Paul Gorman joins #TheLOVELANDERProject. #Outlander’s Josiah and Kezzie Buy one, get one free!

BOGOs are the best.

Josiah and Kezzie have long held a special place in my heart from the books. I find their arcs, heartwarming and entertaining. I, like many other fans anxiously waited for the announcement of their casting. On November 13 2019 , that happened. Paul Gorman would be playing both roles. This young man’s photo shone from the Outlander Starz page, eyes blue and piercing, jaw set and strong. I did what most Outlander fans do when a new name pops up, hit up the google machine to see what I could see. The face looking back from his InstaGram was very different, smiles so big and bright they literally hit his eyes to make them shine. That expression “Their smile lights up a room” – that’s Paul.

I admit, I felt like I hit a double jackpot when Paul happily accepted my invitation to take part in this project of mine meant to help fans through a very long Droughtlander.

Soooo dry…

Watchers were introduced to Josiah in the first episode of Season 5 but it was episode 3, called Free Will that we first saw Josiah and Keziah together on screen. The performance and the technology allowed fans to see the depth of this young man’s talent and how Outlander was dedicated to showing how important the twins will be to the ridge. It was wonderful to see production weren’t going to be constantly showing them separated.

On screen together, Josiah and Keziah. (Photo lightened to show the character contrast)

I hope you enjoy getting to know Paul as I have. He shows us Outlander casting doesn’t only pick the best actor for the job, they also choose those who fit into the family they have created on set.

Snug as bugs!

Welcome to my little corner of the interwebs, Paul. I’m grateful that agreed to allow me to interview you. Hi Sherry, thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of The Lovelander Project!

I want to congratulate you on your graduation from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, a huge accomplishment…thank you for the well wishes, RCS has had a massive impact on me as an actor and as an individual which I’m extremely grateful for and I still can’t believe I graduated around this time last year!

Can you tell us a little about where you grew up? I was born in Rutherglen, which is just 15 minutes outside of Glasgow in the south of the city, and between there and Cambuslang is where I went to school. I was raised by my Mum and Dad, and grew up alongside my younger sister Gabrielle who is currently training to be a primary teacher.

Sounds idyllic. Where do you believe those first interests and sparks of performance were lit? When I was younger I was mainly into music and football, it wasn’t until the final years of high school that I began to have a keen interest in acting, I primarily attribute that to my school and the amazing teachers I had there. In my 5th year, they had decided to put on a school show, the first one the school had done. The show was “We Will Rock You” based on the music by Queen. My interest in performing had been sparked by the band and taking Drama as a class in the earlier years of school so I gave the audition a go and got the part of ‘Britney Spears’, the leader of a gang of music rebels who had taken the name from what he thought was a rock legend lost to time. The whole experience of doing the show, from rehearsals to working on the character to that feeling of being part of an ‘ensemble’, being part of a team, working from nothing to creating something palpable and visceral that had an effect on those that watched it – I loved every minute of it. And of course, a high school production based on the music of an 80’s rock band might not change the world, but it offered a sense of escapism and euphoria for everyone in that room for a brief while. After I turned 17 that summer I attended an open day at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and realised I could make a career of doing what I loved, so from then on I decided to give it a shot. I attended college for two years where my passion and adoration for acting matured, and at the end of those two years I was lucky enough to be accepted to the RCS. But I completely owe it to my teachers at high school who organised and supported that first show, without them I would never have discovered what I loved so I’m incredibly grateful.

I found a little something online called “Imperial City” with a pretty sweet grind, with you at the head…I enjoy some punk/grunge…even if my terminology has to be grandfathered in. Oh my God, I can’t believe you managed to track down the remnants of Imperial City, I commend your research efforts!

You gotta love him.

I was around 14 when we first started the band, back then we were called “Post Paradise” but by the time I was 16 we changed it to “Imperial City” due to the fact that there was an Australian band called “Paradise Post” and we didn’t want our many fans (our mates from school) to get confused, so we stole the name from an Elder Scrolls game. I honestly had the time of my life playing in that band, and the band I played in after “Atlas”. As “Imperial City” went, we were most definitely NOT the best punk band in Glasgow but we just had a ton fun: playing covers we wanted to play (mainly Green Day and Foo Fighters), we gigged at our local UC Youth Centre and got to play some iconic venues around Glasgow like the Barrowlands and The Garage and we always had our friends from school turning up to support us. It was honestly just such a good laugh and being in the band was such an informative and thrilling experience, it was a real confidence-building journey for me that directly fed into my turn to acting.

Nothing better for the soul than confidence!

It goes to show you had that drive and confidence much earlier than many, it seems to have served you very well… In terms of music, it was my first year at high school. My Dad plays guitar and he got me into it, then there was a “guitar club” ran by Mr. Miller who was one of the music teachers and along with a growing love of punk and rock music it inspired us to get the band together. The band was so influential in giving me confidence and helping me come out of my shell, I was quite a shy and timid kid, and by being in it helped me find my voice and gave me a positive and creative outlet during my teenage years. The love and passion for acting came a bit later, although I did have an early acting stint at 4 years old when I played a sheep in the nursery nativity so maybe the acting seeds were sown then? No idea haha!

😂 Aww a sheep…I don’t think it suits anymore. Had you heard of Outlander prior to your auditioning for the role? I had definitely heard about Outlander before auditioning for the show! Outlander, both the books and the tv series, has had a massive and profound effect for Scotland in terms of: bringing people to Scotland’s shores for the first time, encouraging discussion all over the world of Scotland’s history and introducing our culture (past and present) to those who don’t know much about us, and so much more! It has also been positive for Scotland’s film and television industry, employing hundreds of crew members and creatives, and has helped many Scottish-born actors break into the industry, so to be asked to join the cast of the show was such a privilege and I’m very grateful for it being my first job.

It’s an impressive accomplishment, you should be very proud. What was the audition process like for you? Tell us all the deets. The auditions I had during Outlander were a part of an incredibly supportive process and were so informative and enlightening for me as a young actor and this is solely down to the devoted casting teams of Suzanne Smith and Simone Pereira Hind. It was my first audition just after my drama school showcase and it involved reading some extracts from Josiah and Kezzie’s story arc. Both casting directors encouraged to explore and play with the text, while also being extremely sensitive and supportive to the work we were doing and it was honestly just such a fun and creative experience. Later on in the recall stages I had to travel down to London and I remember turning up waaaay too early for the audition so I remember kicking about North London listening to David Bowie while running lines for both characters to pass the time, some onlookers were definitely intrigued by the raving, dancing Scotsman playing two characters in the middle of the street. The London recall involved a ‘chemistry test’ with Caitlin, who plays Lizzie, who was amazing to audition with. She was so encouraging and all my pre-audition nerves left me when we started the scene as she is so giving as an actor, completely selfless and full of spontaneity, an acting partner’s dream! We did three scenes in total, continually working on both Josiah and Kezzie with our director Stephen Woolfenden, and that was us done!

We love us some Caitlin around here too, it’s a not so secret wish of mine to have her take part in The LOVELANDER Project, not gonna lie. It quite thrills me to hear you were brought together to test. **And sidenote for all of you reading, of course I asked what scenes they they did in the audition, and of course Paul wouldn’t say. He isn’t going to give up ALL the goods in one interview – he is a sweetheart but no pushover.**

We can’t expect him to give us everything…nope nope nope.

What was that experience of finding out you had earned the role…ummm…roles like? I had just finished a radio class at RCS, I remember checking my phone and seeing I had a couple of missed calls from my agent, so I walked up to the top floor of the building which is usually quite empty, gave him a ring back and that’s when he told me I got the job! I recall just feeling completely overwhelmed, yet so excited to start my first job and also just extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity. I also remember feeling a slight hesitation about accepting as well due to the nature of playing Kezzie. At RCS, I have been extremely fortunate to meet and work alongside many deaf actors as the school offers a BA Performance course in BSL and English, and my hesitancy came from accepting the role of a deaf/hard of hearing character knowing the experiences of my friends struggling to find roles themselves. I met up and discussed with a couple of the actors on the course, along with lecturers who taught on it, about the nature of the role and if it was acceptable for me to agree to it. All that I spoke to gave incredibly insightful advice and noted how it was a unique situation due to the duality of playing both Kezzie and Josiah, who can hear. Because of this they supported taking on the role, and continued to offer help and advice while we were in pre-production and during filming. One of the pieces of advice was to have a deaf adviser on set and that’s how we got Bea involved! That says so much about your character as a human, Paul. Many, I imagine would be so over the moon with their first job, on this huge hit TV show, yet, here you are concerned about others and going to them to confer. Your generation is wise and compassionate, it’s heartwarming to hear.

When your casting announcement was made public by Starz, you had already begun filming, what was that “HERE COMES PAUL TO THE MASSES” experience like for you? It was bewildering! I don’t think anyone can get used to the fact that people you’ve never met in countries you’ve never been to suddenly know who you are! When the announcement came I was welcomed with such warmth and love from the Outlander community, it felt like joining a big family.

The rest of cast all have experience with the fandom so, they must be helpful with navigating those waters? The cast were extremely helpful in offering advice about this new world I was about to step into. Caitlin in particular was someone I’d constantly go to seeking guidance, as we both have had similar journeys in terms of Outlander being our first jobs. She had gone through this herself and knew exactly what to advise me on. She’s been incredible and I owe her a great deal.

Fan engagement can be tricky sometimes… Like I said before, I have been incredibly fortunate that the vast majority of the fans I’ve been contacted by have all been supportive and welcoming and seemed to have really enjoyed the work we made on the fifth season. I try not to engage too much on social media as you don’t want too many opinions trying to shape your performance, but the backing we’ve had in the past year really spurs us on as actors to give the most honest and sensitive performances possible. 

I imagine there are ways that are easier to digest the opinions or critiques of fans, as well. Of course, as actors and artists we welcome criticism, as it helps us to improve our craft and the work that we do, but if viewers did take issue with how a storyline or scene was filmed or executed, the way to do so would to be constructive and in a helpful and supportive manner. This will usually be listened to and taken in positively by those that see it and will be welcomed as affirmative motivation for when they next go to work.

In my, oh so, humble opinion, my job as a fan is to support and enjoy the work you do. You are the professionals after all. There is so much preparation that goes into the whole production. As you mentioned earlier, Bea helped with yours. I’m interested to hear about the groundwork you laid out while forming both Josiah and Kezzie as individuals and how Bea and others helped you with that. Knowing that the show’s storylines are based heavily on the books I thought by reading Josiah and Kezzie’s storyline in “The Fiery Cross” and “A Breath of Snow and Ashes” would be a key source to draw on for the performances. What is so good about the Outlander books, as an actor, is that Diana Gabaldon writes such detailed background stories, so you don’t have to join the dots as much, all the information is there! When it came to the actual performances, I wanted to focus on the features that distinguish the two boys while also finding similarities between them, as they continue to get mistaken for each other by other characters.

Key areas to focus on were differences in attitudes, body language, speech and the skills that each of the boys possess. Josiah is a skilled hunter it was important to think about his posture, while his keenness to prove his worth to the Ridge would show in his focus and his conscientiousness towards certain tasks. As I’m most definitely no hunter myself, it was useful to research hunting methods of the time and tools that Josiah might use, they would then have a lasting effect on Josiah’s body language and were good focus points.

For Kezzie, I focused on his more compassionate nature (looking after the barn cats), so he would have a softer touch to his posture, a willingness to smile more and because he relies much more heavily on his other senses to survive he may run his eyes over objects and people more frequently than others would, in order to gain the information required to assess a situation. To work on Kezzie’s deafness we wanted to approach it with sensitivity and accuracy in order to give the most honest representation of the character as possible. To do so, I interviewed some of my friends on the BA Performance BSL & English course at RCS to hear their own personal accounts and how they might intertwine with Kezzie’s, along with contacting local deaf support groups within Glasgow. What was also important was to try and have someone on set who could advise and monitor my behaviour as Kezzie during filming, so we managed to get Bea Webster, who is an actor herself and graduated from the BSL course at RCS, to be our deaf advisor on set. Bea and Carol-Ann Crawford, our dialect coach on Outlander, worked with me to shape Kezzie’s speech and also helped develop “home signs”, (as ASL/BSL were in its infancy stages during the late 17th century), in order to help the boys communicate with each other. The Outlander team and our directors were again very supportive of this and were happy to assist in helping us be as authentic as possible.

I am always impressed at how Outlander seems to take those extra steps to assist the actors in their process. It something we can easily take for granted because it makes your performance so flawless.

We have fans that know the (book) story arc of Josiah and Keziah, yet there are TV viewers that will have no idea. You mentioned you’ve read “A Breath of Snow and Ashes” (the next book, and what Season 6 will eventually be based on) We all know not every storyline makes it into the show but on a scale of 1-10, how much would you like to see some version of the Josiah/Kezzie story arc in season 6? Oh most definitely a 9 or 10! Such a key aspect of the boys’ personalities is their relationship with Lizzie as it sparks a growth in their maturity as characters, she helps ground them in their new reality and also, they find a sense of peace at the conclusion of their storyline that almost feels needed after the years of servitude and pain they have lived through. So to see the boys storyline realized from the books would be an incredible way to add to their journeys.

