Twenty-three years after it was published, the first novel in Diana Gabaldon's time-traveling series, Outlander, hits No. 5 on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list, its highest rank ever.
Credit a $1.99 e-book discount and the Aug. 9 debut of a TV series based on the novel about a World War II nurse who ends up in 18th-century Scotland.
Gabaldon calls the 16-hour series on Starz, the pay cable network, a "dream come true" because it's long enough to do justice to her 850-page novel.
After it was published in 1991, Outlander was optioned as a movie "several times," she says. But she found the attempts of screenwriters to "squish" the complex plot into a two-hour movie to be "horrifying." All that was left, she says, were "bloody shreds."
Gabaldon says Starz hopes to turn each of the novels in the series — she's written eight so far and has begun the ninth — into a separate TV season.
The latest novel in the series, Written in My Own Heart's Blood, landed on the list at No. 2 in June. Publisher Random House reports the series has sold more than 25 million copies.
Gabaldon, now 62, was a professor at the Center for Environmental Studies at Arizona State University when, in 1988, she began to revive a childhood dream: to become a novelist.
She imagined Claire Randall (played by Caitriona Balfe in the TV series) as a nurse who had just survived World War II and wanders through a circle of standing stones in Scotland, emerging in the 18th century. She meets a handsome, kilt-wearing clansman named Jamie Fraser (played by Sam Heughan).