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‘Outlander’ Author Diana Gabaldon On the Casting of Jamie’s Son William & Season 7

Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers for Outlander season 7 and “Echo in the Bone” by Diana Gabaldon.

The dreaded Droughtlander is here, but Outlander has already made the wait a bit more bearable for fans with the casting announcement of William Ransom. Jamie Fraser’s grown-up son in season 7 will be played by Canadian actor Charles Vandervaart. It was a tall order (6-feet tall to be exact) to find an actor who could convincingly play the son of everyone’s favorite Highlander, Jamie Fraser. So we’re happy to report that Outlander author Diana Gabaldon approves of the casting. Following the season 6 finale — but two days before Starz officially broke the William news — SheKnows spoke to Gabaldon about Vandervaart’s casting, what’s to come in season 7, and how writing the final book about Jamie and Claire (Sam Heughan and Caitríona Balfe) is going.

SheKnows: Now that season 6 is finished, what are you particularly excited to see in season 7?

Diana Gabaldon: I’m looking forward to seeing the parts with William. They have cast a William for the part, he’s very good. They made me unfollow him on Twitter because they said, “We’re going to save him up and announce him soon.” And my guess, of course, is that they were waiting for the [season 6] finale to have its full share of glory.

SK: That’s probably smart they made you unfollow him.

DG: I said, “Fine, done.” But I did for him the same thing I did for Sam Heughan when he was first cast because everybody want[ed] to know about Jamie. And so they were following me. But when I started talking to Sam on Twitter, direct messaging until he was cast, I went and found several other young actors of about the same size and general aspect and followed six of them to throw them off the [scent]. So that’s what I did for this young man as well, so I’m still following the decoys.

SK: I was wondering if they were going to try to never say who was playing William. But fans were going to find out because they do their investigative work.

DG: Yeah, exactly, everybody sleuths around. People are going to see him on set, things like that. They managed to keep Graham [McTavish] playing Buck quiet but that’s because he was only in one scene essentially.

SK: And they could be like, “Oh, Graham’s just visiting set!”

DG: Yeah, he’s got a reason for being there.

SK: Versus, “Who is this young man who looks like Sam Heughan?”

DG: Of course, I went and looked [Vandervaart] up having seen him and knowing his name and all that, and I was following him and chatting with him, and anyway, he’s quite young, he’s only 21. And he’s done considerable TV work, in TV shows I’ve never heard of, but he also did a lot of voice work for cartoons. And I was deeply entertained to find out that he voices one of the characters in Paw Patrol, which is one of my little grandson’s favorites.

They did send me his audition videos. Anyway, he was terrific. They had him do two scenes — the one, which is right after he’s discovered the horrible truth and is confronting Claire to find out what she knows about this. And, you know, he’s extremely upset but trying to hold it all together doing a halfway reasonable job of it until the very end. Which he then stalks offscreen [and] he’s going, ‘My entire life has been a lie!’ and just loses it, walks off going, ‘Goddammit!’

SK: Poor Claire has to deal with another child learning that Jamie’s their father.

DG: Mmhm. They did really well with the casting because he honestly looks as though he could be Sophie Skelton‘s much larger brother. They have the same nose and very similar jaw structure. They totally look as though they could both be Jamie Fraser’s kids.

SK: Readers of your Outlander series noticed that season 6 was setting up some book plots — the Bugs showing a bit of a nasty side and going to Aunt Jocasta’s, the whistling-man in the jail cell with the gem is, in fact, someone Claire has met before. Does that guarantee that those storylines will be in season 7?

DG: I mean the stuff with the whistling man in the jail and having the gem in the palm of his hand… well, you know he’s coming back even if you haven’t read the books. And if you have, you know why he’s coming back and what’s going to happen.

SK: There are a lot of revelations to come, especially with the Christie family. How involved are you in season 7?

DG: Well, what you might call the denouement of the storylines, you will get to see that in season 7. They have just about finished the first block, so I’ve seen the dailies from that. … I’ve seen at least [10] of the scripts so far. It’s hard for me sometimes because I don’t always get them in sequence. They’ll send me script 1 and script 2. This is fine, but then script 4 comes in before script 3, and suddenly, “Oh! We have to show you 7 and 8 because they kind of go together and we want to know this.” And so I drop that and I’ve completely lost track of 703 and 705.

SK: Do you have any plans to go over to Scotland to the set for season 7?

DG: Well, actually, I will be there briefly at the end of June because the University of Glasgow has very graciously decided to give me an honorary doctorate and wanted me to come for their graduation exercise. And I thought, “Well, it being Glasgow, it would be silly not to go and visit the set.”

I’d like to see how many soundstages they have now. It multiplies. They had eight the last time I was there. They may be up to 16 by now. So I figured I would just take an extra day or two and go up and visit the set while I was in Glasgow. I mean Cumbernauld [where Outlander‘s Wardpark Studios is] is like 15 minutes away from Glasgow. … I checked with them to make sure they would still be filming. They’ll be filming until July 16 on that set and then they’re going to give everybody six weeks off before they resume filming.

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Caitríona Balfe and Sam Heughan Starz/Robert Wilson

SK: You’ve said since Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone was released that Book 10 is probably the last of the Jamie and Claire “big books.” Are you still leaving that door open?

DG: Well, I don’t know. It just kind of depends how this book works out. I know where the story ends. I don’t know if this book is going to end in that place or not cause this is way early in the process. By my lights, I have barely begun working on that book because it’s just been such a cyclone since the publication of Bees, because there was all this publicity and endless interviews — I was doing three or four interviews a day for like two months, which eats into your productivity big time. You don’t have any brain cells left at the end of the day.

SK: And what about the prequel book about Jamie’s parents?

DG: I am actually writing the prequel book along with Book 10. Book 10 has the edge at the moment, but you know, it shifts back and forth.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Before you go, check out the all-time best ‘Outlander’ episodes you need to watch.

'Outlander' cast Caitríona Balfe, Sam Heughan,

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