I couldn’t agree more. I think it would be epic to see that come to life on screen, you and Caitlin would absolutely slay! I am one of those fans that see the way you and your costars interact on SM and BTS. You seem to have this true camaraderie. What do you attribute that to? I think it’s down to the fact that everyone on set, from crew to actors to directors, are just so incredibly sound and also committed to making everyone feel at home and welcome. It’s a perfect duality between everyone being dedicated to the work at hand and also completely up for a laugh and a joke, which is so important on those late-night shoots. Everyone is also totally respectful of each other’s work and will put in the time and effort to support each other which brought us closer as an ensemble.

Speaking of that ensemble, let’s play a game. Give me the first thing that comes to mind when I say the names of these castmates –

Caitlin O’Ryan (Lizzie) An absolute hero, I learn from her every day whether it be about acting or something new I never knew about the world. Also, she’s extremely and undeniably cool.

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W8in for a m8

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Yup, looks cool to me.

Lauren Lyle (Marsali) Incredibly supportive of everyone on set, so kind and approachable and has excellent banter.

Best way to get in on her banter, listen to She’s A Rec

César Domboy (Fergus) So charming and courteous and also effortlessly cool, even when we’ve wrapped after a long day of shooting he still looks like he’s stepped off a fashion show it’s incredible.

I mean…I see it.

Kyle Rees (JQM) An utter legend, such a grounded and down-to-earth guy, so easy to talk to, always up for a laugh, and always brings a smile to everyone’s face. Never met a man so passionate about rugby.

Really? Down to earth? Makes people smile? A Rugby fan? You don’t say…

John Bell (Young Ian) Such a compassionate and considerate actor and person, intelligent and witty, and made me and others feel welcome on set.

I mean…it’s still a compliment right?

Richard Rankin (Roger) King of the wind-up and the odd banter, but also very considerate to those around him, he’s a cracking actor and I think his work this season particularly is exemplary and excellent.

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Posted @withregram • @ntsonline UPDATE . Due to demand the track from our recent #ScenesforSurvival The Longest Summer, by the brilliant @wearenoisemaker and @rikrankin, will be released on 4 August! . All proceeds from the single will go towards our #ScenesforSurvival hardship fund, which has been set up to support artists and those in the theatre industry who have been hardest hit financially by the current crisis. . Richard Rankin said: . “It's been a privilege to work on The Longest Summer as part of Scenes for Survival with the wonderful creative team of Noisemaker and director Jemima Levick, and I'm thrilled that the film and song have resonated with so many people already. The song release is a brilliant way to continue that connection, and a great opportunity to raise some cash for a vitally important cause.“ . The Scenes for Survival Hardship Fund is a fundraising campaign launched by the National Theatre of Scotland in association with the Federation of Scottish Theatre, the McGlashan Charitable Trust and leading Scottish Theatre organisations, to raise money for those in the sector who have been hardest hit financially and are experiencing drastic economic and emotional hardship. . All donations to this fund will go directly to provide support for those most impacted within Scotland, be they actors, writers, creatives, musicians, technicians or any others within our industry. . A sector-wide call out with information and details of how to apply for support from the SFS Hardship Fund will be launched in August 2020. The Federation of Scottish Theatre and the McGlashan Charitable Trust will ensure equitable distribution of the money raised.

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Scenes for Survival was a brilliant way to support Scottish Theatre during this pandemic. If you haven’t watched, I encourage you to check out the whole series of shorts.

Sophie Skelton (Brianna) Such a genial and thoughtful person, super bright and a pleasure to be around! Also incredibly sophisticated and cool like many in the cast.

Sophie-sticated is right…

SamHeughan (Jamie) A true leader, constantly boosts the morale of everyone on set and makes everyone feel valued and seen, he’s both selfless and giving as an actor. Also always up for a laugh and loves his rugby.

Do you think they are talking rugby or fashion?

Caitriona Balfe (Claire) As intelligent, perceptive and intuitive as an actor as she is a person, it’s really inspiring to see her work and command a space with such presence, learnt a great deal from her.

The real deal – it’s so good to know.

Speaking of Caitriona, the last episode of season 5, Never My Love, was a very heavy episode. You were involved in what has gone down as an epic scene, the rescue of Claire, the killing of her captors and those who raped her. I am really interested in what it took to hold up those scenesfrom your perspective. As an actor entering those scenes, what was vital was supporting our fellow cast members. Like our own characters main objectives in protecting Claire, it was our duty as ensemble members to support Caitriona and treating the setting and nature of the scenes with the sensitivity and care that is necessary. The energy, focus and emotional toll required for Caitriona to engage with the experiences that Claire goes through would be extensive and imposing, and it was our job as cast and crew to make the environment and atmosphere as comfortable and safe as possible in order to help Caitriona. And to see Caitriona at work, like that?I thought her performance throughout this season was stunning, but especially in those final episodes her attention to detail and vulnerability she showed as an actor was both heart-wrenching and exemplary, and to see the way she conducted herself professionally and considerately on set should be commended, it was inspiring to see as a young actor.

I appreciate you giving us such a wonderful visual. I am sure you have many but I am going to put you on the spot and ask you what your most memorable time on set was…thus far anyway. Honestly got so many! I think probably the Fiery Cross scene from the first episode, it was amazing seeing all the cast assembled for one scene, and there were so many people involved in the process of making and shooting it, I’d never seen anything like it in my life! Also, the fact it was a night shoot and we were going until 6 in the morning, there was a great sense of camaraderie and also delirium from the tiredness so we had a laugh and amazing time with the cast and crew.

It was enjoyable to watch as well! Outlander is your first TV role, but not your first role. You star in a short film called ‘Tooth’ that will be releasing, hopefully soon. You worked on that film while still in school. How do you feel you have grown as an actor from then until now? So much! Especially in that 3rd year at drama school, you mature and grow rapidly as an actor and a person as you are introduced to the industry. Outlander has been a great catalyst in helping me develop further as an actor. It has allowed me the opportunity to hone my screen acting skills, taught me the process (and my place in that process) of being a part of a television show and also bestowed on me stamina and durability to survive those long shoots (napping is key). It has introduced me to a world I had only known of on my screen, and to see how it works I now have a deeper and more insightful understanding of my industry.

All you have to do is look at this Instagram post. First, this smile – I mean…and then his words. The gratitude he expresses for those he works with and the credit he bestows upon them for assisting him with his brilliant performances is a credit to his character.

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With the season wrapped up, I just wanted to give a wee shoutout to some amazing people who were instrumental in helping bringing the twins to life. We had the incredible Bea Webster who helped develop a language and rapport between the boys through introducing home signs that they may have created themselves in order to communicate with each other. Bea was also on set every time we made the change to Kezzie, helping and advising how his behaviour might be portrayed in certain situations and how we might use the home signs within the scenes. She’s an unbelievably talented individual who’s recently been working on productions with the RSC where you’ll be able to catch her hopefully once everything has returned to normality. In scenes where both twins were featured we had two actors at different points in the year who would act alongside me as the twins and that was Dylan Blore and Daniel McGuire. Two talented, committed and giving actors who were unbelievably supportive during the shoot, always up for a laugh and a pleasure to work with. And also the amazing Carol Ann Crawford who is our voice & dialect coach on the show. Carol Ann was key in shaping the boys voices and was there at the initial stages of developing the twins. With Carol Ann’s help (along with support groups, Bea and a variety of personal accounts), we compiled enough research together to try and make the twins seem as authentic as possible. It was an absolute dream to work with them all, along with the spectacular crew and special effects team who also helped bring the boys to life. I’m forever grateful, thankful and lucky to have worked with them all. So go check them and their wonderful projects out! x

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I don’t think it is possible to be “OUTlandered” but I have asked LOTS of Outlander stuff and of course there is so much more to you. I know the fans will love getting to know you more as I have, let’s talk about some other things that interest you…

Some actors describe themselves as introverts, finding acting helps bring out certain parts of their personality they want to tune into more. Would you fall into the introvert or extrovert corner?I’d probably describe myself as a bit of both or neither haha. I love to be around others but also equally enjoy spending time on my own.How do you think your personality influences your work? I think personality has a direct effect on your job, whatever your profession may be. In acting it can come across in the parts that you play but more than anything else it can show in the way you work. I strive to be a supportive and empathetic person and I hope that is apparent in my approach to acting through ensemble work and being there for others. It sounds so simple and basic to say, but being approachable, attentive and respectful are so key in this industry and encourages others to want to work with you, like any job! If I am these things I do not know, but I always strive to be.

With you starting your career with this mindset, I have this not so crazy feeling your career will be fulfilling. Who would you say has inspired you the most in your life? I have been incredibly lucky throughout my life to have had many people to look up to and continuously motivate me; my Mum, Dad and sister especially have been a constant inspiring force that have shaped me into the person I am today. The way they approach their work, the way they conduct their relationships with other people and how they always put others before themselves is a continuous motivator for how I lead my life, I’m incredibly grateful to have them.

I am sure they are proud of you. It is a blessing when you have a foundation of love and support. You have many of years ahead of you, what kind of projects would you like to work on in the future? Oh anything and everything! I’m at the stage in my career where I’d love to do a variety of different projects of an array of subject matters; hopefully those that are bold, thought-provoking and inspire change, but I’m grateful to just be working and doing what I love. I have a massive yearning to go back to theatre, especially as I haven’t been involved in a project on stage since late 2018, so to be part of a theatre production again would be incredible.

There are so many talented people in the industry, do you have any that are on a ‘dream’ list to work with? Honestly the list is so long, I have so many artists I admire. If I had to choose a director, it would be Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later, Yesterday, to name a few). He’s an exceptionally unique filmmaker who makes such visceral, layered and entertaining pieces and the narratives within his films always have such a great collection of characters, also the soundtracks as well for each of his movies are always stunning.

With your background in theatre and your love of all things creative, that would be a great fit. I would love to see you in something Danny Boyle creates. Since I’ve shared the informations that you can sing, if you could do a biopic of a musician – who would you choose? Ahhh that is very kind of you to say but I assure you I’m no singer! However, if I were lucky enough to be in a biopic about a musician, I would love to be involved in a film about Frank Sinatra. He’s had such a prolific career but also steeped in controversy in terms of his political ties and his alleged dealings with organised crime, it would make for a great character study.

I was thinking something in the punk world and he goes and throws Frank Sinatra out for the win.

Like many Scottish actors, Paul has a versatile CV, 13 theatre productions under his belt, radio, film and of course, now television, he is becoming the total package.

If you follow Paul on twitter or Instagram, you will see quickly that he is passionate about social justice and also has a very creative eye.

It is easy to see you are drawn to things that move you. What would say your favourite creative outlet is? (Movies, theatre, music, TV) Oh, if I’m honest I don’t think I could pick a favourite! They all seem to affect me in different ways and can suit any mood or feeling I’m having. I can find myself listening to a song or album on repeat, diving into the world of a tv series or film or be in awe of some theatre magic I see on stage. I’m gonna be so boring and say all of them cause I can’t pick one.

That isn’t boring at all, I like when people are honest and don’t make up something. To be honest, I am the same way. I can’t pick favourites for the life of me, I have no idea why I put people on the spot like that. Note taken 😂 The world has changed a lot since filming stopped on Outlander, what have you been doing to keep it together? Any ideas to help me out…It has been a difficult time for everyone, and I’m not sure if I would have any new advice, but I would suggest focus on doing things that make you happy, and especially those things you always put off! I’ve been reading books I’ve always meant to read, learning songs on guitar I’ve always wanted to learn, simple and easy things that are manageable and doable but I’ve always put off as I’ve pushed other tasks to the forefront. I also recommend downloading the app “Duolingo”, it’s free and makes learning a language super-easy, I’m currently making my way up the Norwegian course and about to begin my Gaelic one (a must for any Outlander fan). Simple, easy and manageable goals to get you through the day and also encourages you to learn and try something new!

I know that some reading are going to be thinking “Paul is too good to be true!” So let’s give them a kick rocks moment *smile*. Give me three things you miss most from our pre-covid life.

  1. The cinema. I would try and go as much as I can to see everything and anything. Though saying that, they have started opening up again and I managed to catch our Colonel Fraser be the bad-guy in ‘Bloodshot’, he was terrifyingly good (as always).
  2. Greggs. It’s like a bakery chain in the UK, but has a special place in Scotland’s heart. They do everything from sausage rolls to baguettes to pancakes, literally everything. But again they’re starting to open up, so I’m able to pick-up my empire biscuits nae problem.
  3. The pub. I’m not even a massive drinker, but the experience and ease of meeting up with a few mates in town and going to the pub and having a laugh was missed a lot during these last few months. Will never take it for granted again.

That is exactly it, isn’t it? Not taking things for granted, you are right. I am sure you could give me a list a mile long, I know I have one, but how about you give me three. Three things you have come to be more grateful for during this difficult time?

  1. Family and Friends. They’ve kept me sane and smiling throughout this entire time, I’m extremely lucky to have them in my life.
  2. My cats. Ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll mention how his cats basically make up his whole personality. Cats in general are just the funniest, most entertaining and beautiful creatures on the planet. Sorry dog lovers.
  3. The NHS. I’ve fortunately been lucky not to need their services recently, but the work they have been doing this year, the years before and the years to come is exemplary and beyond inspiring. We are incredibly lucky to have them.

