I have a feeling that with the Kindle printing of THE MASTER OF VERONA, along with its two sequels VOICE OF THE FALCONER and FORTUNE'S FOOL, along with my Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe spy novel HER MAJESTY'S WILL, the other book published on April 23rd might get short shrift. MoV has eager (and patient) fans, so the sequels will be talked about. HMW is a fun, lewd, silly, melodramatic, road/buddy comedy, and the cover alone will have people talking (hee hee!).

But since the Ides are coming, and I'm spending the next few days prepping my original play EVE OF IDES for its first public reading at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, my mind is very much on Rome. Which bring us to the fifth book being published by me next month. It's the first of the series I've been working on for the last three years, called COLOSSUS.

COLOSSUS covers a lot of ground – the writing of the Gospel of Mark, the Siege of Jotapata, Nero's death, the Year of the Four Emperors, the destruction of Jerusalem, Titus' Triumph, Masada, the building of the Colosseum, the rise of the Christian sect in Rome, the martyrdom of Saint Clemens, and finally the writing of the Gospel of Matthew (no no, nothing ambitious here. Move along). It is also the only of my novels that has absolutely nothing at all to do with Shakespeare. No really. Nothing.

I wrote the COLOSSUS series entirely backwards – which means I've got most of it written already. I'll talk more later about the inspirations, but I began knowing the ending, then worked my way from the end to the beginning. My original prologue was the fall of Jerusalem, and the first chapter was the Triumph as captive Jews were marched through Rome. My agent read it and said, "Great. Now write the beginning." So I went backwards another ten years, exploring the war between the Judeans and the Romans. It was originally all one big book. At many people's behest (and my wife's disgust) I've chopped it into component parts, so that each of the events above has its due.

The first novel is COLOSSUS: STONE & STEEL. It begins with Saint Peter leaving Judea for the last time, on his way to Rome. It then shifts quickly to the Battle of Beth Horon, and Nero's response, leading to the siege of Jotapata. Our main character is Judah ben Mattais, a stonemason who discovers his hands are good for pummeling Romans as well as bricks and clay. We also follow: Josephus, later an historian but now a priest/general in charge of Jotapata's defence; Deborah, Judah's forbidden love; Titus, son of Vespasian, the Roman general in charge of subduing the Hebrew rebellion; Queen Berenice, Titus' lover and sister to the King of Judea; and Judah's twin brother Asher, as thoughtful as Judah is rash.

Since this is the novel that needs the most teasing, I'll be talking about it quite a bit over the next month. But for the moment, enjoy a mock-up of the cover, done by my friend, the amazing Rob McLean.

COLOSSUS: STONE & STEEL arrives on Amazon Kindle on April 23rd!