Maria’s Outlander Story
I finally watched the television series Outlander in 2018 after a dear friend had repeatedly told me that I “NEEDED” to watch it. I was hooked by the end of the first episode. I had to know what happened to Claire. Did she get back to the stones to get to her own time? How does a modern woman survive in the past? So many questions came to mind. The binge watching commenced! Within two weeks I was caught up and watching the weekly episodes released during season 4.
The story and everything about it quickly took up a very special place in my heart. I had no clue that the television series was based on a book series. Little did I realize that another friend had recommended the books to me and they were on my Goodreads app shelf as a “Want To Read”. Of course, I did the usual Google searches of all the actors to find out more about them. Side note: I saw the movie “The Spy Who Dumped Me’ in August of 2018. I wondered who the very good looking man with the accent was. I found out a few months later. It was Sam Heughan aka Jamie Fraser!
During this Outlander newbie period I started following all sorts of fan pages on Instagram and Facebook groups. After seeing the content they were posting and then all of the info and interviews on the internet. I decided to start my own fan page. I had so many ideas for edits, memes, and unique posts. I just wanted to share my love with everyone who would be interested. Thus the fan page ‘The Outlander Lounge’ was born. This is the first time I ever did anything like this. I was amazed at how this story came over me like a tidal wave, captured me and has yet to let go.
In April of 2019, I won a Facebook fan page contest for a ticket to go to An Evening with Diana Gabaldon at Tryon Palace in New Bern, NC. I was beyond excited that I would get the chance to listen to and possibly meet Diana. I flew into the quaint New Bern airport and headed to the B & B the evening before the event. When I woke up that morning I felt strange and couldn't seem to shake it off. As the early morning hour went on I noted each of the symptoms I was having: chest pressure, pain in jaw and teeth, shortness of breath upon getting out of bed, then cold sweats and dizziness. I did a quick Google search and realized I may be having a heart attack. I called 911 and they were going to send an ambulance. From there I was taken to the local hospital and it was verified that I was in fact having a heart attack. A heart catheter was done and showed 75% blockage in my main heart artery and three stents were placed to remove the blockage. Needless to say, I had to miss dinner with Diana that evening. The staff at the hospital were incredibly kind as they felt terrible that I traveled to New Bern for the event and couldn't attend. They arranged to get a book signed by Diana and a few other keepsakes from Tryon Palace. On the way back to the airport I had the Uber driver take the scenic route through the town and drive past Tryon Palace. I didn't get to see the town at all while I was there. Not the most fun travel story ever, but I am very thankful to be healthy and alive.
During the first half of 2019 I tore through reading the books and couldn't get enough of the story. Reading each book then going back to re-watch each season several times over.
Prior to attending my first Outlander Comic Con, I put an open invitation out on Instagram to other fans who were attending the 2019 NYCC to be in a group chat and to meet up during the event. Seven new friendships were born. We call ourselves the 'Sassenach Squad'. This group message has been active ever since. Many of us have attended other Outlander events together since NYCC in 2019.
At the January 2020 Wizard World convention in NOLA, I got the chance to ask Sam my question on stage during the Q&A panel. I couldn't believe I was sitting next to him on stage and talking to him. I loved every minute of it. Sam told me numerous times that I did a fantastic job on stage. I had plenty of experience with public speaking because of my job. This moment caused me to think deeply about a future as an interviewer & emcee, and how I could do this on a regular basis.
Shortly after the amazing experience in NOLA, I learned that other Outlander cast members were coming to my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, for the Wizard World Convention. I knew that I had to find out who I could ask about the opportunity of being the panel moderator for the event. After some research and several emails I found out, sent the email, and was surprised to receive an email back with a “Yes” a few days later. Preparing for the panel with Caitriona, Duncan and Richard, and the event itself, was a joy & truly unforgettable. I wanted the panel conversation with Caitriona to be very natural, like you were talking to a best friend. I think that feeling was achieved. I received many compliments of how that interview with Caitriona is one of their favorites.
The week after Wizard World in Cleveland, the world shut down. The 2020 pandemic came upon us. Prior to this time, my Sassenach Squad sisters had been doing Instagram Lives discussing Outlander season 5 episodes. I enjoyed the camaraderie that was formed with so many in the fandom. I decided to keep the Outlander conversations going, by hosting weekly Outlander Chats at The Lounge, on Instagram Live, which began in the summer of 2020. I love to hear the stories from my weekly guest of how Outlander has positively affected their lives. We also discuss what has happened during the past week in the Outlander-verse (anything to do with those involved in the Outlander television series). As well as our thoughts and theories about the books and the television series story. We even play Outlander themed games.
I also take part as co-host on another weekly Instagram Live. My Sassenach Squad sister Nicole (ig@outlanderchronicles) has a weekly (Boozy) Book Club on Wednesday evening. Myself and Tracy (ig@outlanderobsessed) take turns every other week as co hosts. I enjoy making up a fun cocktail based on an event or scene from the chapters we are covering, thus it’s a Boozy Book Club. We are currently reading Drums of Autumn and hope to be finished with book 6 before the Outlander season 6 premiere in 2022.
I recently slid a little deeper into the Outlander world by joining with fellow Outlander fan Cynthia Dawn who had started filming footage for an Outlander Fan Documentary back in 2018. I look forward to working with her and the crew in a couple of months when I will be traveling to meet her in California. I can’t wait to see the end result of the documentary, as Cynthia Dawn calls it, “a love letter from the Outlander fans”.
Here I am in July of 2021, I see no end to my love of the Outlander story and talking about it to anyone who will listen. Welcome to my little section of the internet here at The Outlander Lounge.
Feel free to share your Outlander story here on The Outlander Lounge website (Contact & Submit Story). We would love to hear it.