All posts in the ghosts category

Now available: Conduits Audiobook

Published June 9, 2017 by Jennifer Loring

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.

Purchase on Amazon, Audible, or iTunes.

DarkFuse Bestsellers, Oct. 6-12, 2014

Published October 16, 2014 by Jennifer Loring

Last week, Conduits became a DarkFuse bestseller. Thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy/reviewed the book, and please keep spreading the word!

DarkFuse Bestsellers: October 6-12, 2014

Conduits is Out Today!

Published September 16, 2014 by Jennifer Loring

conduits Mara is a Japanese-American girl with a history of personal tragedy. Though she still cuts to quell the pain, she thought she had left the worst behind her. But her boyfriend’s sudden death and a visit to one of the most haunted places in Washington State send her into a spiral of madness that lands 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 of her older sister’s brutal murder and, unable to distinguish between nightmare and waking any longer, the reason the ghosts have chosen her as their conduit.

“An evocative journey into the darkest realms of a troubled psyche. Part ghost story, part psychological suspense, Conduits is an astonishing debut from a bold new voice in horror. Don’t miss it!” —Tim Waggoner, author of The Way of All Flesh

Buy now at Amazon.

This is Halloween

Published October 3, 2013 by Jennifer Loring

October is by far my favorite month. I already love fall more than any other season, but October gets to claim the greatest holiday of all–Halloween. I write horror, so none of this is probably very surprising.

I still dress up. Since moving to Philly I’ve been a naughty schoolgirl, Jill Valentine (Resident Evil 3: Nemesis version), Lorena from True Blood, and Wonder Woman. As Wonder Woman, I won a costume contest and my prize was beer. So there. The two years that I didn’t dress up, I regretted it just like I knew I would. This year my boyfriend and I decided back in July to do something completely off the wall. He would be Princess Leia (Episode IV version), and I would be Chewbacca. I’ve tried my costume on, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to walk around in this thing. CUTEST CHEWBACCA EVER.

I have a lot of other costume ideas, but with Halloween only once a year, I might have to start cosplaying at Comic-Con. Next up is my long-planned-but-never-executed Dalek. I’ve also wanted to be Samara from The Ring, and the Woman in the Box from Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. That one is admittedly a bit obscure, so it’s really a matter of personal geekery.

So, what about you? What are your favorite costumes?

Grave’s End

Published November 9, 2011 by Jennifer Loring

I had already written a post on Grave’s End when our Evil Overlord informed us that we were to write our posts as if Elaine Mercado’s account of her haunted house were in fact true. It’s easy to suspend disbelief when you’re reading/writing something that does not claim to be anything but fiction. That suspension is more difficult to attain when someone is telling you their house is haunted and nearly begging you to believe them. I have experienced strange phenomena myself, but what made this so hard for me was Mercado herself. She seems very emotionally troubled, so lacking in self-esteem that the “haunting” appeared to be an attempt to feel special for once in her life. Whereas the opportunistic Lutzes of Amityville made me want to kick them in the teeth, Mercado made me feel sorry for her. Were the family dynamics not so awkward and embarrassing to read, I might have had an easier time writing this. As it is, I’m not sure I’ve been able to accomplish what Scott has asked of us, but here is my post anyway.

I have actually experienced two of the phenomena Mercado describes in her book. Hypnagogia was, at the time she moved into the house, a thesis being explored by Dr. Andreas Mavromatis. While it could certainly account for the “suffocating dreams,” it’s a concept that had not yet entered the scientific community at large, so I suppose I can’t fault her for attributing them to paranormal activity. I experience hypnagogic sounds very frequently–“exploding head syndrome,” not nearly as unpleasant as it sounds–in which I hear voices, buzzing, crashes and booms, and on occasion I even experience the hypnagogic hallucination of being touched. It’s truly frightening if you don’t understand what is happening. Mercado also reported the sensation of being watched. I think we have all had this feeling at one time or another. Hallucinations and paranoia often attend high electromagnetic fields, which is why I believe I feel this in my kitchen–lots of large electrical appliances in there–and no where else in my home, but I have also experienced it in a farmhouse with no electricity at all and a reputation for being haunted. So I don’t doubt her insistence that she frequently felt this sensation in her house, though believing there might be ghosts can create a sort of feedback loop that leads one to think one is being watched, whether real activity exists or not.  

I do believe that Elaine believes her house was haunted. She seems like a kind and sincere woman, with no real incentive (other than an emotional one) to make up a ghost story. I’ll even go so far as to say that I believe there was something going on in the house. But I think the true source of the “haunting” was Elaine herself. Being hysterical in front of her children, and constantly prodding them to tell her if they had felt or seen anything, created a case of emotional contagion and folie a deux if there ever was one; she admits that Christine never experienced phenomena while alone in the house. This is a woman with very low self-esteem who craves validation, and she will get it anywhere she can–through her children, through a parapsychology class, through writing a book. She surrounds herself with people who will validate her as well, like her brother and his “psychic” girlfriend; her own boyfriend with his lifelong interest in spirits; and Hans Holzer, that fraudulent “Ph.D”. Even her nursing supervisor, who conveniently happens to be sensitive to psychic phenomena (and tells Mercado about the ghosts on Halloween, no less!).

