Mark Gengler’s love of history triggered an interest in writing.
He started writing about four years ago.
By then, he retired twice – first from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 2003 after 25 years in custodial services and then from the Wal-Mart in Berlin after working there several years.
Gengler realized after retiring from UW-Oskosh that he was not actually ready to retire, which is how he ended up working in retail a few years.
“Most of what I wrote then, I threw away,” Gengler said of his writing that began after he retired that second time.
After reading a “how to” book about writing a book, “I found out I didn’t know anything about writing a book,” he said.
In 2011, he tried again.
“And this was the end result,” Gengler said of his first book, “Noah Thorne.”
The 84-page paperback was released earlier this year.
The fictional story was published by Tate Publishing.
Gengler talked about his book during a visit to the Weyauwega Public Library last Saturday, Oct. 4.
“It really is the boy I wish I had been in the time I wish I had lived,” he said of the subject he chose.
The story is set on a Wisconsin farm during the 1920s.
Gengler describes the mid 1920s to early 1930s as a “fascinating time,” when families lived without electricity, indoor plumbing or telephones.
“Every farm that got a tractor kept the horses. The horses were like part of the family. They couldn’t let it go.”
The 69-year-old Gengler remembers the small farm his father started in the 1ate 1940s among the rolling hills northwest of Medford.
“I remember Dad started farming with horses,” Gengler said.
By 1950, his father had a tractor.
Gengler, who attended one-room country schools, was a freshman in high school when his father sold the farm and moved the family to Wisconsin Rapids, where he went to work for a paper mill.
After high school, Gengler enlisted in the U.S. Army. He spent three years in the service with the 82nd Airborne Division, including time in the Dominican Republic.
“After I got out, I was restless,” he said.
Gengler drifted around California, Texas and Colorado.
He did some construction work in Texas, washed dishes at a small diner outside of Denver and sold magazine subscriptions for a time.
After returning to Wisconsin, Gengler went to a radio broadcasting school in Wausau, on the GI Bill.
He ended up working as a disc jockey in Oshkosh.
That was in the 1970s.
Gengler worked in radio until he and his wife Mary married. After that, he started working at UW-Oshkosh.
The couple moved to Poy Sippi in 1999.
After he completed his book, Gengler did an online search for newer publishers.
He sent inquiries to a handful of publishers.
Tate Publishing, of Oklahoma City, called him back within a week and told him they were interested in publishing “Noah Thorne.”
Gengler said his book may be found in bookstores and also on major websites that sell books.
“I’m amazed at the reception the book has gotten,” he said.
From time to time, Gengler looks at the proofed copy of his book and says, “I actually did that.”
He continues to write, saying he does not pick a particular time to do so and always jots down ideas as he gets them.
Gengler visits area libraries for book signings and is in the process of completing the second book in his Noah Thorne series.
“And there will be one more yet,” he said.