Mark Little was a freelance journalist based in Southern Spain, and a contributor to international media and travel publications. He died in August, 2001. His son David has taken over the editing of the Freelance Spain website.
Mark Little was born in New York in 1955 but lived in southern Spain from the age of ten. He combined his studies - high school in Málaga, five years of Spanish Language and Literature at Málaga University - with freelance journalism, as a regular contributor to the English-language newspaper the Iberian Daily Sun and to the Spanish daily, Sol de España, aside from supplying news photography for the London-based photo agency, Camera Press.
In the mid-70s he joined the staff of Lookout Magazine, becoming editor ten years later. Under his editorship it became the premier English-language publication in Spain.
"My job at Lookout gave me the opportunity to get to know and work with some of the most talented writers and photographers in Europe," he said.
He also edited books for Lookout's publishing division, including titles such as Cooking in Spain, You and the Law in Spain and The Story of Spain, which became essential reading for anyone interested in the country.
Mark Little became a freelance in early 1997. Since then, he has contributed to a number of publications including The Express newspaper (London), Spain Gourmetour, Mediterranean Life, Essential Magazine, Prestige Club. Although he has covered a variety of subjects from the environment to finance, his main subjects have been travel and food and wine. He also edited a travel trade magazine, An Andalusian Experience, for the Andalusian tourism authority.
Mark Little also contributed writing, editing and research to various travel guide books, including Fodor's (Spain), APA Guides (Insight Guides to Spain and Southern Spain), This Way Guides (Andalusia and Bilbao), Dorling Kindersley (Eyewitness Guide to Madrid).
A good part of his activity has involved editorial translations (as opposed to literal translations) for a variety of clients, including Turismo Andaluz (the Andalusian tourism authority) and the Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade (publishers of Spain Gourmetour magazine).
Mark Little was also involved in the Internet as a journalistic medium, and designed the official website for the Jumilla Wine Council in southeastern Spain (www.jumillawine.com), as well as founding this Freelance Spain website.
Photograph by David Little
Mike Booth's Tribute
One day in 1973 I heard there was a 17-year-old American boy working as a journalist on a magazine published in Málaga. I managed to get his phone number and called to make an appointment to go down there and do a little feature story on him for an American youth magazine. The boy was Mark Little and that was the beginning of a lifelong friendship, till Mark’s awful untimely death last week.
I found a fascinating personality, on the one hand a bright, energetic young journalist who worked part time for Lookout Magazine in Torremolinos. Mark, it seems, was a born journalist and editor. He had actually entered journalism when he was 10 years old with a newsletter for family distribution. On the other, he was a shy, winsome kid who spent his free time sitting in his room strumming his guitar. The instrument had a sticker on the front with a quote from Antonio Machado: "Con el ‘tú’ de mi canción no te aludes, compañero, ese ‘tú’ soy yo..." ("Don’t think the ‘you’ of my song is you, friend, that ‘you’ is me…")
Over the years he worked at Lookout Mark became a lot of people’s favorite person. Perhaps it was because he was so young when we met him and we took a big-brotherly interest in him. Perhaps it was because Mark was made of the stuff that favorite people are made of. He was soft spoken and tolerant, he would listen before he spoke and he always had something positive to offer. He had a fine gentle Irish sense of humor. And, unlike most people we meet these days, Mark was refreshingly disinterested, that is to say not all out in his own interest, ready to kill in order to profit. Nor did he ever have anything bad to say about anybody.
Mark’s hospitality was perfect and he always cooked himself. And on the occasions when he showed up at our house, usually en route to or from assignments round Spain, he would always appear in the doorway, his boyish smile preceded by a bag of gourmet groceries: things like paté de fois gras, Chinese mushrooms, smoked trout, Danish horseradish and, of course, a bottle of gourmet Jack Daniels Tennessee sippin’ whiskey.
They say that Mark was a shy person. I never noticed that. We had been friends forever and we always had so much to talk about that shyness was never an issue. Mark was a project person and we talked about projects. His garden, publications, articles, his website… Anybody who would like to know Mark Little at his professional best should have a look at his website (http://www.spainview.com). Mark started working on it a couple of years ago when he discovered the possibilities offered by Internet journalism and it provided an ideal vehicle for Mark’s professional talents. He designed the site to provided free services for freelancers and editors and he used to update it daily. There was nothing in it for him, really, but for long hours of work and the ongoing satisfaction of discovering, learning and sharing his time and talent with his colleagues.
Mark, we all miss you. We miss your innocence, your buena cara, your encouragement and constructive criticism. We miss your jokes, some of the best, your humility, your sincerity and your humanity. We miss your generosity and your hospitality. We miss your ilusión and your good advice. We miss your example and we’ll try to live up to it.