The cats answer may gain you a whole new following within this fandom and there may be many questions about them in the future. Consider yourself warned. *laugh*.

I know theatre has a special place in your heart and it has been hit particularly hard…The pandemic has brought a wide range of difficulties to the way we all live our lives, and industries around the world have been devastated by it. The entertainment industry has been severely affected by it, as it mainly survives on revenue generated by ticket sales for its performances and the way in which the virus spreads, is of course, halting theatres re-opening.

What can we do to support the theatre industry right now? While theatres remain shut, a way in which you can help them out is if you have a penny to spare, donate to the variety of funds that have been set up by theatres and local charity organisations supporting local arts funding. It is key to support the regional/local theatres across the country, as they have been the hardest hit throughout this pandemic. Understandably, if money is an issue, continue to engage with theatres online on social media and various campaigns they are running and advocating for. Knowing they have your support and your voice can go a long way in shifting governments attention to helping them out!

And one final thing, once theatres do begin opening up and you’re not shielding or suffering from any health issues, I implore you to get out there and see some theatre! Treat yourself to a musical you always fancied seeing, or a Shakespeare or a new up and coming playwright or theatre company! You’ll be giving yourself a well-deserved night-out and also committing to keeping this wonderful industry afloat and inspiring the artists of tomorrow.

Theatre companies are struggling all over the world and the arts are so important to our young people, all you have suggested is worth our attention.

I know I have been spending some time binging shows, Outlander just got the season 1-5 treatment, again. I don’t have a problem. What is the last show you binged? I’m currently watching and binging the show “I May Destroy You” on BBC iPlayer. It is incredible, bold, informative, unsettling yet still manages to be hilarious and superbly acted by all involved! I think it might be on HBO across the pond? Whatever you can get it on, get it watched!

Consider it watched! Now that we are going down the endorsement road, let’s play “Paultimate Recommendations”:

MOVIES1) The Departed   2) Birdman    3) Inside Llewyn Davis

BOOKS: 1) The Shining (Stephen King)    2) The Master and Margarita (Mikhail Bulgakov) 3) 1984 (George Orwell)

TV SHOWS: 1) Scrubs (Honestly, whatever mood you’re in, it just works)    2) Breaking Bad 3) Fargo

ALBUMS: So these are my favourite albums, opinions may vary 1. American Idiot (Green Day) 2) Puzzle (Biffy Clyro)  3) Take This To Your Grave (Fall Out Boy)

Puzzle is the only one I hadn’t heard of. I popped it on and it has a great mix of heady lyrics and grittiness. I’m not too old for that. I do find much of who we are is developed in our teens, I often think of the advice I would give my teenself if I could. If you could go back and give ‘teen Paul’ advice or words of encouragement, what would you say? Don’t hold back, try everything and anything. Even ABBA.

I’m just going to put that in my pocket and use it now, cuz I might be running out of time.

It is obvious you are intune with the inner workings of ‘Paul’, so I am going to ask you to give yourself a tagline, a warning label and a theme song.   

TAGLINE: With great enthusiasm comes a great number of exclamation points.
WARNING LABEL For best results, add Fanta.

Paul’s Theme Song is Feeder, imagine it playing whenever you see him.

Your kind heart and authenticity shine through in your words and in your performance as Josiah and Kezzie – I want you to know, even if my opinion might not matter in the big scheme of things – I believe you have found your calling – not only for you but those that are blessed enough to find themselves in your circle. Thank you for being exactly who you are. Thank you so so much and once again thank you for allowing me to be a part of this project, it was an absolute pleasure answering your thoughtful questions. It is such a lovely service you are doing for the fans and you and your work are greatly appreciated!!!

It is kind of fantastic when you can say “What you see…it what you get”. This has been my experience with each member of the cast Ive had the pleasure to interview or meet. It’s my opinion the casting department has a great deal to do with that. Like attracts like and all that smart stuff.

It was such a nice escape from my Droughtlander to get to know Paul and I hope you can say the time you spent with us today, did the same for you. From this video – I can say underneath the wig and gnarly looking collar, that’s Paul. Gracious, courteous, humble and kind.

From his answers in his interview here, to my follow up conversations and this W Network video – THIS is Paul

I know you have a successful career ahead of you, as for Outlander fans, once you are loved by us, you are on the radar and will be supported by us, always. Thank you so much once again Sherry it was an absolute privilege!

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

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

The Kikki Quickie brought to you by the #TheLOVELANDERProject

That’s right, it’s a quickie. Look you bunch of pervs – not THAT kind!

Wash your dirty minds

This quickie is not my typical interview. Kikki Fleming, Outlander fans know him as a loveable, fierce protector. Lesley from seasons 3/4, that poor SOB that was senselessly killed off, not so courteously by that sunnuva Bonnet.

Kikki has already graciously done an interview with me, so I annoyed him until he agreed to play a silly game of “this or that” with me. To be real, I asked, he said ‘happy to’, that’s the kind of guy he is. Of course, Kikki being Kikki – he’s extra. He didn’t just answer with one word answers…he gave it his all. As he is known to do, it might be why I like him so much.

I tried to make sure my Canadian dialect was curbed to his Scottish and – there was one point where – well, you will see for yourself. Both of us thought “Maybe we should leave this out” but know what, the reason Kikki and I get on is…the things we think we should leave out we usually don’t because, fuck filters, things are funnier without them sometimes.(Including my face!)

Enjoy the THIS or THAT of Kikki (and my odd penny thrown in- a UK penny cuz we don’t have them in Canada anymore).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ks.png
Kikki and I, straightfaced and serious! See…ANYONE can do it.

Dogs or Cats – Gotta go dogs. I love both, and loved the cats I’ve had…but that conditional love, arrogant independence that cats show at times- jeez…Dogs just think you’re great, you’re the best, enjoy hanging out with you having fun…and they show it.You can wrestle them, be more physical. I mean they fart, and stink sometimes after being out, but so do I!! They listen to you…kind of…they always look like they are trying to be your best friend, to understand you….cats look at you like they could care less, all about they are getting out the relationship.

Burgers or Tacos – Burgers….even a bad burger can satisfy. Many of the fillings you put in Tacos you can stick on a burger…Burger is like an old school mate – you know where you are with them, and sometimes they can still surprise you. (I get surprised by burgers – especially when they tell me they are gluten-free and they aren’t- BAD surprise!)

Coffee or Tea –I think tea is my favourite drink perhaps ever. Dunking a biscuit (or cookie for you guys!) in a cup of tea at night is one of life’s luxuries…well mine anyway! I have gotten into coffee more in past few years..and I know the places I like. I think there are so many different coffee shops now, there’s no excuse for bad, burnt, over-hot coffee…competition is intense, and it isn’t rocket science. I don’t make coffee at home really, but I know my tea, and which tea bags…M & S Gold Label are great, as is Yorkshire tea and of course, Scottish Blend! (I can’t handle tea, it’s a childhood disturbance though. I’m special like that. I know better than to get between peeps ‘ their tea though.)

Watching or playing sports – As a kid I played a lot of soccer…every day occurrence. But these days not so much. I think the last full game I played was in Connecticut actually, on a public playing field which had nets – and grass. That would never happen here..folk would be off with the nets in a flash – and the grass….hahaha!

Crazy talk!

TV or Films – I think our lifestyles have dictated that our attention spans lean more towards TV, and the accessibility of channels like Netflix etc, mean we can control when we watch stuff now –  bingeing on series and shows. I think the quality of TV has vastly improved and has come to rival that of the movies. Films and movies still hold that magical fantastical element though, and nothing can quite replace that special occasion going to see something on a huge screen and getting utterly immersed in it.

Wet or Dry -Yeah, I know what I’m doing. Thin ice here…..clearly depends on what we are talking about…knowing you, I’ll say …..humour!! hahahaha – dry, every time..good dry sense of humour. Martini – dry definitely. Weather, we all love the dry don’t we..unless it’s not meant to be and we are fucking up the planet. The Rainforest is so-called for a reason….I have been there and was soaking for 5 wonderful weeks…let’s keep it that way…like my -!!! (The man gets me, I tell ya. He took it in every direction I knew he would. Well played!)

Beaches or Munros –As much as I love my beautiful country, I am under no illusion of it’s inability to provide certainty of weather conditions, and being up a Munro as snow, hail, and fog hit, at the height of summer, hold no dewy eyed lure for me. Looking out to the horizon, to the prospect of opportunity and discovery, and then the other way to the cocktail bar, then up to the sun, however ………

Busy city or quiet country – Ye see, it depends – on a lot of factors ..which city, which country, what state am I in, what do I need? I think the company can make even a place like Coventry for instance seem blissful! I lived in London for 10 years, and a wonderful time, at times too much, but it can wear you down. When I moved back to Scotland, I really appreciated having more personal space, and wondered how I had lasted so long down south. Some of my best times have come in bustling cities – New York, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Chicago, Cape Town – but then the beauty and tranquility of the Tuscan countryside, wonder of the Borneo jungle, the escape to a remote cottage on West coast of Scotland – marvellous self-chosen isolation. I think sometimes we are scared of missing out – so I’ll go for the relaxation of the quiet! (I too, had my city years. I sit in my city house and watch the UK show Escape to the Country – so that’s MY take)

Toilet roll: over or under hahaha…believe or not, but when filming in Cape Town, James Kirk and I had this discussion..as in, how do you wipe your arse..do you stand or remain seated!!? Time on our hands , eh! Not poop however! I’m an over with my reach…though, another actor, Kevin Lennon, wonderful man, he tried to put me on to the under method in rehearsal – what is it with actors?!- told me it would change my life. I tried, but, it’s muscle memory and instinctively my method kicks in. I know I’ve not been doing it wrong, but didn’t realise it was one of those personal conversations that would come up now and then!
ps – I just realised what you actually meant, but I like my answer, so I’m keeping it as is!
I sat for a second and then proceeded to laugh until I had tears falling down my face. It’s a good thing he is on a different continent cuz I would have went to his door to razz the shit outta him about that one. TOTAL pun intended.

Slapstick or Dark Humour – Dark Humour…comedy is one of the last things standing from the sanctimonious, sanitising do-gooder mob that is threatening every art form. Good dark humour can actually enlighten us to the fucked up-ness that is currently around us. People get too confused and angry about content/context/target in comedy these days…folk will actually watch an act they know will be offensive, so they can then go and complain they were offended!! How fucked up is that? You get up there and make us laugh then, you lonely no mates arsehole…..a joke is sometimes just a joke, not necessarily a point of view..the comedian may have twisted the truth, or their own personal viewpoint to make the joke work…..and the best comedians are true artists..stop sniffling their work..just don’t watch them! People are dicks...Slapstick…the greats are good..really good….Airplane! is one of my favourite movies of all time…but there is so much horror around in the world these days, it’s hard to ignore. Plus, we have a couple of complete slapstick fucking muppets running supposedly great countries on either side of the Atlantic – who could improve on that!? (Hearing you on ALL levels. Comedians are meant stand on that line in society and bring levity when there is very little – plus – comedians, like anyone else will not please everyone, everytime. We also have to be careful of judging ones from 20 yrs ago on today’s social evolutions, IMO. If they STILL did that material – yeah – not cool. But when we know better, we do better. When it comes to comedy – if you don’t like someone’s humour – DON’T pay attention to them, don’t give them your money or a neat trick, you do not have to like everything someone has to say to appreciate some of the things they do. WHOOOAAAA. How’s that for a concept?! As for the slapstick muppets…dude…you are not wrong! Ocean bookends)

Summer or Winter One of my pleasures, addictions, is buying parkas, coats, jackets….and I love having the cold weather so I can justify having bought them. But there is a nothing pleasant about the imposition of a rotten winter . My favourite time of the day is summer when the sun just starts to set. It’s still light, still warm, but not oppressive. That’s when the cool bats come out to swoop swoop and rock rock! (I was with ya until you said bats were cool…)

Truth or Dare – The truth seems to be such an obscure and rare thing these days, esp from those figures we look towards for leadership and guidance, so a good dose of it is welcome. A dare however…we all need to do something each day that scares us…so Dare..although that will include truth for many. (I’m gonna hold you to that one, heading to Scotland in 2 yrs…)

Heels or flats – Yet again, depends who’s wearing them. I wear a lot of trainers, so I’ll go flats. If my you mean my preference on women, then I don’t mind as I’m normally looking into my partners eyes anyway! (NICELY DONE!)

Straight or mixed – Hahaha…another time bomb question, depending on how I answer….Offended by my choice of orientation at an orgy!! Come one come all…!!Drinks-wise….hmmm…I love a cocktail, you might have noticed esp Whisky Sour, but I’m not really into spirit and coke or lemonade etc….Gin and tonic however….mixed is good though…mix it up, come ooooon!! (Sorry, he didn’t take the bait for the orgy question 🙄😋)

Passenger or driver – depends who is driving, clearly!! I do like driving, but not when I don’t know where I am. Happy to be driven…as long as I’m not pompous about it!

Thriller or Comedy – Great thrillers tend to stick with you for longer…they delve deeper into the soul and psyche…Though Airplane! and Naked Gun are the exception to that rule! (Don’t call me Shirley!)

Work or Play hard – I love my job, when I can do it, and there is a clue in doing something called a ‘play’…we are playing at being other people…..It can be hard work, but as long as that is for the right reason then they both go hand in hand. All work and no play makes Kikki a dull boy.

