My next interview in the “Outlander – the fans who make it” series is with Ruth Ann Carr, one of the founders of Clan Heughan, a group with tens of thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Ruth Ann twice, once at Jibland in Rome and a second time in Scotland for the Highlander Fling, both in 2017.
I have experienced her as being an intelligent, sweet, kind and interesting person, so it was important for me that she be involved in this project.
Please find the interview below. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.
● Please tell us about yourself.
Hello, my name is Ruth Ann Carr. I am 66 years old and live in Norman, Oklahoma. I was fortunate to marry an amazing man, Tony, who supported all my dreams and was comfortable in his own skin. We have three terrific children together, two girls and a boy. I’m a grandmother, and of course my grandchildren are simply the best.
Tony was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2008. He died in February 2009 after fighting a courageous battle. Then, our first grandchild was diagnosed with leukemia in September of 2009 when he was two and a half. During this time, I was Superintendent of a large, highly diverse, high poverty school district. It was a very taxing job and a very difficult time in my life. As a result of all the stress, and my desire to help my daughter as much as possible with the care of my grandson, I retired in July 2011. But something amazing came out of those dark days. My grandson is a leukemia survivor and celebrated his eleventh birthday this week.
Professionally, I am a retired educator. I’ve taught at all levels from elementary through undergraduate and graduate school. I was an elementary principal, a junior high/high school principal, a Dir. of Personnel, Asst. Superintendent and Superintendent of Schools. While working, I also attended graduate school obtaining a M.Ed. and a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction and Administration. I could not have completed my degrees without the support and encouragement of my husband and children. Although I am retired, I continue to conduct training for principals and superintendents in our state. It’s a great part time job, and I feel like I am giving something back.
I love to read, attend sporting events, and watch movies and quality TV. I’ve always loved many types of genres in both my reading and viewing habits. My husband and I used to read many of the same books, but he drew the line at my romance novels. I also love to travel. I’m very interested in history, architecture, and learning about other cultures. Beautiful vistas refresh my soul and spirit, and I love being in the mountains.
● What made you start the Clan Heughan site and can you tell us a little bit about that?
Four women who had never been fan girls in our lives decided to start Clan Heughan. We wanted to put our own spin on a fan group. Lori Kuhns, Jamie Lynn Hunkins, Vickie Darago and I talked and dreamed about what we wanted Clan Heughan to be for several months, and then opened the group on January 1, 2016.
We never anticipated that Clan Heughan would grow as it has. We are nearing 17,000 members that live in 99 different countries. We have some truly wonderful fans in our group. They are generous, respect Sam, and vote like maniacs in contests.
The four of us wanted fund raising for Sam’s charities to be a central part of Clan Heughan. We all had family and friends who had battled cancer, so it was very personal for us. We started raising funds for Bloodwise during our first month as a group. We also wanted to support My Peak Challenge and encourage our members to participate in MPC. Many, many of our members are also members of MPC.
Secondly, we wanted to show our support by voting in contests and polls. We firmly believe that voting and participating in Twitter events are important avenues for increasing the profile of Outlander in the media and getting more viewers. We are like most other fans and want to see all of Diana’s books brought to TV and we want to do whatever we can to help make that happen.
We also wanted to assist and support Diana, Outlander and Sam’s costars. There is perhaps a misconception that we only support Sam. Sam is our focus and always will be, however, we support Diana, Outlander, and the other actors. We love Outlander and want it to flourish.
One of our rewarding projects was to design a Clan Heughan pendant and kilt pin. We worked with Gordon Young of Hamilton and Young Jewelers. We are very proud of the way it turned out. Gordon was so kind to work with us, and his input was invaluable. Our group motto, Semper Te Experire reflects and honors the way Sam lives his life. It means “always challenge yourself.” The motto is incorporated on the pendant.
We also marketed and managed the orders and payment, and shipped the first two sets of orders ourselves, worldwide. It was both exciting and surreal to sit at my kitchen table and prepare a box to go to India. Our members can now order directly from Hamilton and Young. It has been so much fun to meet our members at Outlander and MPC events all over the world, and to see that they are wearing the pendant.
● What motivates you to organize collections of tens of thousands of dollars for Sam’s charities annually?
It really is a matter of having experienced the pain and trauma of having loved ones fight cancer. It’s a very personal motivation for each of our admins and for many of our members. We truly hope to see a cure for blood cancers soon. We really appreciate Sam for actively supporting Bloodwise and sponsoring research studies into potential treatments for adults and children. One of the things I learned during my grandson’s treatment, was that research results have truly gone global. Thanks to technology, his doctors, were in touch with researchers and knew of cutting edge treatments from all over the world. No matter where the research is conducted, it has the potential to be shared with doctors and hospitals all over the world. We think that is important since our members are from so many different countries.
We are particularly glad that Sam chose to add Marie Curie to his list of charities this year for My Peak Challenge. Again, on a personal level, we have experienced firsthand the support and importance of hospice programs. Many of our members have had similar experiences. We are currently in a fundraising campaign for Marie Curie. The response of our members has been amazing so far.
We also have a special connection with Youth Theatre Arts Scotland. We believe Sam is an amazing actor, and we know that he feels a special kinship with YTAS. Our first funding campaign for YTAS came about as a suggestion from one of our members. It has been great to see how dedicated our members are to our fund raising efforts.
We have a great relationship with Kenny Mcglashan, the Chief Executive Officer of YTAS. We have regular communication with Kenny and his staff about our fund raising. We generally try to support a specific project that they are working on. Three of our admins have visited with Kenny in Edinburgh. He took us on a tour of the theatre where Sam acted as a teenager. We have been able to share information about YTAS projects in our group. Those connections help make our fundraising for YTAS more personal for our members.
