Have you ever heard of the Stanley Hotel? You may have, and just didn’t realize it. If you’re not sure, answer the following questions: Are you a fan of Stephen King? Have you ever seen the movie, “The Shining”? Do you like watching shows like “Ghost Hunters”? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you have heard of the Stanley.
The Stanley Hotel is an old (opened in 1909) and beautiful hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Roy (my husband) and I visited the property during our romantic escape to Estes Park. Roy wanted to do the Night Ghost Tour and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was intrigued and Roy was excited (he would never admit to this, but the man is chronically late and yet this was the one thing he kept worrying about being late to – you do the math), but I don’t think either of us knew what to expect.
The tour was interesting, and what I heard of it (listening devices and Bluetooth are not necessarily an exact science) made me wonder how much of what we were being told on the tour was ‘real’ (fact versus legend) and how much was complete bull. Three weeks later, and I am not entirely sure which individual stories are fact-based and which are entirely fictional, but I’m not sure any of that really matters.
During that night’s ghost tour a lot of people in our group claimed to capture haunting images on their phone. They certainly captured something, but whether it was a trick of light, an issue with a camera flash or something paranormal is a debate anyone can pick up, and no one can win. We explored the ‘most haunted’ places in the Stanley, including the music room and the underground tunnel in the hotel’s basement. I didn’t see any ghosts, and neither did Roy, but we definitely enjoyed the experience and roaming the hotel and its grounds.
The Stanley had a story to tell – hey it happens when you’ve been around for more than a century. But walking through the halls, taking in the rooms, exploring the grounds, a sudden rush came over me. You would think I was a horror writer because wave after wave of ideas hit me, sometimes violently, over the head. I suddenly wanted to write at least ten different thrillers, many of them supernatural. It was a feeling, some invisible force that floated all around me, in the very air, in that place.
I can totally see how and why the place inspired the likes of Stephen King. Yes, the king of horror himself stayed at the Stanley and credits it for inspiring his novel “The Shining”. I know he stayed in the hotel for quite some time, and I have even heard he wrote the first draft of the novel there, but could only confirm it being the inspiration (even in blogging I like to have some sort of journalistic integrity 😛 ). For any hardcore fans, he stayed in room 217…
One thing I definitely took away from the experience is answers to questions that weren’t even fully formed yet. I have had an idea for a novel I want to write, but never had many particulars. I knew part of the who and what, all of the where, and was coming up empty on the why and the how. But as I was overwhelmed by whatever was coming over me at the Stanley Hotel, I found these answers in a series of flashes – like a montage of reveals. Now I know most of the who and what, I was already covered with the where, but also at least half of the why and how.
This means a lot to me because it is a project I have wanted to write for years, but was never ‘this close’ before. I don’t believe in forcing things, and before I only had crumbs, but now I have enough to explore and begin getting ready to write this thing. And the idea of writing a fictional work, let alone something that is truly fictional (no autobiographical fiction this time wink) is even better. But perhaps best of all, it will be my first time writing what I love.
There are two main ideas on writing that I have come across. Write what you know, and write what you love to read. I have the writing what I know down. My fiction has almost always included autobiographical elements that I didn’t want to have to own like I would have to in nonfiction. And then there is my memoir and other personal essays that are nonfiction, so of course it is what I know. But I love thrillers. My first love when it comes to reading has always been, and will always be, thrillers. Whether it is a serial killer, a corrupt police department, ghosts or chicks with super powers (like visions etc. not going all the way into science fiction) I eat it up.
And now, for the first time ever, I am going to write that kind of book. I’m thrilled! And for whatever reason, it all came together for me at the Stanley Hotel. I am hopeful that I will get enough into development that I can have this thriller-in-conception be the novel I write during the month of November, and for all you writers out there, you know what I’m talking about. 😉
So, whether you’re a believer or a skeptic, if you’re ever in Estes Park I encourage you to visit the Stanley Hotel. Take a tour, explore the hotel and the grounds, because its beauty, history and the story that even holds up to a skeptic, makes it all worthwhile. 🙂
I’m tempted to try and stay at the Stanley Hotel for a night in November, while I take a stab at this developing novel. I mean it seemed to do the trick for me during our brief tour, and it even worked its magic on Stephen King. Couldn’t hurt – right? 😉