WINTER by Keven Newsome ~ Gothic, If Not A Gothic Tale Exactly

As we approach All Hallows Eve, now called Halloween, I’d like to turn to Christian fiction that takes a bit of a darker approach. 

Winter Maessen didn’t ask for the gift of prophecy. She’s happy being a freak — but now everyone thinks she’s crazy. Or evil. Goths aren’t all the same, you know. Some are Christians — Christians to whom God sends visions. Students at her university are being attacked, and Winter knows there’s more than flesh and blood at work. Her gift means she’s the only one who can stop it – but at what price?
Winter heard footsteps. She looked to either side expecting someone else to come walking around the Ancient. But no one came and the footsteps continued. Cold chills came over her and she sat up straight. She had been here before…déjà vu. These footsteps meant something. This time Winter knew the danger was real.

Her time had come. All her premonitions and dreams of the past week had been leading to this moment. Now that it was happening, she had no doubt God had orchestrated everything. If only she could understand before it was too late. She stood. Adrenaline rushed through her body.

“What’s wrong…” she whispered to herself…Davis was about to say that.

“What’s wrong?” Davis asked as soon as the very same words had escaped Winter’s lips.

“Someone’s coming, I hear footsteps.” That’s what she was supposed to reply.

“I don’t hear anything,” he said, his voice betraying his confusion. He stood and watched her.

Winter looked toward the history building, where the footsteps seemed to come from. But she saw no one walking to the Ancient. She moved and searched all around the tree, but no one came from any direction. Yet she could still hear the footsteps.

“You’re freaking me…” she whispered.

“You’re freaking me out,” Davis said from right behind.

“Few things are as thrilling as finding a new writer whose talent for storytelling is obvious from page one. Well, meet Keven Newsome and prepare to be thrilled. If his chilling debut novel, WINTERdoesn’t leave you breathless and wanting more, you better make sure you have a pulse. Well developed characters, an intriguing, fast-paced plot, top-notch craftsmanship – WINTER (and Keven Newsome) delivers in spades.” Robert Liparulo, author of COMES A HORSEMAN, GERM, the DREAMHOUSE KINGS series 
“Newsome has delivered a taut thriller with a supernatural edge in WINTER. It starts as a slow burn and builds to a gripping climax and the last scene will leave you ready for more. The character of Winter is complex, compelling, and sympathetic and the dual storylines work to great dramatic effect. Well done.” Greg Mitchell, author of THE STRANGE MAN 
“In your hands you hold a treasure, superbly crafted and spirit driven. Keven Newsome has written a story that delivers on every level and is so powerful you’ll want to read it more than once. Hollywood needs this manuscript. Winter is that good.” Matt Koceich, author of THE SENDING

How Keven came up with the idea for this story.

WINTER developed as the emerging of several different story ideas.  I knew I wanted to write a story that told the fall and redemption of a character through two different time lines. I also knew I wanted to write a story with a lead character having the gift of prophecy. A third idea, writing a college story with a girl lead, led to the development of both the characters Winter and Summer. But it wasn’t until all three of these began to merge that WINTER was actually born.
Looking back, it’s easy to see how the three ideas were always meant to be one. But I can’t really pinpoint where those three ideas came from. It’s cliché to say that God gave me the story, but in essence it seems like that exactly what happened. On my own, I wouldn’t have had those three ideas. And on my own, I would have never thought to combine them as they were.
But even though God may have revealed the story to me, let me be clear that it took years of hard work and dedication to hone my craft and learn enough about writing in order to bring that story to life in a way that would make God proud. God instructs us to “study to show thyself approved.” Inspiration may be His, but He doesn’t call lazy people who expect him to do the work for them. If God’s given you a story to write — awesome. Now work your tail off so that you don’t embarrass Him.
What Keven hopes readers will get from the story:
WINTER tells the story of a life, broken and destroyed through the cruelty of this world. It’s the story of a person who is the most unlovable and unusable in the world, being taken and transformed into something extraordinary by God. The story is told in two timelines. In the secondary story, we follow Winter’s first year of high school. She has to deal with the slow death of her mother and learn to live with her estranged father. Through these circumstances, she slowly declines into the Goth subculture and experiments with witchcraft. But in the primary story, we follow her first year of college. Here we see that she has been changed by God. And though she’s been shaped by the tragedies of her past, God still loves her and still wants to use her.
And it’s exactly this past that makes her uniquely qualified to take on a Satanic priest.
I want everyone who reads this to be encouraged that no life is too broken to be used by God, and that God will continue to pursue you even in the lowest depths of your life. The reader should be inspired to not dwell on past mistakes or hurts, but to look forward to what God can do in spite of it all.
Author Bio:
Keven Newsome is a graduate student at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he is pursuing a Master of Arts in Theology specializing in Supernatural Theology. He writes stories that portray the supernatural and paranormal with a Biblical perspective. Winter is his first book. He currently lives in New Orleans, LA with his wife and their two children. 

