Rena Olsen, Author

Rena Olsen is a writer, therapist, teacher, sometimes singer, and eternal optimist. By day she tries to save the world as a school therapist, and at night she creates new worlds in her writing.Β Her debut novel, THE GIRL BEFORE, a Booklist top mystery debut of 2016,Β  and her follow-up novel, WITH YOU ALWAYS, are both available now. Rena is represented by Sharon Pelletier of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC.

You can contact Rena through Facebook, Twitter, or by email via the contact page.


64 Responses to Rena Olsen, Author

  1. Retha Starek says:

    Rena I’m just putting out your book “The Girl Before” in the Ackley Public Library. Your friends from the East Friesland church brought it to my attention! We are of course claiming you as a hometown girl LOL I had Ben in school (JH Home Ec) and think of your mother when I read “I’ll Love You Forever” as I believe she heard the author read it. Will be looking for further books and if you are ever around here stop in and autograph your book. Best Wishes, Retha Starek Ackley Public Library Ackley, IA

    • Rena says:

      Thank you, Retha! How fun! I have many fond memories of my time in Ackley, so I will happily identify as a hometown girl. In fact, I wrote my first short story in third grade at Ackley/Geneva. And yes, my mom and I got to meet the author of “I’ll Love You Forever,” also a very important memory for budding writer Rena. I will definitely try and stop by sometime, perhaps when I’m visiting my brother in the Cedar Falls area πŸ™‚

  2. Angie says:

    Hi Rena-I just finished THE GIRL BEFORE-it was excellent. I plan to spread the word about it. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future! I hope you are writing more πŸ˜‰

  3. Barb says:

    Just finished your book The Girl Before. As a librarian I am always looking for new authors. I have to admit I Stayed up rather late last night as I Could Not put your book down and just had to keep reading. Congratulations to an Iowa girl for a fantastic debut novel. I will be watching for more from you!

  4. Nancy Standafer says:

    One of the best books I have ever read! Well written, moving, and I couldn’t put it down! I bought one for my daughter, Manda Shine’s birthday. Bought one for myself. Keep writing!

  5. Phoebe O'Connor says:

    My daughter, Katie Lacey gave me your book today and explained it was written by a friend of hers. Started reading on the drive home and did not put it down until I was done. Congratulations on writing a real page turner! I intend to pass this one on to my other daughter to read and hope I can look forward to reading other works by you in the future.
    Phoebe O’Connor

  6. Alana says:

    Your book was incredible Rena. I just put it down. I can’t remember the last time a book moved me in the way The Girl Before did. Thank you for becoming a writer.

  7. Becky Colburn says:

    Book was amazing!! Hard to believe it was your first one. Cant wait for the next!

  8. Cathy says:

    Superb writing! I loved the book and could not put it down! I’ll be hoping and waiting for your next book!

  9. Ellie says:

    I am absolutely obsessed with “The Girl Before”! I started the novel yesterday and I am finished by today. You did a beautiful job of developing such a moving story through your characters! I felt so touched by your work and I cannot wait to recommend this read to
    others. πŸ™‚ Please continue to write!

  10. Pamela says:

    Wow, Rena I met you at the Douglas County Library and just finished your book. Fabulous!
    I’m glad I met you when I did because when you are a FAMOUS author we won’t be able to get you to our small town. It’s been along time since I read a book that I couldn’t put down. You did it.

    • Rena says:

      Thanks, Pamela! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book! Douglas County was such a fun event. As long as Kristin is the librarian there, I’ll probably keep coming back πŸ™‚

  11. Michelle Watler says:

    Just finished your book. Loved it and couldn’t put it down. Great story!!

  12. Abby says:

    Your novel is terrifying. You take us to a world rarely seen. What is so disturbing about your writing is that it is not just plausible, but actually happens in real life (if different than the book illustrates) to women and children worldwide Your writing is both powerful and unnerving and I spent all night reading it. Looking forward to reading what you write next!

    • Rena says:

      Thank you! I will take that as a compliment. It is a terrifying world, but there is hope in people learning more about it and taking what steps they can to help. πŸ™‚

  13. Amanda says:

    Loved the book! Very real issues, it has inspired me to try and do more to help this cause! Good work!!

  14. Marsha Lloyd says:

    Rena, thank you for writing this incredible good read. I am usually a slow reader but have not been able to put this book down. It is important to bring more awareness about this sad epidemic in our society. Please write more.

  15. Sylvia says:

    Hi Rena……..I have just finished listening to disk #10 of your debut novel, and I can honestly say that I didn’t want it to end. At the time I didn’t realize it was your first book, and went immediately to the library website to see if there were any other books available. Needless to say, I will look forward to your next book, and all those to follow. You have a remarkable gift, and hopefully, your book will bring more awareness to, what I assume, is a huge problem, in a world so filled with people who care nothing for their fellow man. At 81, I am an avid reader (audio) and listen to about 3 books a week, as I do things around the house, cook, sew and crochet. Please keep us informed of any new books that will be available, if possible.

    • Rena says:

      How lovely, thank you, Sylvia! Brittany did a wonderful job narrating Clara’s story, and I’m glad you enjoyed it. I hope the book can bring awareness as well. Keep checking this site or my Facebook page ( for updates on upcoming books! πŸ™‚

  16. Clarissa Bucia says:

    Dearest Rena,

    I just want you to know that I shed too many tears with your book The Girl Before. The friendship and bond shared between Clara and Macy moved me in so many ways. Thank you for sharing their stories. Thank you for allowing us to have a glimpse of their lives we would otherwise never be able to live. This book is definitely one of the best books I read by far. I just spent my 4 days off from work reading your novel and I regret nothing! I look forward to reading more of your work.
    Can’t wait to recommend this book to my friend!


