Interview with Author Mark Reps – Ramona Portelli Blog

Interview with Author Mark Reps

Author Mark Reps has been a writer and storyteller his whole life. Born in small town SouthEastern Minnesota, he trained as a mathematician and chiropractor/acupuncturist, but never lost his love of telling or writing a good story. As an avid desert wilderness hiker Mark spends a great deal of time roaming the desert and other terrains of SouthEastern Arizona from December to May. A chance meeting with an old time colourful sheriff led him to develop the Zeb Hanks character and the world that surrounds him. Mark returns often to SE Arizona for inspiration, information and to maintain the general feel of the area, learn its history and understand the local residents.

When Mark started writing he became pen pals with Tony Hillerman who offered up tips, criticism and ideas on some of his early novels. His books are often compared with the Longmire television series and books by Craig Johnson. Welcome to the series!

Tell me more about your latest book

Echo Skysong wakes to a recurring dream of her unit in Afghanistan, a dream that leaves her shaken. A series of accidents drive her suspicions that war has followed her home to Safford. Meanwhile Zeb investigates a dead man found hanging with a dead horse at his feet. The old woman who reports the murder is evasive at best and may not be telling the truth about what she knows. And he’s lost his favorite hat. What more could go wrong? With each new death, the trail edges closer to Echo. As NATIVE DREAMS weaves together and unwinds, tales are told, enemies are revealed, and Zeb and Echo discover a dark, deadly truth.

Readers have asked me about my inspiration for Native Dreams. In my clinical practice i treat a lot of PTSD and have done a fair amount of research on it. I found it fascinating and wondered how i could work it into a ZEB HANKS story. Since Echo Skysong served in Afghanistan she seemed like the right person to focus on. I wanted to give a new twist. PTSD has existed at least since the ancient Greeks under various names, but I became familiar with it after the Vietnam War. I wanted to tell a story that related how war follows soldiers home. I chose this subject, subconsciously, because my son just began his second tour of duty in Afghanistan and I pay close attention to what is happening there and have learned lots from him about how things operate over there. While, this of course, is a fictional story, some of the facts and how things operate are based loosely on reality. This book, while a mystery in the ZEB HANKS sage, is an homage to the men and women who served in war time.

Writing the book came quite easily. I had the background for the story, the general background, of the tale then i was lucky enough to wind in Zeb/Echo/Echo’s military unit/ the cartel/some witchcraft and other things that will hold the readers interest and educate them or at least make them wonder and ask questions. As with all the books there is a starting point, which can be at the middle, the end or the beginning and I build the story forward, backward or inside out based on that. This one just happened to be about dreams because I was reading a book about dreams/dreaming.  Everything else evolved out of that.

In NATIVE DREAMS we see the continual evolution of many of the main characters and even introduce some new ones. Zeb and Echo have a growing set of twins, Elan and Onawa, who are at the center of their lives. Echo is teaching them the ways of the Apache and during that process some trouble also occurs, drawing the children into the story conflict. Song Bird is his steadfast self, always there, always knowing how to handle things. A half dozen of the soldiers who served in Afghanistan with Echo enter the story. The Town Talk continues to be the center of gossip along with Helen Nazelrod the ever present office manager at the Sheriff’s Office. Together they work to solve the crime which in this case begins with a dream and a dead man and a dead horse.

I really love writing this series. I know the characters now and how they feel and will often react, although, all of them have yet-to-be-discovered sides of their personalities. I am on the constant hunt for little things that make a good mystery. I find them in old books, my 1000s of AZ photos, TV shows, music, my dreams, talking to people, ideas that pop in out of nowhere, staring out my window at the lake. Literally ideas for this series have come from everywhere and everywhere.

I hope you enjoy it and I thank you for your continued support for me and Zeb.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

Making certain all phases and details of the book were consistent with the other ten books in the series.

How liberal are you in term of expressing ideas in your books?

I believe in honesty and integrity when telling a story.  My books present a fair and present view of the current Native American/White interaction. I attempt to stay within the bounds of truth while telling a fictional story.

What is your normal procedure to get your books published?

Write, rewrite, rewrite, edit, edit, edit, professionally edit, get a cover, publish. 

How many books have you written so far?


Native Blood

Holes in the Sky

Adios Angel

Native Justice

Native Bones

Native Warrior

Native Earth

Native Trouble

Native Destiny

Native Fate

Native Dreams

Native Roots (Prequel Novella)

The Zeb Hanks Mystery Series (Books 1-3)

Audio Books

Native Blood

Holes in the Sky

Adios Angel

Native Justice

Other Books

Heartland Heroes


Have you ever destroyed any of your writing drafts? 

Heavens, yes. I have gone so far as to complete a book and then start all over.  Usually that is not the case, but it was once. I ceremoniously burned the one that needed to go away. 

What is your motivation for writing more? 

I love the craft of writing, love to learn more about how to be a better writer and most of all I have stories to tell that I believe will interest many readers not only in an historical sense but in a modern sense when it comes to the Native American culture and its relationship with the White culture. 

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Work hard. Never give up. Believe in yourself. Write something daily. Learn from reading. Take classes on writing. Know that your story matters. 

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