Intelligence or humour – Sense of humour every time. Some of my heroes, Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey..great learned informed minds…world-leaders in their fields of expertise…passionate, dedicated to the cause. They have sacrificed so much for what they believe in…and I hold them in such high esteem for those very reasons.But ye cannae learn a sense of humour…..nothing more disappointing than having to explain a joke, whether it be yours or someone else’s….we all know someone like that – how can someone so bright, appear so thick. (The way I explain a joke…”Nevermind”.)

Save or Spend – Spend – I wish I was better, but hey I still haven’t found the ultimate parka, and I can’t take it with me anyway. (Well, see, how lucky are you that you have a friend like me?)

https://www.ssense.com/en-ca/men/designers/canada-goose – Made of the ANGRIEST feathers known to man.

Day or Night – I like the promise and opportunity of a new day, but due to hours of my profession, a lot of the magic happens at night, so Night it is! (I guess it’s a good thing we all know he is an ACTOR because if we didn’t…)

Piercing or Tattoos – I have none…..never considered a piercing ever, though tattoo yes several…just what to get…John Lennon, Billy Connolly, or the date of the greatest football game in my lifetime, Hibs pumping Sevco in 2016 Scottish cup Final have been the main candidates….Then it’s where will it go blah blah …and never happened. I like the idea of a tattoo, but I’ve seen a lot of shit ones..plus if it’s on yer arm you’ve got to keep then biceps pumped up, or when the skin gets a bit loose Billy or John end up resembling Mother Theresa. (The visual alone. I think you should go for the classic face tat…those seem popular.)

Weird or Crazy – yet again depends how they affect your life. Crazy is good, exhilarating , as long as safety comes into play. Weird is intriguing if it’s as a watcher, but if it’s weird for weirds sake, then gettaefu! Not welcome. (I don’t think you are either but I think you are both. I know I am right. Make sense?)

Sweet or Salty – My partner would say sweet for me, as life’s luxury is cup of tea and a biscuit…but I rarely order a pudding when out for a meal. Starter and main course, just in case anyone was looking at their budget plan for taking me out, so I’d say salty. (You? Salty? Yeah…I see it.😏)


Being too warm or too cold – Too cold…then I could put on one of my jackets….Bingo!!!! (Same! Well, I might have to borrow one of your parkas. I live in a country it gets so cold my face hurts but I only have one winter coat and its not a parka. My trick is…stay the hell at home.)

I am always grateful when Kikki takes time out of his days to chat with me. I have come to more than admire his work or think he is this cool guy from TV. He has shown me genuine compassion and made me laugh til my stomach hurts. The love he has for his partner and his friends shows me, no matter where we go in this world – we will connect with “our people”. They are, indeed, everywhere. I know I already said it to you, Kikki, but thanks again for taking part in The LOVELANDER Project. I might just hit you up for another game…cuz…well…you are you.

Sher xo

The L🖤VELANDER Project – Edition 1 Vida/Blancklanderz  Edition 2 Erin/Three if By Space  Edition 3 Vincent/Supporting Artist Edition 4 Tracy/Outcandour

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

The LOVELANDER Project brings you, Nell Hudson, a true ray of SUNSHINE.

No matter how fans may feel about Outlander’s Laoghaire, we all can agree Nell Hudson’s performance added level of vulnerability to her. It wasn’t until she put her stamp on this often debated character, that many started to soften with an empathy for her. I was one of those people. For me, it turned me into a fan of the actress who gave me a new perspective of a character I thought I knew. I’d been reading about her for 20 plus years afterall. I started following Nell’s career and her social media, as one does in this world of interwebbing.

Needless to say, when Nell said she thought #TheLOVELANDERProject was a ‘lovely endeavour’ and she would happy to be a part of it, I was thrilled. (Since this isn’t about me, I will stop babbling to bring you the very bright and brilliant Nell)

Imagine, a blonde haired blue eyed wisp of a lass, enjoying picnics, riding her bike and swimming in rivers. A farm in the Midlands of England is where she called home. An incredibly idyllic childhood Nell tells me. Until, of course, she becomes a teenager. “Then I longed for excitement and couldn’t wait to get off the farm. Now, of course, I love going back.”

Nell, came into Outlander fans lives as the living breathing, Loaghaire MacKenzie, she even jokingly calls her Leghair, as many fans have been known to. This is an example of Nell’s own great sense of humour. It’s always interesting to get a better look from the person ‘playing’ the character…“Laoghaire is what happens when a broken heart never heals. Like all good villains, she’s a fallen angel. She didn’t start out bad, but circumstance has made it so.”

I wrote a blog on the Women of Outlander and there were fans that did identify with Loaghaire. I know that some think she is just horrible but I understand her. I certainly feel sorrier for her than dislike her. Hmm…I feel sorry for Laoghaire too! A big part of playing her for me was the back-story of her not having a mother. I think this is the hole in the soul she tries to fill with love for Jamie. It’s deeply sad, when you think about it. As for me, I like to think I know a lost cause when I see one….

That incredible insight should make it obvious that Nell is so much more than the time she spent on Outlander. I am sure you will see that as we go. I did ask her to recall some of her treasured memories from her time with on the show. “I remember going to the pub in Glasgow with all of the Season One cast (Cat, Sam, Duncan, Gary Lewis, Graham McTavish, Lotte Verbeek) and thinking “wow, I’ll never forget this!”. On Series Two I made great friends with the actor James Parris, who played Young Simon, and had so much fun hanging with him – we’re still good friends! And then Lauren Lyle came into my life and I’ll always love her. Then Sophie, oh my lord, she’s fab. Love her, too.

As far as Lauren Lyle is concerned, the feeling is mutual. I was lucky enough to be included on a zoom party with her in June and asked her what her thoughts on Nell were. Lauren’s face softened, you know how I mean, when you talk of someone you absolutely adore. She fondly recalled her first days on set and how Nell truly took her under her wing. Lauren sticking to her like glue with her ‘show Ma’ gently guiding her along and making her feel safe and welcome.

As much as your acting, those real life connections do come through in your art. From what I have read about you, you chose to become an actress quite young, were you one of those little girls with the flair for putting on the show?In hindsight, yes. I was constantly making my siblings act in little plays I’d written, with me – with me as the lead, of course!

Of course, you are a natural leading lady! When did you officially transition from acting at home to making it your profession “It wasn’t until everyone was going off to university that I decided to pursue acting seriously. I had to give it a shot as there was nothing else I loved quite so much.” I think that takes a lot of courage. What advice would you give a girl, like yourself, who is off to start her life with a dream like yours? To a young girl starting a career in the arts I would say work your butt off, it’s tough out there, and humility will get you nowhere. Be loud and your own biggest cheerleader.

You have played many interesting roles since Outlander. One of them, Nancy Skerrett in Victoria. People LOVED Nancy, some didn’t even recognise you as the same person. They just couldn’t fathom how Nancy could be played by the same person who played Laoghaire. That is acting folks. Amazing, on the spot, damn fine ‘Nell’ acting!

Speaking of which, Nancy Skerrett’s life came to a tragic end. My heart – like many others, broke. Your death scene was just so incredibly SAD. “It was my first on-screen death! It was incredibly emotional for me, too. After playing Nancy for three years I had really fallen in love with her. It was, as you say, heartbreaking that she had to die just when she’d got her happy ending. I just had to be incredibly present in the moment for that scene – if I thought about it to much I might not have kept it together.

But you did. I’m still mad at them for doing it. I had a long list of people that should have died over you. PFT! Anyway…If you could give Nancy Skerrett an alternative ending, what would it be? That she and Francatelli lived happily ever after and had a ton of babies!

That would have been lovely and I really would have watched ALL of that. We still do get to watch you outside of Outlander. In the Informer, Charlotte is a modern role, I loved it but it was a bit different seeing you in modern attire- acting. “It’s definitely less of a leap playing a modern part as you speak the same language. But period pieces are the opportunity to connect with humanity, whatever era people lived in the human experience remains the same.”

I can imagine as an actor with such a wide range, you would have people you would love to work with…who is on your list? Oooh….I would love to work with (British Director) Mike Leigh, he really immerses his actors in their roles. Joanna Hogg is incredible. Lena Waithe. Taika Waititi. There are so many!

With your versatile talent, I’d love to see you in one so, if you could choose a bio-pic to star in, who would you choose to play? “I’d bloody love to do a music biopic as it would be so fun to play a singer. I love singing and did it professionally for a while but was too stage-shy to perform as myself – so I could do it if I was pretending to be someone else! I always got told I look like Joni Mitchell growing up, and I love her music, so maybe her. Debbie Harry would be incredible, too.”

Nell next to Canadian singer Joni Mitchell. Yup. I can see that.
Debbie Harry next to Nell – and ummmm. WOW.

YES! Joni Mitchell is Canadian so ummm. Yeah. And Debbie Harry (Blondie) bc dang, look at you! Plus you can sing, Imma start 2 petitions. #NellForJoni #NellForDebbie

Nell doesn’t have to say many words for you to realize, she is a writer at heart. The way she answers the questions have a melody.

It shouldn’t be a big surprise to us that you have recently finished writing your own novel. “I have indeed! I’m really excited about it. It’s early days but I’m hoping to get it published. I come from a line of writers: my grandfather was Cyril Connolly (a noted critic and author of his day) and my Mum is Cressida Connolly, a best-selling fiction writer.”

That certainly shows it not only runs in the family but that the talent extends as the generations go on. Do you have an interest in writing other creative ventures? “Absolutely. I have a few script projects saved on my laptop. I’m concentrating on the novel, for now, but I would love to develop some screen work over time.”

What is about writing, that you are attracted to, do you think? “Writing for me is in many ways the antithesis to acting – I’m the one in charge for once! It’s complete escapism. If I feel like inhabiting a certain world I just write about it and I’m there. I think creativity is an energy and it has to come out somehow – for me it can be writing, writing songs, acting, drawing (badly), dancing…anything ! I couldn’t live without creative flow.

I identify with this on a very deep level. Escapism is something I need – it is a part of my mental wellness, my therapy. You have been very honest with your own mental health and wellness. You share on your IG openly your struggles and victories. I find it incredibly encouraging for public figures, especially young women such as yourself having the courage to speak up about such personal issues. “Thank you so much for your support. It’s scary sharing that stuff because a small part of me knows that it could put off potential employers. And then I think, screw that. I’ve NEVER let my mental health affect my work, ever. And if someone judged me for talking about it then I might not want to work with them. I went through a period of depression in my early twenties and took medication for it, and I have anxiety, too. I don’t take any medication anymore, but it definitely helped me at the time. I’ve battled disordered eating in the past, too, which I think is important to talk about as I know so many actresses, and women, who have been through it. These days I’ve found that yoga and meditation, as well as a great support system of friends and family, are all I need. But emotions are like the weather, sometimes it’s grey, but it will pass.

I always wish I could go back and kick myself in the ass to listen to my inner voice, earlier than I did. If you could give “little Nell” some advice, what would it be? “Awww this question is so moving, always. I would say speak to a doctor – would have saved a lot of time if I’d gone sooner. I would have said baby girl just DO.NOT.BOTHER. with the eating disorder. Please listen to me it’s a huge waste of time. And I would have said you will be ok, I love you.

I do wish we all could learn to love ourselves fully earlier in our lives. Much like we allow pets to love us, like your pup, Maggie – who might have the BEST ears on Instagram. “Haha aw, thank you, I’ll pass that on to her. I found her on a farm in Abergavenny, Wales. I’d always wanted a dog and it just felt like the right time to get one. She chose me. I knew I was going to call my dog Maggie, and on our first meeting I called that name to her, and she came running. So I knew it was meant to be.”

We can tell she brings you a lot of happiness. What else brings you joy? “I sound very Goop-y but I really do love yoga. Swimming in the sea, reading a great book. My main vice is going out for supper – I love eating out and trying new restaurants. But obviously I can’t do a lot of that at the moment. At least I’m saving money.”

OK, we are talking about food now, so it’s the perfect segway for my final question. The ABOotlanders have invited you to a fancy dinner and offered you a) Moose Droppings b) Beaver Tails c) Prairie Oysters d) Taber Corn. What do you choose. I have no idea what you’re talking about but Taber Corn sounds like the safest answer.

That’s what I like about Nell the most. She is “what you see is what you get” and at the same time, not at all basic. I am very grateful she gave us a peak into her life by being gracious enough to answer my questions by being featured in the Lovelander project.

Thank you again, Nell. MUCH LOVE!

Sher xo

Set of Beaufort Castle/ Nell taking a selfie while in her trailer on the set of Outlander.

The L🖤VELANDER Project – Edition 1 Vida/Blancklanderz  Edition 2 Erin/Three if By Space  Edition 3 Vincent/Supporting Artist Edition 4 Tracy/Outcandour

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

Meet Vincent – A supporting artist on Outlander with a story to inspire.

One of my ‘not a recap’ blogs during season 5 was called ‘A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime.’ . My chance exchange and subsequently getting to know Vinny, had ‘a reason’ written all over it.

The more we spoke, the more I wanted to get to know, the more he shared, the more I learned his story wasn’t simply ‘a cool insiders take on the set of Outlander’ but one of overcoming adversity and grabbing a hold of your life and making shit happen.

