How’s that for a headline, eh?
Welcome to the 2nd edition of The LOVELANDER Project. Erin Conrad won’t like me saying this and will ask me to edit it out (I won’t) but, she’s kinda a big deal.
If you already know her, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn something new, if you only know Erin from her Three If By Space life, then sit back and let’s close that gap. Maybe you haven’t heard of her – it’s possible – if that is the case, stick around, meeting new people, even virtually, can be very rewarding.
I have been following Erin on social media for years. First on Twitter and then I started listening to her TIBS radio show, sometimes live but mostly following a few days later while writing or working on my own things at home. I generally stay away from reviewers as I am the ‘keep things positive’ at all costs type o’ gal. (This is not because rainbows shoot outta my butt – this is because I must maintain my own sanity- it’s a tippy thing) There is something about Erin’s TIBS approach. She has the enjoyment and knowledge of the source material while maintaining a respect for the creators. She never speaks as if her word is the last and always invites discourse and treats other’s opinions with kindness. Her lifetime of experience in journalism may have just a little do to with that but perhaps the diplomacy comes more from being married to the same man for 31 yrs and to raising two sons.
The super cool thing is, I don’t have to see eye to eye with Erin on her reviews. I still enjoy reading them as her views are succinct and beautifully explained. She helps me understand why she sees things the way she does and that is important to me. It’s not just “I hated it” or “It was stupid”. That doesn’t help anyone see what the reviewer struggled with.
The benefit of a well-written review is we are able to respect the viewpoint because we understand it. We are then able to move on with our overall love of the journey. Kind of like being on holiday together, going out to dinner and one devouring the cake and the other thinking it was too sweet. It was still yummy cake.
Let’s dive in with Erin to see what it is that makes her – the her – that she is. I want those reading to know about ‘everyday’ Erin…give us a glimpse will you? Erin-“Ummm, okayyy… I’m 60, retired last year after our parents had major health issues that required my time and my father in law died. Kevin and I have two sons, Greg and Andy. Greg is 27, a musician, married, and expecting their first child (awww, CONGRATS Grannie!) and they live in New Zealand. Andy is 24, engaged, living about 20 minutes away with his fiancée. I have a degree in journalism – I’ve always been a writer. I stepped back from fulltime work when Greg was 6 months old and did a lot of freelance stuff, then substitute teaching, and a string of admin kind of jobs, most of which bored me silly, but paid some bills. In addition to writing for TIBS, I started doing fused glass work three years ago, and now my basement is full of glass, kilns, equipment. This year was supposed to be my year to start travelling, but of course, that’s difficult now. We’re just hoping to get to New Zealand over Christmas to meet our new grandchild.”
I’ve seen that glasswork of yours, it’s gorgeous! (Check it out peeps). I imagine it becomes a great outlet, and the pieces you have done for your Outlander groups have been stunning, which swings me back around again, we fans all have the story of when Outlander came into our life, how did your journey start? “I found Dragonfly, I think, in the large print section of the library (not where I usually look for books), in probably 1997 or early 1998, right after we moved to Crystal Lake. I realized quickly that it was part of a series, and ran to find the first book. I’ve been hooked since then. I didn’t realize that, other than Ladies of Lallybroch, which I knew about, that there was a huge following until I started writing about it.”
Which leads us of course to Three if by Space… “TIBS started when the owner, Robert, won a contest to go to the set for the show Falling Skies (the site’s name is a line from the show). He started the website as a fan site for that show, and it quickly became a multi-show review site. I loved Falling Skies and found TIBS looking for info about it, then found out they were looking for writers. That was in 2013, right as news about a TV series of Outlander was coming out. I asked if it fell in their world – sci-fi – and he said sure. So I’ve been writing for the site since then, and have been senior editor, second in charge, for a few years now.”
Sounds like perfect timing to me! I am always curious as to what other book lovers thought when they found out Outlander was going to be adapted into a TV program. I almost lost my damn mind. “I was very excited. I have a copy of one of the older books that says on the back that a major motion picture is coming – of course, I was thrilled to see that, and we know that never happened. A TV series is definitely the better choice. It made me nervous, though – how faithful would they be to the books? I was a little reassured that Diana would be involved, but I have enough experience with the world of adaptations and writing to know that there would be differences. Since the show has come out, I haven’t been thrilled with everything they’ve done, but that’s fine – like I’ve said since the beginning, I don’t have the talent, the money or the contacts to do it myself, so I’m happy that someone with all of those is taking it on. I can live with the differences, even if they make my head hurt sometimes – I’d rather watch what’s there than not watch at all. I would give the series a B+ – some of the casting has been off (and some has been spot-on), and I personally think that the show’s angle is skewed in an uncomfortable direction.”
Since I listen to your radio shows and read your reviews, I get exactly what you are saying and where you are coming from. If those reading haven’t tuned in –CLICKITY CLICK RIGHT HERE– You can listen to past episodes. So, what would you say your vision is for the future of the TV show? “As much as I would like to see the show finish out the entire book series, I don’t really know that they will. I think I can live with it if they don’t. I don’t really want to see 80-year-old Jamie and Claire, except in a flash-forward at the end. I’d rather see the show end on a high, rather than dribble on and on toward an end where it’s cancelled because of low viewership. I LOVE David Barry as Lord John but don’t really need a spin-off. I’d watch it – don’t get me wrong – but I’m not going to live and die over it.”
