By WAYNE D. KING, NH Secrets, Legends and Lore
In 42 years, Mark Okrant has gone from academic to guru of tourist research to author of detective novels.
Mark Okrant has spent the past 42 years in New Hampshire teaching tourism management and establishing and then maintaining the role of “tourism research guru” for the state of New Hampshire.
Born and raised in Connecticut, Mark came to New Hampshire in 1979 when he was hired by Plymouth State in response to a search for someone to help establish the state’s first college tourism program. of New Hampshire.
One of the great benefits of it all was that many tourist attractions, perhaps all of the most interesting and majestic in the state of New Hampshire, would roll out the red carpet for him and share with him the comforts of their homes and – of once in a while – a secret or two.
At some point, Mark began to hatch the idea of writing a murder mystery and setting it in one of New Hampshire’s famous resort towns. Then a conversation with Steve Barba, a New Hampshire tourism icon and owner of the Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch set off the barrage. Mark had asked if Steve would be willing to have him write a murder mystery about a crime at the Balsams. Not only did Steve say yes, he opened his doors and his staff to the project. This conversation sparked a lifelong friendship and Okrant’s debut novel “A Last Resort.”
Nine mysteries and a non-fiction book later, Okrant is still going strong and continues to write, despite finishing his teaching career.
I caught up with Mark recently to talk about moving to New Hampshire, his academic and research career, and writing novels. He writes his column again NH Travel Guru for InDepthNH.org