From the Author
In 1977 my interests expanded dramatically in a direction that lasts to this day. In one of those bizarre forks in the road that pop up every so often in your life, a simple decision was made that set me on a path I could never have foreseen. Now, this was not a burning bush, nor was it anything particularly dramatic, like rescuing a drowning boy at summer camp, or saving the family from a hungry bear while vacationing at Yosemite. Such heroics were not in my experience. No, this radical trajectory all started from simply watching a television show.
My late mother was a huge fan of PBS's Masterpiece Theatre. How many Sunday nights did I spend watching Alistair Cooke while sitting in the den with my parents? Too many to count or remember, all of them having been rolled up into one saccharine hazy warm memory. To this day I still think he was the coolest man ever to be on television. I still can see him in my mind's eye, every Sunday night on TV, sitting in his leather chair as he told us what was going to play on his show that week. In general, I remember being less than enthused by the actual show itself, than him specifically. After all, there weren't a large number of teenage boy fans of Upstairs/Downstairs back then; or now for that matter. But, I knew I liked Alistair Cooke. He seemed very cool; urbane, witty, intelligent; everything I always wanted to be when I grew up. Like I said at the beginning, I was a geeky kid.
Now, during those final hideous polyester-clad and faux wood paneled days of the late seventies; there were not a lot of entertainment options on television. You had the choice of Happy Days or The Six Million Dollar Man. That was about it. Fonzie had still not "jumped the shark" yet, but, he was on that bike and revving, so it was getting close. So, even though Masterpiece Theatre was not targeting my demo, I recognized it was good, even if I did not "get it". I switched from being a passive observer, to a rabid fan, however, the moment I saw that snake first crawl over the marble mosaic and the words, I Claudius flooded our TV screen. I was instantaneously hooked!
That show, probably more than anything else, set me on a lifelong love of all things Roman. I could never get enough, and I devoured every movie, documentary, and book on the subject I could find. Everything from reading Gore Vidal's Julian to watching the seemingly endless parade of Italian sword and sandal spectacles of the late 60's on TV. The foaming waters of the Tiber ran swiftly through my veins now.
Flash forward thirty years, give or take, and I am on my honeymoon in Rome with my lovely wife Mary. She always loves to tell the story about how on our first full day in Rome, we were standing on a platform overlooking the ruins of the Palatine Hill. The weather was perfect and we were the only people on the tour. She, like a normal person, was enjoying the sights and soaking it all in, but was ready to move on to the next thing. Those particular ruins are not that exciting, especially when compared to the beautiful Bernini wonders that saturate the rest of the city. When she turned towards me, and saw I had the stance of someone about to leap into the archeological dig, and literally wallow in the dust of history, she knew she had married a nut. Too late now, the ink on the marriage license is dry! I had come to Mecca, so to speak, and was loving every second of it.
It was on that trip, now thirteen years ago, that the seed for this book was first planted in my mind. Rome, the eternal city, is truly incredible, the layers of history all piling up on each other like a jenga puzzle. When I stood on that platform and gazed down into the ruins of the Imperial Palace, I could not help my mind from wondering. What fascinating history still lay undiscovered beneath the cobblestone streets of Rome? History runs deep there; the past laying heavily on the present, and always lurking just beneath the surface.
One of those possible undiscovered historical gems may very well be a report, from Pontius Pilate to the Emperor Tiberius, similar to the one I fictionalized in this book. It certainly seems quite possible to me. Now, I state upfront, and proudly, that this is unashamedly and boldly a book with a pro-Christian outlook. I am a believer in Christ and feel strongly that one should make their beliefs known to others. That is the great commission after all, isn't it? That said, this is not a dogmatic cudgel to be broken over someone's head. I think believers or non-believers could easily enjoy an exciting tale about the most dramatic event in history told from a different angle. I also thought it an interesting thought experiment as to what would actually happen if such a thing were discovered now. It is quite a question.
There are so many people to thank I barely have room. The first person that deserves my gratitude is my wife, Mary Creasy. She has been enormously supportive during the construction of this epic, and was a great first reader, proofer and editor. I could not have completed it without her. She also has been an amazingly good sport as I got sucked into my 1st century time warp. She certainly did not ask to have Pontius Pilate, Claudia, Arastarcas and the rest of the gang move into our house as guests, but, she has been most accommodating. Even when they may have overstayed their welcome.
I also want to thank my critique partners, William Charles and Ken Hubona; whose books, The Antichrist comes to Stoned County (William Charles) and Shades (Ken Hubona), I both critiqued and loved. I have no doubt both of their books will do well. My gratitude also extends to the Agile Writer Workshop and its founder Greg Smith. His book, and that group, helped me immensely in taming this beast into something an actual human being might want to read.
I do not have a bibliography for this book. It is fiction, but it is fiction based around real life events and with a core historical story that is true. I have had many literary, religious and historical influences on me, and this is far from exhaustive, but, I feel compelled to give a special shout out to a few:
C.S. Lewis - in general, everything he ever wrote, but specifically his masterpiece Mere Christianity
Gore Vidal - Julian, Burr and his other historical fiction, but not his essays. I like Gore Vidal, but he tends to go off the reservation sometimes when he wrote about politics.
Stephen King - everything he has ever written, ever! Truly, our best living author.
H.P. Lovecraft - who hasn't been swept away by Cthulhu's charms?
William Lane Craig - Reasonable Faith
Lee Strobel - The Case for Christ, The Case for a Creator
Peter Kreeft - The Handbook of Christian Apologetics
Mary Beard - SPQR and all of her fabulous appearances on BBC. She is fantastic!
Robert Graves - I, Claudius and Claudius the God and his wife Messalina, of course!
It is a highly eclectic listing and I thought it only fitting I mention them. I, of course, should include the Bible on this list as it was a primary source of research when writing about the last days of Christ under Pontius Pilate.
About the Author
He continues to reside in Richmond today, with his lovelywife Mary and their rambunctious puppy Truffle.He and his wife run The MemoryTree, a bereavement services company his late parents founded over twentyyears ago.
Apart from writing, Paulenjoys reading fiction as well as history and Christian apologetics. He also enjoys ballroom dancing with his wifeand traveling extensively.