give yourself a A) Tagline B) Warning Label C)Theme Song.

A. Ragamuffin from Liverpool. B. Beware the Ragamuffin from Liverpool. C. The singing Ragamuffin from Liverpool.

Put your hands together for the Ragamuffin from Liverpool, bringing you his latest…

I might have giggled like I goofball listening to this

As we wrap up this year of complete chaos I must say that custom made Lovelander/Sherry song…was a highlight. I was hoping for a couple highlights this year, thankfully the Universe and you, Stephen came through!

It was such a pleasure getting to know you outside the confines of a character you play. The parallels I see between the childhood you had and the man that you have become are something I believe will stick with me the most. Though rough on the outside, there is a deep meaningful understanding of what is important in this world. It is most certain your Mum, is most proud of you. Putting it as simply as I can, Stephen. Thank you so much for being you. You are welcome. My mum taught me that the most powerful thing to be in this world is to be yourself,

I happily wrap up the last instalment of the LOVELANDER Project for 2020 with pride. What has been a very difficult year, this has been a welcome distraction for me and I do hope, for you as well. If this is your first time reading please see the links below for the other interviews in the project.

Happy Hogmanay/New Year. Take a breath and I will be right here, continuing the LOVELANDER Project until you bore of me…nah…until I bore of myself.

Much Love, The Beav

Sherry

Have you missed Previous editions of – The LOVELANDER Project – Edition 1 Vida/Blancklanderz  Edition 2 Erin/Three if By Space  CastEdition 3 Vincent/Supporting Artist  Edition 4 Tracy/Outcandour CastEdition 5 Nell Hudson/Laoghaire Cast Edition 6 A Quickie w Kikki Fleming/ Lesley Edition 7 Koko/Outlandish Vancouver Cast Edition 8 Paul Gorman/Josiah and Kezzie Beardsley Edition 9 Chas/ Outlandish Scotland Edition 10 Barry Waldo/ Writer, Producer & husband of Jon Gary Steele Outlander Production Designer

ABOotlander LOve – Previous Interviews –  Julia LeBlanc/VideoQueen  Summer & Ginger from Outlander Podcast  CastDr.Joe Abernathy/Wil Johnson  CastAdrienne-Marie/Suzette Beth Wesson/@PixieTwit  Connie Verzak@ConnieBV  Karmen @OutLandAnatomy  Jane @RRankinFans  CastSera-Lys McArthur /Johiehon CastCarmen Moore /Wahkatiiosta CastKikkiFleming/ Lesley

Bucketlist — Dining with Diana – CHECK…holy snapping turtles…that’s a CHECK!

How? How does something like THAT happen to normal people?

*Blink* *Blink* We must be dreaming!

*Blink* *Blink*
We must be dreaming!

Ok…first. We perhaps aren’t normal.  However the perfect storm WAS brewing.

An event- When Worlds Collide Diana Gabaldon will attend said event. The ABOotlanders find out about said event and decide there is NO OTHER CHOICE. This is the perfect storm. The positive intent, good will, good people & love we have following us around – we knew this event was going to be one we would cherish no matter what.

stormwwc

I am sure you are curious as to how WE…the lowly AB-Ootlanders could have gotten Diana to dine with us.  I assure you there were no Diana’s hurt in the making of this experience.  No duct tape, or chloroform used, no draw of puppies/hedgehogs or Toger’s at the table (O.K. there was a Toger but we didn’t take that out til later) or trickery of any kind. However, I believe the story starts the night before. I think I will start there. This is called suspense.

Stories need that – or so I learned at this writers conference.

Did you seriously just groan?  Rude…that’s just rude.

You are such a kidder! Big kidder mckidderson!

You are such a kidder! Big kidder mckidderson!

These are random details of what happened at this years When World Collide event in Calgary. From how I remember it.  That mean’s artistic license or something to that effect *snort*.

 The ABOotlanders came out in droves. WHY? Because SHE, would be there. Diana.  With our crowd…she needs no last name.  Diana, not only would be here but she would be ALL over here. 

Our first opportunity to see her…maybe walk by her…or make eye contact with her and get a little Diana nod (Someone should make a Diana bobble head…it needs to be very lil, sweet and not wobbly but a stiff wobbler because she has the perfect way of acknowledging you without seeming dismissive like some, hers said “I know you are here & happy to see me” and THAT’S COOL.) was at the Fish Creek Library.  Event starting at 7:00 pm.  Kim & I decided we MUST get there early. 5:00 pm will be early enough right?  Maybe 4:30…there are SOOOO many people who love Diana…its going to be crazy.  Ok…we will go at 5:00. Fine!

Are we early? Huh? Huh? Huh?

