The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado is known for its haunted history. Freenlan Oscar Stanley and his wife Flora opened this lavish resort hotel in 1909. Stanley wanted a luxurious retreat in this otherwise desolate mountain region. It is still around today. In fact, it is rumored that Mr. and Mrs. Stanley still haunt this hotel. Paranormal investigators visit frequently, testifying that this hotel is indeed a hot spot for paranormal activity.
Does this hotel sound familiar? What if I told you a famous writer stayed at this hotel one night in the 1970s. He was so inspired by the environment that he wrote a novel about it. The novel was about a haunted hotel that was isolated from civilization in the snowy mountains. The writer renamed the hotel. He called it The Overlook Hotel. This writer is Stephen King. This book he wrote is called The Shining.
The Stanley Hotel offers all the luxuries of any high-class hotel and a whole lot more. For instance, it hosts night ghost tours and paranormal investigations. It is also the meeting spot for various ghostly conventions including The Stanley Hotel Writer’s Retreat. Horror writers converge for a long weekend. The 2016 retreat is being held in October. It will offer several packages, some if which include a meet and greet with other authors, editing workshops, tickets to a masquerade ball, and ample writing time. There are different packages at different prices.
I looked into the Stanley Hotel Writer’s Retreat of 2016. It is too expensive for me. The packages do not include travel, room and board. But it got me wondering – what would it be like to attend a writer’s retreat in a humongous “ghostly” manor? I think it would be wonderful. Quaint and inspiring.
Maybe author Scott Nicholson has attended such a retreat. If not, then he has done the next best thing- he was written about one. When reality fails the imagination prevails. Whether or not his story about an artist’s retreat in the seclusion of the mountains is inspired by a real life experience, it is a vivid telling nonetheless. It seems similar to the Stanley retreat in some ways. But in his tale it’s goodbye Colorado and hello North Carolina. Both manors are haunted by the ghost of its founder. Whereas the ghosts of FO and Flora Stanley are harmless apparitions that sometimes play the Steinway piano or watch over the billiards room, the spirit of Ephram Korban is calculating and malevolent and his presence is not always as obvious as the hall-roaming ghost. He hides within the many self-portraits that hang on various walls. He comes into being via the authors that write out ancient spells, the painters that capture his presence on the canvas, and the sculptors that bring his form to life.
Creative Spirit is a story about the coming together of writers, painters, photographers, musicians and sculptors. They are gathering in the picturesque setting of Korban Manor as a means of fostering their creativity in the company of like-minded individuals. Unbeknownst to them, there is more to this gathering. The spirit if Ephram Korban thrives on creativity. He siphons the “creative spirit” of others in the hopes that he may live again. He is assisted in his goals by some of the Manor’s staff. Some of them are ghosts. Others have outlived the average life expectancy, kept alive by the powers that lay within the Manor- the powers of Korban himself. Together they will all participate in the ceremony that welcomes in the Blue Moon of October. Hmm, now don’t you get the feeling something else will be welcomed in as well?
This is a chilling ghost story with insightful metaphors and colorful description. This description pays of well in the telling of the season. Autumn – a ghost lover’s favorite season! From the crackling of the fires to the layout of the land (“Nature’s greatest sculptor – Time”), Nicholson settles the readers in as if they were the guests of this retreat. Nicholson even fires up the often-neglected sense of smell as he describes the autumn aromas. All this in an environment where ghosts haunt the fields and outlying forests, where witches dwell in nearby shacks. How can a lover of ghost stories ask for anything more?
It is a dream of mine to attend a writer’s retreat at a spooky old mansion. If such a dream is never fulfilled, that’s okay. I attended the artist’s retreat at Korban Manor vicariously and it was a fulfilling experience. Best of all, I made it out alive. Not all of the guests can say that!