Let me tell you about Vincent. He experienced a very happy childhood in the small village of Westquarter in the Town of Falkirk. As the youngest of four, he would spend his days climbing and exploring in the glen next to his home. It was as a child his love of animals was sparked due to his mum who was known in the village as the ‘go to woman’ for animals in need. Vincent was her helper in caring for those injured animals as they fostered them back to health. They also had many pets at home to love and shower their affections on.

“Like most kids I was full of fun and cheek,  I could also be a little brat who came close to a walloping more than a few times.”

As Vincent grew up, all that running and jumping through the glens led to him excelling at sports and athletics. He concentrated on football and was also tipped for a promising future as a 100m sprinter. Sadly, he was plagued by persistent knee injuries so his running spikes were hung up by the time he turned 16. Not one to sit still, he stayed in the gym, took up boxing and later, Krav Maga self defense. This led him to the very impressive achievement of becoming an instructor.

I am going to fast forward to the story of Vincent finding Outlander. Many fans have said Outlander changed their lives, it undeniably transformed how Vinny was living his.

“I had lost my home, my business, my physical health and can say I was in a very dark place. I guess that darkness got darker round about this time, I was suffering insomnia due to anxieties about my health and hadn’t slept for about 30 hours when I started watching Outlander. I had been awake for over a day and finally started getting tired about episode 3, but I managed to keep my eyes open until the first season was finished.

The more I watched the more alive I felt. Like from nothing else before it had put some sort of fire in my belly to get back in the rat race instead of giving up. This may sound corny but I feel watching Outlander kinda saved my life. Within a few months I was on the show.”

Talk about making things happen in the face of diversity!

As I mentioned before, Vincent was a very active man. His caring nature had him working on an NHS community mental health team. Life doesn’t always go the way we plan, in 2009, his life started taking some turns Vinny could not have predicted.

“Whilst playing football I slipped on the wet pitch, going into the splits, usually I’d be fine but the match had just started and I didn’t have time to warm up or stretch beforehand. I went down with a high pitched scream. It was kinda like when you’ve been walking and went over on your ankle, at first it’s really bad, then you start moving and the pain eases. It eased enough for me to carry on. We were low in numbers and this game was one I had arranged for my mental health clients to participate in. It meant a lot to me and the guys that I was playing with. I had pain but thought it would continue to ease off. I worked round it.

In April of 2009 I collapsed and spent 3 weeks in hospital with a minor brain injury. All physical health took a back seat for a while. I had cognitive challenges to deal with, a year of rehab and a year and a half off work. I did eventually get back working and training. I was still having groin pain but I became used to it.”

This is something many of us with chronic pain do, isn’t it? We learn to live with it. Keep moving forward until – something else kicks our knees out from beneath us. Vincent’s battle was not behind him yet.

“In 2016, I aggravated it more, leaving it difficult to walk. At hospital a scan showed I had fractured my left hip years earlier and torn the labral muscle in my groin. Having left this untreated and continuing to train led me, at 35, to require a double hip replacement. I was devastated, a year earlier I had passed all my training to become a Krav Maga Instructor. With that though, I had caused a cam and pincer impingement and osteoarthritis spread thru my hips from the fracture. I even lost an inch in height.

That gives you an idea of what Vinny is explaining below. I debated posting the pictures but then remembered – you all watch Outlander.

I spent the next year of my life on elbow crutches until my surgery. I had a Chromium cobalt hip put in, this is a new type, stronger with a larger femoral head. That was supposed to allow me to go back and teach self defense, unfortunately I took a reaction to the metal. I spent a bit longer in hospital than I should have, couldn’t do physiotherapy for the first 4 months due to my leg being twice the size of the other one. From there I got a blood clot, stopping in my groin. 5 months later I got another extensive clot that started down the bottom of my leg to my groin. This required me to be on blood thinning medication for life. That meant I couldn’t go back to Krav Maga, it was too dangerous for me. Krav is pretty full on, one of the reasons it’s so effective.

An expression I have used before is “The teacher will appear when the student is ready”. Our heart and our mind will be open to receive the messages we need to hear. It seems quite apparent when Vinny talks about his exposure to Outlander, that is exactly what happened.

“I was physically broken and had almost given up mentally. To be honest, I was a wreck. The magic of the show really stirred something inside me to get myself better, it gave me a goal. it made me want to be a part of it. I binge watched all available episodes in about 5 days, I was hooked.

The effect Outlander had on me is pretty hard to explain. From the start I couldn’t turn the television off. I think it was a combination of many things that really had an effect on me, It being filmed entirely in Scotland and about Scottish history. The way fact and fiction were mixed with time travel, something that would have probably put me off watching it if I knew. *laughs* The attention to detail from costumes to sets, colourful characters and some Scottish humour added in amongst the serious stuff. I won’t forget the amazing chemistry between Jamie and Claire*smile*

It was such a pleasant surprise hearing about Vinny’s love of the show and his desire to be a part of it. Not only because it made us both ‘fans’, which you know, cool, but in that it galvanized him. He made this huge change in the trajectory of his life due to that desire. I was even more excited to talk to him about it.

Let’s do this thing, shall we?

I know one of the first things people will want to know is what the process was like for becoming a supporting artist on Outlander?It was a lot simpler than I thought, after getting over the initial self doubt, thinking I wasn’t capable of this type of work. I did my homework on casting agencies and sent an email off. I was invited to an open day a week later and was pleased to get signed up that day.

I’m not sure it would be so simple for everyone, you have a pretty specific look, pretty rugged. That must have been a fantastic feeling. Now, as a fan, what was that like? Showing up for work on the first day?My heart just started pounding thinking about being there *laughs*. It was a crazy surreal, pinching myself moment, if I’m honest. I was the first on set, arrived an hour early and I hadn’t slept a wink the night before. I was so afraid I would sleep in and ruin my chance of being on the show.

I can’t say as I blame you for any of that. I would have reacted much the same way. I probably would have camped over night, but I think I’m a bit more dipped in the crazy than you. You have provided a fantastic video for us of behind the scenes – the fans will be sharing the hell out of it. Can you tell us what the ‘rules’ are for the supporting artists? “Ahhh … A few of the things would be to always be on time, be polite and courteous to everyone you meet, listening to direction, remaining upbeat and knowing when to be quiet. Be positive. *smile* In between shooting there is always some sort of hilarity going on somewhere, there are a few included in the video

Many supporting artists just fade in and out of the back ground, we don’t get to see their faces, you on the other hand, we can pick you out frequently. Share what scenes fans can find you in. “I can be seen throughout Ep04, The Company We Keep, usually working my stall or in the pub salivating over the offerings of whisky. I was the Brownsville Butcher, a role I absolutely loved. When I arrived on set, I remember thinking how real the pigs heads, rabbits and birds looked that were displayed on my stall. It wasn’t long before I realized the attraction the flies felt was real *laughs*. Ironic that I turned vegetarian 27 years previously *laughs*. I realized straight away that it is more authentic that they were real. I didn’t have to, but I had no problem chopping and dicing whilst the cameras were rolling.

In Ep07, The Ballad of Roger Mac, after being enlisted into Jamie’s Militia I can be seen carrying Isaiah Morton into the medical tent after he has been shot in the lung. He’s a big lad, my back felt it the next day.”*laughs*

Speaking of the authentic sets, even though you all are supposed to be in North Carolina, you are working in some tough Scottish conditions. That Brownsville set up is something else but damn, it looked a mess of rain and mud sometimes. “You’re correct there. Some days/nights can be 16 hour shifts at the mercy of the Scottish weather in all sorts of terrain. You can be tired and hungry and knee deep in mud, but it actually gives you an idea of how it really was back in the day. That helps the show be so believable.

Alright, now I am really curious. What would be a regular day on set for you, as a supporting artist? “Well you usually arrive on set (early), sign in so they know you’re there, into makeup or costume then time for a very large (with lots of options) breakfast to keep us fueled for the day *smile* Grab a cuppa and chat with colleagues before we head off to set. The makeup and costume guys come round to check we are all spot on and good to go, they continue this regularly throughout the day in all weathers.

We’re all given our little stories and scenarios that we will carry out for filming etc, it’s great. Sometimes you’re really busy filming and other times your waiting about but that’s the same for everyone. They always set you perfectly for a tasty lunch though *laugh* then after that.. back to set to finish what we started. We always get refreshments and snacks throughout the day. It’s tough going and long days so when you here the director shout “That’s a wrap guys” everyone cheers and thanks each other for the day, it’s a good feeling. *smile* Then it is time to head back on our transport to base and get out of costume. It’s always a good feeling to get my wig off. *laugh* Once I’m back to modern attire, I sign out, say my goodbyes and head home for some much needed sleep. *laughs*

It sounds like you really love this gig, Vinny. I was impressed with everything, they pay so much attention to detail. They really want everything to be as close as possible to how it was back then. I think it shows on screen..  you don’t get flies attracted to plastic animal carcasses do ya? Everyone from SA’s, cast and crew know exactly what there doing. It’s a well organized production.

Was there anything else you learned for your role as a supporting artist? “To prepare for the Battle of Alamance we had to attend Outlander’s military boot camp. We became competent in firing weapons and fighting skills. I also learned more about Scottish history in a few months on Outlander than I did at high school.

Has your experience on Outlander sparked you to do more in the world of entertainment? It certainly has. My first week of working on Outlander finished on a Friday, I had booked an intensive acting course for that weekend. I continue to train as much as possible. I have a few short films under my belt and a small role in a feature film due to start when lock-down finishes. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed many featured SA roles in various productions. I was also the stand in for John Cena in the upcoming Fast & Furious 9. My goal has changed and hopefully I can gain more work on the acting side of things. If not … I know I can keep myself busy doing as I am just now.

If Vinny’s past is any predictor for how his future will look, I have to say the next chapter of his life is about to be written BOLDLY and BRILLIANTLY. Many of us go through very dark times, in fact, the world is facing some of it’s own as I type this. Looking around, focusing on individuals who moved forward when it hurt but they did it anyway, can not only uplift us, they can inspire us.

“I hadn’t put on my information I was disabled or about my hip. I was pretty good at masking my limp. Up until then I hadn’t moved any faster than a walk for a few years. One day the director asked me to do a certain thing for a scene, which included running on uneven muddy ground, I wasn’t going to say no to him. *laughs* He didn’t know my problem. He helped me realize I was capable of more than I thought. My physical health has come leaps and bounds from that day.”

I was so pleased that Vinny and I crossed paths, from across the ocean. We both agreed that these things aren’t mistakes and I know that someone, somewhere reading this…needs to hear his story.

Now before we go, you all know what to expect from an ABOotlanders #TheLOVELANDERProject interview – we end with pure silliness because – HELLO! I’m a Canadian knobsicle.

We have invited Vincent Van Craig for a lovely dinner – providing him with these Albertan delicacies of A) Moose Droppings B) Beaver Tails   C) Prairie Oysters D) Taber Corn.  Which does he choose & why? “Oooooh lets see *laughs* was tempted to google but I promise I didn’t, *laugh* O.K here goes. I’ll pick Taber Corn, its seems the safest, maybe the closest to being vegetarian friendly” *laughs*

You can find Vinny on social media, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Do try and ease him into the fandom, o.k? We don’t want to scare him. Actually – with all he has been through, I think he can take it.

I want to thank Vinny, for not only allowing me to interview him, but for putting it all out there. It isn’t an easy thing to do. Sharing such a personal story with a stranger, who then puts it out to the world. Once again, it shows a strength of character many can admire. I know I do.

Until next time, be well.

Sher xo

Giving Outlander fans an escape during Droughtlander

The L🖤VELANDER Project – Edition 1 Vida/Blancklanderz Edition 2 Erin/Three if By Space

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

Erin Conrad, Three If By Space’s Outlander voice tells ALL!

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.

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All the things, together – the perfect puzzle.

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.”

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These women love each other so much. Meet Alyson, Cardboard Bonnet, Erin, Cardboard Jamie, Samantha, Cardboard Young Ian. Pass some Droughtlander hours and go back for a listen. Stay Tuned for new ones!

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.”

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Erin with Diana Gabaldon (L) – and with Sam Heughan. 

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!

Sher xo

 

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

A Reason. A Season. A Lifetime. How Ep11 of Outlander took me back.

It’s been approximately 12 hours since I watched Journeycake for the 5th time. I’m still not completely settled. To be honest, I feel like it beat the shit out of me.

*sssh* I know, self-inflicted. *blah blah blah*

As soon as I felt a little safe with a bit of happiness, laughter or joy BOOM – kick in the face with sadness, despair or pure fear.  It may be partially due to my being in a vulnerable state but jeemziz, it was a doodiddlydoozey!

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Do what ya can to get you through it!

I am diving in because if I don’t I will let my mind start wandering and it may never come back.  All the dynamics of relationships were on display in this episode. Good, bad and deep dark-n-ugly.  The beauty of it all, we can identify with each one and that is why they resonate with us.  I want to throw a mental note at everyone, these blogs (even though I’m a book reader), are written in direct relation to the show and what happens on it.

I have always believed that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Some will fill one of those spaces and that’s kinda the way it’s meant to be. Not everyone we develop relationships with is meant to be in our life forever. Realistically, some who pass through may not have been put there for us, we may have been there for them. A by-product, for lack of a better word, of something they needed, to teach them a lesson of some kind. Meaning the reason may never be known to us.

