Sometimes life just has a way of kicking you around. An unexpected diagnosis, the untimely death of a loved one, a marriage on the brink, a wayward child…a hurricane. Unfortunately, the list doesn’t end there. It goes on and on. Life has dealt me along with my family many hard swift kicks through the years. I’m sure you know the kind, right? The kicks you never see coming. The ones that bring you to your knees. I know them because I have lived them but if you meet me in person, I will never let you see them. For me, it’s about coping and surviving through those dark times, carrying on as best I can – as if the present doesn’t truly exist. Yes, I’m a wanna be time traveler…if you didn’t know that already.
I have my faith and I thank God for that. Even still, if you’re like me, you need distractions amid all the trouble. You need to be able to escape to a safe place and that’s where Outlander comes in for me.
When I discovered Outlander, or should I say when my friend forced it upon me, it was a life changing moment. That may seem like an overly dramatic statement but it truly was. In a world that seemed to be turning me upside down at times and shaking me from the pit of my soul, I could watch an episode (or two or three) of Outlander and forget it all for a while. I could open the books and be transported to another time and another place with people I knew and some I could trust (I never trust BJR). I watched and then read about them. I was witness to their relationships with friends, family and lovers.
It hasn’t stopped. Outlander is still my distraction and after a particularly difficult couple of weeks, I was thinking about the phenomenon of the “Outlander Distraction”. What is it that drives me (and perhaps you) to distraction with these books and this series? I think I know and no, it’s not about the sex. Oh yes, the sex is good but it simply fits into a much larger answer. Ready for it? OK, here’s my answer.
When watching the series and reading the books, we become not just spectators but participants. We are there beside our beloved friends, cheering them on. We empathize with their heartbreaks, the injustices forced upon them and their losses because we have been there too.
Our heroes and heroines go through some pretty terrible things…just like us.
Prince Charming isn’t always able to rescue the Damsel in Distress nor is the Damsel able to rescue the Prince…just like us.
They don’t live happily ever after…yes, just like us.
They go through real life struggles again and again and then again – Jamie’s rape, Claire’s miscarriage and the death of Baby Faith, betrayals, battles, the deaths of friends and family members, and heartbreaking separations – and that’s just to name a few of the tragedies which happen in the first two books! So beautifully written by Diana, so eloquently spoken through the characters of the books and then so wonderfully interpreted by the actors, the love story of Jamie & Claire and the relationships of and with their family and friends are the things which pierce our hearts. Their struggles to survive, to endure, to persevere and never give up in the face of adversity combined with their unconditional love for each other in all those moments remind us of what we want for ourselves. In their stories, we find hope for our own story.
So, as we look forward to Season 3 and Voyager, I will not be ashamed to say that I will probably watch every episode 10 times and re-read Voyager all over again for the third time. I will bask in every second of each episode – before, during and after Jamie and Claire’s much-anticipated reunion. Because sometimes, we just need the distraction. And other times, we desperately need to be reminded that when life gives us a serious kick, there is still hope and maybe, just maybe, love can still conquer all! Hurry Season 3!
Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest. Yo ho ho and….wait a minute. No, no, no! Not a bottle of rum…..a giveaway!
In honor of Susan Jackson’s guest post this past week regarding the Gentleman Pirate Stede Bonnet, I will be giving away to one lucky reader, Miller Pope’s book “Pirates of the Carolinas”. All that is required for you to enter is to answer one multiple choice question regarding your interests as it relates to Outlander North Carolina. This will help us know where we should focus most of our energies with our blog posts. Nothing else is required of you to enter although it would be nice if you subscribed to the blog, in the event you haven’t already. Sharing is always good so perhaps you might also consider sharing my blog and and the Facebook group with other like-minded people. (You know, the crazy, delusionally obsessed Outlander fan type – wink, wink?)
