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BEST LOCAL GIRL WHO WRITES FICTION Phoenix 2007 - Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon is the kind of person you really want to hate but can't. She's talented and rich and brain-surgeon smart, but she also posts fudge recipes on her Web site.

Wait, there's more. She has a master's in marine biology from Scripps, once wrote comic books for Walt Disney Productions, and created a better scientific computation mousetrap between teaching classes at ASU's Center for Environmental Studies.

Then she decided, "Aw, what the hell! I think I'll sit down for a few hours and write a New York Times bestseller." (Okay, not really. She toiled as a freelancer for 15 years before tackling long form, but we still think she's a smarty-pants.)

Gabaldon's first book-length project was named Outlander, a moody tale about an 18th-century Scotsman and his time-traveling wife, Claire. That book blossomed into five more — so far. The Outlander Series, as it's known, is the historical fiction/romance version of Harry Potter, and is idol-worshipped in much the same way by the author's loyal legions. Her latest in the series, Outlander, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, was published in 2006 by Bantam Dell. And her latest novel, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade — the second entry in her "Lord John Grey" series — was published in August by Delacorte Press.

The Flagstaff native lives in Scottsdale with her husband, Douglas. We're hoping he has a robust self-image.

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