• “The smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting 'Scrooge McDuck' comics.”—Salon.com
  • A time-hopping, continent-spanning salmagundi of genres.”
  • “These books have to be word-of-mouth books because they're too weird to describe to anybody.”
    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor

Octopus/Octothorpe….there’re eight legs, what else do you want?

Newton abbreviation for poundEW.com (ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY’s electronic edition) reveals the official cover for MOBY (aka WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD), shown above. Here’s the link to their piece, which has a few questions and answers (such as they are [cough]).

Image at left: From the 1600s, Sir Isaac Newton’s stylized version of the abbreviation “lb,” which was short for the word “libra” in the Roman weight libra pondo, the origin of the octothorpe (#).

While I originally wanted an octopus on the cover—both because I really like octopuses and because of the symbolism (there are eight major characters whose stories I’m telling through this book—and it is the eighth book, after all), there were certain technical issues that made that difficult. My husband—never a big fan of the octopus concept—asked whether I could think laterally; surely there were other ways to get an “8” onto the cover.

So I thought. And almost at once, the word “octothorpe” sprang to mind. I’ve always liked the word, and it certainly was appropriate (you may or may not recognize it in its Very Artistic form—but it’s the lowly hashtag, or pound sign, #), as it not only has eight points (and eight “fields” of empty space surrounding it; one explanation of its origin is that it was a symbol on old English land documents for a farm surrounded by eight fields), but is a printing character—and the content of the book does indeed have a certain amount about the printer’s trade in colonial America during the Revolution.

altmann-octothorpeSo I went at once to Google and typed in “octothorpe”—and pretty much the first thing I saw was this (the symbol at right). I was so ravished by Conrad Altmann’s beautiful octothorpe that I emailed it at once to my editor, with the suggestion that we use this for the central icon of the new cover design.

Now, frankly, the Art Department was so relieved not to have to deal with any more octopuses that I’m sure they would have fallen on any alternate suggestion with cries of gladness. However, they were as pleased with this lovely octothorpe as I was, and came up with this elegant and striking concept, which I Really Like. Hope you will, too!

Further note: Sir Isaac Newton PRS (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author (described in his time as a “natural philosopher”) who is widely recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all time and was a key figure in the scientific revolution. Image of the symbol written by him above is from the Roy G. Neville Historical Chemical Library, CHF; and Wikipedia.

February 23, 2021: Thank you to Kate Mullin, who pointed out that a web link in a previous version of this blog by Diana was no longer valid, and indeed was erroneously pointing instead to an Asian porn site!

This blog page was last updated on Tuesday, February 23, 2021, at 10:25 a.m. by Diana or Diana’s Webmistress.

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141 Responses »

  1. I have begun to read the series for the 2nd time, as I am sure many of your followers do. I can’t wait for MOBY, and hopefully many more after. And also, I am looking forward to the Outlander series on STARZ. Thank you so much for allowing my imagination to travel with your books.

    Can’t wait for #8,


  2. I don’t care what it’s called or what the cover looks like (althought the thought that has gone into it is appreciated) I just want the book…..think I may have a tantrum like my two year old…stamps feet..

  3. Hello.
    Thanks for explaining the original cover :)
    Because I work in a German Bookstore (and couldn’t find any Information on the meaning of the Symbol on the german Version of your book) – could you please explain the German-Version-cover-Symbol as well?
    Have a nice day!

    • Dear tpasche–

      So far as I know, it’s just a meaningless symbol the German cover designer thought up. I don’t know why the German publishers almost always change the titles of my books (usually to something meaningless, if not worse), but it’s common for foreign publishers to make their own book designs, which they feel will be attractive to their own markets. Sometimes they’re right, and sometimes they’re _not_…but they’re not obliged to ask me about it.



  4. Just finished MOBY and wonder how the heck Bree and,Roger and the children wind up at FR in the cirrect time as Clair and Jamie when Roger and Buck arrive before Brian Fraser has died and Jamie is still in France before he ever meets Claire etc?

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