Like many Outlander fans we began our experience as is typical in hard copy print books; the songs in the book are presented as lyrics written on the pages of a chapter. It was only natural for Diana to include songs, as how could one not include the music that's imperatively interwoven throughout Celtic history when storytelling?
As it so happened at a 2009 Edinburgh event Outlander author, Diana Gabaldon, was approached by a Scottish lyricist / playwright, Mike Gibb, about writing a song-cycle; a musical telling of the story in the form of songs based on the novel he fell in love with. Diana didn't quite know why he would want to go to such lengths, yet agreed he could compose a few song samples. Her post on the subject is titled, "And now for something completely different" as songs alone based around a book is not commonplace. In her blog she wrote that her response to his suggestion was "That's the screwiest idea I've heard yet - go ahead."
As a really good story and its music naturally flow together, their efforts turned out perfectly for them. On July 31st, 2010, Outlander, the Musical was performed in Aberdeen with plans in place for further development as a libretto stage version. The songs and music having become a piece of the story were also included on CD inside the cover of the rich red leather bound 20th Anniversary Edition of Outlander released July 5th, 2011. Great gains were thus achieved far from Diana's original thought it was a completely different idea.
Travel forward in time and we learn the book series had been optioned several times for its film rights and rumblings continued for some time until suddenly we were notified that the much anticipated Outlander TV series would debut on Starz in the USA in August 2014.
With Sony and Starz involved we were granted a beautiful title theme, The Skye Boat Song, composed by Bear McCreary with lyrics adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson's poem. The original Skye Boat Song is a Scottish folk song recalling the escape of Prince Charles Edward Stuart from Uist to the Isle of Skye after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Naturally this too mirrors the time period of the Outlander series of novels and enchants us all with its Scottish mystical waltz like flair.
Bear McCreary composer and Raya Yarbrough Singer
While most authors can't rely on finding the incredible success that Outlander series has seen, they can use the technology available today to include a song(s) in their books, thus enhancing the readers experience and transporting them to the places only music can. Why leave lyrics bare on a page while the reader are unfamiliar with the song? Why not include the music you know belongs in a story? While Diana didn't know why music for her novel made sense originally, events certainly evolved where songs and music became highlighted in their rightful place among her stunning Outlander novel and its captivating words.