One more note of interest on Stephen Bonnet, that pirate we meet in Drums of Autumn and the one we all hate – if you have read the books, that is. Karen Henry over at Outlandish Observations told me that Diana (you know, Herself?) has said that Stephen is probably the son or grandson of Major Stede Bonnet. If anyone would know, it would be Diana, so, there you go! The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He’s a chip off the old block. Like father, like son. OK, I’m rambling and I’ll stop now but you get the picture. Diana is truly a walking history book. I wish I could have her brain but I doubt she wants to part with it and I doubt even more that she would want mine in place of hers.
Now, back to the contest. You must have or register for an Amazon account to enter; however, NO PURCHASE IS REQUIRED. One entry per person. Giveaway ends Sunday, September 3, 2017 at 11:59 PM. One winner from all entrants will be randomly selected by Amazon who will notify that person via email. Watch your inbox since the winner will have 48 hours to respond. For more, please see the Official Rules at https://amzn.to/GArules.
Ready to enter the Yo Ho Ho Giveaway? Well, then, just click on this link: Yo Ho Ho Giveaway.
Thanks for reading the blog and may the best Sassenach win!!!
Early in Drums of Autumn (DOA), Claire and Jamie meet Stephen Bonnet, a pirate who had just escaped hanging. Against his better judgment, Jamie lets Bonnet come along with them–under cover–and go back to his ship.
And that was the beginning of a loooong back and forth relationship, if you will, of the Frasers and the despicable Stephen Bonnet. In fact, I would say the man is hated much, much more than Geillis in the book series. Rightly so, as he was truly a degenerate, with no hope of rehabilitation–a career pirate.
Since the time of piracy’s heydays in the Colonial period, history has somehow managed to romanticize it. Not to be confused with privateering, which was a ship whose crew was authorized by their government to capture enemy merchant ships during war time, pirates captured any boat they thought had goods aboard that they could either sell for the profit, or keep themselves. Pirates murdered, maimed and stole simply out of greed.
When I first read the name Stephen Bonnet in DOA, I thought I had heard the name before. Living on the coast of North Carolina, there are plenty of old pirate stories hanging around, and Blackbeard is the best-known pirate in these parts, as he kept headquarters in the old town of Bath, which isn’t far from me. There are endless stories of treasure that Edward “Blackbeard” Teach (or a/k/a Thatch) has hidden all over the Outer Banks, even as far inland as Edenton. (No one has found any of it, by the way–but then again, who would tell it if they did?) But I knew there was something familiar about Bonnet’s name, so I looked it up. Come to find out, Stephen Bonnet is truly a fictional character, but his name is very similar to the man known as the Gentleman Pirate, Major Stede Bonnet.
Major Stede Bonnet was born in Barbados in 1688 to a fairly well-to-do English family. His father died when he was six years old, and he became owner of his father’s land and holdings. He was a member of the Barbados militia, and in 1709, married a young woman named Mary, and they had four children. As we say, life was good. Then something happened.
No one knows exactly when, but one of the Bonnet’s children died. Some blamed Stede’s decision to become a pirate on his grief, some blamed it on an unhappy marriage, and some chalk it up to Stede being a Jacobite and wanting to spite King George in any way he could. We Outlander fans are pros on terms like Jacobite, and even know who King George was. 😉 Whatever the reason, Stede used his own money to have a ship built, rigged it with cannons, named it the Revenge, got a crew together, and set sail.
The Bonnet Flag
Fortunately for the Major, he didn’t do too badly in 1717, hanging out around the coast from the Carolinas to New York, plundering away, in spite of the fact that he had no sailing experience whatever. His crew didn’t like him, though, as he ordered them around, not having a clue about navigation, or running a ship. His captain’s cabin was filled with books, and he often lay around like the well-to-do man that he was. One day, his lack of seafaring knowledge was plain to see when he ordered the attack of a Spanish ship. The Revenge was badly damaged, as were members of his crew, along with their captain.
