Top 5 Scariest Sites in Monterey County

Monterey County is home to a number of famous haunted locations just as it’s home to world famous golfing, glitzy car shows, and a smattering of celebrities. Before the glamour of Hollywood and the wealth of Silicon Valley found the Central Coast’s attraction too charming to resist, families filled the land seeking a better life and many, while long since dead, still rattle the nerves of the living. Have you had a ghost encounter in Monterey County?

Let’s take a look at five of Monterey County’s creepiest spots, starting smack dab in the middle of Monterey at the old French Hotel, better known as:

1) The Stevenson House – Built in the 1800s, this grand old building and garden property is found just across the street from the Monterey Transit Plaza in downtown Monterey, and is currently operated by the California Department of Parks and Recreation in partnership with the Robert Louis Stevenson Club. While the author Robert Louis Stevenson is thought to occasionally haunt the place, though he only lived there a brief time, other spirits are also believed to inhabit the old building, including Manuela Girardin, who died of Typhoid Fever in the two-story structure. Ghostly tales have included the smell of disinfectants, the sighting of a female in a gothic, black gown, and a rocking chair that moves on its own.

2) The Lara-Soto Adobe – Like the Stevenson House, this unassuming little home was originally built in the 1800s. It’s often been a source for supernatural frights, virtually since the day it was built, which may account for it sitting vacant for years prior to a renovation in 1920. It was also the home of author John Steinbeck and his family for a short time. Many believed the home to be cursed, due to the legend of a toddler buried just outside the front door, and the home itself seems to be a magnet for the supernatural activity. Steinbeck himself heard these rumors and allegedly had the home exorcized before he moved in with his family.

3) Old Fort Ord – Now home to shopping plazas and California State University at Monterey Bay (CSUMB), the old base overlooking Monterey Bay was closed in 1994. It’s commonly believed the spirits of the soldiers once stationed there can still be found among the property. Sightings have been shared of ghostly souls wandering the wooded areas of the Fort Ord National Monument in the dead of night and even of strange incidents within the student housing buildings, such as ghostly footsteps, strange sounds, and disembodied voices.

4) Stokes Adobe – Constructed in 1833, Stokes Adobe has been reincarnated many times over the years, most recently as a popular local restaurant for those visiting downtown Monterey. Though the restaurant is now closed and the property is for sale, tales of paranormal activity in the building persist. Many have reported the sighting of a spirit at the top of the stairs, thought by some to be the ghost of one of the building’s early owner, James Stokes. Another owner, Hattie Gragg, has been spotted on the premises on more than one occasion. Unseen hands have moved items around on tables, tapped, and even pushed people who’ve visited the two-story former home.

5) Los Coches Adobe – Likely Monterey County’s creepiest spot, this former rooming house and stagecoach stop can now be found empty and abandoned in Soledad, a small town between Greenfield and King City. From the alleged murders of those staying at the rooming house (their bodies thought to have been tossed into a nearby well) to the death of more than 30 miners in the area, the property is thought to be a hotbed of otherworldly phenomenon. Stories of screams from the well, entities within the walls of the building, and sightings of numerous spirits (some hanging from a noose outside the building) are legion.

Read about these and other paranormal hotspots in Haunted Monterey County, coming September 30th from The History Press. Get your copy in e-book or print at your favorite retailer. Preorder is available!

Preorder here.
E-book preorder here.

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BOOK REVIEW: Resurrections in the Dark by Janice Blaze Rocke dives into a world of sex, drugs, and the human condition

Monterey-based author Janice Blaze Rocke weaves a dark, character-driven tale in her memoir of life along the San Francisco corridor, firmly rooting herself as a literary force to be reckoned with and a welcome addition to the Central Coast’s pool of talented writers.

Resurrections in the Dark follows young Janice through a tumultuous time in her life – as a stripper and budding drug addict in the 1980s, but also as a woman hopelessly in love with the wrong person.

The memoir reads like a continuous breath, keeping us hooked through every chapter, and rarely comes up for air. Like Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Jack Kerouac, and others, her words work soulful charms and deliver a stark lesson in both humanity and fate, mixed with a few sultry passages.

Resurrections in the Dark has earned a place among the literary bookshelves of Monterey and San Francisco, as it tells the story of these cities just as much as it tells her own riveting story.

Pick up a copy on Lulu here, or on Amazon here, or in bookstores throughout Monterey County.

Faceless Nun legends

It’s a common trope in today’s horror genre to feature the more frightening aspects of religion, particularly when it comes to nuns and exorcisms, as a means to explore our fears.

Across the world, there are hordes of legends of religious spirits, including that of the “Faceless Nun.” While largely an urban legend, sightings of a mysterious Faceless Nun (nothing but flesh or darkness where your eyes, nose, and mouth should be) have in fact been reported across the globe. Anything without a face is creepy enough, but add a splash of religious attire and it’s enough to melt every spine on the block.

In Italy, three faceless nuns of the Torba Monastery are said to wander the countryside due to an unfinished mural. The three faces, perfect ovals, were never completed.

Art plays a factor in other areas as well. It’s commonly believed the original Faceless Nun was an artist in the midst of a self-portrait (a selfie made with paint and patience) who was called to service without the time to paint her facial features. She died an unfortunate death before she could ever complete the painting and, to this day, her spirit is cursed to walk the earth with no face. A 1940 account placed this tale overseas in France, while another focuses on St. Mary-of-the-Woods in Indiana at around the same time.

The Terra Haute, IN, legend states the nun perished of an illness before she could complete her self-portrait. Numerous accounts of a ghostly nun have persisted in Catholic women’s college, including one from a nun who encountered a woman sobbing in the college’s church. When she approached the pew where the woman sat, she realized she too was a nun, but not just any ordinary nun. This one had no face.

