11 October 2014

You Should Be Reading: Jennifer Loring

Available now from DarkFuse
and Amazon
During my time at Seton Hill University, I met a writer who would significantly shape not only my experiences at grad school, but my own writing: Jennifer Loring.

I met Jenn during my second residency at SHU when we were assigned to be critique partners for each other's thesis novels. It was one of those experiences where right at our initial meeting I felt like something special was happening.

We bonded over fairy tales.

Except Jenn and I bonded over the original stories--the twisted versions that included things like murder, torture, rape, and cannibalism, all combined with elements of the ethereal, magical, and otherworldly.

From my second term until our graduation from SHU, Jenn and I remained crit partners, friends, and confidantes. She's helped me out with my novel The Name and the Key and beyond that, she's been kind enough to blurb me on my freelancing site and has kept her eyes open for any opportunities that may come my way. I hope to someday be able to return the level of kindness and support she's given me. This post is one of many attempts to do so and if Jenn finds her way over here I hope my fangasms don't come across as too creepy.


I am not speaking from a place of friendship. I'm speaking as someone who is very critical and as someone who hates to waste time on crappy writing. I will drop a book at any point in the reading if it doesn't work for me and I have no qualms with purging sellling books to get them off my shelves to keep my personal library a haven of quality.

I have a Jennifer Loring shrine in my iPad, and although I want Conduits to be the first tangible book in my physical library, I am saving that honor for Those of My Kind, Jenn's thesis novel from SHU, which will be released  March 2015 from dark fantasy publisher Omnium Gatherum!

Jenn's the type of writer who skillfully uses language that promotes cognitive dissonance, which I personally believe is one of the key definers, if not the actual purpose, of the horror genre. She can describe something as visceral and violent as being impaled, and as gruesome and detailed as she can be with it, she somehow makes it beautiful at the same time. Just when such a scene is on the verge of being unbearable, her prose elevates it and guides you to the next piece in the story.

Jenn also has such a deep awareness of mythic themes and symbols that no matter what's happening on the surface of her writing, her words are actually weaving together a deeper meaning. It feels like the hum of an electric current--it's been there and working all along, but you don't catch it until everything else is quiet.

This is exactly what's at work in her newest book, Conduits:
Mara is a Japanese-American girl with a history of personal tragedy. Though she still cuts herself to quell the pain, she thought the worst was behind her. But her boyfriend's sudden death, and a visit to one of the most haunted places in Washington State, sends her into a spiral of madness, landing her in a psychiatric ward. 
Already suffering from dreams of a strange, ghost-infested house in the woods, Mara begins to question the very existence of reality. She is forced to confront the truth about her older sister's death and the reason the ghosts have chosen her as their conduit. (Publisher's Description)
I am signal-boosting the crap out of Conduits. Yes, I'd like you to read Jenn's work in Mental Ward, Grimm and Grimmer, and her novella Beautiful Things, but there's something magical going on with Conduits:

  • She’s got a style and a strong authorial pen that makes reading this novella crackle. Whether she’s describing rain falling down a windowpane or the much darker act of deliberately cutting oneself in an effort to control the psychological pain through the physical act of bleeding, there’s a consistent beauty and elegance to her words that really appealed to me. Coupled with that is a wickedly strong story.
--Author Michael Patrick Harris in his review
  • “Conduits” is a book that is sure to keep the reader on edge throughout the story. Loring uses a lot of imagery in the book to express the confusion and fear that Mara is feeling and this also serves to keep the reader from settling into a comfort zone while reading the story. Instead, the reader always has a sense that there is something lurking around the corner, or on the next page in this case, but not knowing what that something might be other than the fact that it is sure to be something terrible. [...] While “Conduits” is a short novella, it is still a powerful story that packs a punch that will leave the reader reeling and thinking about the story days after the last page is read. 
--Josef Hernandez's review for the Minneapolis Books Examiner

I hope one day when I'm not overwhelmed with all things adjunct-related, that I may add my own detailed review of the book to the list. In the meantime, help out the author by reading the book and sharing your own review!

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