During his convalescence, Bonnet met Blackbeard. Bonnet’s crew begged the fairly new pirate captain, Blackbeard, to take over the Revenge because Bonnet had no idea what he was doing. They needed a sure and confident leader, and Blackbeard, though just starting out with his own ship, was an experienced pirate. Blackbeard convinced Bonnet that he could be his guest while his injuries healed, and the pampered Bonnet was only too happy to accept. The two pirate captains were very successful in their partnership and the Gentleman Pirate must have thought every pirate captain was a gentleman. He would soon find out Blackbeard was a shrewd man, and a true pirate.
Stede Bonnet and Blackbeard
Sometime in early 1718, Bonnet was much improved and ready to take on the seas again, but ran into trouble when he attacked another ship and the attack failed. Once again, the captain and crew took refuge on Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Blackbeard suggested Bonnet and his crew go into the town of Bath to seek out a governor’s pardon. So much for good partnerships because while Bonnett and some of his crew were being pardoned and authorized to privateer, Blackbeard took off with their loot and the remaining crew! After this, Bonnet tried really hard to stick to privateering and attacking only Spanish ships, as the governor had given him the right to do. However, being the not-so-good man that he was, he ended up getting back into piracy and spending about two months looking for the double-crossing Edward Teach and the Queen Anne’s Revenge.
Bonnet never found Blackbeard, as both Blackbeard’s and Bonnet’s days were numbered. While Bonnet was on the run, Blackbeard, in November 1718, was killed in a long fight with British soldiers near Ocracoke Island in North Carolina, and his head was taken and hung from the front of the military ship to prove that Blackbeard was no longer in the pirate business. In the meantime, Bonnet had changed his ship’s name to the Royal James to avoid detection from officials. They were onto him, however, and caught up with him as the boat underwent some repairs while harboring at a creek near the mouth of the Cape Fear River and the quaint little town of Southport. A fight ensued (The Battle of Cape Fear also called the Battle of the Sandbars), and the pirate ultimately surrendered. After a brief escape, old Stede was recaptured and hanged, along with his crew, in December 1718.
Bonnet’s Creek Memorial, Southport, NC. Reads as follows, “BONNET’S CREEK ~ Stede Bonnet, the ‘Gentleman Pirate’ used the mouth of this creek as a hide-out for his vessel, the Royal James formerly called Revenge. Here on September 26, 1718, the great Battle of the Sand Bars was fought between the pirates and the men sent to capture them under the command of Col. William Rhett aboard the “Henry” and “Sea Nymph”. After a twenty-four hour battle there were nineteen men killed, twenty-three wounded, and Bonnet, with the remains of his pirate crew, surrendered. On November 8, 1718, twenty-nine of the pirates were hanged in Charleston, S.C. A few weeks later, holding a cluster of flowers in his manacled hands, Gentleman Stede Bonnet met the same fate on the gallows. This part of the Cape Fear was a favorite meeting place for pirates, including the notorious Blackbeard and Mary Anne Blythe, the woman buccaneer.”
NC Historical Marker Located In Southport, NC
The Execution of Stede Bonnet
Bonnet Memorial in Charleston, SC
Diana has asked many times (somewhatjokingly) if we think she makes up the “stuff” she writes in her books. Well, she does but being the researcher she is, we also know she uses real people to create some fictional ones. Think about Geillis Duncan who was inspired by the nonfictional Gellie Duncan of the 1590’s Berwick Witch Trials in Scotland. So, what do you think? Could Stede Bonnet have been Diana’s inspiration for her fictional Stephen Bonnet? What other fictional characters do you think Diana has created from real people?
Want to visit the old stomping grounds of Stede Bonnet mentioned in this article? Did you say yes? Then, check out the following sites:
Susan Jackson is a mother of four who lives in coastal North Carolina, and an avid Outlander fan. Besides reading, she loves cooking and baking, and music. She is a thyroid cancer survivor and has worked in education most of her life. She hopes to one day blog about her thyroid cancer journey.
