Mark Painter was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, and grew up in the town of Stowe. The high school he graduated from prefers not to be associated with him, so it will go unnamed, but he did earn engineering and law degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, which has not disowned him (yet).

He met and married his wife Coleen while in school at Penn. She is a minister in the United Methodist Church. Together, they raised two refugee foster children, one from Vietnam, and the other from Cambodia. They also have two biological children, both of whom have autism.

Mark has worked as an electrical engineer, an attorney specializing in disability rights, and served one term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, after which they let him out early for good behavior. He has been writing science fiction and fantasy for 45 years, and is also producer and host of The History of the Twentieth Century podcast.