Keven is also the founder and administrator of The New Authors’ Fellowship and produces music and video through Newsome Creative.

Readers can reach Keven at:

Interview with Dr. Mark Corescu, antihero of The Corescu Chronicles by Ellen C. Maze

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.
Purchase Links:
Author Bio:  
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.

Can Christians Do "Bump In The Night?"

As October progresses toward the infamous Halloween celebration at month’s end, I’m tossing around a few questions.

Can Halloween be redeemed?

What is the olde Christian observance of All Hallows Eve about?

Are Christian horror novels an oxymoron?

First, what about Halloween celebrations? My daughter’s eighth grade class at school is anticipating Halloween. Most will wear costumes, thought some feel they’re too old and will trick or treat with their friends in jeans and a sweat shirt. This is an evening that drifts into early night when they go around in groups without parental supervision and they’re all up for it, bigtime. Teachers usually don’t give homework on Halloween so kids can get out early and get their sugar fix. My husband and I don’t have any safety fears on Halloween. Our neighborhood is quite benign.

I’ve always been torn over Halloween. We adopted our daughter at the age of six out of a situation of abuse and neglect. Before coming to live with us she’d not gotten to do many things other children get to do and she begged us to be allowed to trick or treat. We caved. From ages six through 11 we accompanied her as she trotted around the neighborhood as an angel, a Chinese lady, a cat and other non ghoulish things. Age 12 was a biggie. All her friends were going around without their parents. We relented and allowed her to go out after school with her friends but she had to be in by supper. For supper she stayed in her costume and we all walked down to the local pizza parlor where some sort of pink supergirl, a monster bride, and a few Star Wars characters were munching on their slices. After eating, my husband and I stood out in front of the pizza parlor longer than we’d have liked to, allowing our daughter to feel as if she were hanging out with her friends after dark. This is the positive social side and family fun side of Halloween. I look to Joseph in the Old Testament who worked within the idolatrous culture of Pharaoh’s Egypt.

Although I’m a post modern, urban Christian, I’m also quite orthodox theologically. I raise my hands in worship, go bazonkers over hard driving Christian rock music, and adhere to the Apostle’s Creed. I’ve long been fascinated by the observance of All Hallow’s Eve in the church. All Hallows Eve (October 31st) is the night before Hallowmas (November 1st, now called All Saints Day). Protestant churches understood “saints” as it’s used in the Bible to mean all God’s faithful. As early as the 7th century the Anglican Church and Church of Scotland observed All Hallows as a solemn day to commemorate all unknown saints who had gone on to heaven, especially those who had been martyred, as does the Roman Catholic Church. In the Byzantine rite it is observed the first Sunday after Pentecost.

So, what about Christian horror novels? Not to mention Christian horror movies. Apparently there is quite an audience ready to gobble these up. Explicitly Christian horror stories featuring fear, dread, the grotesque, ghost and vampire stories, Gothic tales, dark fantasy, weird occurrences, chillers that go bump in the night are not a rare occurrence any more. There are Christian publishing houses that feature such stories (Marcher Lord Press, Treasureline Books, and others) by Christian authors for Christian readers with a Christian world view.