  17. Jennifer Hess says:

    Amazing book! Just sat down with it today. I’m on page 100 already. Sad to see this is your first book…. Hurry up with the next one please! I’ll be finished by Friday…. If not tonight. πŸ™‚ Good luck to your future endeavors.

    • Rena says:

      Thank you, Jennifer! I’m so glad you’re enjoying it. Unfortunately the next one won’t be out by Friday πŸ˜‰ Next year though! Keep your eye on this website for updates.

  18. Kelly Vargo says:

    What a great book! I read the whole thing in less than 2 days–I couldn’t put it down! I hope all sexual exploitation victims read this book;it would be so empowering to see that you can survive your circumstances–there is hope! I can’t wait to read more from you!!

  19. Carolyn says:

    Rena…I sat and read your book today. I could not put it down. I’m still wiping tears away. The subject matter of the book weighs on my heart daily and is something I pray about each night. Great debut novel!!

    I look forward to reading many other great books from you in the future.

  20. ella_changwa says:

    I’m trying to read your book, The Girl Before, but it’s just so slow and boring

    • Rena says:

      Unfortunately, not every book is to everyone’s liking. The great news is that there are millions of books out there to choose from! I’d be happy to give some recommendations if you’d like. Have a beautiful day!

  21. Sharon Rotondo says:

    Wow! I could not put this book down. I was hoping to buy others on this website! I’ll be watching and waiting for your next. Absolutely fantastic! Thank you

  22. Rossella says:

    Ciao Rena,
    sto leggendo il tuo libro “Non dirmi bugie”.
    L’ ho comprato qualche giorno fa e lo sto letteralmente divorando!
    Complimenti, Γ¨ molto bello e appassionante!
    Spero di leggerne tanti altri ! Mi piace molto il tuo modo di scrivere!
    Continua a scrivere per noi!

    • Rena says:

      Thank you so much, Rossella! I hope you continue to enjoy the book πŸ™‚

      • Antonella says:

        Ho quasi finito di leggere il tuo romanzo! Coinvolgente e scritto benissimo. Anche io sto ultimando una storia. Spero di trovare le persone giuste che possano aiutarmi a pubblicare e condividere la mia storia con altro. LeggerΓ² sicuramente il tuo prossimo romanzo. Complimenti ancora

  23. Linda Helmrichs says:

    Hello Rena, after reading The Girl Before, I impatiently watched for your next book to be published. I just finished With You Always and as with The Girl Before, it did not disappoint. Keep going. Love what and how you write. Looking forward to your next book.

  24. Denise Olson says:

    I need your first book “The Girl Before” with your signature and made out to Barb. This is very important to me, and to my friend Barb. You originally signed a paperback for Barb. If your follow up novel is available, I would love that also for Barb and signed by you. I live in the Des Moines area, so it would be easy for me to see you. Thank you!


  25. Denise K says:

    Loved both of your books! When can we expect another and what subject matter can we expect next? Looking forward to more exciting titles from you. My book friends and I have added you to our “favorite authors” list.

  26. tom wells says:

    Just finished the “The girl before”, really enjoyed it. Very insightful and a real page turner! Hope you continue to write!

  27. Maria says:

    Just finished The Girl Before and could not stop crying! I was so glad I didn’t have anywhere to be since no mascara would have held. I was so surprised to see this was your first book. It gave me encouragement as I’m working on a novel also. You have a beautiful writing style. Can’t wait to read your new one!

  28. Kylie Margetson says:

    Just finished your debut novel The Girl Before.Found it so interesting. Am interested to hear you moved a lot growing up. Can you say you are grateful for the experience of new places and friendships? My husband is a military chaplain in Australia. Our three sons have moved a fair bit too as a result of his job. Loved your writing and going to find your second book!

  29. Amanda says:

    Hi! I am a huge fan of your work and was dying to know if you are working on anything else?! I have read both of your novels and they are absolutely amazing!

  30. Kayla S Hernandez says:

    I need more. Please write more books, I have read The Girl before and With You Always and I have never actually felt like I was a character in the book, you write with so much detail It feels so real. You truly are my favorite author so I recommend these books to everyone.

  31. Erin Rhoads says:

    Hi Rena,
    I just finished both of your novels and really enjoyed them both. The characters on each seemed to have similar characteristics. In The Girl Before, I was curious if you created your characters to have specific mental health issues or personality disorders? I sensed Clara being dissociative and Glen having Borderline Personality Disorder. I thought given the circumstances of each character, that would make sense, but I wanted your take on it.
    Thank you,

  32. Dar says:

    Loved your books! Will there be a third?

  33. Just finished WITH YOU ALWAYS. I was Jenny. The impetus for my former husband’s controlling, suppressing, violent behavior did not come from a religious spirit, but an evil one nonetheless. I am an author of perspective pieces having self-published two volumes. I will self-publish my life story in a few weeks which includes the “Jenny issues” and my spiritual journey back to the Lord with my Jewish “second” husband who became a Messianic Rabbi. We founded the Messianic Synagogue in Sacramento, CA 30 years ago. Do you think your publisher would be interested? Sorry to ask.

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