5 Questions with True Crime auth-- I mean Podcaster James Renner

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After finishing his book True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray, James Renner planned to leave true crime behind for a while.

It doesn’t seem to be going well.

Renner’s new true crime podcast The Philosophy of Crime debuts on May 1 -- and just days later, he’ll appear on Podcast Row at CrimeCon 2018. Additionally, he’ll join Tim Pilleri, Lance Reenstierna, and Maggie Freleng for a panel discussion and Q&A session about the Maura Murray case.

But, true to form, Renner is also pumping out new novels and short stories, as well as continuing work on his documentary about Byron Preiss’s book The Secret: A Treasure Hunt. Somehow, he found time to answer a few questions just for CrimeCon readers.

CCI: What can we expect from you at CrimeCon?

JR: I'm willing to talk theories about the Maura Murray case and the Amy Mihaljevic murder if anyone wants to compare notes. I've got books for sale for anyone who wants a signed copy of True Crime Addict. I hope to grab a brew with The Captain and Tennille from True Crime Garage. And I might prank order some pizzas for Nancy Grace's room. Mostly, I'll be hanging out on Podcast Row and judging people with quiet derision.

CCI: What’s the lowdown on your new podcast?

JR: The Philosophy of Crime delves into the big questions behind our obsession: are killers born or made? Does everyone have the capacity for murder? How should the news cover crime? You're going to learn some stuff, you're going to get scared, and you're going to laugh at inappropriate things because we live in a world that makes no sense. I'm having a lot of fun. The entire first season will be released the week of CrimeCon.

CCI: How do you come up with like six new book ideas a week? What’s your process?

JR: I've got a dry-erase board in my writing room with ideas on it that I've had going back to fifth grade, probably. Once I'm done writing one, I cross it out and move on to the next. I'm think I'm very lucky to have met a couple agents who believe in me and continue to get my stuff published. I'm a very slow writer, though. I average about three pages a day but I write every day, 365 days a year.

CCI: What’s been your weirdest (or best) fan encounter?

JR: Hmm. I'd have to say my favorite encounter is with the wonderful woman from a book club in Mentor (Ohio) who made me a pillowcase with my name embroidered on it as a present. I take it with me on road trips so hotels feel like home.

CCI: When we spoke last year, you were searching for the hidden treasures of Byron Preiss. Why haven’t you found any of the keys yet? Are you even trying?

JR: Because Byron Preiss was a crazy genius who worked on a level we only aspire to reach. My documentary about my search for the twelve keys he buried around the country - The Secret of Byron Preiss - comes out later this year. If you're interested in treasure hunting you should track down a copy of his book, The Secret. Inside are paintings and poems that contain clues that lead to the places he buried the keys. If you find one you can turn it in for a real gem worth about $1,000. There are still ten out there somewhere.

I think I know where the Boston one is and hope to dig it up soon. But I'm nervous walking around Boston parks with a backpack and a shovel these days.


James will join Tim, Lance, and Maggie for a panel discussion following the debut of Tim & Lance's new documentary about the disappearance of Maura Murray. Be among the FIRST to see the long-awaited film and ask your questions at CrimeCon 2018.