Jean Lorrah is an American fantasy and science fiction author. Over her long career she has authored seventeen novels and several short stories, many of which were the result of collaborations with other authors. She was born in Canton, Ohio in 1938. Her full name is Dr. Jean Lorrah, as she received a PhD from Florida State University. She has remained an academic as well as a writer, through her position as an English professor at Murray State University in Kentucky. In 2007, she began a blog, titled “The House of Keon”, in which she describes herself as “a teacher and a writer, a pet owner, a cancer survivor (twice), and now a blogger”.
As a professor, Lorrah teaches university classes of all levels. She regularly teaches Freshman Composition and Humanities, but her specialties are History of the English Language, Medieval British Literature, and the Fantastic. Lorrah is a member of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA). She participates in their annual conferences as a contributing author. Lorrah views her role as a means through which to prepare young people for the job market. She believes that writing effectively is one of the most essential skills to gaining employment.
Lorrah enjoys traveling the world and documenting her experiences for her readers. Lorrah loves traveling so much that she traveled to Japan in 2007, despite still in recovery from a major surgery. She brought a walking stick and used it to support herself while hiking through the medieval Japanese monuments. Lorrah uses her travels to document and raise awareness about poverty and other social ills. During her trip to India, she made many observations about the massive amounts of homeless people who call the streets of Mumbai home.
Lorrah dedicates much of her time outside of writing to charitable work. She is a member of a Relay for Life team called “The 8th Wonders”, whose members are all fellow cancer survivors. She is an animal lover who volunteers with her local Humane Society in Murray, Kentucky. Lorrah also conducts pet therapy at nursing homes, schools, and her university with her two cats, Dudley and Splotch.
Lorrah has produced a huge body of fiction work during her long career, including the Sime~Gen series. Lorrah coauthors this cult favorite with fellow fiction writer Jacqueline Lichtenberg. The Sime~Gen Universe depicts a future world where humankind is divided into two distinct subspecies. The Gen subspecies includes those who appear to be ordinary human beings but produce a type of life energy called selyn. The Sime subspecies includes beings with tentacled arms, who require selyn from the Gens to survive. Together the two subspecies give the series it’s name. If a Gen tries to resist having their selyn taken, they die. In this world, everyone is born the same, but become a Gen or a Sime during puberty. It makes no matter what species one’s parents are. Whether one turns into a Sime or a Gen is completely random; as such, many unfortunate examples of filicide and parenticide occur.
The two subspecies live in a world divided, each maintaining separate societies; except that the Simes raise Gens as captives, similar to farm animals, in order to harvest their life energy. However, there are Simes who are able to take selyn from resisting Gens without killing them. These Simes are known as “channels”. The discovery of these types of Simes leads to a fragile truce or unity between the subspecies. Many credit Lorrah and Lichtenberg with reinventing the vampire archetype in their Sime~Gen stories.
The Sime~Gen novel “First Channel” is equal parts comedy, tragedy, and love story. Released in 1980, this novel is set in Sime territory and revolves around two main characters who are childhood sweethearts. Rimon Farris and Kadi Morcot were born in Sime territory and grew up together dreaming of getting married and living happily ever after. However, at puberty Rimon becomes a Sime and Kadi becomes a Gen in a classic Shakespearean twist of fate. The two end up forging their own path in a community filled with other outcasts who subscribe to a religion that condemns the killing of Gens by Simes.
The next novel in the series was released just two years after “First Channel”. “Channel’s Destiny” details the life of Zeth Farris, an adolescent who grows up as the Sime~Gen truce is beginning to dissolve. Zeth is a Sime who befriends a Gen boy as he helps him recover from a serious injury. Zeth finds himself at the center of conflict as war emerges again. This novel takes a unique perspective, by showing the Sime~Gen universe through the eyes of young children. The Sime~Gen series includes 12 different novels and a couple short stories. The first was released in 1969 and the last novel was released in 2011, making Sime~Gen a series 40 years in the making.
Both by example and through her teaching career, Jean Lorrah is helping to craft the next generation of fiction writers. Her blog includes tips for the aspiring writer and she is never shy to provide insights on where she gets the inspiration for her works of fiction. Lorrah coauthors the children’s series “Nessie” with Lois Wickstrom. In an interview, she stated that the inspiration for this series came during a trip to Loch Ness, Scotland with Lois and Lois’s husband in 1995. During the trip, she discovered that there was a dearth of fiction depicting the Loch Ness monster and saw that there was a niche they could fill.
As evidenced through her work with Jacqueline Lichtenberg on the Sime~Gen series and with Lois Wickstrom on the “Nessie” series, Lorrah loves to collaborate with other fiction writers. In an interview, Lorrah stated that collaborating is “fun, but not really efficient” since it takes about twice as long for two people to write one book as it does for one person to write a book alone. Despite this inefficiency, Lorrah believes that “you end up with a better book because the ideas don’t belong to either one of you, but to both of you”.
Books in order of publication by series:
Savage Empire Books
|Dragon Lord of the Savage Empire||(1982)|
|Captives of the Savage Empire||(1984)|
|Flight to the Savage Empire||(1986)|
|Sorcerers of the Frozen Isles||(1986)|
|Nessie and The Living Stone||(2000)|
|Nessie and the Viking Gold||(2001)|
|Nessie and the Celtic Maze||(2007)|
Publication Order of Sime~Gen: Clear Spring Chronicles Series(with Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Mary Lou Mendum) Books
|A Change of Tactics||(2017)|
Publication Order of Standalone Novels
|Full Moon Rising||(1976)|
|The Night of the Twin Moons||(1976)|
|Pandora No 6||(1980)|
|Blood Will Tell||(2001)|