Yes, Jamie dear, what you said – thank you! Since I tend to be in a constant delusional state, I can only partially begin to tell you how completely overwhelmed I have been by the events which have transpired over the last few days. My blog & my first blog post went public last Friday and I never expected the outpouring of support and enthusiasm which I have received since. Never! When I publicly announced the blog on Facebook and Twitter, my thought was that I would be happy if 10 people took a moment of their valuable time to take a look. So, you can imagine my excitement over the more than 3000 views my blog has received since it went public on August 11. And if that wasn’t exciting enough, I must tell you that the comments I have received on the blog plus the comments from the Outlander social media community have been completely humbling and mind boggling. Oh, and that’s not to mention the wonderful emails I have received and new Instagram & Twitter follows. Then to put the cherry on top of all that goodness, Karen Henry over at Outlandish Observations shared my blog with her readers. Let’s just say, I have been so excited that I’ve looked a lot like Murtagh trying to dance a jig. Murtagh & I have a lot in common, you see – we both love Jamie and neither of us can dance! But after looking more closely, I believe Murtagh has a slight advantage over me in the dancing department.
So, if you will allow me, I want to take a moment to let ALL of you know how much I appreciate every single one of you who visited my blog, commented, emailed, followed me on Instagram and Twitter and even shared my blog with others. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. This past week has been an awesome ride and it would never have happened without you! I am both humbled and amazed! Thank you all!!!
I also want to let you know, in case you didn’t see the link when visiting the blog, that there is an Outlander North Carolina Facebook group.
This group’s focus is primarily on North Carolina as it relates to the Outlander series of books beginning with Drums of Autumn and/or the STARZ Original TV Series beginning with Season 4. However, while that’s the focus, other Outlander topics (Books 1 through 3 & Seasons 1 through 3) are, of course, welcome as well as any other Outlander related topic of interest. I mean we have to make it through the rest of Droughtlander, right? (Did I just say that word? Where is Dr. I. Fash Yeken when you need him?) In order to do that, we have to talk about the first three books and the previous two seasons plus the upcoming one to do it! If you haven’t joined the group already, head on over there, soldier, and join up! (Pssst! You can find the group by clicking here.)
If you have joined, we are so glad to have you! We want to encourage all members to connect with each other. The group is not my group but OURS together! Don’t be afraid to post, share, comment, etc. We want this to be an engaged, vibrant group who is excited about learning and/or sharing the North Carolina angle of Outlander plus ALL other things Outlander!
Again, thank you with all my heart and welcome to the sometimes crazy world of Outlander North Carolina. I hope it will not disappoint!
Do you have a suggestion for something you’d like me to write about on this blog? Would you be interested in writing a guest post? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, please be so kind as to put it in the comments or you can send me a message by clicking on the “Say Hello” link in the menu and fill out the form. I’d love to hear from you and I thank you – truly!
Outlander. Just the word makes knees weak and hearts quiver all over the world. People scope out social media for the latest news and updates. They read then re-read the books. They watch then re-watch the series. People can quote the lines from The Wedding episode word for word and probably backwards. (Ahem, yes, I’m talking about you.) On Saturday nights, there was a hush around the world as new episodes aired on STARZ and threats were made on social media that any disturbance between 9 and 10 pm would be met with violence.
Believe it or not, it wasn’t always that way for me. Outlander? Who cares? Fiddle faddle and all that stuff. Yeah, that was me just a few years ago. My best friend kept telling me about these books and that I MUST read them. My pat answer was “I just don’t have time,” then I would brush her off with a look that probably said “Get a grip, woman. You are obsessed.” Well, then a little over two years ago, she had the nerve to broach the subject again one night at dinner. There’s a show now, she said. You must watch it, she said. Geez, woman, I thought. Can you not just give it up?!?! Why would I want to watch a show based on a book that I have no interest in reading? Then, she pulled out her phone and showed me a picture of Sam Heughan. Well, he’s pretty likable. I mean, he’s really likable. Honestly, he’s pretty lovable. For Pete’s sake, he’s about the best looking thing I’ve ever seen. Maybe this Outlander thing might just be worth a try to look at him. I mean, I’m married and very happily so, but I ain’t blind and a little eye candy might brighten up my week – even if the show isn’t worth a flip. (I hear you laughing out there.)