Are we early? Huh? Huh? Huh?

We race up the elevator at mach speeds. I lie. SLOWEST. ELEVATOR. EVER. Maybe its super fast but seriously we felt like we were getting sucked into another dimension this thing was so slow. FINALLY the door open and there are a few people standing there. 2 ladies & a gentleman. Staring at us very questionably. “Oh…hello” the gentleman at Fish Creek Library says “Who are you with?” I realize because we are SO early, he thinks we are with one of the authors to help set up books to be sold. Ummmmmm a little embarrassing but Kim…her enthusiastic and wonderful self pipes up “THE ABOOTLANDERS!”  The 3 people stare at her blankly. “The…Ab-whowhat?” – “You’re a bookseller?” he says look down at Kim’s shirt, which is silkscreened with the words  ‘A. MALCOLM  BookSeller & Printer’ (Which btw – Diana told Kim she liked – cuz…well…it’s an awesome shirt)

“Oh no” Kim replies “I don’t sell books, I’m a fan!”  Realization dawns on their faces and they look at each others faces.  These are fans. Oh boy!peasant1

Yep! That’s us! Keeners!  Are arms are full!  We have gifts for Diana, we have a HUGE flat cardboard box which houses our Giant Jamie & Semi Giant Claire (poor girl came out smaller than we hoped).  They were very gracious and offered to let us store our goodies while we were banished to the downstairs library to wait…one WHOLE HOUR! UGH! Longest. Hour. Ever.  We were labeled as super fans…which I will wear happily as it’s kinda true.

6 pm rolls around and we ixnay the elevator and boogie up the stairs to claim our front row seats! We set up Giant Jamie & Semi-Giant Claire in the back of the library.  I really ought to bring a donation box for those who take photos with them. The ABOotlanders could make a mint! It was so great to make so many Outlander fans happy though. We ended up recruiting so many wonderful friends to our group that evening.  Diana came up on the elevator & I watched he make her way in the room…I am sure she has feet but she almost seems to glide…yeah…ok…shhh. I saw her catch a glimpse of Jamie & Claire and her face was one of “Oh…look isn’t that odd- those two just standing there like that.”  Make me giggle inside.No…I giggled out loud and babbled to everyone around me to as what I had just witnessed.

The Fish Creek Library did a great job of hosting the readings. We were gifted with readings by not only  Diana Gabaldon but Daniel Abraham (M.L.N. Hanover), David B. Coe (D.B. Jackson), CJ Carmichael, Faith Hunter (Gwen Hunter) and the amazingly witty and wonderful Brandon Mull.  Brandon won the hearts of all of the ABOotlanders, as well as Diana.

brandonmull diana

I bought his BEYONDERS series for my 16 yr old man child but I plan on reading it as well.  Seriously, this guy IS personality.  The other authors all have something wonderful to offer, don’t get me wrong.  David was another one of my favourites.  He truly is a wonderful human being with a contagion of spirit & I will be picking up his Thieftaker Chronicles very soon!

The readings were wonderful, Diana went last and she read from book 9. *sigh* I am not in a huge rush for this book to come out, even though I will be first in line when it does. I understand her standing in front of me for 4 days means there is no way she is going to be able to write…so…I take this.

She reads so beautifully, I get transported into her story…she says something about Jamie being naked and boom…you can hear the audible sigh of the room, its almost like the collective intake of breath pulls the walls of the library in around us…I sag in my seat. I don’t really mean to but her imagery is just too good. It’s really her own fault isn’t it? Yeah. That’s what I think too.  As she continues to read…the scene is intense, poignant and ends with a universal “oh” around the room. Leaving us wanting more…but that is the magic of Diana is it not?

There was a Q&A with the authors & then the signing.  Since there were only 200 people at this event, it didn’t take long and the ABOotlanders had a plan.  We planned to hang back.  Wait till the last to try and score a bit more time with her because we brought some very special gifts with us.  One of our admins, Cheryl came up with the brilliant idea to have a set of 5 whiskey glasses hand painted by the talented Nikki Galenza, who is our resident ABOotlander artist.

whisky

You can commision Nikki to do these for you.  They are themed to each of the first 5 books in the series and they are stunning!  We wanted to be able to show Diana & explain where we had them done.  Plus taking time to have our books & other bits of nostalgia signed by her. Sweet Kim also  gave her a box of Canadian chocolates, one in the box was whisky infused to go with our theme.  Diana loved the glasses & the chocolates, as per usual was extremely gracious.  I made sure they were packed up good and solid & mentioned I hoped she had room. She said she would make room.

