I have become the recipient of several books that I had only recently come to know of upon hearing that Graham McTavish had been cast in the new Starz original series, “Outlander.” Naturally, I patiently await news and its premiere.
Needless to say I was floored when I received these books – a set of seven of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series of eight. This generous gift was received from a fellow Richard Armitage admirer and ravenous book reader, The Arkenstone – who is also lovingly known as Arkie.
The thick paperback tomes are simplistic and minimal in their cover art, and their contents appear to be far richer.
Shamefully, however, after receiving them (because I have many other books in my “queue” to read), I failed to notice a very special feature about these particular books.
I had tucked them away to await their turn in my queue, but auspiciously, while I was moving the books a few days ago, Outlander fell open to reveal a unique concept of giving which is labeled and detailed on the inside cover.
These series of books have been entered in a program which is designed to encourage book sharing. The books’ participation – all initiated and perpetuated by Arkie – have been labeled with custom-made sticker labels that each carry ID numbers for tracking and information on this share program. Each book’s new owners are encouraged by the sticker to seek out the website www.BookCrossing.com, where the its specific travel history can be obtained and a new owner can continue on the tradition.
Although The Arkenstone writes fan fiction herself, she also generously shares links to other’s fan fiction as well in her weekly wrap-ups.
After being clued in to the fact that there was more “gift” beneath their covers, I spoke with Arkie about this program and her participation, where more was learned on her passion for reading, writing and sharing.
CC: I just adore my new books! Please tell me how BookCrossing.com came to your attention and when did you join the program?
TA: My husband gave me a Nook as a Mother’s Day gift in 2010, with the intention of ridding our house of the over-abundance of books. Let me step back for a second, not only did I have new books, but I also collect pre-1950 hardback books. Why pre-1950? Because there are less of them. My oldest is an 1853 Fifth Grade Primer. Think about it. 31 States. No Civil War, No Abraham Lincoln. Franklin Pierce was President. Potato Chips weren’t invented until August, 1853. There were also less words per page. Anyway, he knew I wouldn’t get rid of the old books. For the next few months, I gave several boxes to the local library, but they didn’t have the room for any more. I sent my paperback books to the Veterans Association or Wounded Warriors. One day I was searching the Internet for some books for my Nook and happened to see an advertisement for BookCrossing.com. The rest as they say is history.
CC: Aside from signing up, what is the process for participating in the program as you understand it?
TA: It’s really that easy. You don’t have to have books to share. You can look for books that are available and request them. It’s a sharing site to get people to read. It’s a chance to read an author you might have heard of and not read. I think there’s probably more books there that people have never heard of than you can imagine.
CC: When did you first read the books/become a fan of Diane Gabaldon? What made you choose, or wish to share, these books in particular?
TA: I have always been a fan of science fiction and fantasy. When “Outlander” came out in 1991, I bought it. I read it in 3 days. I couldn’t put it down. I bought every one of the series as soon as it hit the stores. I didn’t wait for the paperback. I really thought I would keep them forever. Then when word got out that Starz was making a series, my first reaction was “Oh no. I have to cart those heavy tomes around, when I’m now using a Nook?” I decided since I was going to buy the ebook version, that I didn’t need to keep 12 pounds of books around. I first put them on BookCrossing.com in a controlled release, simply because there were so many copies of the Outlander series already listed. That way I could hold them and not feel obligated to set them out someplace. They were in pristine condition.
CC: Yes, the books are indeed in pristine condition, and I do plan to keep them that way until I put them back into circulation. So how many books would you say you read a year?
TA: Easier to ask me how many books I read in a week. If the book is good, I will read it in a day. I’ve been known to read a book a day. So on an average, I would say probably in the neighborhood of 200, more or less. I will read almost everything and almost anything.
CC: Shamefully I could never keep up with you as such a prolific reader. But I think we may mutually know of a certain someone who might come close to that when he’s not working, hm? So, when did Richard Armitage come into your own sightlines?
TA: Probably 2011. My husband was channel-surfing and we came across Robin Hood. As someone once said, “I rooted for the wrong side.” I didn’t really get into the whole “Armitage Army” until later, but I did look him up on the Internet and checked out a few of his fan websites. I was amazed at their dedication to him. That is until Gandalf opened the door to him at Bilbo’s house. Thorin Oakenshield pretty much turned my whole world upside down.
CC: So was it then that began reading fan fiction containing the characters portrayed by Richard Armitage, or does it go further back to other characters/fandoms?
TA: I didn’t read fan-fiction before I wrote fan-fiction. There are a couple of series I read now.
CC: How long have you been writing yourself? Is there a site that we can go to?
TA: I wrote my first fan-fiction in June 2013. I post on a couple of sites, Wattpad and DreamerFiction. Wattpad is easy to register on. Dreamer Fiction you have to be invited to join. It’s a little more selective. [Note: Dreamer Fiction is a private chat forum site. Joining requires a referral from an existing member and is for those aged 18 and over.]
CC: Would you like to mention specific fan-fiction writers that you adore and/or recommend?
TA: There are some really good writers out there. My absolute favorite is Morrighan’s Muse. She wrote a serial called “A Willing Heart” that was my first fan-fiction story that I could not get enough of. She’s writing a serial now called “Every Fifth Living Thing”. It’s amazing. A publisher soon is going to notice her. Zeesmuse is another one. She wrote a story called “Manna From Heaven.” It was yummy.
CC: What are your favorite fan-fiction sites?
TA: There are several fan-fiction sites. I wouldn’t want to say which are better than any of the others, since they are all different in their own unique way. Some are more geared to teens and band fan-fiction. Some are geared to slash fiction. Some are soft porn or are fairly racy.
CC: Anything else specific you want to share or say?
TA: Just a couple of things. One, share. Share your knowledge. I am amazed every day to hear that our children know so little about our country and the world. Ask your children some simple history questions. See what they are learning in school. Share your books. There are still people out there who cannot read because books are not available to them. There are soldiers and sailors serving our country who would be thrilled to have a paperback to read. They don’t even care what it is. Some of those same veterans are in hospitals recovering from injuries who wish they had something to read to pass the time.
Lastly, thanks for taking the time to listen to me ramble on.
Where The Arkenstone can be found, amongst other treasures of course –