Rather than a factual account of a haunting, Grave’s End was much like reading a novel with an unreliable narrator. We are viewing Mercado’s experiences in the house through the distorted lens of her faith, anxiety, and low self-esteem. The extremely negative portrayal of her husband, the frequent infantilization of her children and her obsessive relationship with them, the ghostly phenomena themselves…these are reflections of how she perceives her world, but perception does not equal truth. Thus the events themselves are called into question, since we have only Elaine’s word (and Hans Holzer’s, though he lied about his own education, Amityville, and who knows what else. But he’s dead, so I’ll cut him some slack) that they happened.

That’s about as suspended as my disbelief can get in this case. Elaine Mercado, without a doubt, believes her house was haunted. I believe she is sincere in that belief, but it simply wasn’t possible for me to deny my own experiences and knowledge in order to accept her story as truth. I’ll try harder next time.

The Others

Published October 19, 2011 by Jennifer Loring

It’s been years since I last watched Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others. The film was released at a time when “twist” endings were all the rage (thank you, M. Night Shyamalan), due to the success of The Sixth Sense two years earlier. Much like that film, The Others relies on the concept of a ghost not realizing that it is dead. In this case, however, we’re dealing with an entire family of ghosts. And not only are they unaware of their deaths, the twist here is that they’re the ones being haunted–by the living family that moves into their home. “There is something in this house which is not at rest,” Grace, played by Nicole Kidman, says. She does not yet understand that it is herself, and her children. An enjoyable if predictable film, The Others does touch upon a few interesting ideas.

Since we are viewing events through the unreliable lens of Grace’s POV, Mrs. Mills, the children’s new nanny, is set up as the villain early on in the film. Mrs. Mills’ true role, as psychopomp, is hinted at in a shot of her ascending the staircase, toward a soft light above her. I was reminded of the scene in the excellent film Jacob’s Ladder (to which The Others is in no way comparable, but a couple of elements apply to this post), where one of Jacob’s psychopomps, his dead son, leads Jacob up a staircase and into the light. Grace, still in darkness, is not ready to make that journey. Mrs. Mills is a practical woman who is clearly concerned about the effect Grace’s behavior has on her children. She has little patience for both Grace’s continued outbursts and the charade she, Mr. Tuttle, and Lydia must put on while waiting for Grace to come to terms with her family’s deaths, and eventually takes matters into her own hands. By the end of The Others Mrs. Mills’ purpose is clear; having been through death herself, she has returned to the house she loved to guide the deceased family into their afterlife.

Grace herself is strong-willed, sanctimonious, and holds a religiously-informed worldview that divides everything into strictly black-and-white terms. Backed into a corner when Anne questions her about the arbitrary nature of “goodies” and “baddies,” she silences her daughter rather than admit that she does not have an answer. The limbo in which she finds herself could be interpreted, from a biblical standpoint and certainly from her own beliefs, as a punishment for her arrogance. “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it,” says Jesus in Mark 10:14-16. Convinced that she is a “godly” woman, for whom her interpretation of Christianity holds all the answers, it is not until the end of the film that Grace admits she is no wiser than her young daughter. She has been humbled in the face of her existence as a ghost, which disproves her assertion that such things cannot exist because “The Lord would not allow it.” “The Lord” seems quite willing to prove her wrong. Now that Grace has accepted her lack of knowledge about so many things, perhaps she is at last on the path toward redemption.        

The fog barrier surrounding the house represents not only the division between life and death, but the mental barrier that Grace has erected to protect herself from the reality of her situation. Limbo, a divine punishment with which she often threatens her children, is a construct of her own making. When Grace finally remembers that she murdered her children and killed herself, when they accept the fact, with Mrs. Mills’ assistance, that they are all ghosts, the fog lifts–literally and metaphorically. Sunlight is illumination, and illumination is knowledge. Daylight streams in through the windows. Freed from the darkness of their mother’s denial and from the attachment to their mortal bodies, the children find that light no longer hurts them. Meister Eckhart, the Christian mystic quoted in Jacob’s Ladder by Jacob’s chiropractor (his other psychopomp), can also be applied to the Stewart family: “‘The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won’t let go of life, your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away. But they’re not punishing you….They’re freeing your soul.'”

Works Referenced:

Jacob’s Ladder. Dir. Adrian Lyne. Perf. Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Pena, Danny Aiello. Artisan, 1990. DVD.

The Others. Dir. Alejandro Amenábar. Perf. Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan, Christopher Eccleston. Dimension, 2001. DVD.

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