Park City High School graduate publishes her third novel |

Park City High School graduate publishes her third novel

‘Orbury’ examines how technology and surveillance affects humanity

Author and Park City High School graduate Nora Wall cites George Orwell and Ray Bradbury as two of her favorite authors and influences.
Photo by Daniella Cartwright

Park City High School graduate Nora Wall continues to explore her fascination with dystopian civilizations in her third novel, “Orbury.”

The book, which was recently released, examines the timely themes of surveillance and technology.

As with her other novels, “Dominion” (2018) and “Time Never Stops: Musings of the Last Man” (2020), Wall puts humanity under the magnifying glass.

“I wanted to really expand the idea of the effect of modern technology on people, and I figured it would be a challenge to write a book that showed no privacy at all,” said Wall, who graduated last June. “There is such a focus today on social media and surveillance, and I wanted to see if I could promote more individualism and creativity through those challenges.”

"Orbury" is Nora Wall's third novel that examines dystopian civilizations. In this book, Wall wanted to explore the effect modern technology and surveillance has on humanity.
Courtesy of Nora Wall

Orbury, the name of the city where the action takes place, is Wall’s nod to her favorite dystopian authors — George Orwell and Ray Bradbury. And the story follows two young men, Connor and Liam.

Liam was inspired by the character Alfred in Ruta Sepetys’ novel “Salt to the Sea,” according to Wall.

“‘Salt to the Sea’ was required reading in my sophomore year, and it’s about World War II,” she said. “The story is told from multiple perspectives, and Alfred’s narrative is based on his ego. So you really get the idea of how he sees himself is so different from how others see him.”

Connor, on the other hand, was not based on anyone in particular, Wall said.

“I wanted to do a more generic character arc, because that was something I was more comfortable with,” she said. “I wanted him to develop through his observations regarding the government.”

Adding to the tension are the two characters’ backstories.

“Connor is one of the sons of the city’s dictator, and Liam is a prisoner of the government, and more of a mystery,” Wall said.

One of the unique twists in “Orbury” is how these two characters’ stories unfold, according to Wall, who is a freshman at the University of Iowa Honors College in Iowa City.

“Connor’s is told in a linear narrative from start to finish, and Liam’s is backwards, from finish to start,” she said. “So I planned the novel around where their stories converge.”

The idea to tell Liam’s story backward was inspired by Christopher Nolan’s 2000 psychological thriller, “Memento,” where two different storylines are told forwards and backwards, Wall said.

“I had watched the film a few years ago, and I thought that was an interesting idea,” she said. “So, ‘Orbury’ is about how Connor and Liam get closer to each other through time.”

"Orbury" author Nora Wall takes a leap during her June graduation at Park City High School. Wall is now a freshman at the University of Iowa and is studying English and creative writing while playing on the school's rugby team.
Photo by Lisa Wall

Wall started writing “Orbury” when she was 16, and it took a year for her to finish the first draft.

“I read it and didn’t like it, because the characters weren’t as present as I wanted them to be,” she said. “So, I rewrote the whole thing, and added more interactions between the characters and dialogue to drive the story along. I wanted to show the story, rather than tell the story.”

While rewriting, Wall looked to her literary mentors, Orwell and Bradbury, for tips.

“Diving into any dystopian world is daunting, and while I know I will never emulate what Orwell and Bradbury have done, I did try out some literary techniques they used to build their worlds, and put my own spin on things,” she said.

In doing so, Wall continually strived to improve her writing.

“I would focus on small things and compare them to my previous books,” she said. “I know I can’t improve big things at once, so I try to improve small things. And when I look back at ‘Dominion,’ I can see that I have boosted up my world-building.”

Although Wall is currently thinking about her next book, she is also busy with school.

Not only is she on the university’s rugby team, which is ranked No. 2 in the country, she spends her time in creative writing classes.

“I chose the University of Iowa because they have a really good writing program, and I want to major in English and creative writing,” she said.

Nora Wall’s “Orbury” is available in paperback and Kindle at at this link: Orbury: Wall, Nora: 9798534416367: Books

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