Here’s the next interview in the ‘Outlander – the dans who make it’ series. This time I chose Cathy McQuistion, famous Cat lady, and known for the series recaps she does with special music added. I met Cathy at Highlanders 2 in Blackpool last year, and found her to be a warm and empathetic person.
I hope you enjoy this interview.
• Please tell us about yourself.
Hi, I’m Cat, also known as Cathie McQuistion. I’m 57, and I live in Bryan, Texas, in the USA. I work as an IT helpdesk tech for the six locations of the Texas A&M University Libraries. I specialize in mobile devices and <big sigh> printers. I have been dubbed “the Print-cess” by one of our students, and I’m totally going to trademark that. And make a t-shirt!
I never intended to work in tech; in fact, my first degree is in Wildlife Fisheries Science. I wanted to work at a zoo or nature center but, after graduation, I discovered that entry level jobs, even with a degree, paid minimum wage. And I just didn’t have any money to relocate and live on those funds. So what brilliant idea did I have? Let’s get another degree, this time in Education, so I can get experience as a teacher, and then hopefully get a job as an educator at a nature center. I worked as a Dorm Hall Director to pay the way and had lots of fun experiences doing that. Afterwards, I got a job teaching 4th grade locally and really enjoyed it, although it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Seriously, teachers are truly unsung heroes for the job they do!
In my 3rd year teaching I saw an advert to teach in London for a year, and decided to give it a shot. I got the job, and had the most interesting year of my life. So many highs, but oh my goodness, some lows as well. The main low was due to errors in how much I was paid, which meant I was basically totally broke the whole time. So, all the travelling around the UK that I had planned didn’t quite pan out. The good news, however, is that there is so much you can do in the London area with just a bus pass. The actual teaching was difficult, as I was in what would be considered an “intercity” school with some tough kids who, at 10 years of age, could give the kids in “To Sir With Love” a run for their money. But it turned out to be a wonderful experience. I think I made a difference for the students I taught, and I know they profoundly touched me.
Now here’s where everything Outlander started for me. When I returned home from London in August 1991, it was too late to get my own class. I did some substitute teaching, but was looking for a full-time job with benefits. One of my former student’s mom, who worked at the public library, recommended me for a clerk position. I started working in circulation by shelving, checking out books, and here’s the important part, checking IN books. One day I was doing this, and a book cover caught my eye. It intrigued me, and the description made me check it out. Yep, that book was Outlander and, once I read it, my life was never the same. Oh, the agony and ecstasy of being an original reader, waiting between each publication! After ‘Dragonfly in Amber, I told everyone that, if there was no book 3, I would drive to Arizona and make Diana Gabaldon tell me what happens next. I got so mad in “Fiery Cross” about what happened to Roger, that I swore I’d never read another book (mini-spoiler- especially the James McQuiston connection). Then, five minutes later, I started the countdown until book 6 would be published.
I spent 10 years at the public library, moving from circulation to cataloging, then became an Automation tech, helping to convert the library from card catalog to computer. Best bit from my resume? Bookmobile driver! Then it all becomes blah, blah, blah good at technology & yada, yada, yada ended up at the A&M Academic Libraries as a microcomputer specialist. During this time my Mom, who was also my best friend, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I was her primary caregiver for 8 years, and caring for her is the single proudest accomplishment of my life. I tell you this because, when she passed away, I was really depressed, and became a total homebody. I didn’t feel like doing anything or going anywhere. And then 2014 came, bringing Outlander the TV show in it’s wake. My life turned upside-down, and in all the best possible ways!
• How long have you been doing your edits for Outlander? Is this the only show you do edits for, or do you also do this for other shows?
I was one of those book readers who did NOT believe anyone could do a proper job of adapting Outlander. Sure, I knew they were doing it, but I didn’t get involved in all the online fun and excitement when season 1 was being made. And then Starz did something remarkably clever: they released Sassenach, episode 1 online for free. I often liken it to a drug dealer giving someone a free sample, to get them addicted, and they have to come back for more. From the second I heard Caitriona’s voice saying, “People disappear all the time,” I was hooked. I called my cable provider and ordered Starz.
