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The author discusses writing a novella

  • Jessica Else / The Garden Island

    This is the cover of the self-published book by TGI reporter Jessica Else, titled “Nora: A Novella.”

Dark alleys and backdoor deals, head transplants and betrayal, the backfiring of a battle for love — this story isn’t like the others.

It’s not yesterday’s account or tomorrow’s weather. It’s a wander down the path of “what if,” a weird little novella written in the moments between regular workdays.

For the past six months, evenings have come alive with “Nora: A Novella” and the micro-chipped, hologram-peppered, near-future world in which it is set.

The story revolves around a man named Roy, who decides the only way to save his disease-ridden and dying wife is to buy her a new body.

In this novella’s universe, head transplant surgeries are a medical experiment gone wrong, frowned upon by the conventional community, but Roy finds a doctor willing to do the procedure.

Unbeknownst to Roy, his wife’s new body is retrieved from the black market, and the young woman to whom the body belonged was an unwilling donor.

Transformation beyond Roy’s wildest imaginings is the result of the surgery, and the novella explores what happens when the head and the heart fight for control in just about 50 pages.

While creating “Nora: A Novella,” I wrote for around 12 hours a day — sometimes more. When I wasn’t on assignment or in TGI newspaper’s headquarters, I was hammering away at my home keyboard, using a Peruvian cajon as a computer desk.

I remember drawing the cover art after I’d edited “Nora: A Novella” for the eighth time (out of 13 total edits). It was a rainy night in December.

Truth be told, I didn’t know I was an artist until I saw Nora staring back at me from that page. She came to life through ink and obsession, introduced to me by an unseen muse.

To quote Stephen King: “Good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky; two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”

Publishing was akin to jumping out of an open-door airplane from 10,000 feet — something I did with Skydive Kauai in 2016. “Nora: A Novella” became available on Amazon in March, and I still feel like I’m in a free-fall.

But really, not much has changed. Today, I’m still using that little box drum as my desk and still hammering away at that keyboard, catching those colliding ideas. Currently, I’m creating the full-length sequel.

You don’t get any spoilers, though — go read the first one. The full-length novel will be out by the time you’re through digesting it.

“Nora: A Novella” by Jessica Else is available on in paperback, or you can find an eBook copy on Amazon Kindle.

You can catch an autograph if you find me out and about on Kauai or sitting behind a booth at Kapaa’s First Saturday Art Walk. Follow the Nora page on Facebook to keep up with the novella and the author.

To read “Nora: A Novella,” visit:


Jessica Else, environment writer, can be reached at 245-0452 or at


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