I’d love to hear your vision of how those books will end? “Now here, I’d be happy to see an 80-year-old Jamie and Claire. I don’t know that Diana wants to go that far. She’s said one more after Bees, and for the main series, that’s good. I’d love to see Germaine and Jemmy and Mandy as adults, solving crimes and taking names (just kidding).”
Damn, that would be so awesome. Can you imagine? The Mystery Conestoga *snort* My imagination has been tapped. That is never a good thing.
You’ve attended many Outlander events over the years and this is something that many fans might not get to experience. I, personally, am a serious introvert so I know there are certain events I would be overwhelmed by. There will be certain readers who think “I wanna be like ERIN!” tell them about events you dove into. “Of course, this year, a lot has been cancelled. One I’m hoping doesn’t get cancelled is Thru the Stones, in Davenport, Iowa, in December. This is a great every-other-year event, and it’s different than others – there’s always one BTS guest and one actor guest (although last time Terry Dresbach, former costume designer, came for her second appearance and brought Ron D. Moore with her). But organizer Deb Ford does classes and a trivia contest, a lot of things that other events don’t do. Last year, I went to Outlandish Vancouver for the first time (even though I’ve been good friends with the organizer since my very first Outlander event in 2014) which was really a lot of fun and where I met YOUUUUUUU. (I mean, that had to be the highlight for all *snort*) That one’s been cancelled for this year, and because of Andy’s wedding next year, I don’t think I’ll make it then either, but I encourage everyone else to look at that one.”
I’m going to live vicariously through you because I think my only cast experiences will ever happen at Outlandish Vancouver (I’m not complaining, because they have been freaking life-altering– not even kiddin’) Please share your most memorable fan experiences… “My favourite was probably my first – the Random House MOBY book debut in Seattle in 2014. I met so many wonderful new people, met Diana Gabaldon for the first time, saw the first TV show trailer…
I love being in the position to be able to meet the stars and creators personally when I’m interviewing, or on red carpets, etc. For the S1 Part 2 premiere in NYC, I did my first red carpet. I had a minor role in helping the SoCal group meet Sam at what they thought was just going to be a chance to look at the packaging for the upcoming DVD, and Sam walked into their review session. For my assistance – which was just providing a name – Sony sent me a personalized photo of Sam holding up a sign for me. At that red carpet event, I brought a printed out copy of that picture. Sam saw me holding it, and ran over to say “That was for YOU?? Can I sign it for you?” That was a thrill. Everyone has been wonderful to meet.”
THUD! Yup. Just THUD. I’m that person that says something inappropriate to break the ice and ends up wearing it forever. I’ve seen you on the red carpet while watching live streams and you are always so damn dignified. It’s annoying and why I like hanging around you – you make me look like a grown-up. Just put your cursor right here and click! You can see for yourself how cool she is. I am always grateful for the people that Outlander has brought into my life. What do you feel it has brought to yours? “Outlander has really expanded my personal and semi-professional life (since I don’t get paid for any of this). I’ve met the BEST people, women I never would have met otherwise, and that’s enriched my life to no end. I’ve also done things I couldn’t have conceived of doing – I’ve interviewed not only Outlander stars, but then had the confidence and opportunity to meet stars of many other shows, hone my interviewing skills, and develop a bit of a reputation. I’ve really enjoyed managing Facebook groups, setting up and running an annual Holiday Gift Exchange (6 years and still going), and doing an internet radio show.
Now that Droughtlander is in full swing, have you any advice for fans that are starting to get antsy? “Find something else to do in real life. Like I said before, it’s not healthy to be so invested in one book and TV series. I see people, over and over, saying “nothing else lives up to it,” and I don’t get that. There are SO many books, TV series, real-life adventures, children and grandchildren, things that need to be done. And then when it comes back on, you’ll enjoy it even more because you’ll be ready and refreshed, rather than in agony over every little word and delay.”
That’s some damned good advice, my friend. For those reading, leave any books you have read and enjoyed in the comments or the thread of whatever media you are reading this on. Share and share alike!
This is the ABOotlander finale question. You have been invited to dinner with us and you have been offered these Albertan delicacies A) Moose Droppings B) Beaver Tails C) Prairie Oysters D) Taber Corn. Which would you choose & why? “AHHH. I know what Prairie Oysters are, not having those. I like most things corn-related, but somehow this feels like a trick question. I hope moose droppings have something to do with chocolate, so I’ll pick that one.” I love you think I would trick you with corn. It speaks so much of what you know of me.
The Outlander fandom started before the TV show was even created due to the popularity of the novels. When the show was announced, the book fans started an online presence that was impressive. Erin was certainly a part of that wave, we are grateful for her dedication. Thank you, my friend for sharing your mind and your heart with so many…especially me!
The LOVELANDER Project – Edition 1 Vida/Blancklanderz
ABOotlander L🖤ve – 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