Well, I went home and the next week watched the first episode of the first season. Good glory! I was hooked. Not only did Sam Heughan live up to my expectations (and yes, considerably brightened my week) but Caitroina Balfe was beautiful and gutsy as Claire Randall. But, what surprised me even more was the story – it was absolutely fascinating. I promptly proceeded to watch the next seven episodes, the last one ending with Jamie sitting in the window with a gun trained on that wicked, despicable, not-worthy-of-the-air-Jamie-breathes Black Jack Randall.
At that point, the story had taken over my thoughts. Was I becoming, horrors of horrors, obsessed like my friend? What was happening to me – this stable, we-won’t-say-how-old woman who now wondered if perhaps it might just be possible to travel through time and meet someone like Jamie Fraser? I had lost touch completely with reality. Outlander had consumed my waking thoughts and even my sleeping ones. I hate to admit it but when I would get up to go to the bathroom at night, I couldn’t go back to sleep for thinking about the show and wondering what was going to happen next.
Quite unwilling and still more unable to go through countless sleepless nights, I ordered the first book with Amazon Prime two day shipping. Surely, I could survive two nights of sleeplessness. Surely, my husband could endure watching me walk around the house like a zombie muttering words like Sassenach, sláinte and kilts, randomly shouting “Tùlach Àrd!” and dreamily repeating the phrase “To bed? Or to sleep?”
Amazon did not disappoint and here came the first book on the second day. Game changer! It was over. I started reading that book and realized that Outlander was a whole lot more than pretty faces (and bodies). This was a story – a love story – for the ages and I could not get enough. I finished up Book 1, downloaded it on my Kindle, then ordered Dragonfly in Amber plus downloaded it on my Kindle. (May I ask? Can one have too many ways to access these books? Not me! I even ordered the audible versions!)
At the beginning of Dragonfly, I threw the book on the floor, texted my friend that I hated her and yelled as only one can do with a text asking her what in the world had just happened. If you have read the book, you can sympathize.
She told me calmly to keep reading. OK. Maybe I didn’t hate her after all so I took her advice and continued to read and read and read and…..well, you get the picture. I read until I got to Drums of Autumn. I didn’t throw the book on the floor this time but my friend had failed to tell me something very important. This beautiful story brings Jamie & Claire to North Carolina! What? Why would she have not told me that? Really, she lives in North Carolina too. Did she not think that was important information? I decided that I hated her again because I might would have started reading the books a whole lot sooner. Geez, girl!
Anyway, that’s when I began wanting to know everything about the places that Jamie & Claire visited and/or lived in North Carolina. Yes, I’ve lived in North Carolina all my life but it’s a pretty big state and I’m no expert outside of my own local area. I connected with a great Facebook group (NC Outlander Fans) who are all North Carolina residents by requirement (if you qualify, check them out). I have learned so much from this group but there’s still much more to learn, to see, and to do. So, I thought to myself, “Self, wouldn’t it be great to discover the places Jamie, Claire & clan went to in North Carolina with fresh Outlander eyes? And wouldn’t it be great to share all those discoveries with others who may or may not live in North Carolina? And, better still, wouldn’t it be great to write about the history & places of North Carolina and how they relate to Outlander beginning with Drums of Autumn and weave Jamie & Claire’s story in at the same time?”
And, there you have it. That’s the long story of how this insanity started. As a result, here I am today, writing my first blog post, realizing a dream which has been in the making ever since I read Drums of Autumn and all the later books.
So, Sassenach, are you ready to go to North Carolina? I hope the answer is yes and that you will join me on this wild and crazy ride through time with Jamie and Claire. Along the way, I sincerely ask for your comments, kind corrections, suggestions, and recommendations as we learn and laugh together. As for me, Je suis prest! Let’s go!
P.S. I decided not to hate my friend anymore. I finished all eight books and thanked her for sharing them with me. Now, she looks at me like I’m the crazy one. I think she’s right. You can check out my diagnosis here.