Fear not, "Outlander" fans. The upcoming television adaptation of the wildly popular time-travel romance will remain as loyal as possible to the source material.
During an appearance at the Television Critics Association press tour here on Friday, a kilt-wearing executive producer, Ron Moore, told reporters that he'll do his best to deliver the story that fans of the printed page expect, while trying to make it come alive on the TV screen.
"My job is to interpret and develop it for another audience," said Moore, who appeared alongside author Diana Gabaldon, and actors Sam Heughan and Caitrona Balfe. "My role is not reinventing but adapting it. ... There is an audience for it and a dedicated fan base who have read these for years. ... I take that obligation seriously. I want to give them their story, but I have to translate it and tell a story."
With that in mind, Moore made the bold move to pitch author Diana Gabaldon on a different opening for series. It will begin with a two-minute prologue set during World War II that finds Claire Randall (Balfe) "in her element" working as a combat nurse in a field hospital.
Gabaldon said she approved the change, mainly because of its visual power.
"You need to appreciate her immediately. It shows her being the competent and resilient person that she is," the author pointed out.
Published in 1991, "Outlander" is the first in a series of seven historical novels that focuses on Claire, who time travels to 18th century Scotland and finds herself in a passionate affair with the dashing James Fraser (Heughan). Starz has ordered 16 episodes and if the obsessive fan base is any indication, there will be many more to come.
Gabaldon has an executive producer credit on the show, but thus far she has not been involved with the writing or directing. She did reveal, however, that she will recite two lines of dialogue in a brief cameo.
"That's the extent of my personal involvement," she said.
A male critic wondered why the books had cast such a powerful spell over their predominantly female audience. Gabaldon had a precise explanation.
"I'm tempted to point to him," she said, referring to the hunky Heughan, who was also clad in a kilt. "It's Jamie. He is the focus. It's the entire story. (The fans) love Claire. They identify with Claire. They want to be Claire. But they want to lick him."