By WAYNE D. KING, NH Secrets, Legends and Lore
Over the course of 42 years Mark Okrant has evolved from academic to tourism research guru to murder mystery author.
Mark Okrant has spent the past 42 years in New Hampshire teaching Tourism Management and establishing and then maintaining the mantle 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 an individual to help establish the state of New Hampshire’s first academic tourism program.
One of the grand benefits of all this was that many, perhaps all of the most interesting and majestic tourist attractions in the State of New Hampshire would roll out the red carpet for him and share with him the comfort of their accommodations and – now and then – a secret or two.
At some point Mark began to craft the idea of writing a murder mystery and staging it at one of the famous resorts in New Hampshire. Then a conversation with Steve Barba, an icon in New Hampshire tourism and owner of the Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch unleashed the dam. Mark had asked if Steve would be open to having him write a murder mystery about a crime at the Balsams. Not only did Steve say yes, he opened his doors and staff to the project. That conversation sparked a life-long friendship and Okrant’s first novel “A Last Resort.”
Nine mysteries, and one non-fiction book later, Okrant is still going strong and continues to write, though he is winding up his teaching career.
I caught up with Mark recently to talk about coming to New Hampshire, his academic and research career and writing novels. He is again writing his column NH Travel Guru for InDepthNH.org