I have been a fan of other shows and film franchises, but I quickly realized being a fan of something is not the same as being obsessed. And I WAS obsessed by the way Ron Moore & the whole team was bringing Diana’s story, that I had loved for so many years, to life. I got active online, creating the @CatsAndKilts moniker, and was blown away by all the love and creativity being generated by the fans of the show. I was in awe of the memes, artwork and craft being made, and wanted desperately to show my love in a tangible way as well. I especially loved the humorous takes on Outlander by fans like @ConnieBV and @ABootlanders. They were already doing funny recaps and, out of the blue, I thought “what if I did a funny video recap, but used snips of my favorite oldies songs to help tell the story?” I adore music from all decades and genres, and I find that certain events make me think of certain songs. So, I told myself it was a brilliant idea and proceeded to teach myself how to make a musical video recap. Through trial and error, laughs and tears, I published my first video November 2014. Looking at that first video now, I can’t believe how poor the quality of the audio and video is, but I still make myself laugh when I watch it. It’s sounds totally egotistical, but I do love my Outlander recaps! And no, I don’t think I’d ever do this for any other show.
• How much time do you spend every day on Outlander?
Am I allowed to take the Fifth amendment, on the grounds I may incriminate myself? Seriously, I can’t quantify it, but it is a significant amount of my life, when I’m not at work or sleeping. Keep in mind I’m not married, I have no kids, and I live alone with my cats. As I mentioned, losing my Mom was devastating, and I lost who I was for a long time. Meeting all the like-minded fans online, and finding a creative outlet for my love of the show, and even taking the leap to go by myself to Scotland in 2015; all these things transformed the life I was living. Outlander has become such a big part of my life, I think it would be easier to count the hours I DON’T spend on it. But I’m still refusing to answer the actual numbers as my sister has threatened to turn me in to that TV show about addicts, called Intervention. She just doesn’t get my love for Outlander, and I don’t want to give her any ammunition. Just kidding!
• What do you like most about the Outlander books and show?
Of all the myriad reasons I love both the Outlander books and show, my favorite thing is the humor that Diana brings to the story and which has continued in the show. Sure, I’m crazy about the love story, the history, the adventure, the time-travelish goodness, but it’s the laughter that keeps me sustained. Laughter is an essential requirement for my well-being, and it thrills me that it’s a strong component of Claire and Jamie’s marriage, and for all the other people in their lives. It’s those light-hearted moments that keep me reading the books over and over, watching the episodes repeatedly, and spending hour after hour making goofy little recap videos.
• Which character in Outlander is your favourite?
There is no story without both Jamie and Claire, and from my first reading I started thinking of them as one entity. Yes, they are each their own person, but they are only whole when they are together. For me they are the story, so I’ve decided to tell you about my other favorite character. Roger Wakefield MacKenzie. Oh, I always knew I’d be no match for Jamie, but as soon as I met Roger in Dragonfly in Amber, I knew I would be perfect for him. Sorry Brianna, after all these years I STILL think I’d be better for him than you! It’s not just his humor, intellect, and loyalty that I love, but the fact that he is a caregiver. Both Jamie and Claire are also caregivers, though in different ways. Roger is someone who thinks about others and cares for their wellbeing ahead of his own. In fact, this very quality I love has gotten him into trouble many times. (mini-spoiler: Morag anyone?) But I wouldn’t want him to be any different than he is, and I’ve grown to appreciate that Bree loves him for these qualities, too. Also, did I mention his humor?
There is something else that makes Roger such a hero to me, and this is a spoiler for people who haven’t read ‘Drums of Autumn’ – so you’ve been warned. When Claire goes through the stones, the first time, it’s an accident; the second time is to get back to Jamie, her true love. Brianna chooses to go back to get to her beloved mother, and to meet her father. (And to warn them). But Roger went back with no guarantee that Brianna would accept him. He went even if it meant arriving in a strange world, where the person HE loved had made no commitment to him. I think that took real courage. Some people compare Roger to Jamie and find him lacking. Well of course he can’t compete with all that Jamie is; they were born in vastly different times and raised to be successful in their own times. The hardest thing Roger probably ever had to do before going back, was facing down some Oxford professors. I think it’s a testament to the man he is that Claire realizes his worth immediately and that, despite the “rocky” beginning to the relationship, Jamie grows to appreciate and care for Roger Mac.
On the show side, I had been a fan of Richard Rankin since I saw him in ‘The Crimson Field’, so I was excited when he was cast as MY Roger. And the cool thing is that, even though I am decades too old for him, when I saw him in episode 213, he made me fall in love with Roger all over again. If they stay true-ish to the books, Richard will have one heck of a ride in season 4 and 5. And I can’t wait to see it!