While the account of the college’s faceless nun has been disputed by someone who was there at the time, stories of a faceless nun have only grown over the years. My new city, Tucson, is even thought to be the home of a faceless nun – perhaps the same faceless nun but likely another wandering soul with no smile.

Cathedral of St. Augustine in 1897

The Cathedral of Saint Augustine, at 192 South Stone Avenue, is the seat for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson. Built in 1858, the church has changed a great deal since its meager two-room beginnings. Like most old buildings, it has its share of ghost stories, including its very own tale of the Faceless Nun. There the apparition has been seen levitating above the ground in the courtyard, at least according to a local ghost guide. From there the tale has only grown.

Is there a Faceless Nun or other famous apparition where you live?

BOOK REVIEW: Dim Sum of All Fears by Vivien Chien a tasty recipe for clever mysteries

I dove into Dim Sum of All Fears (the second in the Noodle Shop Mystery series) and found a gem in the contemporary cozy mystery scene. The first in the series, Death by Dumpling, will now be my second to get me back on track with these remarkable stories. That makes sense, right?

This delicious series by Vivien Chien features amateur sleuth Lana Lee, who works at her parents’ restaurant in Cleveland, but wants a little more for herself. What she doesn’t want, but always gets, is to wind up in a mess of drama. Bummer for her, but lucky for us.

In Dim Sum we find Lana running Ho-Lee Noodle House while her folks take a vacation to Taiwan. Add to this the discovery of two corpses in the shop next door, a budding romance with a police detective, and suddenly Lana has more on her plate than she can handle. Who would have thought Cleveland could be this smashing?

For me, a fan of horror and crime fiction, Lana’s adventure was a shift in the type of books I typically enjoy. It’s a good idea to try something new and I wasn’t disappointed with Dim Sum. The mystery is a “cozy,” similar in a way to Agatha Christie or Elizabeth Peters, dare I say Holmes, but with a contemporary style and an appealing sense of creativity. I can see the down-to-Earth, donut-loving Lana among the ranks of Sherlock and Marple in the coming years.

The clever book titles are rich, which is likely what drew me to try the mystery in the first place. This includes the fourth entry, Wonton Terror, which comes out later this month. Now that I’m hooked, I’m looking forward to reading what’s next for the cast of characters at Ho-Lee Noodle House.

Keep serving up the Lana Lee stories!

I never really ended up craving Dim Sum though. Weird.

Haunted Monterey County – in stores September 30th, 2019

Coming September 30th, Haunted Monterey County by Patrick Whitehurst will delve into the paranormal activity of the California Central Coast just in time for Halloween 2019.

From Los Coches Adobe to the haunted inns of Carmel, Whitehurst will take you on a tour of the scariest locales in the county.

Haunted Monterey County features historic photos and illustrations by California artist Paul Van de Carr.

Available for preorder on Amazon.com.

Michael Newton – a chat with an amazing author

Michael Newton is one of the hardest working writers in the industry. He’s published more than 335 books, some under a different name, including The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers, a number of fiction series such as the M.I.A. Hunter, The Gun westerns, and plenty more. His work in non-fiction is as prolific as his work in fiction. He’s written books on the subject of writing, as a matter of fact, which anyone interested in writing should read.


He’s also well known for his contributions to The Executioner series originally created by Don Pendleton and he’s even written for The Destroyer series. Newton got his start as a “ghost author” for the Mack Bolan Executioner titles and has written 131 “episodes” of the popular man-of-action series to date, with more on the way.

Beginning in 2018 and ending this year in 2019, he penned a series of 10 novels for Wolfpack Publishing based on the history of the Federal Bureau of investigations. In Honor Bound is the first of the series. Set in 1917, it follows three law school graduates as they set out to join the fray for World War I. Before they get a chance to register for service, J. Edgar Hoover extends to them an invitation to join the U.S. Department of Justice.


The series charts the Bureau’s history through the lives of five families: the Gantts, the O’Haras, the Giordanos, the Sawyers, and the Babins. Book 10, When Honor Dies, features a world of terrorism threats from the home front and from the Middle East. The fates of the series’ families are revealed amidst the tragedy of 9/11.

I recently had the honor of talking to Michael about his writing. He said he first got the idea for The Bureau series in 1986.


“I’ve long enjoyed similar (much better!) series by Max Alan Collins, John Jakes, Stephen Hunter and W.E.B. Griffin, but I fell far short of their great achievements this time around. Toward the end it felt a bit like Vietnam or Afghanistan: no exit,” Newton said.


When it comes to his writing, Newton said he’s wanted to be a writer ever since he learned how to put words on paper in grade school. He’s currently hard at work on a new Executioner title, the first ever biography of Albert Anastasia, and much more.


“The money [was] also an attraction, freeing me from a dead-end Nevada teaching job in 1986 and allowing me to write full-time ever since,” Newton said. “For years the Bolan work represented roughly half my yearly income, but 2014 took a toll, my Berkley Western editor fired and an ongoing series canceled, then Harlequin bought out by HarperCollins and the end of the Bolan series announced in December. They’ve reconsidered that, as you know, but at a rate of four books yearly rather than 24, so with luck I get one rather than the former three or four.”


He’s recently fallen back into the realm of “writer-for-hire” as well.


“[This includes] three books for an action series forthcoming from Wolfpack Publishing, rumbles of a Western series (also from Wolfpack), and a two-book contract for Berkley under the late Ralph Compton’s name (also Westerns),” Newton said. “All of those pay by the word, and I’m back to the kind of thing that was my staple during 1978-81, before Gold Eagle came along. I don’t know if that’s coming full-circle or just circling the drain.”

Learn everything there is to know about this amazing guy over on his website.