A veteran to action fiction, Mark Allen is the third voice behind Team Reaper. Mark prefers his pose to pack a punch, likes his heroes to sport twin Micro-Uzis a la Chuck Norris in Invasion USA, and firmly believes there is no such thing as too many headshots in a novel. He started writing “guns ‘n’ guts” (his term for the action genre) at the not-so-tender age of 16. Now, as part of the Wolfpack team, Mark Allen looks forward to bringing his bloody brand of gun-slinging, bullet-blasting mayhem to the action-reading masses.
Wolfpack: When you heard about Team Reaper, were you instantly on board?
Mark: When the manuscript for Retribution, the first Team Reaper novel, came across my desk, I immediately saw the potential for a hard-hitting new action series. When Brent asked if I was interested in joining the writing team, I jumped at the opportunity. Partly because I honestly believed the series would move copies and partly because I was interested in writing under the Wolfpack banner.
Wolfpack: I know you recommended Brian Drake to be a part of Team Reaper; what made you first consider him?
Mark: He threatened to send me cat memes every day for the rest of my life if I didn’t recommend him! No, seriously, when Brent mentioned he’d like to bring one more author on board, Brian was my first choice. We’d been chatting for years through Facebook and I had read several of his books, so I knew he possessed the writing chops to serve up the kind of lean, mean, rapid-fire action-thrillers the Team Reaper series was designed to be.
Wolfpack: So far, what has been your favorite Team Reaper book?
Mark: While obviously I like the ones I’ve written since they put coin in my coffers, if I separate the personal attachment from the equation, then I think the debut novel, Retribution, is probably the best of the bunch. It had a personal element to it, featuring John ‘Reaper’ Kane before he assembled his team. It works great not only as a well-done origin story, but a hard-smashing action novel in its own right.
Wolfpack: Did you ever think the Team Reaper books would be as successful as they have been?
Mark: As soon as I read the manuscript for Retribution, I knew the series could compete in the modern action-thriller market. It had the flavor of some of the old Gold Eagle team-based men’s adventure series like Phoenix Force, but updated with current-day sensibilities. Yeah, right from the get-go, I would have bet dollars to dimes that with Wolfpack’s marketing expertise behind Team Reaper, the series would take off. That’s why jumping on board was a no-brainer.
Wolfpack: What are you hoping to see come out of the new Fear The Reaper spin-off series?
Mark: Besides piles of money, you mean? My hope for the new spinoff is to expand the Team Reaper universe a bit and explore how Kane handles dangerous situations on his own, without anyone watching his six. With team-based action, you have to give each character their chance to shine; with the Fear the Reaper series, it’s all about Kane. Hopefully readers will be drawn into that dynamic. And while I cannot speak for Brent, Brian, or any other authors who may eventually take a shot at the Fear the Reaper series, my intention is to make the missions of this spinoff more personal in nature, as opposed to the cartel-fighting focus of the main series.
Wolfpack: Why “guns ‘n’ guts?” What draws you to the bloody, violent genre?
Mark: Honestly, this is a little hard to articulate, but something in the genre just resonates with me. The pat answer is that the triumph of good over evil is appealing, but it goes beyond that, especially since I prefer gray-shaded antiheroes to white-hatted traditional heroes. Ultimately, I just think the visceral violence and two-fisted justice hits a primal nerve.
Wolfpack: Would you ever let your daughters read your books when they are older?
Mark: What do you mean, when they’re older? I read my books to them every night before bed!
I’m kidding, of course. I’m actually pretty conservative about what I let my girls read. But yes, when they’re older, they’ll be allowed to read my work, if they’re interested. Hopefully I can afford the therapy bills by then.
Wolfpack: Are there any authors out there who inspire your work?
Mark: When I first started writing at age 16, I was heavily influenced by the Gold Eagle action series that were popular at the time, so guys like Stephen Mertz, Michael Newton, and Dan Schmidt played a role in honing whatever skills I possess. Later, Eric Van Lustbader made me realize that violence could be rich, evocative, and even poetic. I tried—and sometimes still try—to incorporate some of that language into my work.
Wolfpack: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten? (about writing or anything else)
Mark: It’s a little cliché, but the best writing advice I ever got was “write what you would want to read.” I try to keep that mantra in my head when I’m hammering away at a manuscript. It’s also important to understand and accept that not everyone is going to like your writing, because you’re not writing for everyone. Some readers crave nonstop firefights, some just want a few. Some readers want R-rated gore, some just want PG action. Some want sex scenes that make Fifty Shades of Grey look tame, others want their romance cleaner than freshly fallen snow. In the end, you can only write the book you want to write and hope your target audience embraces it.
Wolfpack: Do you ever put yourself or people you know into your characters?
Mark: The closest I’ve ever come to injecting my own personality into a character was with Jack Reece, the protagonist of my short story “The Killing Question.” Once I break out of my introverted, antisocial shell, I tend to be a sarcastic smartass, but with a serious side, and that’s how I wanted Jack Reece to come across. Unlike Jack Reece, I do not dispense vigilante justice with a sawed-off shotgun.