• How has Outlander affected your life and/or lifestyle?
I think that, from my other answers, you can tell Outlander has had a massive impact on me. Besides feeling lost without my Mom, working in a technology customer service job has absolutely no room for imagination or creativity. I was stagnating and, frankly, feeling sorry for myself. Outlander reminded me of how much fun I could have if I just put myself out there and tried new things. Talking with other people online, and watching all the amazing ways they expressed their love for Outlander, encouraged me to try new things. But more than that, I made friends who shared my passion for the story, and I began to come out of my hermit-like state, sharing things beyond my love of Outlander.
One of the tangible things that happened is my travels to Scotland and to Outlander events to meet so many of my wonderful fan friends in person. There really are too many amazing people to mention them all, but there are two people who have made my life so much better. They are the kind of friends who share and encourage my joy but keep me grounded when I need it. That’s very rare to find in people, and loving Outlander is the only reason they are in my life. I’ll tell you about Anne in my last answer, but I don’t think I’d be writing this today if it weren’t for Jenna Powell. The first Outlander event I went to didn’t turn out well, and I learned that just because you’re with people who love Outlander, it doesn’t always translate to liking each other in real life. (Shout out to Jody and Betsy who kept the spark of believing in great fans yet to meet). Luckily, I decided not to give up, and I went on an Outlander tour in Scotland the summer of 2015. There were only 6 of us on the tour and we all got along beautifully, and fell in love with Scotland together. Jenna and I particularly bonded, and she helped see how wonderful meeting other fans could be. Since that trip, she has become one of my best friends even outside of Outlander. Sure, we’ve traveled to OL events together, but more importantly we share the ups and downs of our lives. Jenna supports me in everything I do, and I don’t know what I would do without her. I owe our friendship completely to Outlander.
I’m very lucky. I have a decent salary and, being on my own, means I get to decide how to spend it. I made the decision to scrimp and save in all other aspects of my life, so I can indulge in Outlander gatherings now. I have a very good friend at work, Sean, who has known me for 17 years. He isn’t into Outlander but is a major fan of other things, and he totally gives me moral support for my fangirling. He constantly tells me he’s glad I am doing all this now because he can see the difference in my outlook on life. And Outlander did THAT, too.
• Is this the first fandom you are a member of? What made you decide to join this fandom, rather than any other one?
There have been many shows and movies and stars I’ve been a fan of, but never have I considered myself a member of a fandom. I have trouble explaining to people outside this fandom why I love the story of Outlander so much, and what drives me to devote so much time to it. I can tell all of YOU what makes me love being a part of this fandom. It’s the amazing fact that, no matter when someone discovers Outlander, it grabs them heart and soul. From the people like me who have loved the books for almost 27 years, to the ones who just discovered the show last week, has binged all the episodes and can’t wait for season 4, so she goes looking for the books. It seems incredible to me that Diana wrote a story which became this incredible TV show, and that once it gets a hold of you, it never lets go! I’m sure every fandom feels this way, but I’m not sure there’s anyone quite like us!
Of course, each of us interprets it through our own filter, and that’s why we sometimes disagree so vehemently about things that happen on the show. But I firmly believe that you shouldn’t get your fan card revoked just because there are things you don’t like, and you want to express it civilly. I obviously love the show, or I wouldn’t do my videos, but if you watch them, you’ll note I put things in from the books that I think should have been in the show. (There’s initial carving in my 213 recap and Diana approved!) I am always willing to engage in a friendly discussion over differences of opinion. Even when we disagree, in the end it’s our love that keeps us together. (Yes, I hear that song playing now).
• Which personality from the Outlander stories did you enjoy meeting the most?
Oh, I love them all for distinct reasons! I can’t name just one so here’s a few:
-Diana Gabaldon: I only met her for a moment to get her autograph at San Diego Comic Con, but it was so thrilling!
-Richard Rankin: You know my affinity for Roger? Well, when I was getting my picture taken with Richard, I asked him to look at me like he thought I was adorable. He immediately said, “You ARE adorable.” It was my Roger come to life and I think I may have passed out.
-Sam and Caitriona: My Time Travel For Dummies photo op. They were so amazing! I only had a second to show them my made-up book and ask them to look at it like they were fascinated. Caitriona channeled Claire and gave the “Oh that’s how it works” look, while Sam became Jamie and looked totally clueless. I will NEVER have a picture love more than that one!
