Paging Fox Mulder: Akron author James Renner’s ‘love letter to conspiracy theories’

by Megan Combs; photos courtesy of James Renner

What if all major conspiracies ‒ fluoride in the water, tacmars, etc. – were part of one giant conspiracy? Kind of Fox Mulder-ish, right?

cover_great forgettingThat’s the tone local author James Renner is going for in his newest book, “The Great Forgetting,” in bookstores Nov. 10. The book is about a Lakewood High School history teacher who gets pulled into a heap of conspiracy theories and has to save the world… in 420 pages or less.

“In the book, we’ve chosen to forget 100 years of human history,” Renner explains. “What happened to make us forget?”

Renner, 37, grew up in Palmyra Township in Portage County. He received his undergraduate degree from Kent State University in 2000 and got a job at Cleveland Scene magazine where he worked on the crime beat. He’s always been fascinated by the true crime and supernatural stories that originate in Northeast Ohio.

After the Scene, Renner needed a way to scratch his writing itch, and thus, his first novel “The Man from Primrose Lane” was born. The whole book was written in the Nervous Dog Coffee Bar on West Market Street.

In fact, that’s where Renner does most of his writing every day, he said.

“I had an idea for a novel based on a real case in Eastlake that I reported on,” Renner said. “It was about a man who committed suicide and when the police called his next-of-kin and told her her brother had died, she said, ‘Yes, I know, he’s been dead for a long time.’”

In the novel, the man from Primrose Lane had been living for 30 years under someone else’s identity and no one knew who he was or why he was living that way. As the main character investigates the man, Renner throws some sci-fi, horror and thriller into the mix. A perfect Halloween read.

ManfromPrimroseIn fact, in 2013, “The Man from Primrose Lane” was picked up by Warner Brothers and optioned as a movie starring Bradley Cooper. Renner didn’t have an update on that at press time, but it’s looking like it could happen, he said.

“Everyone likes a good whodunnit,” Renner said of the appeal of writing horror/thriller novels. “I’ve always liked to try and figure out what happens before the writer leads you there. In my writing, I like leaving little clues.”

When asked why his books are based in local areas‒“The Man From Primrose Lane” features Larry’s Main Entrance on West Market Street ‒ Renner said, “Northeast Ohio is really easy to write about because there are some weird, bizarre stories happening around here. You’ve got your share of serial killers and the paranormal.”

He continued, “I like to blur the line between fiction and nonfiction. My fiction always has allusions to real people, places and events.”

So if there really was 100 years of human history missing, what do you think happened that made us all choose to forget it?

Megan, a lover of Swedish thriller novels, got the heebie jeebies several times during this interview (conspiracy theories are creepy, people!).

[su_box box_color=”fac026″]Renner’s “The Great Forgetting” will be released on Nov. 10. He will host a release party at 7 pm on Nov. 11 at Loganberry Books in Shaker Heights (13015 Larchmere Blvd).

Follow him on Facebook for more book or movie announcements:[/su_box]