Back in the habit: Wayzata author releases fourth novel, ‘Shepherd Lake’

Rennebohm
Rennebohm

Longtime Lake Minnetonka-area resident Peter Rennebohm has kept busy since retiring. After raising a family and working as a manufacturer’s representative for 35 years and selling his business in 2002, he turned his focus to a passion that had long been placed on the shelf.

“I had some success in business and it provided a nice living for us, but I didn’t enjoy it very much,” the 72-year-old said. “I was very happy to be done with it and move on to something else.”

So Rennebohm, who had many years ago graduated with a degree in English from the University of Minnesota Duluth, began to write.

“I always kind of had it in the back of my head that I wanted to write, but you know, you get caught up with raising a family and creating a job,” he said.

It wasn’t long before Rennebohm had a draft of his first book, “French Creek,” ready to send to an editor for critique.

“She came back with six pages of comments – none of them positive,” he said. “So, I threw it in a drawer and I decided I needed to get better at my craft.”

Rennebohm began studying, taking classes and sharpening his writing. He found early success with his short stories. In 2003, his stories “Lilly’s Walk to the Moon” and “Dream Stealers” took first place in writing competitions.

“I got published pretty quickly and won some awards,” he said.

Feeling more confident, Rennebohm finished “French Creek” and it was published in 2004 by St. Cloud-based North Star press. The fiction book tells the story of a Minneapolis salesmen who unexpectedly finds danger after he ventures away from his usual sales route.

The author then moved on to writing a story that was more personal – a nonfiction book about Ben Peyton, a 17-year-old Edina hockey player who suffered a hit in 1996 that left him paralyzed. “Be Not Afraid: Ben Peyton’s Story” details Ben’s courageous battle to regain the use of his limbs.

“[Writing the book] was a very emotional experience for me. … I knew Ben. His father and I grew up together, and that’s the reason I got involved,” Rennebohm said.

With the book finding success, Rennebohm said it gave him more confidence to continue his pursuits as an author. His suspense novel, “Blue Spring” was published in 2005 and in his next novel, “Buried Lies,” was released in 2008.

“I was exhausted by the time I got done touring, doing radio and TV spots and book signings,” the author said. “It just wore me out.”

Rennebohm’s decision to take a break from writing was also brought on by a shaky time in the book industry and health issues from emphysema.

“I’m constantly battling the risk of pneumonia, so I’ve got to be very careful,” he said.

Two years ago, Rennebohm had enough material and had decided he was ready to start writing again.

“I kept working at this and finally got to the point where I thought it was good enough to publish,” he said. “So, I sent it off and here we are.”

“Shepherd Way” is the fourth novel from Lake Minnetonka-area author Peter Rennebohm
“Shepherd Way” is the fourth novel from Lake Minnetonka-area author Peter Rennebohm

Today, the author is prepping the release of his next novel, “Shepherd Lake,” a sequel to “Blue Spring.” The new book, which Rennebohm said could be considered a young-adult novel, continues the story of Charlie Nash. Angry and resentful over the death of his father, Charlie, who is now 16, and his dog and venture deep into the Northern Minnesota forest to seek answers at an old military site on the far side of Shepherd Lake.

The story of begins with a scene taken straight from Rennebohm’s life, he said. In the 1970s, he said he was on a fall hunting trip when an overloaded duck boat sank and nearly drowned the group he was with.

“We were very fortunate that nobody died,” he said. “And that story is the genesis for this ‘Shepherd Lake’ book.”

A fan of the unconventional hero, the author said he writes for ordinary characters that find themselves in trouble. He said he also enjoys using a process of writing that lets him in on the excitement of a compelling story.

“Unlike a lot of authors, I don’t outline. I have an idea of where I want the story to go, but I very seldom ever know what the ending is going to be because that spoils the fun for me,” he said. “I like to go along on the adventure and see where it goes.”

Excited to be back in the habit of writing, Rennebohm said he already has ideas for a third book in the series.

“I think there’s room for another Charlie story at age 18 or 19. I’ve got some ideas. … Now that I’m back and I have another book written and published, I’m very happy with getting back at it,” he said.

Rennebohm was born in South Minneapolis and currently lives with his wife Shari in Wayzata. The couple moved from Orono last year where they raised their two daughters.

When he is not writing, Rennebohm enjoys woodworking and spending time with his six grandchildren.

Rennebohm’s books can be found at local bookstores and through Amazon.com.

A book launch event for “Shepherd Way” is set for noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, at Once Upon a Crime Mystery Bookstore, 604 W. 26th St. in Minneapolis.

Other upcoming tour stops include Stillwater and Maple Grove.

For more info on Rennebohm, his work and where he’ll be next, visit prennebohm.com/wordpress/

Contact Jason Jenkins at [email protected]