What a unique opportunity to be interviewing Dr. Mark Corescu, a 370 year old vampire, as we approach All Hallow’s Eve. I’m getting chills running up and down my spine. Dr. Corescu is the hero (anti-heor?) in two novels by Ellen C. Maze: THE JUDGING and DAMASCUS ROAD, both in the series The Corescu Chronicles. Normally this blog concentrates on murder mysteries, detective stories, and the like. However, I believe Dr. Corescu has left enough dead bodies (at least one a night for more than 300 years!) in his wake to warrant this interview.
Nike: Dr. Corescu, may I call you Mark? Am I correct that you started out in your long life as a village priest in Hungary (also known as Transylvania) in 1640? At that point, you were devoted to God, but one day you woke up and your village was on fire. What happened to your village and what happened to you that day?
Mark: Yes, Mrs. Chillemi, please call me Mark. You have heard correctly, regarding my distant past. Although I subconsciously suppressed my past for centuries, recently my origins as a priest have returned to my memory in full detail. On the night of which you speak, not only was the village on fire, but so was the chapel where I slept. Immediately, my mind raced to the only other resident of the house—an orphaned boy named Miki, of whom I was quite fond. I searched for him desperately, and only when I had nearly given up hope, did I see him slumped over a pew in the sanctuary.
In retrospect, I know that this priest’s God urged him to abandon the rescue—the boy was dead. But I was headstrong and certain that I could save the boy’s life. Or perhaps I desired death—to join Miki in the hereafter—who knows? In any event, my decision proved to be a dreadful error of judgment.
As I approached the boy, I saw Satan for the first time; a steaming, burning creature with red eyes and sharp fangs. The creature I later knew only as “The Other” came close as I collapsed from smoke inhalation. When I awoke some time later, The Other had transformed me into a vampire and the priest, Markus Corescu, was dead.
Nike: Four centuries later, you are basically masquerading as a medical doctor. Can you tell us about your main purpose in life at that time…the ritual you called “the judging?” Did you really believe you were serving a “higher purpose?”
Mark: Of course I was serving a higher purpose—I was doing the will of God. Why else would I have a burning desire to destroy evil mortals? I am drawn to them; from states away I sense their evil deeds and their darkest thoughts. With barely a thought, I slip into their lives— sometimes crossing hundreds of miles in an instant—and when the deed is done and they have had a chance to repent, my gut is filled with their blood, and I return to my own abode just as easily. Every night for nearly 400 years, a wicked miscreant of mankind died in my grasp. God gave me this ability, He ordained it. Could the devil have such power?
Nike: Then equestrian/artist Hope Brannen enters your life and things begin to change for you. How so?
Mark: Hope. [Mark sighs.] Obviously a magnificent trick of the Creator, crossing her path with mine. If I hadn’t met her, if I hadn’t fallen for her, you and I would not be sitting her having this interview.
You have no doubt heard the old adage, “love at first sight”? Try not to laugh, but when my eyes landed in hers that first time in my office, I knew God had sent her into my life. Mrs. Chillemi, it may be hard for you to understand or appreciate, but before that moment, I never desired a woman—not in the way a mortal man would, anyway. Yes, [Mark chuckles lightly] in more than 370 years, I felt no need for a female partner. Before I was transformed into this creature, I managed the lusts of the flesh as well as any man of the cloth, but afterwards, those parts of my body required for sexual endeavors ceased to function. So you see, it wasn’t that unusual for me to only see women as potential servants, or if they were evil, potential judging victims. But Hope Brannen…she appeared to my vampire vision as an angel, surrounded by a glow that called me as surely as a moth to a flame. As if God drew a line around her and said, “This is the one, Mark.”
But you asked me how she changed my life. My answer? In every way imaginable.
Although not religious herself, Hope’s incessant probing into my life and history eventually caused me to recall everything from my birth into the mortal world, to my entrance into the immortal one. Hope’s meddling with my servant Paul caused him to break away and commit a heinous murder without my consent. I, of course, cleaned up his mess, but by the time one emergency had been calmed, Hope had brought her preacher-friend, Tony Agricola into my world. Oh, how that man challenged me. Without a word, his mere presence caused me to doubt my purpose. Eventually, I sat down and heard him out. The rest, as they say, is history…
Nike: Now Mark, what did you think of Tony Agricola? He was the only truly good character in THE JUDGING. He reappears as the hero in DAMASCUS ROAD where he lures Paul Black, a new vampire with intense bloodlust, to you in Germany. Now that seems like a recipe for disaster. How did you handle the arrival of Tony, Hope, and the ravenous Paul Black when they burst into your life?
