By Jacob Rude
Stephanie Ijoma’s senior internship is working with author James Renner, where she has been tasked with finding “true crime stories,” as well as supernatural stories on the social media website Reddit. Renner has written several non-fiction books as well as a few novels, mainly encompassing true crime and supernatural fiction. He started his career as a reporter and covered the story of Amy Mihaljevic, which transitioned him into the world of creative writing with his first book, Amy: My Search for Her Killer: Secrets & Suspects in the Unsolved Murder of Amy Mihaljevic. Stephanie was referred to Renner through Ms. Bates, the 11th grade language arts teacher here at Bio-Med. “We’ve known each other now for 17 years.” Ms. Bates recounted. She worked with his wife at the previous school she taught at, Coventry Highschool. Renner’s wife was the choir teacher there, and met Renner through her. Shortly after, she got in contact with him and worked out the internship.
Renner needed help researching his new book about “scary stories on Reddit.” So far, Stephanie has scoured Reddit for qualifying stories, but her success rate has been relatively low. She said that only about one out of ten people she contacts actually gives her their information. Ijoma explained: “Basically, he gave me a little prompt of how I could practice sending messages to people, and I went through a couple Reddit threads, sent a couple letters to people, asking them if they would like to be part of the book. Then they would either say yes or no, or they just wouldn’t respond.”
Renner currently has one of his books in the works to be adapted into a television show, as well as having a podcast called “The Philosophy of Crime.”
Renner has one piece of advice for those students who may be interested in writing in a professional setting: “The first thing to do is to familiarize yourself with publishing, and if you want to make money at it, I would stay away from self-publishing and go the traditional route. To understand how the process really works, the best book out there is Stephen King’s On Writing. That’s a good place to start.” Stephanie hasn’t done much more than research as of yet, but says that she is looking forward to the work she will be doing later on in the process.
Renner’s future plans for Ijoma include showing her the process of turning those stories into chapters in the book, as well as the layout, cover art, copy editing, and publishing. Ijoma talks about what she is anticipating for her future: “I’m just looking forward to learning how to write better and learning what the publishing process is like because I’ve never known what it’s like, but with this internship I have the opportunity to learn that.”
He is also planning to have Ijoma help him finish editing his recently written gothic horror novel, as the main character is a young woman in her twenties. He hopes that Stephanie can give him some perspective regarding that character.