By: Carole Townsend | Gwinnett Citizen

John Bensley is an interesting man, with fascinating stories to tell. Soft-spoken and thoughtful, the stories he tells are true, based on actual events plucked from his own life. But on June 30, the author’s first novel, Finnegan, was published.

Finnegan is a fiction work with roots that draw from both reality and from Bensley’s imagination. The combination promises an interesting, complex tale.

“It’s so strange, to sit here and talk about a book I’ve written,” Bensley said, smiling. A self-proclaimed “terrible student” in school, the author said that writing was something he actually feared for along time. A former private, single-engine pilot, he suffered an athletic injury that forced him to slow down, rest, and take a personal inventory of himself and his life.  In other words, the injury sidelined him long enough to give him the opportunity to do some thinking.

“Being injured made me really examine my artistic side,” Bensley said. As it turns out, his artistic side unveiled not only a fine storyteller, but also a very talented wildlife photographer. His incredibly detailed photos hang in venues all over the country.

In Finnegan, Bensley draws an early scene from a life experience that most of us will never face. Years ago, he had traveled with a few other men to Kashmir in the Middle East. He and his group were taken captive by a group of militants; the men were jailed and beaten repeatedly.  The small cell was bitterly cold, and the men were forced to sit upright, backs against a wall, most of the time. The true story of their captivity and eventual rescue is enthralling, and he hints that he drew from that experience a time or two in his new book. A good author knows that truth, in vivid, full-color detail, is infinitely more interesting than fiction. In that case, Bensley surely has more stories to tell readers in coming years.

FinneganFinnegan” is both the title and the name of the main character of the author’s first book. The fictional young man in uniform is “an average guy,” respected by both his peers and his elders. He falls in love with a young woman, and while Finnegan is surely a love story, Bensley emphasizes that it is not a romance novel. There are two other characters in the book who embody the darkness of mankind, and the theme that runs throughout the novel is both simple and colossal: Do we experience in life God’s sovereignty, or a string of random occurrences?  The answer, according to the author, doesn’t come to the reader until the very end of the book.

In addition to being an entrepreneur and inventor,  Bensley also served in the military during Desert Storm. He and his wife Stacy, along with their daughter Chelsea, have made their home here in Gwinnett County. Of all the gratifying and riveting experiences Bensley has enjoyed over the years, clearly his wife and daughter are the crowning glory.

Finnegan is available for sale on Amazon, in both paperback and e-book formats. Samples of Bensley’s photography can be viewed and purchased at https://johnbensley.smugmug.com.