It’s every Outlander book fan’s dream to meet Herself, Diana Gabaldon; however, it’s paramount when you come face to face, let alone interact, with the stars who play your all-time favorite characters. One lucky lass to do just that is our fellow Outlander sister, Brenda, who experienced this at a VIP event at Seattle’s Emerald City Comicon. I met with Brenda for coffee as she contenly shared her adventure. I was more than happy to not only catch up with my friend, but also to hear about her epic journey. In today’s blog, we’ll hear about this Sassenach’s escapade meeting the infamous Jamie and Claire.
We all know that Outlander has fostered many connections and relationships – some within your own town or city and others within your state. But when you create bonds with other lassies living across the nation or even around the world, you know the book is exceptional. Brenda, a fellow San Diegan, has created such kinship with another lass from Minnesota. When the grand VIP package was announced, she made plans with her Outlander comrade, as well as her own daughter, to attend. That is the power of this series – connecting and creating long lasting sisterhood.
Emerald City Comicon presented their VIP Event ticket back in January 2017. With this package, fans would have the chance to chat and spend some time with Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe . A steep price of about $500, it offered a once in a life time opportunity. For many fortunate fans, like Brenda, they were able to snag a ticket. The idea of mingling with the two actors was all that was needed to purchase!
The event began at 7:30 pm on March 3rd, 2017 and was held at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel on 6th Avenue. The ticket included autographs with Sam and Caitriona, a photograph with the duo, and entrance to the VIP meet and greet. For most fans, they spent the entire day at the Con, which was held next door at the Washington State Convention Center, getting the photos and autographs of Sam and Caitriona. It made for a long day for those attending the VIP affair, like Brenda; however, these memories will remain with her forever!
My conversation with Brenda
Over coffee, Brenda and I caught up discussing life, family, Outlander, and, of course, meeting Sam and Caitriona. I learned a bit more about Brenda and her time with the celebrities. The time seemed to go by quickly as we were immersed in the story of that very day with them. I’d like to share our intriguing conversation:
Sass3: What made you decide to do it? I mean, we were contemplating whether or not to attend the event [because of our budget and family commitments], let alone purchase a VIP experience.
Brenda: She smiles and laughs. “Well, I always told my immediate friends….many of these events [big meet and greets] happen in Germany, in Italy, and I can’t afford flying out to Europe. So if they ever were to do anything like that on this side, I would go. And it finally shows up here so I said, ‘Either shut up or do it.’ “
Sass3: Tickets cost about $500. Did the price deter you at all? Was that a challenge?
Brenda: “It was steep, but if you bought everything, you’d spend that much anyway. Yes, I am on a budget, and I also had to purchase a ticket for two, my daughter and me. My husband and I had to rearrange some vacations to make this happen. We changed some family trips where my husband and son would take one. This trip was for my daughter and me .”
“The hardest part for me was flying.”
Brenda continued, “Sam got me on that plane (she said with a huge smile).”
Sass3: “Hahaha! I totally get that last statement!” Nodding in agreement. “It was a huge deal for you go up to Seattle.”
Sass3: Did you know ahead of time what to expect?
Brenda: “We knew that there were no cameras allowed and that there were going to be about 100 people. We also knew we were going to receive wristbands and that it was only going to be us. That’s all we knew.”
Sass3: For those of us dying to know, what it was like? Paint the picture for us – The VIP Experience.
Brenda: “It was really fun. I was hanging out with three ladies from Minnesota and another woman from Northern Nevada – women I met in previous events here in California. It was my first girls’ trip, and I enjoyed it very much!”
“We arrived around 7:30 pm. They had a room at the top of the Sheraton waiting for us – the place had a beautiful view of the city. There were 100 people with ten round tables set up – 10 people per table. We were told to find a table and leave two seats open. So we just went: eenie, meenie, miney, moe… and found a table.”
“They also had a mini taco bar to eat and drinks at the bar – you had to pay for your drinks. We ate, drank and socialized for about half an hour before they arrived. At around 8 o’clock, all of sudden, they walked in and everyone began cheering. They waved to all of us as they entered.”
“With the two rows of 5 round tables, Caitriona started at one end of one row, and Sam went to the end of the other row. They had 10 minutes at each table and moved on. They pretty much kept to the 10 minutes because a time keeper kept time with his cell phone. Once the timer went off, they went to the next table.”
Sass3: So, when you think about it, it was 20 minutes between the two, yes?
Brenda: (Agreeing) “Oh, yes! And it seemed forever when we waited for each table to finish their 10 minutes, BUT quick when we had ours. We were the third table from the end and Caitriona sat with us first [before Sam]. One thing that I noticed right away was how nice she was. While at the table, Caitriona wanted to know who was sitting at the table so everyone introduced themselves. Caitriona asked questions about each person.”
