• “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. Diana, someone commented on your Facebook page that the lines of the symbol had eight intersecting points, like the intersecting story lines…I thought that was a lovely and apt observation!

  2. A wonderful cover! Kudos for using the “octothorpe” as a seal in the red wax on parchment. Letters have always played a huge part in the books, and I am looking forward to the rest of the letters from the past that are in Brianna’s possession. (among so many other things)

    I work with fabric and the black octothorpe pictured on your link, made my fingers itch to pull the two outer loops to make a macrame knot.

    Thanks too for the snippets, teasers and daily lines, they keep the interest level high and ease the tension of waiting.

    Continuing working your magic, we know the wait will be worth it.
    Vicki B

    • Vicky, now that I think about it, pulling those threads would make a beautiful knot.

      Diana, beautiful cover. Now, I have a strong urge to crack open that seal and see what’s in that note.


  3. Reading “A trail of Fire” at the moment, filling the so called black hole till the 8th book will be available in a Dutch translation. That will be next year I assume.
    Curious how that is done. Do you have a translator working on the first part(s) of the book while finishing it? And is there only one translator or more than one?
    Hope to start doing some translating myself professionally very soon; ultimate job would be working on translating this book!

    • Dear Cora–

      Well, see, I don’t write in a straight line. So usually, a translator can’t begin work on one of my books until the whole thing is finished.


      • Bonjour,

        J’attends avec impatience que le dernier livre soit traduit en francais. Philippe SAFAVI a traduit les précedent. Pareille pour The Scottish prisoner!!!!!

        Pourquoi tant de décalage entre la sortie du livre en Anglais et en Francais. J’espere que pour la nouvelle série on l’aura rapidement en France

        En tout cas, j’adore………………..

  4. It reminds me of the letters in the box that Jamie and Claire sent down through the centuries. Some still unread. The wax seal cracked with age. I am so curious to find out what is in those letters. They could have given away too much though. Diana you sure know how to keep our interest!

  5. I LOVE IT!!!! It also reminds me of an infinity symbol which could symbolize Jamie & Clair’s love for each other. Can’t wait till December!!

  6. How long will it take to come out on kindle?

  7. That’s very interesting how that came about. I really enjoy reading extra fun tidbits about the series. May I ask what is the word count for each book in the Outlander series?

    • Dear Elle–

      OH, let’s see…

      OUTLANDER – 305,000

      DRAGONFLY IN AMBER – 350,000

      VOYAGER – 385,000

      DRUMS OF AUTUMN – 425,000

      THE FIERY CROSS – 508,000 [cough]

      A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES – 500,000

      And I don’t think I ever did a formal word-count for ECHO; it’s around the same size as VOYAGER, though.


      • When it is spelled out like that, it is staggering! I read a lot, so the longer the book, the better. I want it to take me more than a day to get through, and your books always do that. I am eagerly anticipating MOBY!

  8. That’s marvelous! I just finished The Outlander a couple weeks ago and I loved it. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series but at the same time I don’t want to finish it. I think I’ll take it nice and slow. ☺

  9. It’s really a nice symbol and cover, but what I am really looking forward is to meet Jamie again!
    I am absolutely in love!
    Please, do not forget your Brazillian fans!
    Ruth Carolina, from São Paulo.

  10. Vey nicely done. I love the cover!
    Seems that a lot of symbols are hidden in it.

    Cannot wait for this book…is there a release date for this book?

    One more question though. Is it going to be an early Christmas gift? :)

  11. Wonderful! Can’t wait for December to break the seal. Thanks so much for good, interesting, thought-provoking reads.

  12. Impatiently waiting to read this! Boy oh Boy, it is only Spring!!

  13. I love the design; it’s thought provoking. Just a thought, more of an afterthought, about that little drop of blood below the octothorpe. If it were in the shape of an asterisk * (the symbol about the number 8 on the keyboard), that would be pretty cool. Just a thought.

  14. I love the design; it’s thought provoking. Just a thought, more of an afterthought, about that little drop of blood below the octothorpe. If it were in the shape of an asterisk * (the symbol above the number 8 on the keyboard), that would be pretty cool. Just a thought.

  15. really cool stuff an interesting website to visit is http://www.thejetstream.com

  16. Oh, I am beside myself with anticipation! Re-reading all the books now (on Voyager presently). It’s so nice to have all my friends back :)

  17. Dear Diana

    Just keep writing. I’ve read all your books several times and can understand just how much work goes into each tome. While I’m waiting for MOBY to be published, I have picked up Dorothy Dunnett’s book Niccolo Rising to re-read and enjoy for about the fourth time. Fortunately there are 8 books in this series so this should keep me going until the end of the year. Be warned – her books are not an easy read, but the plotting and characters are wonderful, and each reading brings out more detail in the story. Sadly Dorothy Dunnett died a few years ago, so there will be no more gems from her. The suspense and anticipation are building …..

    • Dear Norma – You did not mention Dunnett’s other series, about Francis Crawford of Lymond & Sevigny, all the titles refer to chess in some way (Game of Kings, Queen’ s Play, etc. ) I began these in the late 60′s, early 70′s as I recall. Am now rereading for about the 15th time. Until Outlander this was my favorite book series, but Jamie and Claire have pretty much caught up. If you haven’t read it, and you do like the Niccolo series, do try this one!


      • Thanks you for mentioning the Francis Lymond Series. I have read these as well – they’re my stop gap if I finish the 8 Niccolo books before MOBY publication date. There’s also King Hereafter, which is the historically accurate story of Macbeth. Nice to get some input from a fellow “good-read” fanatic.

  18. Dear Diana, The cover for MOBY is lovely. I have all ready pre-ordered it at Barnes and Noble .com, and I can’t wait to get it! Please accept my thanks that the wait is almost over, I know you worked very hard on this book, just as you did with the others, and I know number eight will be worth the wait!!! Regards, Pat Harris

  19. The cover of the new book is stunning! Fits right in with the rest of the series. Thank you for what you do Diana. Had a pretty rough week, my mum had breast cancer surgery. During her surgery I was re-reading Dragonfly in Amber for the umpteenth time to take my mind off things. It’s amazing how you can take our imagination away!
    Blessings to you Diana and all your fans!

  20. Currently planning a trip to Scotland to walk the same paths of my ancestors. The Outlander series has truly inspired my interest in discovering my roots. Thank you for awakening this desire in me (and in so many others), but mostly thank you, Dr Diana, for entertaining me for hours on end. Can’t wait for MOBY!

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