Lisa: Congratulations on publishing Native Destiny, the 8thnovel in your mystery series, ZEB HANKS: Small Town Sheriff Big Time Trouble.
Lisa: After writing so many books with the same main character is it becoming more difficult to come up with fresh ideas?
Mark: Actually, quite the opposite. The more I get to know my characters the easier and more fun they become to write about. They actually, in a strange way, become friends. Sheriff Zeb Hanks, in particular, is becoming like a close friend.
Lisa: Where did the inspiration for this story come from?
Mark: This novel, like all of my novels has multiple inspirations and has it's roots in an actual event. I was doing some research on Graham County - actually it started when I was visiting the Sheriff’s Office in Graham County - and saw an old newspaper clipping that mentioned something called the Power’s Cabin Shootout and the approach of the 100thanniversary of the incident. The Power brother’s shootout is a well-documented story of Graham County history.
Lisa: Can you tell us a bit about that incident?
Mark: On February 10, 2018 a sheriff’s posse attempted to arrest a group of miners in the Galiuro Mountains. Four people were killed including three lawmen and one of the Powers. At the time it created quite a stir and led to the largest manhunt in Arizona history.
Lisa: It’s a true story?
Mark: Yes, the Power Brothers shootout is a true story.
Lisa: What part of the Power Brothers shootout did you use for inspiration?
Mark: I was unfamiliar with the Galiuro Mountains. I studied them and used the location. Since they were mining for gold, I used gold in the story. I used the fact that three lawmen were killed in the shootout and one of the Powers was killed. Since I had never looked that far back into either Sheriff Zeb Hanks’ or Deputy Jake Dablo’s family histories, I chose to have the lawmen who were in the posse be related to Zeb and Jake. The dead Powers was the head of his clan. His death needed to be avenged by his family members sooner or later. In this case 100 years later. If you think of the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s you will get generally what I was thinking. Revenge over time becomes ever more powerful, even if the reason for it has long been forgotten.
Lisa: Did you use other real locations in the Galiuro Mountains in this fictional novel?
Mark: Yes. To make it real I used the Arizona Atlas and Gazetteer to pinpoint locations and find names of places. I also visited the area to get a feel for it. It is very remote, primarily uninhabited and stunningly beautiful.
Lisa: The book is full of Native American lore, probably the most of any of your ZEB HANKS series. Did anything in particular push you in that direction?
Mark: I have been watching a TV series called Indian Wars. I read 1491 by Charles Mann, Tecumseh, A Life by John Sugden, a lot of Apache history on-line and numerous books by modern western writers R. A. Chappell and Felix Giordano. All of these culminated in an increased interest in Indian lore. Actually, I have always been interested in lore in general and recently have found many sources of Indian lore. Since most of Native American history was not written down there are many points of view which vary greatly. I have read such wildly varying accounts of the same story/circumstance that it is easy to fictionalize and find yourself close to the supposed truth. You have to remember Indians were almost universally nomadic until the late 1800’s, there was no TV, radio, phones, internet, etc., so storytelling was tantamount to daily existence. Many of those stories have been handed down over the ages. Each time I find one, I imagine the varying possibilities of what the true story actually was. Native American lore is rich and deep. For me and my readers it is also fun and interesting. I try to present it in a light that makes the reader want to learn more and stay in tune with the series.
Lisa: What are you working on currently?
Mark: I am writing a ZEB HANKS novella and working with a writer called Felix Giordano, who is doing the same. Our plan is to publish them in a single book and offer it to readers FREE. All you have to do is be on our mailing list and we will contact you when it comes out. Sign up and have your friends sign up for these three free novellas HERE.
Lisa: That sounds great. I bet your readers will be happy about that.
Mark: I hope they are and also it will introduce them to a couple of other modern western writers. All at no cost.
Lisa: A few years ago, you said you might end the series at 10 books. Is that still your intention?
Mark: The demand for the book series continues to grow. I have an outline for books 9 and 10. I am thinking now that 15 is a more reasonable number for the series.
Lisa: Are you working on any other projects, other than the novella and books 9 and 10 of the ZEB HANKS series?
Mark: Yes. I am writing a book about baseball. It takes place in 1939 and is called THE GREATEST BASEBALL GAME EVER PLAYED. It is about a game between the Roscoe Rangers from Stearns County, MN. and the Mount Rushmore Drillers, the men who built the Mount Rushmore Monument. It is a fictional tale that involves not only a wild and crazy baseball game but whole lot of fun historical moments. My 14-year old grandson, Max Jensen, a baseball nut and a good writer is helping me write parts of it. I hope to have it done in a year or so.
Lisa: If people want to access your books or information about you, how can they do that?
Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Mark-Reps/e/B00BYFEBQ4
Webpage is www.markreps.com
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