I’ll be all over Ohio (and Illinois) this fall, telling scary stories and signing books!
Drop by if you can!
Weekend of the Pooka
1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Western Reserve Book Fair
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Kennedy Center at Hiram College
11730 State Route 700
Spooky Stories from It Came from Ohio!
Kirtland Public Library
9267 Chillicothe Rd.
Kent State Book Fest
Noon – 1 p.m.
Kent State University Bookstore
Spooky Stories from It Came from Ohio!
Akron-Summit Library – Marian T Hall Community Room
491 Vernon Odom Blvd.
Spooky Stories from It Came from Ohio!
North Royalton library
5071 Wallings Rd.
North Royalton, Ohio
Noon – 4 p.m.
Author Expo 2015
Willowick Public Library
35400 Chardon Rd.
FIRST READING AND SIGNING FOR THE GREAT FORGETTING
13015 Larchemere Blvd.
Shaker Heights, Ohio
READING AND SIGNING FOR THE GREAT FORGETTING
Barnes & Noble, Crocker Park
Take a look at the cover for True Crime Addict!
The new nonfiction book follows my investigation into the bizarre disappearance of UMass nursing student Maura Murray.
It will be available everywhere books are sold, May 24, 2016, or you can reserve your copy today.
You can now reserve your copy of The Great Forgetting at you favorite local bookstore or online retailer! If you do it today, you can say you did it before it was “cool,” you magnificent hipster!
In The Man from Primrose Lane, James Renner fused time travel with serial-killer thrillers, resulting in what the Associated Press called “a superbly crazy and imaginative story.” Now, in The Great Forgetting, he blends science fiction and conspiracy thrillers with a touch of pure fantasy, and the result is just as crazy and imaginative.
Jack Felter, a history teacher, returns home to bucolic Franklin Mills, Ohio, to care for his father, a retired pilot who suffers from dementia and is quickly losing his memory. Jack would love to forget about Franklin Mills, and about Sam, the girl he fell in love with, who ran off with his best friend, Tony. Except Tony has gone missing.
Soon Jack is pulled into the search for Tony, but the only one who seems to know anything is Tony’s last patient, a paranoid boy named Cole. Jack must team up with Cole to follow Tony’s trail–and maybe save the world. Their journey will lead them to Manhattan and secret facilities buried under the Catskills, and eventually to a forgotten island in the Pacific–the final destination of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
When Jack learns the details about the program known as the Great Forgetting, he’s faced with the timeless question: Is it better to forget our greatest mistake or to remember, so it’s never repeated?
I haven’t posted a review for some time, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t found some good reads. Holed up because of the Ohio cold, I returned to a couple of my favorite writers this winter, and discovered a new favorite as well.
First up was Mr. Mercedes, by Stephen King. The first thing you should know is that this is one of those rare King stories without any hint of the paranormal or the fantastic. It’s a straight gumshoe detective yarn about a retired cop trying to track down a deranged killer. I always love returning to King. I can hear his voice when I read and his pacing is maddeningly suspenseful. But this feels like one of his in-the-middle books, the kind that come between greater works of his, transitional. There were parts I really liked. The love affair was sweet and honest. And knowing who the killer is from the beginning was daring. I wanted one more… something.
Next up was Anne Rice’s return to the Vampire Chronicles, Prince Lestat. I devoured her books the year after I graduated from Kent State. I have always been fascinated by how she can write such tender characters so full of life who happen to also be undead. Beautiful writing at times. Just poetic. This book is like the Avengers of the Vampire Chronicles, with every major and minor character coming together to fight the Big Bad. As such, it gets a little weighed down with introductions and at times feels a little Old Testmenty with the lineage stuff. Whatever. It was great and I read it with a smile on my face the entire time.
