Guest Post: Cynthia Kuhn

Today we give a warm Mysterista welcome to friend and alumna Cynthia Kuhn. Cynthia is celebrating the release of her third Lila MacLean Academic Mystery, The Spirit in Question. And she swears all of the below is not a figment of her imagination.

Hello, someone


As I was drafting the third Lila Maclean Academic Mystery, The Spirit in Question, one of the characters casually mentioned that they had just come from the Stanley Hotel.

Pausing here to acknowledge that yes, sometimes the characters say things I don’t plan. When you’re deep in the zone, things can happen as you type and genuinely surprise you. #notcrazyjustawriter

Anyway, the Stanley Hotel is a beloved Colorado landmark famous for its paranormal activity—and known as the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining.

When the character shared that piece of information, I immediately knew it was time to drive my family up to Estes Park in order to take the official “Spirit Tour” at the Stanley. In the name of research.

IMG_8426You aren’t going to believe me when I tell you what happened. But every word is true.

The tour wound through the property—it’s a gorgeous place—and the guide shared many fascinating stories about the history and the hauntings.

But the most interesting part when was they instructed us to do the following:

(1) hold two pencils end-to-end (erasers in the middle) facing another person, or

(2) hold a lollipop upside down, centered on your palm.

Supposedly, in both cases, if you asked a question aloud and a spirit wanted to communicate with you, it would move the items.

Yeah, right.

IMG_8761But guess what? Things did move. The pencils swung horizontally outward (which we were told meant “no”) and inward (to indicate “yes”). If you were the one holding the pencils, it felt as if a very strong magnet was pulling them together or pushing them apart. And if you asked multiple questions, it genuinely seemed like you were having a whole conversation with…someone.

The lollipop rotated so the stick part slid downward toward your hand and, sometimes, back up again. Which wasn’t so much conversing as it was letting you know they were there—or as the guide put it, “playing.”

Let me say that again: objects were moving. And we were not moving them.

It absolutely feels like you are interacting with ghosts.

I have no explanation for you. I could hardly believe it, either.

And now we can’t wait to go back.


ck2x3Cynthia Kuhn writes the award-winning Lila Maclean Academic Mystery series. She is professor of English at Metropolitan State University of Denver and president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado. For more information, please visit

The Spirit in Question is now available at booksellers and online:

Barnes and Noble:






23 thoughts on “Guest Post: Cynthia Kuhn”

  1. Eek, Cynthia! What do people actually ask a ghost? I’d never be brave enough to purposely stay in a haunted room (I’ve seen those movies), but I did stay at The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver overnight for husband’s business party. Totally haunted. Not in a bad way. Just…haunted.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. An overnight at The Brown Palace–how wonderful! People were asking all kinds of things. Once we asked, “Do you like it when people come here to visit?” And the pencils said no, and then we got scared and ran away. LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Welcome, Cynthia! I loved Spirit in Question; it was such a charming book. I have a hotel ghost story. Here it goes: In 2010, I flew to Chicago to see opening night of a play, The Long Red Road, with Tom Hardy directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Gobsmacked. I stayed at a boutique hotel in the theatre district. The night after the play, I went to bed. I woke up to the sound of someone walking from the door into my room (the door hadn’t opened) and then felt the pressure of someone laying down right on top of me. Opened my eyes. No one there. The ghost wasn’t behaving inappropriately at all, just laying there. So I said, “This is my room. I paid for it. You’re in the wrong room. Go away.” And it did and I went back to sleep. True story.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thank you very much, Keenan, and I’m thrilled that you enjoyed SPIRIT!

      Your ghost story is incredible. Love that you told it to go away and it did. You’re both brave and bold. 🙂 I would have been freaking out.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Welcome (back!) and congrats, Cynthia!!

    Holy cow, how freaky is that?! One of my best friends was married at the Stanley, and it is, indeed, gorgeous and such a storied place. If I’d known about how to invite conversation with spirits, I would have tried my hand with the pencils and lollipop. At least I *think* I would have. I’m a coward about those kinds of things.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Kathy! And wow, you stayed there? It’s so beautiful. If you took the tour, I bet you would have wanted to try it…or maybe you would have been like the guy who, when they passed out the lollipops, immediately ate his instead.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Love these stories… and from ostensibly sane people!

    My hotel ghost story is tame by comparison. L.J. Sellers and I were sharing a room when Left Coast Crime was in Santa Fe. We were told the hotel was haunted but didn’t pay much attention. That night we both smelled cigar smoke in our room. I checked the window… closed. We stood near the air vents… nothing.

    Oh, and neither of us was packin’ tobacco.

    Congratulations on your new release, Cynthia! I’m looking forward to reading it! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

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