LATER this evening Caitriona Balfe will once again step out on the red carpet at Hollywood's Golden Globes, nominated for best actress for her role as Claire Randall in the Outlander series, the time-travelling drama filmed and based in Scotland.

The creator of the time-travelling novels on which Outlander is based is hoping the TV show will finally win Hollywood recognition. But although she attended the event last year Diana Gabaldon isn't even sure she will be watching it live on television this year.

Speaking to the Sunday Herald from her home in Arizona, she admitted, “Whether I will be able to watch it depends on the time it is on,” she said. “I don’t watch a lot of television – but they do clips of it, so I will see it one way or the other.

“It is fabulous that we are becoming very visible – the show and the actors have won any number of fan-based awards. I am thrilled it has become such a success.”

The Outlander worldwide phenomenon has provided a huge boost to Scotland's film and tourism industries. It has also translated into sales of 28 million books, published by 43 different publishers in 29 languages – a record which is even more impressive after learning Gabaldon, 64, a former ecologist and university professor, wrote the first novel just for practice.

The first two seasons of the TV adaptation for US cable channel Starz have also attracted a huge following, broadcast in countries ranging from Australia and Japan to Finland and Spain and fans are eagerly anticipating the return of the show on Amazon Prime in the UK, where the earlier seasons are available..

Gabaldon, who works closely with the TV team, declined to give anything away on when it might be screened – but did reveal the shooting is on schedule, with half of the episodes filmed so far.

She said: “Usually they only get a break for Christmas and while previously this has been about six weeks this time it is only two weeks, as they are moving as quickly as they possibly can.

“There are 13 episodes in season three and they are right in the middle of the sixth episode. They filmed the eighth episode already – they were out of order as they needed to accommodate one of the actresses’ schedules. So they have about six-and-a-half episodes in the bag, which is just about where they should be.”

The production will move from its Scottish base in studios at Cumbernauld to South Africa later in the year, to film scenes which are set on a ship in the Caribbean. “They will be going to South Africa later in the spring, in May or thereabouts,” Gabaldon added.

Outlander tells the story of a nurse in 1940s war-torn Britain who finds herself time-travelling back to Jacobite Scotland via an encounter with some mystical standing stones. Claire Randall, played by Balfe, subsequently gets caught up in adventure and romance with Highland soldier Jamie Fraser.

But the tale does not shy away from darker elements – at the end of season one, audiences were left shocked by a brutal episode where Fraser, played by Sam Heughan, is raped and tortured by Tobias Menzies’ character ‘Black Jack’ Randall.

Gabaldon expressed frustration at Outlander being described in terms such as a “tartan bodice-ripper”.

“That is very annoying – it is nothing of the kind,” she said, “I don’t really like to go around accusing people of being sexist, but had the book been written by a man they would certainly not be calling it a bodice-ripper.”

In fact, she says, she deliberately subverted traditional romance novels by making the character of Fraser a virgin until he meets Claire Randall, who is older and more sexually experienced.

She said the twist came after she published extracts of her very first book online, triggering debate among readers about what genre it should fit into.

“There was one sex scene," she said "and someone said 'this reads a little bit like a romance novel, do you think you are writing a romance'?

“I said 'I don’t know, I have never read one'. So when I went for my groceries I bought three bestselling romance novels. I’m sure it was complete coincidence, but every single one of them had an 18-year-old virgin heroine and a much older man about 35 or so.

“In two of the three the heroine was raped before being rescued by the gentleman – I said I am obviously not writing this kind of book. That is how he (Jamie) became the virgin and Claire the more experienced of the two.

“Once Black Jack Randall came onto the scene it was obvious to me what he actually wanted.”

The third series of Outlander, which is based on the book Voyager, has the potential to provoke more controversy with the appearance of character Yi Tien Cho, a Chinese man living in exile in Edinburgh, who Fraser befriends and nicknames Mr Willoughby.

The character in the books has sparked furious debate online about about racist stereotyping – but Gabaldon said she is not sure where the controversy stems from. She revealed the character is based on the story of a Chinese immigrant known as Mr Hu, who mysteriously arrived in Edinburgh docks in the mid-18th century.

“No one knew how he got there – whether he had stowed away, been kidnapped or whatever,” she said. “He couldn’t speak English – and he never would speak English as he was so traumatised by being in the midst of these barbarian strangers. People felt sorry for him as he was at such odds and so isolated, and would give him food and places to sleep and clothes to try and help him. But he just could not make connections anywhere and he finally drank himself to death.

“It was a very tragic story but it made me think. That is where Mr Willoughby came from – he was a real person, so to speak, and it also caused me to think of cultural isolation and perceptions and so forth.”

She added she had only ever had a couple of letters of complaint in relation to the character, from people of Chinese descent who were angry that Mr Willoughby was described as short in the book.

“I understand not all Chinese people are short," she went on, "but you cannot have a representative sample of all Chinese people in this book – he is one character and has to be one size or another. Given that both Jamie and Claire are abnormally tall for their time, they are almost bound to see them as short, and it is their viewpoint. So no cultural offence is intended.”

Gabaldon is currently writing the ninth book in the Outlander series. The title, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, is based on an old Celtic belief that bees have to be given daily updates on community news such as births or deaths or they will become angry, swarm and leave.

She hopes it will be published in 2018 and there is one more book to be written which is likely to end the series.

However, a prequel about Jamie Fraser’s parents and the earlier Jacobite Rising of 1715 is also in the pipeline, as well as other novellas which pick up various aspects of the Outlander story.

The third series of the TV show will open on one of Scotland’s most bloody historical events – the Battle of Culloden, which ended in the defeat of the Jacobite forces by the Duke of Cumberland’s Hanoverian government army.

The timing of the screening of the first Outlander series in the UK, featuring Scots fighting against British rule as part of the Jacobite rising of 1745, became an unlikely topic of debate in the Scottish referendum, when it was suggested the show’s debut in the UK had been delayed due to political pressure.

In 2015, leaked emails from Sony Pictures were published suggesting the entertainment firm had met with then Prime Minister David Cameron 10 weeks before the vote on Scottish independence, and as a result Outlander's showing was delayed.

But Gabaldon quashed that, saying she had been told by production staff the main reason was none of the main UK channels was willing to take the show in its complete form.

“They all wanted to cut it substantially either for content or for time,” she said. “The people who make this show feel very strongly about it and they weren’t willing to accept that – and then along came Amazon Prime.”

She added: “Things may change with the UK channels, if the show continues to be as popular as it is.”