Text and photograph by Mike Booth
Ken Brown's Tribute
Just three years after arriving in Málaga from New York with his parents and six brothers and sisters, Mark Little was publishing his own magazine at the age of 12. True, distribution was limited to his family and friends and his pocket money didn´t run to a large editorial budget, but he was proud of the fact that he had a correspondent in Vietnam. It was obvious this schoolboy knew even then what he wanted to do when he grew up.
About this time, Mark wrote his first article for Lookout magazine. It was about horse-riding in the hills behind Málaga. The moment it was published, he bombarded me with more articles. Just a few months before he died, we were going through some old Lookout papers in his office at home and he showed me some letters I had written to him about those articles he had submitted to the magazine. Being a lazy letter writer, I was surprised to see how long they were. I obviously believed this young man had talent and potential and was worth some attention.
At 17 years, Mark starting to work part-time at Lookout as assistant editor. One day, soon after, he walked into my office and said he was leaving. He was upset about something but I don´t remember exactly what it was. He walked out and went over to the bar across the street for a beer. He thought the matter over and obviously changed his mind. He returned to the office, sat down at his desk and resumed working as though nothing had happened. Thank goodness he did. Otherwise the magazine would have lost a good editor and I would have missed many happy years working with him.
After graduating from Málaga University with a degree in philology, Mark began working full-time at Lookout and from 1980 to 1995 he was the magazine´s editor and was largely responsible for transforming a mediocre monthly into a 200-page glossy that was often placed by the international media among the best foreign-language magazines. Mark didn´t think that. He was convinced it was THE best.
Mark was a very gentle and modest person in many ways and, because he never said much, people who didn´t know him well assumed he was shy. He was not shy, especially in his own world, the world of magazines and writers and photographers. He knew his worth. He knew he was a good editor producing a good magazine and he didn´t feel the need to talk about it or make an impression. Instead, he was a great listener, which was fortunate because he spent a lot of his time with contributing writers and photographers who liked nothing better than to talk and talk.
Outside his own family, there was no-one Mark preferred to spend time with than a contributor to the magazine. He had the deepest respect and affection for the writer who could produce sexy articles on a regular basis. A sexy article for Mark was an article that was well researched, well written and, above all, highly readable. He would often pop his head into my office with eyes gleaming and say "I got a sexy article in the mail this morning" or "I´ve found a new writer. Very sexy."
Finding a sexy article in the mail was the perfect start to a day´s work for Mark during those years with Lookout. He would then go to breakfast at our local bar round the corner, the Sol y Sombra, and read the Spanish newspapers or, if accompanied, talk about the magazine. Back in the office, he would do some editing, hold yet another post mortem on the last issue and plan upcoming issues, and call some contributors until it was time for a long and boozy lunch, preferably with a contributor who had popped into the office (they usually showed up around lunchtime) or, even better, with two or three contributors. After lunch, he would usually put in another two hours in the office and round off the day with one or two drinks at the Sol y Sombra before going home – often with a bunch of manucripts under his arm.
However much Mark enjoyed lunching with contributors, his editor´s mind never stopped ticking. The unsuspecting writer would be relaxing over the first bottle of wine and in full flow on this or that subject when Mark would smile and quietly say "You haven´t written any articles for us lately." Being the jovial host and the good cop, I would say "Relax Mark, we´re having lunch." He would listen for a while and then say to the writer "Got any ideas for an article?" – and again a little later "What about an article on such and such? That´s right up your street." When lunch was over, he would say "Right, I´ve got you down for an article on such and such." Next morning he would call the writer to fix a deadline. Once Mark had you down for an article, it was hard to get off the hook.
I like to think that Mark´s time as editor at Lookout were the happiest years of his life, and I am certain that some of the happiest hours of his life were spent having a meal with contributors. He often referred to them as his "other family" and never had a bad word to say about any of them. Come to think of it, during all the years I knew Mark I can’t remember him saying a harsh or unkind word about anyone.
As publisher of Lookout, I often got the credit for the magazine´s editorial quality, which I thought was unfair to Mark, but it didn´t seem to bother him at all. There wasn´t an ounce of vanity in Mark, and this also showed in the way he dressed. A good cook and host, he enjoyed shopping for food and wine but couldn´t be bothered to shop for his clothes. He left that to Rafi. Most of us at the office were convinced Mark jumped out of bed in the morning and grapped whatever clothes were at hand, not bothering to look in the mirror to see if anything matched. The term "colour coordination" was obviously not in his vocabulary. He would get shorn about every three months, going into the nearest barbers with long locks and coming out with an army cut. It was all part of his charm, though I did draw the line on one occasion when he set off to a formal Lookout 25th anniversary celebration in Madrid in a sports shirt and sweater. I dragged him into an elegant men´s shop on Serrano to buy him a blazer. He stood rigid in the centre of the store with a pained look on his face as I tried blazer after blazer on him till I found one I thought suited him. Through gritted teeth, he said: "Can we please go now." I told him we couldn´t as I had to find a shirt and a tie to go with the blazer. He groaned. I don´t think he had worn a tie since the day he got married. I remember the look of relief on his face when the best man whipped off Mark´s tie, cut it up and auctioned off the pieces to the wedding guests to raise money for Mark and Rafi to spend on their honeymoon.