Hanging out at the Library :)

Hanging out at the Library 🙂

We had such a fabulous time. Meeting so many new members for our group & having extra moments with Diana. We were leaving the library all together when I thought to myself “LIFE MADE” because I made her laugh. Lil ole me…might not seem like such a big deal but I do love to make people giggle and making Diana laugh was a special thing for me. We were all tromping down the stairs (Diana doesn’t tromp – no…she was gliding.heehee) and Kim mentioned she would like to hit the swimming pool at the hotel for a dip. In which I had to remind her I forgot my swimsuit so “Ummmm yeah Kim, I’d have to go naked and girlfrien’ ain’t NO ONE wanna see THAT!” in which Diana looked over her should with a laugh. In that moment my heart skipped a beat and yes…I thought “Life made.” However…Friday hadn’t happened yet…That was premature speculation.

See what she did there?

See what she did there?

I am heading straight for the BIG MOMENT on Friday. Of course we would like to think Diana knows who the ABOotlanders are 🙂 She has shared our Blog in the past, she tweets with us

tweet

I don’t make this up…

We aren’t delusional we know we aren’t the only ones, however, we still love our happy lil bubble!

Friday afternoon, a group of the ABOotlanders decide to head to the pub that is attached to the hotel to get a bite to eat & talk about all the awesomeness we have experienced so far.  We are talking about Diana’s readings…when Sam (our Sam…not THE Sam…well she is our THE Sam..not the HE THE Sam…ugh..

I want me to shut up now

I want me to shut up now

you understand right?) whispers to us “Diana just walked in…she’s alone.”  Huh? What? Now? Here? What? Then Sam looks at me and says “SherryLynn you are the only one with balls big enough to go and talk to her!”  I puff up a bit at the compliment but in my head I am thinking “NO I’m not…I left my balls under the sink at home…and that’s 3 hours away!”  However, I squared my shoulders, got up from the table & filled with 9 other women who are relying on me and follow Diana around the pub. “Hello Diana”  “Oh, Hello

Are you here alone (DUH of course she is here alone you bonehead…there is NO ONE with her..save yourself!) or are you expecting someone to join you (good save idjit!)?  “No no, I’m here alone.”  “I’m here with a few (ok…maybe not a few – more like 9 but who’s counting…hell…I can barely form a thought…math can’t happen) friends and we’d  be honoured if you would join us for a bite & a drink if you have the time.”  “That would be lovely if you wouldn’t mind.”  (Wouldn’t mind…wouldn’t mind….oh my gosh…I am doing everything in my power to keep from grasping your hand and running up those 3 little steps to the table with you and yelling “LOOK WHO I BROUGHT FOR DINNER!“) But I don’t…I take a deep breathe and say “Mind? Diana…I can’t tell you what a thrill it would be!” or something like that…I am sure I gushed but I don’t think I got any on her.

We walk up the tiny steps to the table and the looks on the ladies faces were priceless. They looked like little children seeing Santa on Christmas morning, and Diana graciously smiled to them and THANKED US for letting HER join US. I mean come on…Best Moment.  I think I said something to this effect and she made a comment along the lines of her hoping my life was more exciting than that. *snicker* I quite like that about her too. She is “just Diana”. I admire that. But to me…well you all know.  Serious lady admiration right there!

woman-crush-wednesday-shailene-woodley

The pub was understaffed…oh darn. That gave us lots of time to chat. I certainly didn’t want to sound like I was interviewing her but I had SO many questions to ask. So many things I had always wondered. This was the only opportunity I would ever get. She was sitting right beside me. I could touch her.  I tried not to…I think I did once…just to make sure she was real. She was.

I have always suspected & I truly don’t think anyone would be surprised by this however it is something I always wanted to know from her. If she was an introvert.  That is a 100% yes.  Of course introverts aren’t always what people believe but Diana is one & I respect her greatly for how she carries herself, especially in crowds & with people (like us) vying for her attention.

Second up – I have always watched videos of interviews, read about Diana, & viewed media clips of her (not because I am a creepy freaky stalker…AM NOT!) but because of my draw to her personality.  It started for her writing, but her demeanor, introverted nature, say it like it isness, direct style & analytical mind intrigues me.

Way before Outlander became a TV series, her answers to questions or outlook has simply fascinated me. Where I have heard others complain the same answers come again and again…I admire that.  It means she is nothing else but 100% authentic. Same question? Same answer. Why in heavens SHOULD it change? To entertain the masses? Hell no. If we want a different answer then someone ought to ask another question right?  ANYWAY…when you have listened to her speak for a good long time, you tend to get an idea of how this lady thinks. What her opinions might be on different subjects.  So I find myself…while reading certain parts of her books my mind drifting out of the characters I am reading. Such as when Lawrence Stern & Claire are having such conversations about Faith vs Science. Or Claire is struggling with the idea of tying the tubes of a slave being impregnated by her master…my mind drifts from the voice of the character to the voice of Diana and I feel I am listening to her. Her opinions, her voice and her commentary. I wanted desperately to know if I was crazy or if it was a way she was simply slipping “a random” social commentary into the dialogue.