“Someone at the tabled asked Caitriona when she was scheduled to leave Seattle. Caitriona shared that she had to leave right away and go back to London before heading back to South Africa. She had to pack all of her clothes. Caitriona joked about having only a two bag allowance. We all laughed – I thought about how down to earth Caitriona really was.”
Sass3: “Oh, yes, I have to agree with you.”
Brenda: “Oh, and Caitriona also talked about her things and her storage …and that she watches Storage Wars. She joked about whether or not her lock would still be on there – we continued to laugh. She was so easy to talk to.”
“I really like her.”
Sass3: Your experience with her seems phenomenal! In a nutshell, what is your take on Catriona Balfe?
Brenda: “Honestly, she was SO down to earth and very easy to talk to. When I think about the last time I saw her in person, in Los Angeles, I almost had a chance to take a picture with her, but I didn’t. She was whisked away to make up. I didn’t get a chance to really converse with her.”
“Talking to Caitriona at the [VIP] event, you can tell she was comfortable and easy going. She made everyone feel right at home. I walked out saying, ‘Caitriona is genuinely a sweet person.'”
Sass3: Let’s talk about Sam!
Brenda: “First of all – before he came, I spilled my tea across the table (we both started laughing). You’re just nervous, you know? You think you know how you are going to act, but you really don’t. One gal was really shy and didn’t say much. You start asking questions, but then get goofy – and you know it’s just nerves.”
Sass3: I would be nervous too! Did it take a long time for Sam to come around?
Brenda: “Oh my gosh – it seemed like it. We were table number 7 [from where he was coming from] so you can imagine – even after our great chat with Catiriona!”
Sass3: Okay, what about Sam?
Brenda: “Uh, oh yeah. You’re so dang nervous! I remember I listened to other people who have shared their time with them [Sam and Caitriona], most will talk about the conversation they had with her. Most won’t remember their conversation with Sam or what he said, haha!”
“When you see him [Sam], you notice his height – he’s tall, even sitting. You get so nervous. I mean, there’s one time I can clearly remember just looking at his golden mustache. I don’t know why I remember that particular thing (giggling), but I just do!”
Sass3: So where did he sit?
Brenda: “He sat right next to me! And by the time he sat with us, he shared a whole bottle of whisky with three other tables. We saw him take a selfie with another table so we wanted to make sure we got one as well.”
“At some point while Sam was at our table, he and Caitriona started playing around and throwing candy at each other.”
Sass3: What else can you tell us?
Brenda: “Other ladies at the table shared how they felt about his ability to play Jamie – they felt that he was doing a great job.”
“Sam said what he loved most about the show was being in Scotland. He really loved that aspect of it. With the second book, Dragonfly in Amber, going to France, and now going to the islands in Voyager, Sam hasn’t read past Voyager. He was concerned about losing that love affair with Scotland. He’s aware that the story goes on to America. We all reassured him that the love with Scotland continues throughout the book. It doesn’t end.”
Sass3: “Yeah, he doesn’t know that the love still continues even in America.”
Sass3: How about autographs?
Brenda: “I did get autographs [earlier] that day [at the signing session] ; however, at the VIP one gal give him and Caitriona Sharpies as a gift….and you know I was sitting next to him. My name tag happened to be on the table so he signed it. He wasn’t supposed to do autographs at the VIP, but he signed mine. It made my night! We also managed to get a selfie. Sam was kind enough to take one [with us] because photos weren’t allowed. Everything felt like a blur with Sam.”
Sass3: How would you describe Sam’s personality?
Brenda: “He’s very bubbly and friendly. He must have been tired by the time he came down because he had the panel at 11:00 am, and he did pictures and autographs until about 6 to 6:30 pm. Then he was with us from 8 – 10 pm. I don’t even think they had a full hour break before coming to this. I mean, they did a really great job when you think of it. What an opportunity. I am extremely grateful and so appreciative of it all. I wanted to share with him that I had to face my fear of flying to be there, but I was so nervous all I could talk about was Jeremy Renner. (Laughing) I told Sam that Jeremy was in the next photo area taking pictures. I didn’t say half the things I thought I would say. That’s how nervous I was.”
I, too, had a quick meet up with Sam and Caitriona at the Photo Ops at Emerald City Comicon, but would have loved to experience the meet and greet, like Brenda. What a lovely time with my Outlander sister.
Our talk ended with this one question: Was it worth it?
Brenda: Yes, and I would do it all over again in a heart-beat!
One last thing…
Brenda is a full time Registered nurse, just like our very own Claire, and gives to her patients everyday. She has been inspired by the generosity of these two actors so she also created a donation pledge page to help Caitriona Balfe’s charity, World Child Cancer. Brenda also made 52 pillow cases that she has sent to Africa for Caitriona to pass out to the children at the hospital. If you would like to help out, visit Brenda’s fundraiser page via Cait’s Caraids by clicking here.
All photos from our blogs are owned by Timeless Sass3nach Journeys, unless noted or attributed. The use of our photos is not permitted unless consent is given.