This thread was so predominant with our characters in this episode.  The opening scene was jarring yet speaks loudly about how people come into our life for a reason. The dying girl, her connection to Roger, lasts mere moments though it will stay with him forever. We will never know who they were but she needed Roger. As she lay there suffering it was his gentle and merciful hands passing by to set her free from the pain. For that reason alone, they were meant to cross paths.

That meeting may have also been a catalyst to Roger’s desire to return to his own time sooner than later. This isn’t something a 20th-century history professor would ever have to worry about stumbling across, is it?

‘Dr. Rawlings’ made his way to Wilmington and everywhere in between, as unintentional as it was, it seems the reason stretched far beyond Claire’s objective. Women were getting medical advice that was unprecedented.  Previous episodes foreshadowed it, where this episode solidified Claire’s life has been put in danger due to her connection with Dr. Rawlings.

Those three minutes on screen with Claire, Rose and Marsali were enough to give the audience a full view of what affects Dr. Rawlings has had. Rose Brown, whose reproductive choices were never her own now had some say, due to the knowledge inadvertently printed in that newspaper.  No doubt saving a child being born to the hands of an abusive father.

We are aware that women have been controlled in many ways over the centuries, reproductively we were on the bottom, which is insane since we are the ONLY ones that have that particular superpower. We can easily assume that Rose was not the only one taking this advice. Whether it was because they were in an abusive relationship, had enough damn kids already or *gasp* simply did not want to have a child. We will need to hold the outcome of Dr. Rawlings as a separate entity from the purpose it may have had for the women who benefited from it.

We have those ‘seasonal’ relationships. You know the ones. They come into our lives and we feel like they are going to last forever, they change who we are at our core and then the relationship ends or changes to something less than it was.

With the MacKenzie’s leaving the ridge, we experienced these heartwrenching but beautiful goodbyes. In the land of the interwebs, we are luckier but we still go through them. A friendship, like Lizzie and Brianna, we feel will last forever. BFFs, we say. Forever is a long time though. We attach ourselves to people in times we have a need, they have a need. When those needs change or we change, often so will the relationship. Sure, sometimes our relationships can grow and change along with us however there are times they disappear with the seasons. We often see this as a bad thing instead of accepting it as a part of moving through life. This doesn’t make them less than, they likely taught us something wonderful about ourselves, pushed us through some harrowing times and created a soft place for us to land.

We often make the mistake of thinking those seasonal relationships of growing apart or ending as bad things. If we accepted it for what it was, we would be grateful for the experiences we shared, thank one another, hope we will cross paths again one day and move forward. Instead, we often end up burning a bridge or two because we aren’t sure how to end a relationship in a healthy way. It seems this is something Ian is struggling with. His desperate need to go back to change things with the woman he speaks of.

Otter-tooth attempted to go back in time to change the fate of his people. What was supposed to be a lifetime relationship became one of the seasons. The connection Otter-tooth ended up having with Claire, saved Roger from the Mowhawk but also become the catalyst of Ian finding a home with them. It was planned Ian would stay with them indefinitely except things happen that we can’t predict. These are the moments when our wishes get blown out like a candle.

Those instances can kick us in the back of the knees, can’t they? We think we have it all figured out. Know exactly what is happening with our life and suddenly something that we have no control over changes the trajectory, instantly. Without warning lifetime people fade into seasonals and the adjustment physically hurts. The ridge was alive with this while the MacKenzie’s said their goodbyes and why there were so many emotional reactions by viewers.

Our characters drove home a crucial point, our lifetime people don’t always have to be in our daily lives. Ulysses comes to mind. He has been a free man since Hector Cameron died yet he stayed as a loyal friend (viewed by all others, as a slave) to Jocasta. Never leaving her side until he was finally forced to. The bond that Ulysses and Jocasta had is not the kind that is lost with time or distance. It will be carried across the sea as it is an attachment that was sealed with trust (and you know, weasel killing).

Jamie may have spoken the words clearest during the scene with Bree. “Though I might not see any of you again, You have made my life whole.” Not all relationships within families are this deep.  With Bree,  Jemmy and yes, Roger, Jamie had been given the full family that he always desired.  Whether he held them in his arms or in his heart, he had them and that mattered the most.

The reason why Jamie’s stalwart nature resonated with me is I had to stop and ask myself why isn’t he breaking? I could feel Claire. She was feeling the grief of her daughter, grandson and son-in-law, being gone from her. Jamie, being bold and yes, moved, missing them but then I saw it. He still held them in the very same spot they were as if he could touch them. Where Claire, like so many of us, have done, when our children leave home, move out of the province or country, saw them as untouchable – he saw them as within.  Not only did it help him with the transition, but it also enabled him to support Claire better through her grief.

We also have those relationships. The ones that never end. Whether the person is gone from this earth or has moved far away. I have friends that I haven’t seen for years, might speak with a couple times a year yet I know, without a doubt, they are my people. The minute we end up in the same room, no time has passed and we are the same two idiots we always were.

Reflecting on the episode Journeycake makes me grateful for the ‘Outlander season’ part of my life.  It has been a hell of a ride thus far. I have no idea how many years we have left on this rollercoaster of a fandom. We can’t even guess who will come into our lives or who will leave over that course of time. I do know that I have met some remarkable people as a result of me sticking my nose in all yer bizznizz and I have a feeling there will be more than a few of you stuck with me for a lifetime.

Don’t worry though, the ones that want to make this seasonal, I am sure you can mute me easy enough. As for the reason I ended up on the other side of your computer screen…that’s all your fault.

Next week lasses and laddies, are ya ready?  I can say loudly – I AM NOT!

Sher xox

Don’t forget to join us for the season finale LIVETWEET event while Canadians tune in on W Network at 7 Pm MT using the hashtags #OutlanderCAN #NeverMyLove

The Answer Within. I heard a few during S5E08 . #Outlander #FamousLastWords

I am becoming a broken record this season with these ‘not a recaps’.  Each episode is completely different from the last but in my view, each has a punch in the gut effect that stays with you long after.  And with that, as the credits rolled on #FamousLastWords, that duet with Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton – COME ON! I found it breathtaking. Each time I watched the episode (4 times, so far) I let it play and sat back to listen.  I have never done that before this episode.

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Nope. Never. Not one time. Zero.

Once again, faced with so many topics to write about. All of them struck cords that I could go on about forEVA but I don’t want to do that. We seem to have nothing but time these days but I’m not going to take advantage of you. Not like that anyway. #winkawinka

There were questions of worth, grief bursts, traumatic flashbacks and worry all wrapped up in the characters we love so dearly.  We were with all of our favourites, in all of the moments we needed to be with them. Whether we were hearing them or observing. The voyeurs in us were on high alert.

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Watching is such sweet sorrow but I…can’t…stop.

We saw once more, words aren’t needed to convey emotion. This time, it was Richard Rankins’s turn. Without a word or a whisper, we felt, deeply, what Roger was experiencing. His eyes, shoulders, neck muscles, brows and the set of his mouth gave us everything we needed to know about what was happening inside his head, heart and rooted within his soul.  The people who love him, Brianna in particular, could see it too. She was especially in tune with what he was going through because she saw herself in him.

While trying to get through to Roger, Brianna brought up how she too, faced darkness and ugliness. I believe this moment was a catharsis for Brianna even though she was attempting to shake something loose in Roger. He still wasn’t in a place to hear her words. The wall he had built around himself was as impenetrable as his voice was stifled.  Brianna though, for all of the times she sat in silence, fighting her demons, keeping them silent and masking the trauma she went through for the sake of others, she let it out. She put it in front of Roger that she is fighting. Every day. For her family and those words were what she needed to hear.  Without realizing it, she was giving herself the advice she craved.  The words Bree had been waiting for were within her, she only needed to say them out loud.  She was directing them towards Roger however when we say things out loud, that is when we finally, truly, catch on. We, more often than not, won’t notice how we self-heal through our love of others.

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Give it…and eat it back up. 

There is one common thread each person on this earth shares. We all will lose someone we love. Sooner or later, it happens. In tandem, others will reach out to comfort us. When our grief is deep, there are no words, actions, cliches or casseroles that help. Making things better is contrary to reason.

Jamie asked Claire if there was a medicine in her time for grief.  Time was as close as she could get, and even that isn’t a cure.  We only get adept at integrating the grief into our everyday.  We also must be honest, as shown in this episode. Grief is not reserved for the dead. We grieve people we lose that have not died but are no longer in our life, whether that is by our choice or theirs. We grieve parts of ourselves that we have lost, due to trauma or illness. Grief changes who we are and that is o.k.

Even though grief is something nearly everyone in this world has in common, it is as unique as each person and the relationship they have with the person/piece of them who/that has died. There may be ‘stages’ of grief but none of us walk them the same or follow the path the way it may be expected.  We may think we know how someone feels but we can’t, not genuinely. We can empathize with their pain but knowing it would mean we know every corner of their heart/mind and that is impossible. Allowing someone their personal grief journey is a gift. Grief heals. Roger was grieving pieces of himself. Ian was grieving his tribe and more, Jamie grieving Murtagh. In the end, Claire was honest with Jamie. Letting him know there was nothing she could do, nothing anyone could do. Being a healer, she used the expression that brings her comfort. Time heals all wounds. To a degree of course. Scars are always left behind.

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Literal and figurative, both

This is something we will all find ourselves doing.  The words that bring us the most comfort, we share with others, hoping they have the same effect.

I want to touch on a brief and beautiful moment between Marsali and Young Ian. Marsali came to sit with Ian, speaking to him of their youth in Scotland. She reached out, reminiscing of family, siblings. It appeared that Marsali sensed Ian was moving about, untethered. Like a balloon about to fly away unless someone grabbed hold.  She connected with him by chatting about her jealousy of his bustling Murray family.  Mentioning how he must miss them, grasping at that string to pull him back.  We saw the flicker of light appear in Ian’s eyes as he spoke of his sister Janet and when he admitted he did indeed missed his family.  As Marsali’s pregnancy became more the focus in the conversation, Ian’s heaviness returned. Marsali knows family, her center is love and comfort. She did the best with what she had and I believe the seed she planted did help, a little.

That is why, no matter what we believe someone is going through. It is always good to find a step to sit on with them.  We have moments we wonder “Should I bother?”, “They don’t seem receptive.”  If you think a loved one might be hurting but you have a feeling you may be overstepping, say it – “I may be overstepping, and if I am, I will apologize. Today, I want you to know that I love you, that I am thinking of you and I’d like to hear how you are doing.” Is it always that easy? No, it isn’t. Many things in life aren’t but for those we love, we can take the chance. Marsassy did it.

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And so can we…

Seeing Roger and Ian amid dual struggles was both heartbreaking and became heartwarming. Both men, in very dark places, grappling with their pain to the point of not wanting to face it another day. Neither able to grasp how to move it out of the way. Roger was at what could have been his final moment. Facing the memory of being hanged, blacking out, almost strangled to death and Brianna’s face appeared to him. It wasn’t only Brianna, being his wife, that pulled him from the edge. It was his realization that on his previous brink of death, it was her, his love for her that he was bound to. In living colour with a powerful brightness, he envisioned this woman, whose love never wavered.  A familiar saying comes to mind “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

We often learn lessons at the perfect time and it seems to me this is what happened for Roger and Ian.  They were moving in parallel through much of the episode.  Once it was obvious what Ian’s intentions were, collective hearts were breaking for him and then, Roger comes in for the rescue.  An unlikely hero, given the circumstances. Ian angrily says so when Roger interrupts his plans to end his life.

Roger doesn’t know what Ian’s story is but he knows what matters is that Ian lives. The reason being, he sees Ian in himself and HE wants to live.  When Ian is unsure that he has the strength to carry on, Roger fortifies them both.  He pleads with Ian to pick up his weapon, it doesn’t mean he has to use it, just pick it up to go home with him. One day he will be strong enough to fight again and together it will happen.

This was Roger’s way of gaining strength from his own words, just as Brianna did with him.  We may get turned around and twisted in agony over the things we feel we should do, or have difficulty coping with.  We feel lost and wonder how in the world we’ll make it through another tragedy or manage another day.  Yet, someone we care for will be in that same head-space and we will have this astonishing amount of compassion for them. We will share uplifting stories of times we have pulled ourselves from the depths of despair or regale them with tales to lighten their heart.  What a beautiful thing it would be if we would take that same time and compassion for ourselves when we felt ourselves getting turned around.

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Today is every day. 

It is easier to give advice than it is to take it.  It is especially easier to give it when you see yourself so clearly in the person you are sharing the advice with.  Ian twice had moments of “you are one to talk” in this episode, first with Jamie – when he was trying to get Ian to open up to him.  Ian clapped back with a ‘Hey pal, you and Claire have secrets – back off and let me have my own.’ Point made. Then again with Roger for stopping him from doing exactly what Ian figured he was about to do himself.  The reason I bring this up is I think it’s a great life lesson moment.

When we are giving those bits of advice out to those we care about, it’s often because we see ourselves in them. It’s a good idea to be sure we have followed our own advice.  Being truthful to ourselves is being honest in our actions.  I assure you, if we haven’t, the one we are sharing with, may call our ass out on the carpet.

