Coming up on the fifteenth of October, I'll be releasing my debut novel, Heart of the Gladiator.
This is a story that I've had rolling around in my head for a long time before sitting down to write it this year. I'm in love with history, and have been for ages (ha), but over the past few years I developed a real affection for Roman history specifically. I blame Dan Carlin. I listened to his Fall of the Roman Republic series on his Hardcore History podcast and was immediately hooked. I had to find out about the Punic Wars, and when I found about those I had to learn all about the Emperors (which I knew very little about), and when I found out about that I started listening to The History of Rome podcast, and when I started listening to that I had to read even more...and you get the idea.
Gladiators are fascinating to me, as I think they are to anyone with a pulse. Men sentenced to fight each other in the arena until death! Crowds in the tens of thousands gathering around to watch the craziest, bloodiest sport that's ever existed.
But these fighting men were still men, and being men they must have had hopes and dreams outside of the arena. If soldiers can be poets, and athletes can be philanthropists and activists, then surely there were some gladiators who hoped for more. They may have hoped for a better life, or questioned their fates in the arena, or even fell in love.
So—that's what Affairs of the Arena explores. In Heart of the Gladiator, the protagonist is a retired, widowed gladiator named Caius who is forced to sell himself back into slavery as a gladiator (which happened more than you'd think!) so as to provide for his daughter's future. As he trains, he strikes up a romance with the medicae (think doctor) of the ludus (think gladiator school), Aeliana—a slave herself, sold to the ludus by her father to “build character.” She abhores violence and the gladiator games, but she can't help but be charmed by the dry wit and easy smile of Caius (and that rocking gladiator bod probably helps too!). But, Caius has built up quite a number of enemies in his years in the arena, and now that he's back in the mix, they all want a fresh piece of his life, and don't care at all if they ruin his newfound happiness with Aeliana. And Aeliana herself wants to open up a medical office of her own once she gains her freedom, but the more she sides with Caius, the more enemies of his she adopts, and the more jeopardy her dream is in.
It's a thrill-a-minute ride through one of the most brutal times in history, with a love story that will leave you breathless. Heart of the Gladiator will be released October 15th, 2015.