It turns out I am not crazy at all and Diana is IN her books. Not just in her main characters but in her stories, scattered throughout.  I love her & her books all the more to hear that sweet detail.

Since I read the books to my husband with our BedTimeStories, I used this to bring up the topic of relationships.  Her relationship with Doug is admirable. We spoke about how she usually travels on her own but she made sure to take him when she visited the set – knowing he would in fact have a delightful time before he did.  That’s the thing about many relationships, we know. It was lovely to see her face light up as she spoke of him having fun with the crew of the show.

Ain't LOVE Grand?

Ain’t LOVE Grand?

Diana is writing episode 2-11 & will be traveling to Scotland again when they film it.  It is definitely a different process but one you can tell has challenged her in a good way. It certainly seems she had fun with it. I tried to dig more out of her but she won’t budge & may I say it? I respect the hell out of her for it.

She speaks highly of Sam Heughan…interestingly enough, we spoke of him when we spoke of introverts. I said I had an inkling he shared that same trait with her. She said she thought so too however being an actor he certainly knew how to deal with the public and was a very secure & good natured young man.  As we can plainly see in the way she corresponds with him in the public eye on social media, she likes the guy.  Letting us know he has a generous & kind guy.  It is of course one thing to see this kind of thing in play online…it is quite another to hear it spoken.

You know, having a meal with Diana wasn’t as terrifying as I thought it would be. I do NOT remember what I ate. No idea. I am drawing a total blank.  I do know I didn’t have the calamari. *snort*

Yeah Sam...how could YOU?

Yeah Samantha…how could YOU?*snicker*

Conversation was natural with the all the ladies, talking about places to visit. Characters, the books & most of the time “I can’t believe this is happening.” was floating around in my brain. Eventually it turned to “I am so grateful this is happening.”

The ABOotlanders always come prepared. (In fact we were planning on giving this to Diana the next night but Bobbi Jo is awesome and HAPPENED to have it with her and when opportunity knocks – we answer that damn door)

Ok...we answer no matter WHO is at the door.

Ok…we answer no matter WHO is at the door. We are a trusting bunch.

We like to get those we admire shirts with our mascot on them. Toger.  He’s an adorable beaver. Now…we thought Diana might like a cowl neck, 3/4 cut sleeve, beautiful blue shirt instead of a T-shirt, so AB-Ootlander Bobbi Jo had one made. She had Toger put on Diana’s shirt- on her shoulder…I mean how PERFECT !  Who doesn’t imagine looking over her shoulder while she writes? Maybe Diana will wear this shirt one day while writing & wee Toger will have that gift. I was honoured to present her with the shirt, explaining to her Toger & how he came to be.  Telling her how Graham McTavishes reacted to his shirt at Calgary Expo.  It was entertaining…and she was, once again…gracious & lovely.

Togershirtpre

Eventually, Diana finished her meal & it was time to leave – getting her wallet out I assured her that wasn’t necessary. I wanted to take care of that. I couldn’t fathom having shared a meal with her & having her pay for it. THAT just wouldn’t be right on any level. Plus, I am pretty sure simply for the fact I talked  and watched her the whole time…I owed it to her.

Here take it...take it all...I owe you so much more than lunch!

Here take it…take it all…I owe you so much more than lunch!

We had 2 more days of Diana readings, visits & banquets. I also asked her permission to talk about our “date” here – which I received.

The ABOotlanders who attended pose with Diana at the Western Themed Banquet

The ABOotlanders pose with Diana at the Western Themed Banquet

Our Giant Jamie & Semi Giant Claire - Hmmmm- Petite Claire...Hanging out with their favourite person!

Our Giant Jamie & Semi Giant Claire – Hmmmm- Petite Claire…Hanging out with their favourite person!

Gracious…you would think that would be the one word I would use to describe this woman if I had to.  I have thought about that a lot this week…what word would I use?

I have chosen one. Dynamism.  It means a great energy, force, or power.  That’s what Diana has. A great energy. A force that draws you in.  New word!  Dianamism. There you go.

force

 I can’t hold off sharing this with you any longer! Naughtlander has taken a lot out of us but this was the restorative we needed…granted…whisky or your bevvie of choice will help, as per, it is always the best cure for Droughtlander!

droughtlander

Click to see the 1st of our blogs Diana shared on her FB page

KINDNESS & LOTS OF LOVE coming your way!

                               SherryLynn- ABOotlander in Chief