-Steven Cree: There’s a very long story why Cree always remembers me when he sees me, but that’s better told over a dram of whisky. Let’s just say he jokingly considers me a pain in the arse, and I wear that honor with pride.
-This one may surprise you: Clive Russell, who played the Old Fox in the show. When I meet one of the stars, I always ask them if they have a suggestion for an oldies song I should use in my recaps for their character. Usually it’s too hard for them to think of one quickly, though a few have given me some songs later. In this case when I described what I did, and asked Clive for an idea, he was intrigued and wanted to know more. We had a lovely discussion, but he couldn’t come up with something, so I asked if I could contact him online later. He said he wasn’t online but gave me a way to contact him. When I did, he gave me the suggestion “Under My Thumb” by the Rolling Stones – perfect for the Old Fox! I sent him the link to my recap when it was done, and he called it insightful and hilarious. He was the very first person associated with the show to see and like one of my videos! Needless to say, I will always have a very special place in my heart for Clive.
• I noticed you wearing a Scottish costume at the Highlander Con in Blackpool. Did you make this yourself? How many such costumes have you made? And how long did it take you to make this?
That was my first time to cosplay, and it’s all due to my friend Anne Swetonic. She was one of the kind people I met online through my videos, and I was excited to meet her at Emerald City Comic Con. Anne showed up in a handmade Claire costume, and she looked incredible! We hit it off and spent the rest of that day and the next together. At one point I remember saying I’d like to have a costume someday, and she immediately said she’d make me one. Well I thought it was just the sort of thing people say, but Anne was serious. When I got home she started contacting me for what kind of costume I wanted, materials, and my measurements! We decided I should be Jenny in the later years, which could pass for a waulking woman, too. I found the tartan I liked and paid for the materials, but she did everything else. Anne made that entire costume for me in about a month, never once having me there to try it on. Talk about talented! But more than that it was such a special gift from a caring new friend, and over time we have only grown closer. Anne is another friend who supports me whole-heartedly, and she’s only in my life because of Outlander. Heads up everyone – we are going to be at the Las Vegas con in July – and we’re entering the costume contest with what we think will be a very surprising duo!
• What keeps you connected to the Outlander fandom?
You know that quote that pops up periodically that says “find your tribe?” Well the Outlander fandom is MY tribe. I didn’t know I was missing anything, but once I “joined” you all, I felt I found my place. It sustains me every day, whether it’s laughing over memes, tweeting with people, reading a blog, watching a fan video, or looking-in on an OL Facebook group. I crave that interaction, and I feel a bit lost when work or real life keeps me too busy to check in. I don’t watch an episode or read from a book every day, but it is a rare day that I don’t have some sort of exchange with another person I only know because they’re an Outlander fan. It doesn’t have to be about OL, it’s just touching base that gives me comfort.
I also freely admit finding people who really “get” me and my humor is a big part of it, and extremely validating. And as much as I try to offer kindness and positivity back to the group, what I receive is 100 times more than I could ever share. I don’t know how you all do that, but you do. And it’s something so affirming, I wouldn’t willingly give it up. No matter how long Outlander is on the air, I feel certain that a core group of the fandom will stay in my life forever.
• What do you have coming up next?
Season 3 recaps! I’ve only done the first two episodes so far. Honestly, the first part of the season is so emotionally HEAVY that my usual humorous take doesn’t work, and I have to spend more time to make sure I show the right amount of respect to the serious subject matter. (The Battle Joined and Culloden was particularly difficult to achieve a respectful tone). My goal is to actually finish season 3 recaps before season 4 comes along. Once 4 starts, I’ll decide if I’ll keep doing the recaps, though if there are still people willing to watch, I’m not sure I could stop if I wanted to!
I’m also making a Drums of Autumn design to go along with my previous Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager creations from last year. It’s just another fun way I can be creative, since I’m not naturally a crafty gal.
Meanwhile, I’ll be off to Creation Entertainment’s Las Vegas Con in July. Anne and I are doing the costume contest, and I’ve entered a modified version of one of my recaps into the fan music video contest. Keep your fingers crossed for me! As to my potential participation in the Karaoke contest? It’ll all depend on how much whisky there is…
Here are all my social media links:
All my Outlander recaps as @CatsAndKilts: www.youtube.com/playlist…
YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UCYgJhCrLzQVstPad9STX8xQ
My occasional blog: catsandkilts.wordpress.com