Mark Benno graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a BA in Writing, where he had the good fortune to study under the late Ralph Mills Jr. He was the book buyer for Kingsley’s Book Emporium in Sarasota, Florida, before eventually moving back to the Midwest to become the manager of Canterbury Booksellers. He is currently an administrator for Madison Public Library. He enjoys reading novels from the golden age of Romantic British literature, including the works of Sir Walter Scott and Jane Austen.
This Wonderful Year is his first novel, and he is currently at work on the sequel. “As a native Midwesterner, I enjoy the linguistic challenge of writing a novel in the voice of an early 19th Century Briton. It focuses me on the story, and I try to have the patience to let the plot unfold and the characters develop at an unhurried yet engaging pace.” Mark’s love of history and the rich details to be found in sweeping events is evident in his work, which is based on thorough research of the era.
“I don’t consider myself an historical novelist, but rather—I hope—a storyteller who mines the past for examples of how we really haven’t changed that much over the millennia. Contradicting impulses have always waged war within people, and I believe they always will. One of my works in progress is a novel of Rome in the time of Nero, which is a period in human history which should not be dismissed as crude and barbaric or, as some have put it, the childhood of man. It minimizes the sacrifice and subtlety of enlightened people of the time, and gives too much credit to modern society and the technology which can create a false sense of moral evolution.”