Finally, Wolf in White Van. Very short novel by a great lyricist about a kid who attempted to commit suicide but only managed to blow his face apart. Since then, he has constructed an elaborate fantasy world in a text-adventure game which people play the old fashioned way – by mail! Very cool concept. Cold and nihilistic. And yet it is somehow also about the beauty of the world and of surviving it. Each sentence is a gem but I need to read something more cheery next (alas, I’ve finally picked up The Corrections and can’t put it down.)
What is it with post-apocalyptic novelist feeling the need to go all Cormac McCarthy with their voice? Nobody will ever do it as well as ol’ Cormac did in The Road. And here, it feels a little too artificial. Just tell me a story, dammit.
The Dog Stars has something in it. Something I rather liked. There’s a kind of naturalist sensibility in the description of the world after the flu or some kind of genetically-engineered disease has killed off just about everyone. The relationship between Hig and his dog, Jasper, was a cool new twist on the genre. Nobody needs another father/son tromp across the wasteland. The prose, though distracting, was often prayer-like in a decidedly Terrence Malick way, especially whenever Hig goes looking for trout.
I want you to know I recommend this novel. I do. But it really flirts with the line for me, sometimes. There’s a point where Hig encounters a woman and his immediate sexual response to her kind of diminishes the love story the author as set up in flashbacks between Hig and his wife (whom he may have murdered to keep her from suffering).
I don’t know, man. A good book, I think, to keep in a hunting cabin or vacation home, to pick up when it’s raining outside.
ENORMOUS STORIES by James Renner
A collection of a bunch of short nonfiction stories I wrote as a reporter in Cleveland. 250 pages worth of profiles, scandals, and strangeness for $1.99
33 pieces of short nonfiction. Includes profiles of famous/infamous Ohioans like Bill Watterson, Tom Batiuk, Jeff Krotine, Louis Stokes, Calvin Blocker, Dave Chappelle, Dr. Robert White, Lawrence Krauss, Bill O’Neill, and Tim Russo. There is a section devoted to scandals, featuring articles about Marc Dann, Kevin Coughlin, Ross Verba, Tim Timken, and a kickback scheme at Hopkins airport. Another section delves into secret societies, including Pipestone, TEAM, and the cult of Scientology.
I’m writing this new yarn for the StoryShift app, called EXPEDITION Z. It takes place 20 years after the zombie apocalypse and follows a young cadet ordered to travel across the former United States to see if anyone else survived. Here’s the first chapter to get you started (click on the title page). Chapter 5 just went up today but you need the StoryShift app to catch up and to vote on the direction of Chapter 6.
Do it. It’s fun. There’s lots more cool comics and stories on StoryShift and the best part is, it’s totes free and available on all your devices.
When I was a kid, I loved comic books. But my family lived way the hell out in the country. The closest store, Spellbinders, was a half hour drive, in Kent, and trips were few and far between. Thanks to my six year old son, I’ve become addicted to them, once again, this last year. We live in Akron, now, and there’s a great comic shop in the Falls, J.C. Comics and Cards. I started just buying Spongebob comics for Casey, as a reward for good behavior. Aaaand now I’m hooked on a bunch and spending way too much money each month to support my habit.
If you haven’t visited the comics store since you were kid, you really should head back. There’s a lot going on. My personal favorites: X-Files Season 10 (Joe Harris brings back everything we loved about the series, including the Lone Gunmen, CSM, and the black goo); Walking Dead (duh. the cool thing is, the comics are about two seasons ahead of the show); Ghostbusters (this month, they’re revisiting the Zuul storyline); Letter 44 (cool conspiracy stuff).
And whenever I’m in there, I’m also digging through back issues of Powers (excellent early comic by Clevelander Brian Michael Bendis), Swampthing (mostly for the excellent artwork), and the Dark Tower stories.
Somehow, I also missed out on some big contemporary classics, which are prohibitively expensive to buy in pieces so I’m reading them via my library card. Must reads: Sandman (of fucking course), Locke & Key (by Uncle Steve’s kid), and for any Cleveland native (or true-crime fan) Torso.
Find the comic shop in your area and drop twenty bucks. Get caught up.