By WAYNE D. KING, NH Secrets, Legends and Lore
For 42 years Mark Okrant has progressed from academic to tourism research teacher to murder mystery author.
Mark Okrant has spent the past 42 years in New Hampshire teaching Tourism Management and established and then maintained 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 finding an individual to help build the state’s first academic tourism program in New Hampshire.
One of the great benefits of all this is that many, perhaps all of the State of New Hampshire’s most interesting and prestigious tourist attractions will roll out the red carpet for him and share with him the comfort of their homes and – now and then – a secret or two.
At one point Mark started coming up with the idea of writing a murder mystery and performing it at one of New Hampshire’s famous resorts. Then a conversation with Steve Barba, a New Hampshire tourism icon and owner of the Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch released the dam. Mark asks if Steve is open to having him write the murder mystery about a Balsams crime. Not only did Steve say yes, he opened his doors and staff the project. That conversation sparked a lifelong friendship and Okrant’s first novel “A Last Resort.”
Nine Mysteries, and a non-fiction book later, Okrant still continues to write, even after he has ended his teaching career.
I caught up with Mark recently to talk about going to New Hampshire, his academic career and research and writing novels. He is writing his column again NH Travel Guru for InDepthNH.org