The Daily Iowan

Student Spotlight: UI freshman is a three-time self-published author

Nora Walls grew up as the daughter of two U.S. Army officers. In her time moving around the world, she fell in love with reading and writing.

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Olivia Augustine, Arts Reporter


Never did Nora Walls, a University of Iowa first-year, expect that the her casual writing on the notes app of her iPad would turn into three self-published novels. 

Walls is one of many UI students drawn to the university because of its creative-writing program and the renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Her most recent novel, Orbury, was published just before she moved to college. Her previous novels, The Dominion and Time Never Stops: Musings of the Last Man, were published when Walls was just 12 and 14, respectively.

Walls is fascinated by the science-fiction genre, especially dystopian realities, she said. Her love for the genre stems from her dad, who she said also enjoys dystopian stories, including the works of George Orwell and Ray Bradbury. 

However, Walls credits both her parents for getting her into reading at an early age. Her parents have been very supportive of her writing career so far, Walls said.

Walls’ parents were both U.S. Army officers, so she spent much of her adolescence moving around, and she began learning to write while attending a British international school in the Middle East for five years. She immediately fell in love with it.

“It’s very relaxing to me, and I just think it’s fascinating because you can make anything into anything, really,” Walls said. “I just think it’s a really good way to express yourself and your ideas and just kind of make somebody else’s ideas your own — put your own spins on things.”

When Walls started her first novel at age 12, she didn’t know where it would go, let alone how far it would go.

RELATED: Ask the Author: Julie Hanson

The Dominion began as one of many stories buried in the notes app of Walls’ iPad. She said the idea of it becoming a published novel never even crossed her mind.

“I just thought I’d try it, but I didn’t think I’d finish it because I had never finished anything,” Walls said. “I just kind of kept rewriting different sections of it, just kind of going through with it.”

Once Walls finished the piece, she showed it to her parents, who had the idea to follow the self-publishing process.

With her newest novel, Walls hopes to move to a less adolescent audience, in contrast to her other two novels, which both fell into the young adult genre. Walls said her books were in the young adult category because she was a young adult herself, but now her writing will grow with her.

Orbury is told from two different perspectives. One character’s story is told in reverse, so it converges in time with the other at the middle. 

One of the main characters, Liam, is based on the character of Alfred from Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. Walls said she did this because she wanted to write from a criminal perspective, which she had never done before.

As a college student, Walls hopes to have more time to write, and advance the level of her writing.

“I’d really like to start writing more regularly and just kind of learn to improve within my genre, and other styles too,” Walls said. “I would just like to be able to sustain myself with writing somehow, eventually.” 

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