Annabelle Jay on the Inspiration Behind her new release Jesse 2.0 (guest blog and excerpt)



Jesse 2.0 by Annabelle Jay

Harmony Ink Press

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon (not available)

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Annabelle Jay here today talking about her new release Jesse 2.0. Welcome, Annabelle.



The Inspiration for Jesse 2.0

by Annabelle Jay

On a long car drive on the way back from a wedding, my husband, his friend, and I got into a debate about cloning. If, for example, a painting is reproduced exactly, down to every piece of dust and light damage, is it the same painting? What about when we sleep? If our consciousness stops, and then it starts again, are we still the same person? Is there any difference between that and a teleportation device that disassembles you and puts you back together? Is it different than death?

As I said, it was a very long drive.

Since I’m a fiction writer with an overactive imagination, I decided to explore my own thoughts about cloning in a novel. What if people who are dead could come back to life using the same technology as teleportation, only with the slight change that their bodies have been restarted? Are they the same person?

In the scene from Jesse 2.0 below, you can see most of this conversation play out between Jesse, the cloned character, and Maddy, Jesse’s boyfriend. Maddy has moved on and is dating a girl named Georgia, which complicates things even further.

Is Jesse still Jesse?

Or is he, as the title states, Jesse 2.0?



“He didn’t want any mistakes,” he continued. “Took so many pills that even pumping his stomach wouldn’t have worked. He was gone by the time I got there, anyway…. It was like he was a lamp, and someone had just switched him off.”

There were so many things I wanted to say: I’m sorry. I should never have done that to you. I love you.

“The ‘old Jesse’ is me,” I said instead. “We’re the same person.”

“You’re Jesse 2.0,” he corrected.

“No. I’m not.” I tried to think of how to explain this in a way he would understand. “All that happened was that my conscious mind turned off, they made a perfect copy of me, and then my mind turned back on. Think about it this way: If I was a famous painting, and they made a perfect copy of me down to the movement of every brush stroke, wouldn’t I be the same painting as the original?”

“You’d look identical, but the way you were made would be different. As an artist, I’m surprised you’re even making this argument.”

“Of course it would be made differently. But my question is, would it matter? Would the backstory to the painting negate the fact that the paintings are the same painting at that exact moment in time? That they have the same dust engrained in their paint, the same combination of colors, the same fading from light exposure?”


“And sure, from that moment of creation on, those two paintings would have different experiences. One might get more light, the other more water… and suddenly they’ve started on two different paths. But the ‘old Jesse,’ as you call him, isn’t alive.”

“So you’re the only painting. The only path the ‘real Jesse’ has gone down. That’s why transporters are made to recreate you on the other side, not actually transport your matter to another place. They’re creating a perfect copy of you at that exact moment in time and destroying the original.”


“That’s insane. I mean, I understand it, logically… but emotionally, I don’t want to believe that an original Monet is the same as a cloned copy.”

I’d had all these same thoughts when I’d woken up at home. I’d panicked, I’d screamed, I’d tried to die all over again. But then they’d realized how to get through to me: They’d shown me two pictures of the same painting and asked me to select the original. Naturally, I couldn’t.

“Think of it another way.” I put my hand out in the dark and found his eyes, then covered them with my hand. “Pretend you’re asleep. Technically, your conscious mind shuts off, right?”


“So really, there’s no difference between falling asleep, being transported, and being brought back to life as a copy. Your mind goes off, time goes by, and then your mind goes on again.”

“I’m not sure that I buy—”

“I know, but think about it. If, while you were sleeping, we made an exact copy of you, that copy would wake up thinking that it’s the original you, right? All it would remember is falling asleep and waking up?”


“So really, right now, you’re Maddy 1.0. Tomorrow, when you wake up, you’ll be Maddy 1.1. And the next day, Maddy 1.2. At any point during your sleep, HORUS could make a repro of you, destroy the original, and you wouldn’t know the difference. Now that repro is Maddy 1.2, soon to wake up as 1.3.”

