From Flames To Pages

Conifer High School Alumni publishes his first book to help deal with trauma from his past.


Provided by Mark Becker

The cover of “The Darkest Skies”, showing a Tornado Knight Vehicle and a tornado looming on the horizon.

For most of his life, Conifer High School Alumni, Mark Becker, has been fighting fires. Though his job as a firefighter was rewarding, he was left with trauma that kept him up at night. But luckily, Becker has discovered a surprising therapy to help him deal with his stress.

“I actually stepped back from my job to write this book. I wasn’t necessarily happy there and for the first time in years, I just felt happy,” Becker said.

Becker grew up wanting to be a firefighter. As a senior at Conifer, Becker took EMT classes at Red Rocks Community College. He graduated in 2004 at the age of 19 and immediately joined the Elk Creek Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter. 

“As a volunteer firefighter I was able to learn the skills, get the experience, and get the schooling that was provided to me while helping my community,” Becker said.

Becker continued his first responder career path and became a full-time firefighter, a job he stayed in for 10 years. Yet, his career path didn’t stop at the end of his fire-fighting job. Afterward, he pursued a career as a police officer for about a year, and later he worked in emergency management. While this was Becker’s dream, it came at a cost. 

“Anyone who gets into [first responder jobs] thinks they know what they’re getting into, and what to expect, but there is a lot of stuff you don’t expect. Things that you’re maybe not necessarily ready to see or deal with, but it’s your job so you’ve got to. It can be traumatic at times,” Becker said.

Throughout Becker’s first responder career, he’s experienced traumatic and difficult experiences that still stick with him to this day. But unlike some people, Becker has found an outlet to deal with his trauma: writing. For him, writing acts as therapy and a relief system to deal with those difficult thoughts that have come from firefighting. 

“I was able to take all of the experiences I had, that I still think about all the time, and get them out of my head and into the world,” Becker said. 

Though Becker found a deep passion for writing, he hasn’t always loved it. Becker wasn’t a great student and struggled to meet the minimum requirements in school. He disliked reading and writing; it was a passion that came much later in life. The only assignment he remembers liking was a short story piece from Mrs. Thompson’s 7th grade ELA class.

“That was the first time I could actually remember thinking ‘Oh wow, I actually enjoy this,’ so I thought maybe I’ll do that, but life came into play and it kind of fell by the wayside. But I do remember her being very supportive of that short story and it kind of got the ball rolling,” Becker said.

“It all just made me happy because it’s my creation, so it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done,” Becker said. (provided by Mark Becker.)

But since that assignment, Becker had lost any interest in writing, until writing became a hobby that helped relieve him of difficult moments in his past. But, this hobby soon led to a plot twist in Becker’s own life story, when his writing morphed into a career. Thus, The Darkest Skies was born.  

“The main character is based on my first year of being a firefighter, and learning that [firefighting] isn’t exactly what you think it is, but it is still amazing and rewarding,” Becker said.

The Darkest Skies is a fictional sci-fi about a group of people that fight tornadoes, called Tornado Knights. They’re similar to firefighters, but instead of fires, they fight tornadoes. The main character, Luke, becomes a Tornado Knight after his home is destroyed, and his family is killed by a twister at the age of 14. Luke has to prove his worth to the group of Knights and work as hard as he can to use and invent technology to stop tornadoes. He also has to learn that he can’t save everyone. Becker had to learn this lesson, too. As a first-responder, these experiences breathed life into his story. 

Becker’s book was published on November 3rd, 2021 and so far it’s been a success. It is being sold on Amazon and  has a 4.33-star review on Goodreads. Many readers are asking for a sequel. 

“Growing up as a child in Nebraska, I’m very familiar with tornadoes and heading to the basement while the sirens were blaring. I was very intrigued with the different equipment that this author came up with. They were quite inventive and seemed realistic in the concept of this story,” Teresa Ann wrote in her 5 star Amazon review, “I would highly encourage reading this book….especially if you want great escapism from reality. I anxiously look forward to the next book this author publishes.” 

For a career that started from a hobby, Becker has become quite successful and most of all, happy. He’s doing what he loves. All he had to do was take a leap of faith into a new passion to find just how far he could go.

“The number one roadblock with me and writing is myself. It took me sitting down and saying I can do this from start to finish. If you have any desire to write a book just sit down and do it. You’re the only person holding you back,” Becker said.