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Gotta cut the crap, sometimes.

We learn a lot about ourselves when we listen to the advice we share.  Our actions speak loudly about our character. I think we can see that with the characters I spoke of in #FamousLastWords.  You and I, we identify with these characters on this TV show owing to their stories aren’t so different from our own. Sure, their arc is more dramatic on the whole yet, at the heart of it all, the feelings at the core. We get it.

That’s why we keep coming back.

Sher xo

PS – I need to add a note about John Bell coming back. I squealed, jumped out of my chair and was just THRILLED to bits.  I slapped my husband’s leg so many times he was forced to finally say “OK, that is starting to hurt now.” to make me stop.  Where John used to bring us smiles and much-needed levity on screen – we now are seeing the true depth of this young man’s talent.  I am not sure I am ready for it but I am really feckin excited.

Join us Canadians for Live Tweeting with W Network on Sundays at 7 pm MT using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN

 

 

 

We are OBSASSENACHS because they want us to be…

and to be perfectly honest, we’d have gone willingly. Many of us were sitting here, waiting for someone to come along and make this happen.

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I recently watched a marketing clip of how to sell in today’s ‘go go go’ society and it was how all entertainment works these days. I wanted to sit down and put an Outlander spin on it.

Look, we have a little over a month left of #Droughtlander. I would like to spend it in a bubble because the real shit out there is making me tired. I need to turn it off every now and then if I want to stay relatively sane-ish.

Here were the marketing rules:

TURN CUSTOMERS INTO FANATICS –  The viewers are the customers and CHECK! We are fans aka…fan addicts…fanatics.

PRODUCTS INTO OBSESSIONS –  The product is the show and all the goodies that come with it. CHECK! We never miss an episode, in fact, we watch them over and over. We buy all the copies, we buy all the merch, we donate to all the charities, we attend all the events. Yep. Obsessed is a good word. 

EMPLOYEES INTO AMBASSADORS – Conventions, Interviews, Social Media presence… the cast and crew that take part in these things. Those who engage. TADA! We have our ambassadors. We are tiny lil ambassadors ourselves when we RT/Share/Engage/Like. 

AND BRANDS INTO RELIGIONS.  Don’t scoff. Don’t laugh. People take their Outlander seriously.  (If you are deeply religious – may I suggest you read the rest of this blog with your funny pants on because it is all just shits n giggles from this point on)

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up n down n side t’side toss toss 

 

 

I have come up with 10 Outlandish commandments because I thought it would be fun and tie in, kinda…weirdly. 

  1. I am Outlander, thy epic show, thou shalt not favour any strange shows before me.
  2. Thou shalt not take the name of Outlander in anger or derision.
  3. Keep thy home quiet during thee Outlander hour.
  4. Honour thy Fraser’s and thy MacKenzie’s.
  5. Thou shall not be a twitter assholeeo.
  6. Thou shalt not commit snackicide during the Outlander hour. It means what you think it means. Sicko. 
  7. Thou shalt not verbally assault others during Outlander. Like not even a little. 
  8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. That means don’t be a gossipy Gertie, ok? Two ears, one mouth. 
  9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours Outlander stuff. Be happy for them. That shade of green doesn’t look good on anyone. 
  10. Outlander is really just a TV show, here for thou entertainment. Enjoy the shit out of it. 

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No, Brianna. I’m just goofing around.

ANYWAY, on the whole, the Outlander fandom does exactly what it is supposed to do according to the world of promotion and marketing.

Sony, Starz, W Network here in Canada, the cast and many of the crew all play their parts. Some don’t like how they do it, that’s rather a matter of taste, personalities or whatever. They will continue to do what they do for their own reasons. We don’t need to know those reasons, we should assume they do it for the success of Outlander.

The same can be said for us, the fans. We play our part. Some might not like the way we do it BUT…thats what happens in this thing called life.  We feed the Outlander machine in our own way.  It doesn’t matter in the big picture as long as we have fun with it.  No matter if you are a twitter maven with thousands of followers, a controversial blogger that likes to debate or a fan that sits back and lurks wondering how the hell everyone keeps all of this stuff straight (I have no idea btw, I rarely remember who runs what account), we all maintain a piece of this crazy Outlander fandom.

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YES. This fandom is crazy. Good crazy for the most part. Like any massive collective of people, there will be drama, infighting, cliques and subgroups.  Those, however, are generally on the outlying rings.

The words ‘silent majority’ are a thing because – the majority of people who watch Outlander are silently enjoying it in their bubbles at home.  Outlander has a global audience that is growing every day because of streaming services, most will never bother with social media beyond a few likes or searches.

Those who are out here with our voices should try our best to use them for good. Whatever that looks like to you, go for it! Have fun with it. There are groups out there that support the actors. All the main cast members have fan groups on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Not just one but multiples. The reason being, different personalities gravitate to one another. That’s cool because you will then find people like you that love the same cast members you love.giphy-8

Richard Rankin is a great example. I am sure he has a twitter handle for nearly every body part and one in every region on the planet. Example: Rankins Dimple. PLEASE do not see this as a personal challenge to create ALL of Rankin’s parts. (Roger’s pit hair, Roger’s thigh bristle,Roger’s man pelt…) Shit, that might have just given peepsmore ideas. 🤣

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There are great content creators that share their love of the show. Videos that blend songs with scenes, that help us relive beautiful moments. Check out Julia on YouTube if you haven’t already. She has the instinct of bringing the music and the heart of scenes together to recreate the story in another setting.

There are also edits by King Fireman on YouTube, his videos are masterful creations of scenes brought together to weave you through a retelling of the story. You need to see them in order to truly know the appeal of them.

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Like, Abracadabra it’s so awesome, magical

We also have a number of fantastic bloggers.  So many I couldn’t possibly name them all. I assure you there is something for everyone out there. You can easily go to your favourite blogs, check out their suggested blogs since like attracts like.

Get lost for hours on end by hitting up Pinterest. Search for Outlander fan art, quotes, memes and whatever else your wee Outlander heart desires. You will find the most amazing things along with a few that make you snort whisky out of your nose. Either way, a great way to waste an afternoon.

Ultimately, it isn’t our drama, negative nellies and infighting that get the attention of others.  That kind of shit just eats and thrives on itself.  It’s possible to not be a part of it if you don’t want to.

What ends up being a lightning rod is the laughter, the good time fans that run around with their t-shirts over their heads screaming about LJG and Jamie and Roger and Murtagh and and and… that get the attention.  The discussions about Claire together with her fortitude.  The conversations about Brianna, her rape, as a consequence the way women in the fandom connected, healed and supported one another that was truly heartwarming. Those are the things that people outside the fandom see and gravitate to.

I admit the way fans jump all over someone that merely mentions on twitter that they have watched Outlander and love it, it’s friggen adorable. It might be surprising to the person initially but think about how welcoming it is. Walking into what you think is an empty room and saying “Wow, that Outlander show was so good” then BOOM 200 people are welcoming you and telling you how wonderful it is to meet you and how you are their people.

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I for one…am happy to be a cog in this Outlander wheel. As long as it is on the air, I will be out here, promoting it. You never know what will happen after.

COME ON Feb 16th, us Canadians, watching on W Network have some #OutlanderCAN tweeting to do!

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Sher XO

I’m SPELEERS’ING the Beans about Outlandish Vancouver and why it changed my life.

I will open this blog with a warning – first- my somewhat warped humour is attached to some sensitive subjects. If you feel you MAY be offended – go now or forever hold your tongue (and your tappity tap fingers in rage mode afterward) because I warned you and will not entertain you with debate or take your interweb spankings later.

The next warning is a trigger warning. I will be discussing childhood trauma and rape in this blog.

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I’m saying this as nice as I can. (Source)

You might remember my sunnuvaBonnot blog, if not, feel free to refresh your memory by clicking here. there I spoke about my deep angst re: Stephen Bonnet. You don’t have to read it but it’s there for clarity.

I also wrote about my experiences at the Outlander Vancouver weekend and how much I enjoyed all the things. In said blog, I eluded to my moments with Ed Speleers. I’m not being dramatic when I say they were transformative.

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Just like that (source)

Let’s rewind. Around 23 years ago – while reading Drums of Autumn, one Stephen Bonnet was introduced. This villain struck me as particularly abhorrent.  He had this devious charm, disarming good looks that seemed to allow him to lure and get away with preying on his victims.  This type of person has always set my teeth on edge and ignited a rage inside me that I had difficulty expressing precisely why.

Fast forward to Outlander the TV show, season 4. Ed Speleers comes to inhabit the body of the villain that lives in my guts. I wondered if I would feel the same about this character visually as I did about the book character. I did. Steven Bonnet, in both forms, were devastatingly like, what I now call, my internal ghost. Every time his character appeared on the page, every time his face showed on the screen- there was this physical reaction my brain fired against.

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Wait, I probably can. I have. Never mind. (Source)

I knew Ed Speleers, was going to be at the Outlandish Vancouver event. I know damned well Ed is not Stephen Bonnet, I happen to pride myself on not being a complete fricken idiot. I know this man is not the character he plays. Let’s also say it out loud for the people in the back, I know Stephen Bonnet is a fictional character. I KNOW THIS.

There is this thing about trauma though. There is a brain/gut/heart connection that sometimes happens without our consciousness being on board for the ride.

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No idea where it is, what it’s doing. (Source)

As the cast was introduced into the Meet and Greet on Friday night, the excitement in the room was palpable. People clapping, laughing and cheering as each cast member entered the room. Everything stopped for me when I saw Ed. Not out of awe, excitement or fear. It was reality. It slapped me in the face like 35 yrs of silence might. Seeing him no more than 25 feet away unlocked something and I finally had all the pieces of the puzzle. This puzzle was one of those hideous 3D ones and at that moment, I only wanted to dump it back into the box to deal with it later.  You see, it was that moment, as I stood in the same room with the embodiment of this “villain” that reached deep inside me and caused such a visceral reaction was because that type of guy, was MY villain.

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This is big. Too big. (Source)

This is where I get real honest with you. I was an 11 ½-year-old girl, when the 18 yr old, hot dance troop guy, who all the girls wanted to “get with” took me behind the curtain backstage. I let him because he said nice things to me. I must be 13, right? I was so pretty, wasn’t I? It was exciting – until it was terrifying. I wanted him to stop- but he didn’t. I wasn’t his only victim and he got away with it time and time again because look at him. Shouldn’t I consider myself lucky?  Thinking back, finally, clearly, it was all of those things a predator and a broken child say to themselves to make sense of the insane things going on.  Brain/gut/heart connection doing what it can to cope. Shove. It. Down.

I know now, the part of me that refused to be a victim as an adult was always afraid for and protecting that little girl that was violated so many years ago. Literally, the ONLY person that could hurt her was a man like HIM.  Reading about that buried reality was one thing – seeing the character come to life was another. Obviously, my eyes were wide open to the why of it all now.  It really wasn’t comfortable. Let’s call it an emotional wedgie.

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Just can’t fix it in public no matter how subtle you are. (Source)

So, how does this go down at this lovely Outlandish Vancouver Meet and Greet? I’m having this brain/gut/heart arrhythmia that I’m not about to dial 911 for because that’s no one’s business and I am trying to process it. I’m not 100% confident about being face to face with Ed Speleers bc look wtf happened with him across the damn room from me!

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On the inside – tornado – On the outside – try and move me (Source)

Eventually, Mr. Speleers wanders over to our table.  Am I going to be a total tool?  Yup. Tool alert.🤦‍♀️  The hairs on the back of my neck go up. I think to myself, “You are being a complete boob! This guy is a few glasses in and having a great time…pull your head outta your ass.”  If you haven’t gathered by now, I’m a shit listener. I decided to step back and take a seat, figuring avoiding him altogether might be best. Nope. That didn’t work! He made eye contact with me and I quickly glanced away. Not something I think is normal in these situations. Generally, if their eye is caught by someone, they are drawn into conversation pretty quickly. I didn’t want to be a jackass but I honestly didn’t know what to say and not be like “Your appearance triggered me and now I’m trippin’ balls.” That’s hardly fair.

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I can be an arsehole but I’m not horrible. (Source)

I take some deep breaths. Center my thoughts on the energy of the room and away from my own. I focus and then, Ed and I  made eye contact again. This time Ed’s eyes dropped down to look at my t-shirt…where our ABOotlander mascot Toger, was proudly displayed. (Thanks Lee for doing that!)

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Here is TOGER! Our fierce Canadian beaver.

There was my opening, it was time for me to break the ice. The only way I know how –  SherryStyle.

Me- *throw a look of disgust at Mr. Speleers and gasp* “Did you just look at my BEAVER?”

Ed- *sputter – eyes bulge* “Huh? What..No! I didn’t look at your beaver.

Me- “Yes…you did! You just did it again.”

Ed- “NO! You made me look at your beaver by talking about your beaver”

Me- “Mmmmmmhmmmm, there you go again.”

Laughter ensues and more “yes you did, no I didn’t”, winks and smiles (as much as my palsied face CAN smile anyway).

As strange as it sounds…my beaver…TOGER became a running joke over the weekend. The fact that we named our beaver Toger in the first place – everyone knew we were playing with a filthy deck.  The next morning, I brought Toger for my photo op. I suggested John and Kikki help protect Toger and me from Ed. Well, as you can see, Kikki was having too much fun fondling Toger to protect him. As for Ed, he was poking away at Toger.