Mark: By this time, I have been resting, wilting—perhaps dying—in the house I purchased on a huge lot of land in the Black Forest for almost a year. I kept a mental tab on all of the players involved in my life, and so when Tony and Paul headed for my hiding place, I was aware of them. Unfortunately, I was also quite incapacitated by self-induced emaciation. After facing my demons, and still quite blood-thirsty, I decided I wouldn’t eat at all. Perhaps I wanted to punish my Creator, but everyone knows that does no good. God watched me suffer, He sent me words of encouragement, but He never delivered me or set me free. So by the time the two were close, I decided to allow Paul to rejuvenate me.
You ask what I think of Tony Agricola? I respect him; he knows his God, and he has conviction like I’ve never seen. Do I want him near me? Ask me another time. No one likes to be told they are sinning when they’re only doing what they were made to do!
Paul arrived to my side first—according to plan actually—and he restored me with his blood. When I could stand, he and I went on quite a rampage, feeding on Gypsies who poached the forest. Am I ashamed? Yes, but at the time, it was glorious. At least until Tony and Hope showed up, reality returned, and I resumed a more humble stance…
You know the rest. I am still working out the details, but unlike Tony, I will no longer starve myself. As long as I am in this cold, bloodthirsty tent, I will feed it well. God and Tony, both, will have to live with that.
Nike: Mark, you wouldn’t mind concocting a bit of mischief I’m sure. So, why don’t you tell tales on author Ellen C. Maze who created you? What’s the worst thing she did to you in these stories?
Mark: Ellen enjoys playing God with my life. She tempts me mercilessly. Note the time I sat alone on my couch, distraught over the emotions involved with falling in love with a woman, not hungry, minding my own business, and Ellen sends Paul in to offer up his blood. Am I supposed to turn that down? Am I able to turn away from the sweetest liqueur offered only to the gods? Why would I want to? Because Ellen placed Paul there, and wrote him to do what he did, the kid spends a great deal of The Judging sick in bed. When he recovers, his mind has become unhinged and he performs monstrous acts on the other characters. I blame Ellen for the entire affair.
And you haven’t seen what she does to me in Book Four, Anathema – sicking Hope Brannen on me, causing her to throw herself at me again and again, tempting me to take from her that which I refuse. Oh, God, I hope I can continue to resist. Hope doesn’t want to die from my bite, but it could very likely happen. Foolish woman…
Nike: Okay, Mark, let’s get seasonal. We’re coming up on All Hallow’s Eve. As a former priest, does that feast day have any meaning to you? Would it have meaning to you as a vampire? Of course, it’s become the popular holiday of Halloween today. If you were going to dress up for Halloween, what would your costume be?
Mark: All Hallow’s Eve had no draw for me in my mortal life, but over the centuries, I have attended the ceremonies when it suited my needs according to the judging. My existence is never fun or joyous, so actually participating in something the mortals find entertaining would not appeal to me. Still, you have been such a gracious hostess, I desire to humor you and answer your question.
If Hope and I were to attend a Halloween Ball here (for the local people of Germany have blended Halloween with Walpurgisnacht—night of the witches), I would dress as a Catholic Priest. The irony would be too much for me to resist.
An admitted vampire/paranormal fanatic, Ellen uses her experience in that subculture to bring the Light into the vampire genre. Addicting and delicious, Ellen’s brand of story-telling is rife with deep character study and honest emotion. Her first novel, Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider, earned her not only over 100 5-star reviews online, but the distinction of being a “Pioneer in the Genre of Edgy Christian Fiction,” weaving gothic horror elements into the biblically-based worldview. Rabbit has been Top-Ranked #1 by customers on Amazon in six different categories, and Ellen’s new series, The Corescu Chronicles, is hot on Rabbit’s trail.