If you are fascinated by the blending of reality and fantasy . . .

Sunday, September 19, 2010; BW05

If you like your reality blended with a touch of fantasy, make plans to hear these three creative writers who play with time and history in ingenious ways:

Diana Gabaldon (Fiction & Mystery at 11 a.m.) was a professor of computer science and environmental studies when she decided on a lark to write a novel. Her first effort led to the internationally bestselling "Outlander" series about the romance between a 20th-century woman who jumps back in time to be with her 18th-century Scottish lover. In 2005, Gabaldon told The Post, " 'Outlander' was a perfectly straightforward historical novel, until I decided to introduce a female character." Trouble was, she didn't "sound anything like an 18th-century person! She just kept making smart-ass modern remarks about everything she saw, and she started telling the story herself. So I said, 'Fine. Nobody's ever going to see this book; it doesn't matter what bizarre thing I do -- go ahead and be modern; I'll figure out how you got there later.' "

Elizabeth Kostova (Fiction & Mystery at 11:35 a.m.) swooped down on the literary world in 2005 with an evocative vampire thriller called "The Historian." Her new novel, "The Swan Thieves," starts right here at Washington's National Gallery of Art when a disturbed artist attacks a painting of Leda being ravished by Zeus. "The many ardent admirers of 'The Historian,' " our reviewer wrote earlier this year, "will be happy to learn that her second book offers plenty of the same pleasures."

M.T. Anderson (Teens & Children at 1:45 p.m.) got his start with vampire fiction, too: a novel for young people called "Thirsty" in 1997. Since then, he's broken through all age categories. After winning a National Book Award for the first volume of "The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing," he told The Post, "It's insulting to believe that teens should have a different kind of book than an adult should. . . . If we're going to ask our kids at age 18 to go off to war and die for their country, I don't see any problem with asking them at age 16 to think about what that might mean."

-- Ron Charles

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