He couldn’t seem to think of anything to say to that. I wondered if he wanted to touch me as much as I wanted to touch him, or if his mind was on the college girl back home.

“It’s not the same,” he said finally. “The history matters. The truth matters.”

“Only if you know it.”


What would the world be like if anyone who died could come back?

That’s a question that bookworm Maddy Stone never thought he would need to answer. But when he saves a drowning man at the psychiatric facility where he volunteers, he discovers the man is his ex-boyfriend, Jesse, who committed suicide several months before. Jesse tells him that not only was he revived using “reproduction technology,” a type of cloning that relies on the same principals as teleportation, but that the doctor who brought him back was Maddy’s father. There was only one stipulation: Jesse could never talk to Maddy again.

Now, with the help of Georgia, Maddy’s new girlfriend, Maddy and Jesse must escape before their parents track them down. But when Maddy finds out that maybe Jesse—or Jesse 2.0, as Maddy calls him—isn’t the only repro, he must decide whether to continue with his new life or return to the Maddy he was before he knew the truth.

About the Author

If there’s one thing author Annabelle Jay believes with all her heart, it’s that there is no such thing as too many dragons in a book. As fantasy writer with few other hobbies—does being bribed to run with her partner or dancing awkwardly in the kitchen count?—she spends every day following her imagination wherever it leads her.

A hippie born in the wrong decade, Annabelle has a peace sign tattoo and a penchant for hugging trees. Occasionally she takes breaks from her novels to play with her pets: Jon Snow, the albino rabbit who is constantly trying to escape; Stevie, the crested gecko that climbs glass with the hairs on its toes; and Luigi, the green tree python that lives at the foot of her bed despite her best efforts to talk her partner out of the idea.

During her day job as a professor of English, Annabelle is often assumed to be a fellow student playing a prank on the class—that is, until she hands out the syllabus. When people stop mistaking her for a recent high school graduate, she will probably be very sad.



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Julie Aitcheson on Covers and her new release First Girl (author guest post)


First Girl by Julie Aitcheson
Harmony Ink Press
Cover Art:  Aaron Anderson

Buy Links

Amazon |  Barnes & Noble |   Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Julie Aitcheson here today talking about her latest novel First Girl. Welcome, Julie.


“Cover Story”

By Julie Aitcheson, Author: First Girl, Harmony Ink Press, April 2018

I love talking about the cover for my book, because it is exactly how I pictured it. With minimal back and forth and few specifics from me, artist Aaron Anderson (contracted by Dreamspinner Press), hit it out of the park. The image is dark and haunting- a frail female form borne up through murky water in a shaft of iridescent light. It encapsulates the essence of the book in the way every writer surely hopes their cover will.

Water is as much a central character of First Girl as my heroine, Gabi Lowell. Water’s scarcity shapes everything about Gabi’s existence, from her environment to what she eats and drinks to the politics that govern her world. The fear of the distant, unseen ocean permeates the psyche of her community, and her unfathomable connection with it (and the creatures therein) is what ultimately lures her out of her frightened complacency and into the unlikely role of hero. In this passage from the first part of the book, we witness Gabi in her room, her sanctuary, and get a first glimpse of this defining relationship with water:

“Go put on something dry while I put out your pills with some tea and cake. It’s already thirty minutes past time.” Gram’s hair stood out in white shocks from her head, adding drama to the urgency in her voice. When it came to the pills, every minute mattered. Taken as a powder mixed into formula when Gabi was a baby, then swallowed whole with water when she was old enough to manage pills, the medicine was a fact of Gabi’s life. The pills, her father explained, were the only things keeping Gabi’s lungs working. Missing a dose or taking one too late could cause her entire respiratory system to shut down, like sealing a whale’s blowhole shut and holding it deep underwater.

