Mysteries that Matter
About Diana. Writer, Teacher, Speaker.
Here’s a bit about me, and my writing journey, to start you off.
I write books for readers of all ages, mostly mysteries. My books for young adults and adults take place in all different countries – Japan, Ecuador, Turkey, Egypt – and feature globetrotting sleuths.
My newest novel – Trouble at Turtle Pond – actually takes place a lot closer to home, in a fictional New England town called Marsh Hollow, where a team of young wildlife rangers solves environmental crimes. While I still love books about travel, I also think there is so much to discover right in our own backyards. You really don’t have to look too far to stumble on a mystery! For this new book, my encounters with local endangered turtles – some no bigger than a quarter! – inspired an entire book.
Regardless of the settings, the characters in all my novels investigate mysteries that matter to them. Through their amateur detective work and crime-fighting efforts, they all learn new things, whether it’s about a different culture, or a job they’ve never heard of, or an environmental problem. They definitely learn about themselves, too – their hidden skills and strengths.
Stories and writing have always mattered a lot to me. I’ve known that I wanted to be a writer since I was five years old. I was a huge reader in school. I never went anywhere without a book. I often wrote my own little hand-written books and gave them out to people. I’d say they were mostly in the self-help genre. (“Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables!”) I’m not sure how many people actually read them, but I was a prolific self-publishing industry back in the day.
I quickly turned to mystery, though, with my first hand-bound work of fiction, The Three Lost Puzzle Pieces. (Spoiler alert: the pieces were all found). I got to bring this book to a young author’s conference in second grade. I still remember the thrill of seeing the copy on a display table there. That conference definitely put me on the path to writing as a profession, as well as meeting authors who came to visit my school. (Mysteries linger, though – I never saw my book again! Where did it go? If anyone ever finds a copy of The Three Lost Puzzle Pieces, please return it to me!)
I always loved writing in school. Even when I was supposed to be doing other things. Like math. I was fortunate to have had many encouraging teachers who supported my efforts. (With the possible exception of my math teachers. Okay, I do get it now. Math is really, really important. Lesson learned).
My family has always been incredibly supportive too. One of the best gifts I ever got was an old manual typewriter from my grandparents. I typed my stories on the black ink of the ribbon until it ran out, and then I typed on the red side until that ran out too. My fingers were often stained from that ink, once I bought more ribbon and learned to change it. (And yes, computers had been invented – but we didn’t happen to have one. Anyway, if we did, it would have made for a less interesting story!)
Somewhere along the way, a teacher advised me that in order to be a good writer I needed to be a good reader. I eventually majored in English at Hampshire College, and earned my M.A. in English and American Literature from Brandeis University.
Over the years I’ve juggled all kinds of jobs in the word business to support my writing habit. Among them: a college writing and literature instructor, an ESL teacher in South America, an editor in educational publishing, a textbook author, a script writer for language instruction videos, a bookseller, a fiction editor at a teen literary magazine, and a comic book shop salesclerk. (Can you guess which was the most fun?) All of these jobs involved a lot of reading and writing. There are so many ways to work with words.
I grew up in Seattle, which I still visit frequently. I now live in a town outside of Boston with my husband, our son, our elderly black cat, and an adventurous dog. We live near a mysterious woods that fills me with inspiration.
What things are you most curious about? What kinds of stories do you seek to uncover?
What mysteries matter to you?
Photo by Aliza Stern Guyer
Diana Renn is the author of Trouble at Turtle Pond, a middle grade eco-mystery published by Fitzroy Books/Regal House (2022), and three YA mysteries featuring international intrigue and globetrotting teens: Tokyo Heist, Latitude Zero, and Blue Voyage, all published by Viking/Penguin Random House. Blue Voyage was honored as a 2016 “must-read” by the Massachusetts Book Awards, Latitude Zero was a Junior Library Guild selection, and Tokyo Heist was a Kids’ Indie Next List selection. Diana is also a co-author of False Idols, an episodically-released international thriller for adults, published by Realm (formerly Serial Box) / Adaptive Books. A nonfiction writer as well, Diana received a 2022 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship Award as a finalist in creative nonfiction. Her essays, articles, and short fiction have appeared in Publisher’s Weekly, WBUR’s Cognoscenti, The Huffington Post, Mindful, Pangyrus, Brain Child, Literary Mama, The Writer, Writer’s Digest, YARN (Young Adult Review Network), The Indiana Review, Cricket Magazine for Children, and elsewhere. She has authored and edited numerous textbooks, taught writing at Boston University, Brandeis University, and Grub Street, and is an Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach. Diana grew up in Seattle and now lives outside of Boston with her family.
Pronouns: she / her / hers
The Even Shorter Bio
Diana Renn is the author of three young adult mysteries featuring globetrotting teens: Tokyo Heist, Latitude Zero, and Blue Voyage, all published by Viking / Penguin Random House. Closer to home, her new middle grade eco-mystery, Trouble at Turtle Pond (Fitzroy Books/Regal House) was inspired by volunteer work she and her son did with a local turtle conservation group. Diana also writes nonfiction; she is the recipient of a 2022 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship Award for creative nonfiction, and her essays have appeared in such publications as WBUR’s Cognoscenti, Pangyrus, Publisher’s Weekly, The Huffington Post, Mindful, Brain Child, Literary Mama, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer. Originally from Seattle, Diana now lives outside of Boston with her husband and son, on a street they share with turtles.
Shortest. Bio. Ever.
Diana Renn writes mysteries for readers of all ages, including Tokyo Heist, Latitude Zero, Blue Voyage, False Idols, and Trouble at Turtle Pond.
Here’s where to find some of my other writing and interviews:
- Podcast conversation, Middle Grade Fiction: Empowering Young Readers. A Conspiracy of Lemurs, a podcast of Regal House Publishing. Host: Publisher Jaynie Royal. In conversation with authors Frank Morelli and Ginger Park. (April 13, 2022)
- Interview, “Regional Turtle Fostering Program Inspires New Children’s Book,” WBUR Radio Boston; Emilie Wilder of the Field Conservation Department at Zoo New England joins! (April 4, 2022)
- Essay, “Fledged.” Pangyrus Literary Magazine (March 15, 2022)
- Essay, “I’m Dancing with My Mother on Zoom,” WBUR’s Cognoscenti (January 28, 2022)
- Essay, “When the News and Novels Collide: A YA Novelist Grapples with Publication Amid Tragedy.” Publisher’s Weekly (February 9, 2016)
- Guest Post, Mary Robinette Kowal’s “My Favorite Bit” series – on False Idols and writing a serialized novel. (2017)
- Guest Post, “Rock Climbing and Writing: Taking Characters to New Heights.” Adventures in YA Publishing. (November 11, 2015)
- Guest Post, “The Short Story that Wanted to Be a Book.” In Reference to Murder blog. (November 10, 2015)
- Guest Post, “The Occupational Hazards of a Travel Mystery Writer.” Mystery Fanfare (October 27, 2015)
- Interview, Omnimystery News. (October 20, 2015)
- Interview, Crime Fiction. FM Podcast, with host Steve Campbell (October 13, 2015)
- Essay, “Unarmed and Dangerous: On Writing a Thriller with no Guns,” Huffington Post (July 14, 2014)
- Guest Post, “Writing off the Beaten Path: Fictionalizing Travel Experiences,” Ticket to Anywhere (July 10, 2014)
- Short story, “Crime Scenes.” YARN (Young Adult Review Network) (May 2012)
- Essay, “Following the Clues to Mystery Writing Led to a YA Book Contract.” The Writer Magazine (May 2012)