Madison authors, topics, book events and publishers
For the first show of his second season, Stu Levitan welcomes Madison native and retired Milwaukee Fire Captain Gregory Renz, author of the award-winning debut novel, Beneath the Flames, and an actual hero.
Guilt. Inner peace. Racism. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Farms and station houses, rural Wisconsin and inner city. Lust and love. Family. Failure. Redemption. These are the themes and settings that occupy Greg Renz in Beneath the Flames, the story of a young dairy farmer and volunteer firefighter from rural Wisconsin and the angry young Black girl he meets and tries to befriend when he becomes a firefighter in inner city Milwaukee.
The occupation was successful; since its publication in 2019, Beneath the Flames has received the gold medal in the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards, Midwest Book Award, Best Book Award from American Book Fest, and the Public Safety Writers Association award. Needless to say, I’ll say it anyway, it’s a really good read.
Greg Renz was born and raised on Madison’s far east side, and is a Purgolder, East High Class of 1969. He took a BS degree in Zoology from the UW-Madison in 1976, and three years later, after a somewhat ironic stint at Oscar Mayer, began a 29-year career with the Milwaukee Fire Department, including three years at Fire Station 5, at 13th and Reservoir, in the core of the inner city – an experience which directly inspired Beneath the Flames. In 2006, he was inducted into the Wisconsin Fire and Police Hall of Fame for the dangerous, even a bit reckless, rescue of two young boys in 2004. He retired in 2008, moved to Lake Mills, and set about turning his experiences and imagination into prose. It was not a quick or easy process, but the effort was worth it.
It is a pleasure to welcome to Madison BookBeat, Capt. Greg Renz.