West Virginia Book Festival

Diana Gabaldon was prompted to begin writing her first novel when she turned 35 and realized that Mozart died at age 36. That novel, published in 1991, became “Outlander,” the first in a best-selling series featuring six more titles and counting. Gabaldon will read from her work and speak at the West Virginia Book Festival, to be held Oct. 16 and 17 at the Charleston Civic Center. Her reading is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 17.

In addition to “Dragonfly in Amber,” “Voyager,” “Drums of Autumn,” “The Fiery Cross,” “A Breath of Snow and Ashes,” and “An Echo in the Bone,” the series includes a nonfiction companion volume, “The Outlandish Companion,” which provides details on the settings, background, characters, research and writing of the novels.

Gabaldon has also written several books in a sub-series featuring Lord John Grey, a minor character from the main series. Returning to her comic book roots, she has also written a graphic novel titled “The Exile,” set within the Outlander universe and featuring the main characters from “Outlander,” illustrated by Hoang Nguyen, to be published by Ballantine in September.

“Her books are nearly impossible to categorize neatly, but are absolutely fascinating,” said Pam May, West Virginia Book Festival chairperson. “They’re a combination of historical romance, science fiction adventure and literary fiction, with complex plots and strong, intriguing characters.”

Gabaldon holds a master’s degree in marine biology and a Ph.D. in ecology, and spent a dozen years as a university professor before turning to write fiction full-time. Her previous publishing history includes scientific articles, textbooks and comic book scripts for Walt Disney. She and her husband, Douglas Watkins, have three adult children and live mostly in Scottsdale, Ariz.

In addition to Gabaldon, the West Virginia Book Festival line-up includes New York Times best selling author Nicholas Sparks; Civil War historian James Robertson; children’s author Carmen Deedy; West Virginia native and award-winning novelist Jayne Anne Phillips; and E. Lockhart, author of books for teens, among others.

The West Virginia Book Festival is an annual, two-day event celebrating books and reading presented by The Library Foundation of Kanawha County, Inc., Kanawha County Public Library, the West Virginia Humanities Council, The Charleston Gazette and the Charleston Daily Mail.