Gabi took her first relaxed inhale since leaving the house that morning and released it on a sigh as she entered her room and shut the door behind her. The walls were painted in blended shades of blue and green, an impressionistic rendering of seaweed-swirled water. Her books, hundreds of them, were crammed into bookcases and milk crates and stacked into wobbly towers that deterred anyone but Gabi from entering for fear of triggering an avalanche. She was not a hoarder, Gabi insisted when her father and brother ribbed her for her trove of books. She was simply starved for information. Sometimes she thought she would rather have words than air.

As she peeled off her dripping socks and leggings, Gabi’s gaze wandered to the carefully marked books on cetacean biology piled within easy reach of her bed. She had been eating, sleeping, and breathing whales in preparation for her presentation that day, certain that if she just knew her subject matter well enough, the words would flow effortlessly out of her. She was wrong.

Whales were a peculiar fascination for a girl who was afraid of water. The mere thought of being close to more than a bucketful of the stuff was enough to make Gabi shake, a phobia her father didn’t discourage. Recreational swimming had been forbidden since before Gabi was born anyhow. Water resources were scarce and every available drop that fell or condensed was immediately sequestered for purification and municipal use. Anyone who violated these practices risked heavy fines and even imprisonment. Immersion in water was illegal. All bathing was done from a small ration delivered in measured containers three times weekly around Alder, just as it was in every other branch of the Unitas fellowship. Precipitation in the form of rain or snow was collected and transported to a treatment facility wherever possible.

There was no real need to deter residents from collecting their own water stores. Thanks to years of unchecked emissions and nuclear meltdowns during The Great Strain, which attacked technologies as well as life forms, no one dared use or ingest water before trained professionals treated it. Though she gobbled up any small morsel of information she could about the mysteries of marine biology, Gabi couldn’t imagine actually seeing the ocean, watching it swell and threaten to consume her. But something drew her back to her books time and again and compelled her to recreate her own dry land version of the sea in her tiny bedroom.”

I wish I had a clear, writerly explanation for how Water showed up as a principal character in my book, but I don’t. I’m just grateful for a cover that shows Gabi in her true element and rising up, as all good heroes must.

First Girl by Julie Aitcheson


Some things are worth fighting for: a sense of identity, personal freedom, truth, and new love—even in a society that forbids them.

In the aftershocks of catastrophic climate change, the fundamentalist Christian group Unitas seized the opportunity to grab power in the United States. Gabi’s father, Sam Lowell, is one of the most powerful men on the Unitas council… and his sickly daughter’s hero, until Gabi discovers the horrors being carried out in the name of religion.

Gabi’s mission to expose Unitas will take her into the company of misfits and dissidents and beyond the borders of everything she knows as her life is threatened at every turn. Along the way, she uncovers her true origins and astonishing power, along with a ruthless dictatorship masquerading as a benevolent democracy that will stop at nothing—including playing God—to win the game of survival.

About the Author

Julie Aitcheson began her pursuit of writing as a screenwriter, then realized that a little exposition never hurt anyone and switched to books. She has had articles published in Echo QuarterlyCommunities Magazine (formerly Talking Leaves Magazine), Isabella, and All Things Girl.  Most recently, she received a full fellowship to the 2013 Stowe StoryLabs and won second place in the 2014 San Miguel Writers’ Conference nonfiction writing competition.

Julie lives wherever her bohemian heart takes her, and wherever she can hit the hiking trails when her muse decides to take a personal day. She has worked extensively with young adults as an experiential educator, both across the United States and in India. After spearheading an initiative to assist at-risk youth in becoming trained for green jobs, Julie threw herself into writing stories for young adults that do justice to their intelligence and complex emotional lives. Her debut novel, Being Roy, was released by Harmony Ink Press in October of 2017.

Julie continues to seek out unique life experiences to provide grist for the mill of her imagination, including her work as a medical actress at a simulation laboratory. There, she indulged her love of the dramatic arts and her passion for health education while amassing enough writing material to sink a barge.

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