"Compulsively readable." "Convincing characters." "Rapidly moving plot." "Non-stop, nail-biting read." "Fascinating characters." "Intricately plotted." "Relentless and riveting." "Intriguing." "Unforgettable." "Intelligent suspense thriller." "Flawless, erudite and un-put-downable." "The ultimate seductive read."

Wow. Advance praise like that can render a writer wordless.

My writing partner Jill Gregory and I are ecstatic over the initial reviews of our debut thriller, The Book of Names, which St. Martin's Press published in hardcover on January 9, 2007.

The past year was crazy with work--two books, a book proposal, a book discussion group guide, Italian language classes--and travel--which included a visit to St. Martin's Press this summer, followed by three weeks traveling throughout Italy with Italian family and friends, researching and celebrating my newly acquired dual US and Italian citizenship. Then we came home to find a flood had destroyed a third of our house, top to bottom, including my office. Talk about "wordlessness."

In December, Rowohlt in Germany published Das Buch der Namen, the German language version of The Book of Names, which instantly became a bestseller. Still to come are additional foreign editions--Australia, the UK, Russia, Poland, the Ukraine, Turkey, Spain, Croatia, Slovakia, France, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Israel, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Taiwan and Indonesia -18 countries to date.

The year ahead will be equally hectic with work and travel, hopefully taking me back to Italy. Book tours and signings and ThrillerFest will take Jill and me throughout Michigan, and to Illinois, New York, and Kentucky. In between, we'll also be hard at work finishing up our next hidden history thriller for St. Martin's, The Illumination.

The two of us can't wait to get back to it. We really love writing together!

Every editor with whom Jill and I have worked--and numerous readers and interviewers--have asked how we are able to write with one voice. Easy. We plot and research and write every single line together, the two of us seated side by side, just like a couple of burglars cracking a safe. Jill and I continually complete each other's sentences, often blurting out the identical--and unusual--character name or location at the same moment.

And we have so much fun. We spend a good part of the work day laughing, even when the work is hard. We're convinced there's something extraordinary about the way our brains are wired, one to the other.

There's no better job than writing with a best friend. We know. We also write alone.

Come in, stay awhile, explore the dynamite site designed by my friend and Renaissance man Jay Knoll. My books are all here. My news is here. Jay created a section just for Book Clubs complete with Discussion Forums and our Readers Discussion Guide for The Book of Names. Then come back often to see what's new, enter upcoming contests and to check on where we'll be near you reading and signing The Book of Names. We'd love to meet you.

I'll be the one who looks a lot like the caricature rendered by my son, Steven Katz.

Happy reading.

A presto!