It was a hard blow for Mark when the Lookout years came to an end, but typically he did not complain, though he did confess he was a little bit nervous about starting a new life as a freelance writer at the age of 40. He needn’t have worried. He threw into his new career the same talent and enthusiasm he had thrown into Lookout and pretty soon he had more work than he could handle. Even so, he somehow found time to launch his own website that featured a long list of freelance writers and photographers in Spain, and before long he was adding colourful and interesting information about Spain – making it "sexy" as he himself would have put it. It was typical of Mark that he didn´t think to charge any of the freelancers for his time. I suspect that part of the satisfaction he got from his website was that he was back editing what could be called a kind of magazine and was once again in touch with his old Lookout contributors.
Some of those contributors were among the 20 or so close friends and colleagues who gathered together spontaneously after Mark´s funeral and talked about him for hours at a dinner in his memory. Still stunned by his unexpected death at the age of 45, we shared our feelings about Mark and found they were much the same – that he was kind, generous and gentle, a very special person who had gone out of our lives far too soon, that we would miss him terribly but at the same time we felt we were very fortunate to have known him and were grateful that he had shared so much of his life with us.
Text Ken Brown
Nick Inman's Tribute
Those of us who spend our lives translating Spain into words and pictures for newspapers, magazines and books were shocked and dismayed at the sudden death of the writer, translator and editor Mark Little in August.
Mark was born in New York in 1955 but his family moved to Andalucía when he was ten. His subsequent education in a Málaga high school and at Málaga University rendered him fluent in both Spanish and English. But more than a linguist, Mark was a man who had a keen sympathy for two cultures – the culture of Spain and that of the expatriates who have made Spain their home.
He put this intimate cross-cultural knowledge to good use when, in the mid-1970s, he joined Lookout magazine, then under the ownership of Ken Brown. After some years he became the editor, commissioning an endless stream of articles from a pool of freelance writers and photographers who were as enthusiastic about Spain as he was.
He would give equal importance to commissioning a big name writer as an unknown writer with a good idea – a rare and respectful talent in any editor. I was just one of many aspiring
writers who was given a first discreet nudge by Mark in the direction of good journalism. And I suspect that I was not the only one who valued Mark’s commitment and input to the work in hand almost as much as the fee.
When Lookout changed hands, Mark stayed on for a while but soon decided he needed a change and more independence. Anyone who feared he had become institutionalised behind his editor’s desk must have been surprised to see him transformed into a highly successful freelance writer.
He was a regular contributor to Spain Gourmetour and Essential Marbella amongst other magazines, took a hand in producing several leading travel guides, and also edited a regular publication for the Andalusian tourism authority.
But it will be as a generator of ideas and above all as a connector of
people that Mark will be best remembered. In recent years Mark became an enthusiastic advocate of the internet, creating the website
www.spainview.com which he ran not so much for his own benefit as for the many freelance writers and photographers he knew. I don’t know how many of them he also considered personal friends. All of them, I suspect.
One writer who knew Mark for years described him as "a very quiet, gentle, genuine guy, totally unpretentious and without any enemies." By all the many people he worked with over the years, by his friends, and by the family he leaves behind, Mark’s soft-spoken bilingual voice will be sorely missed.
Text Nick Inman
David Baird's Tribute
Not until he was no longer with us did I appreciate how much I had taken Mark Little for granted. Whether I needed information, or to check a detail, or to discuss an article or simply to enjoy a conversation, Mark was always there - quiet, unassuming, good-humoured, a friend you could always rely on. I had known him since his teens and he still had a boyish air. Hard to believe that such a truly gentle guy - a father of
three - could be wrenched from us at only 45 years old.
As Mark was born and lived his first few years in the United States, he had a natural understanding of expatriate feelings. But he was educated and lived most of his life in Spain. Thus, while he remained American in some of his tastes and attitudes, in many ways he was a true Andaluz.
This mixture of cultural backgrounds was ideal for his work as a journalist for he was uniquely fitted to interpret Spain to other nationalities. But it also made him an invaluable friend. Whenever I had
a query about language or some aspect of Spain and its people, I knew that a call to Mark would almost certainly put me on the right track.
We shared many good moments together, from snorkelling the coast of Almeria to joining a "Save Doñana" march through Huelva to investigating the tapa bars of Madrid. We spent one memorable night in a police patrol car prowling the back streets of Málaga, all in the cause of a good story. At 3am I recall we debated whether to phone the esteemed publisher of Lookout Magazine to remind him that, while he slept, the journos were at work. But Mark was soft-hearted enough to resist the temptation.
For Mark, a glass of wine or beer in good company was the greatest of pleasures. And that is how I shall remember him, chuckling over an anecdote, sipping his drink and debating where to have lunch.
Text David Baird
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