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The commentary got VERRA BLUE between the 4 of us. John Bell took his role very seriously but had quite enough and nearly fired all of us. My poor palsied face almost froze in a fit of laughter. I tell ya, that ain’t pretty.

Regressing a bit – Get this. I purchased a little token of Canadian goodness to give to the UK actors before ANY of the Toger/beaver jokes even started. A tiny little beaver with a Canadian flag painted on it, to remember their trip to #OV2019. Little did I know what this gift from me to them, would come to symbolize.

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How cute! Oh – look…the beaver has a pole…or its chewing on some wood…either way, it adds another layer of dirt.

So, I attended a suite party. Things that happen at the suite parties are supposed to stay at the suite parties but this is something I am going to share because it’s a me thing. Ed and I were chatting and naturally, there were jokes. That damned beaver, always getting into trouble. Laughing and carrying on, we had a moment where he looked at me in the eye, hand on mine and completely jokingly said: “You’ve violated me! I feel so violated”  I am laughing with him, yet I feel this shudder inside my chest.  I’m not sure exactly what it is. We are laughing harder…and then two more times…”You’ve violated me” his hand firm on mine.  I took a huge deep breath and felt something let go. “You do NOT know what you just did for me,” I said to him.  Puzzled, he made sure I knew he was kidding around, “I was jokin’, you know that.” Of course! Of course, I knew. This weird twisted humour became the perfect vehicle. He didn’t know what he had just done and until I sat with it, I didn’t know the full extent either.

tenor-5

Ok, it was wrinkled before but you get my meaning. (Source)

I am telling this to you because with all the laughter and silliness floating around us there was something in those words that became a balm to me. Something in those words that I never once had the chance to say to the person that violated me. As they were being said to me, by the person who held that brain/gut/heart connection to my villain – it healed a broken part of me. That shudder – was energy, that deep breath was to a space in me that hadn’t breathed in 37 yrs.

I felt it at that moment and as I laid in bed that night. I replayed that moment over in my head, as I did, something changed inside me. I was having trouble describing it but I could feel it.

Did you know I was raped when I was just a kid? Did you know it wasn’t my fault? Did you know I locked that up inside me for so fuckin long that it burned a hole inside of me that became a part of who I was? That hole made me rage about men who are handsome, charming and devious? I know you know because I finally said it out loud and I feel zero shame, humiliation or apprehension in doing so.

tenor-4

Deep breath. Moving forward. (source)

On the last night of Outlandish Vancouver, we were on the final voyage and I was hoping for a moment with Ed, so I could thank him. Imagine, thanking a man that plays a rapist on TV for giving me back that last grain of power I allowed my rapist to have. Koko sent Ed my way and trying not to sound insane or wishy-washy AF with my palsied face on the verge of tears, I shared with him, much of what I have shared with you.  I can’t say exactly what the exchange was because our words during that last interaction were more than kindness, I hold them close to my heart, in confidence. Ed Speleers, as funny as he is, he also is incredibly gracious.

I believe it more now than I did before. No matter where we are in this universe – people are put in our path for a reason. Many things happen the way they do because they are meant to. Had someone said that making an inappropriate beaver joke at Ed Speleers would lead to my healing a piece of my soul I forgot was broken…well, that just sounds full-on bat shit crazy, doesn’t it?

As others converged on our one on one, Ed gave me a huge hug, reached into his pocket and with a smile, pulled out the l’il wooden Canadian beaver I had given to him.

We will always have that.

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Card Collage 3

All the shiggles.

ABOotlander rebuilt, Sherry

Get naked. Stripping down #Outlander Ep11

That got your attention huh?  Just like the cold but hot open of this episode probably got you. I know my attention was captured, but a naked Roger will do that.

Now, this may be very obvious to everyone out there and you may say to me that this blog is the worst of the season because I haven’t dug deep enough and that’s fair. I don’t think I really did. This just stuck with me through the 3 times I watched.  It became more and more obvious and the reality is, I wanted to talk about it, so I am.

In this episode, our characters were on full display. They might as well have been playing their parts how Roger started the show for us.  In the raw.  That would have made the dinner party a lot less appetizing mind you.

The levels of exposure we saw in If Not For Hope went deep.  This may take me a while so you might want to pour yourself something hot or cold, grab a snack or two.

The obvious is Roger. His literal nakedness isn’t just there for our viewing pleasure. I believe it speaks to a few things. He is now stripped completely of who he was.  The buttoned-up historian of many layers. Each one tore away until he was bare and now, being recreated.  This Roger we will get to know was always beneath the layers but had no reason to be exposed. The layers have been ripped away and no longer protect him, this Roger steps forward to run the show.  Well, at least keep one foot in front of the other. Which is all we can seem to hope for.

Granted, Roger himself wasn’t physically present in the episode but make no mistake, he was there.  Through Brianna, Claire, Jamie, Ian and even Lord John, each bringing him to the surface.  They repeatedly reminded us of how perilous Roger’s situation is. How he was relying on them to save him from this situation they had a hand in placing him in (except Lord John…he’s cool).

Roger is completely on the outside of all of this.  He has no reason to believe anyone is looking for him. He has to trust that Brianna loves him as much as he loves her. That, my friends, is blind faith. Which is perhaps the most vulnerable anyone can make themselves emotionally.  This is intricately tied to the horrific moment at the end of the episode.  Roger makes himself just as vulnerable physically. He realizes what he needs to do. He stands to accept a substantial beating at the hands of his captors in a type of gauntlet, a blind faith, trusting he is strong enough to make it through.

Personally, I would have rathered another shower scene. Richard Rankin, for the lack of screen time, has most certainly given Roger a surprising amount of depth.

I will add, it would be fantastic to see either, in conversation or flashback, what happened at those damnable stones. Richard conveys so much of what Roger thinks in facial expression alone (something I think this cast is flippin’ remarkable at) I would love a peek at that moment.

Please know I do not view vulnerability as weakness. It is a state of being from which each one of us needs to be in, in order to trust or love.

In Brianna’s case, she was all over the vulnerability scale from frailty, threat, disquiet and even pliancy during this episode. She was open to her own pain, in fact, the first moment we saw her in this episode she was in the midst of drawing it. Lizzie saw this as demons. They were in a sense, Brianna’s own demons…of sadness, anger and worry.

Speaking of Brianna’s drawings, it seemed she was using them to expose her disquiet. The opening credits showed many pictures of the slaves at work. Phaedre came into her room, Brianna saw how the light caught her face, she asked Phaedre to sit so she could draw her.  To me, this showed Brianna’s discomfort with the way this world was working around her. She was able to capture that and put it to paper.  I do believe Phaedre was pleased with being seen by Brianna, yet, you could feel her unease. Even if she were safe with Brianna at that moment, she was only safe with Brianna at that moment. The second someone else came into that room that safety would disappear instantly.

Next is Brianna, exposed lamb to the slaughter, Tinder 1700’s version.  This was painful to watch with a modern eye.  I had to keep facepalming myself to reset.

Seeing Brianna have to shut down the fake compliments, the greasy ‘we should ride into town alone together after just meeting one another’ and ‘hey, my mom doesn’t know I’m gay, let’s pretend to be bff’s.’, was too much.  Brianna made the right call with the fake ‘case of the vapours’ to get the hell out of there.  I now know why so many women fainted back in those days and it wasn’t because of the tight corsets. Women are tougher than that. It was to get the hell out of the room and away from all the creeps. They literally had to pretend they were unconscious before people would let them leave the damn room.

After the delightful dinner party (she says with dripping sarcasm), Jocasta gets some alone time with Brianna and in that small amount of time Brianna pliancy grew.  At first, she started this conversation out strong but Jocasta, always cunning, knows exactly which string to pull to unravel even the most complex of patterns and she does just that. She grabbed onto the Roger and baby strings and pulled, hard. Brianna went from bold to pliant, which is a completely different variant of vulnerability.  Jocasta used the perfect words to cut Brianna down and weaken her ‘Roger’s gone…no matter dead or alive. GONE.’ ‘If your baby is born out of wedlock, their life is RUINED.’  Brianna is brought to the point of being forced to look at her situation as the condition it is being referred to.

 

Jumping ahead Brianna is armed with what she thinks is the blackmail of the century. Bree decided to hit LJG where it hurts, in the ‘being gay is punishable by death’ spot.  She felt this was a pretty great plan, she could coerce him into marrying her because she knew this big secret and he would never want to sleep with her because he didn’t like women. Win Win.  LJG is a great guy and all but he isn’t one to be trifled with. He clapped back, letting her know the Vaginawagon wasn’t in mint condition and she would do well to stand down.

That moment with LJG is where Bree is the most exposed.  She allowed him to know all the details of her pregnancy and her desire to protect her child even over her own happiness.  It proves it doesn’t matter if we are trying to show others how strong we are, if there are cracks in the armour, someone will get through it. Even if it ends up being us, no one can stay locked in there forever. It’s stifling.

 

Lord John Grey. That name deserves a moment. He isn’t one you would feel is in a state of vulnerability given his status. Lord John, however, is a man who happens to love men. In colonial America, this is a crime punishable by death. This instantly makes Lord John a person in jeopardy.  The moment he is introduced to Brianna you can see him soften from Lord John Grey…to John, Jamie’s friend.  Which in itself brings an openness to him.  Since he is raising Willie, Jamie’s son, it makes sense that he would have a soft spot for Brianna, Jamie’s daughter.  You would think when LJG is most vulnerable is when Bree exposes his throat and threatens to chow down on it by telling the world he is gay. The idea may be threatening but after the initial imagery passes, he knows this won’t happen. The moments he is truly most vulnerable is when he is speaking of his relationship with Jamie and Claire.  When he speaks to her of Willie. Many of LJGs vulnerabilities lay in the secrets he must keep. The more people he opens himself up to, the more likely those secrets will be exposed.

Lord John chose to keep Brianna and the child safe by becoming engaged to her. It was LJG , after all, who told Bree to trust that Jamie and Claire would bring Roger back.  By promising to marry her, he was giving her the hope she needed and saving her heart from breaking any more.

It certainly was beautiful to see Marsali and Fergus again.  Their relationship is one I wish we could get more of.  They are strong and fierce but when it comes to one another, so tender. Fergus is being attacked by a toxic mentality of not being ‘man’ enough and Marsali is requesting Murtagh fix it.  She knows very well she could tell Fergus, a million times, he is more man than anyone, it won’t make a difference. Until Fergus feels that himself, it will tear at him.

 

When we love someone, even things we are not responsible for, weigh heavily on us. We want to fix them, which will sometimes cause us to be exposed to our own vulnerabilities. Marsali is not a fan of asking for help, but she does, for her husband. It works out perfectly in the end as Fergus feels needed but also knows his place is with his family.

Marsali knew she wasn’t responsible for Fergus’s pain but she worried about it. We see Jamie worrying about Brianna’s pain, and he did cause hers.  Naturally, this is weighing very heavily on not only him but Claire.  Both are in solitary and pensive states.

 

I believe as long as Brianna feels angry, Jamie will feel guilty. That is par for the course, isn’t it? As family dynamics go, when we hurt someone, intentionally or not, most will stew about it, worry, wonder what we can do (if we can do) anything to fix it. Jamie was in his own head, as he should be.  A big part of forgiveness is beating ourselves up, I think we all know that.

Taking responsibility for our actions means owning them and feeling bad they happened.  Wrapping it all together means having apologized and trying to make things better. Sadly, when we attempt to make things better we become vulnerable to not being forgiven.  That is the scariest thing of all.  When we have created pain for someone, it is never up to us if they can move past it. I think that is why Jamie is in this space he has created.  Jamie’s future happiness as a father to Brianna is 100% out of his control. What an all together powerless feeling, but one he understands, from the things he said.

Claire knows some of this though, she is the healer. She does that for them both, physically and emotionally.  She identifies the wound, assesses the treatment and then, she does the best she can.  The same we do for those we love. In turn, we expect those who love us to accept it.  This couple is best when they share their vulnerabilities and allow the other to be the strength where they lack.  With each struggle, bump in the road, argument and disappointment – couples grow. We see Claire and Jamie settled into their life as a couple but still growing and that’s important.

Knowing we are watching Brianna and Roger in their infancy as a couple excites me because it means we still have so much more to look forward to.  There is nowhere to go but up.

 

Now that I wasted a whole hour of your day, I will wrap it up.  I could go on to mention every character and how they were vulnerable and exposed but even I get tired of myself…

 

When we get naked, let our vulnerabilities be exposed – do we do it knowing there is the possibility of getting hurt?                                                                                                                  Do we hide our nakedness all together so no one has the opportunity to hurt us but we are so lonely…it hurts?                                                                                                                      Maybe we only allow certain people to catch a glimpse here and there and still find ourselves harmed in some way.

Life is messy, isn’t it? It’s messy…but it’s beautiful. It’s chaotic…but it’s an adventure. What we focus on expands…what are we choosing to look at?

We only have 2 more episodes left before the next Droughtlander commences my friends, this had gone by so fast!

Sher (Founder of the ABOotlanders)

Please live tweet with us Canadians as we watch on W Network at 8pm MST using the hashtag #OutlanderCAN