We are also supporting Sam’s current fund raising campaign for Cahonas Scotland and his two marathons in two months.
● How much time do you spend every day on Outlander?
I probably spend way too much time on Outlander every day. I find myself fitting the rest of my life around Clan Heughan and Outlander. It’s like having a full time job except there are no weekends off. When we are voting in contests, we spend even more time. But I enjoy every minute of it. Well, almost every minute.
● What do you like most about the Outlander books and show?
I love so many things about the books and the show. I have always been fascinated by an author’s use of language. Diana’s writing probably contains the most enjoyable yet complex use of language that I have read. Diana creates amazing characters who represent such a depth and breadth of human behavior and emotion that it is impossible to be bored with them. Diana’s books have so much packed into them that I have read them several times, and each time I get more out of them. But what I like most is the story. The story of two people who brave whatever life throws at them because of their love and devotion to each other. It is the story of a marriage in all its perfection and flaws. It is the ultimate love story, and it is about a couple, not an individual.
As for the TV series, it is first and foremost a visual and auditory feast that just envelops the viewer with beauty even in its darkest moments. It brings my favorite books to life. The music, costumes, sets and cinematography are all wonderful. But the best thing about the show is the actors. There has not been a miss in casting, and the entire cast does a superb job.
● Which character in Outlander is your favorite?
My favorite character is Jamie, and I think Sam was born to play the role. Jamie reminds me so much of my late husband. They share so many of the same character traits. I love Jamie because he never shirks what he sees as his responsibilities, and there are many. He loves Claire, his children and his extended family with a sacrificial love. That type of love is very special. Although Jamie is my favorite, it is really not possible to think of Jamie without thinking of Claire as well. It is their marriage, their bond and their interactions which are the heart of the books.
● How has Outlander affected your life and/or lifestyle?
Outlander has had an amazing, positive impact on my life. I came to the Outlander party late, because I did not discover it until 2014. Fortunately, Outlander came to my attention when I most needed something joyful in my life. I was still grieving for my husband and had lost interest in almost everything. However, Outlander was like a magic elixir. In reading and watching Jamie and Claire’s love story unfold, I was able to reclaim the joy in the 38 years of marriage I had shared with my husband, rather than focusing on the sorrow of his death. I have been fortunate to be able to thank Diana for the gift of her books in helping me through my grief.
Because of Outlander, I’ve met some truly amazing women and men. They are friends for life. This love that we share for Outlander brought us together, but it also enriches our lives separately and together in so many ways.
For instance, our admins and some fans that we know met in Scottsdale, Arizona last November. Two ladies traveled from Australia, others from Canada, Michigan, California, Virginia and Oklahoma. We had the pleasure of taking Diana to lunch and visiting with her for about two and a half hours. We also watched episode 311, Uncharted, together and visited the Poisoned Pen. But mostly we hung out and laughed. It was so wonderful to finally see each other in person after just interacting on Facebook. I would not know these wonderful ladies without Outlander.
I have learned so many new skills as a result of my involvement with Outlander. I seriously doubt if I would have been on Twitter or Instagram or even been in a Facebook group without Outlander. Outlander fans taught me what I know about social media.
And, of course, there is travel. I have traveled to Scotland four times and am going back in June. So far I have visited 35 Outlander filming sites and will visit some others this year. It has been so much fun to walk in Jamie’s and Claire’s steps. But my trips to Scotland are for more than Outlander. Scotland is an amazing country, breathtaking in its beauty and fascinating in its history.
Last year I went to Seattle to Emerald Con (my first con and quite an experience), attended two Outlander in the City events in NYC, and traveled by myself to Rome for Jibland2. I extended my Rome trip with an amazing tour of Italy. I had never traveled out of the country by myself before, and it was a great adventure for me. My involvement with Outlander and MPC gave me the courage to travel alone.
This year I’m going on Diana’s author cruise through central Europe. I’m also attending Outlander events in Kansas City, Chicago and North Carolina. Outlander gives me a great excuse to travel, meet friends and share amazing experiences with them.
● Is this the first fandom you are a member of?
Yes, this is the first time I have ever been a fan girl. These are the only books and series that could have inspired me to be this involved. There are other shows and books that I truly enjoy, but my love for Outlander is different.
● Which actor did you enjoy meeting the most?
I have been very fortunate to have met quite a few of the actors. I cannot pick just one as my favorite because the meetings have been so different. I met Sam at Emerald Con and then in New York at Barbour and at the NYC Sam/Cait event. We had a great conversation about Clan Heughan and fund raising. He also took a picture with Clan Heughan members who were there. It was a huge fan moment for me.
The second favorite moment was meeting Cait in Glasgow while they were filming the Boston scenes. It was totally unplanned. We received a text from a friend telling us that Outlander was filming near the university. We happened to be in that area. We found them and stood in the rain from mid-morning until late afternoon. We briefly saw Tobias as he was leaving for the day. Cait continued to work throughout the afternoon. When they finished filming, we were able to meet Cait and speak with her for a few minutes. It was a relaxed meeting, and she took her time talking to us in spite of the rain. It was a “pinch me” experience.
When I was in Rome, I had meet and greets with Graham, Duncan, Steven, and David. I also attended a welcome party and an evening in Rome with them. It was an amazing experience, and they were all so much fun. I found them all fascinating conversationalists and very genuine people.
A common theme in all my encounters with the Outlander stars has been their sincere appreciation of the fans. It is truly wonderful that they feel this way. They have certainly brought this Outlander fan amazing experiences and opportunities. I’ll always be thankful that Diana wrote a book.