“Wow,” you’re probably saying. “This account of Adam and Eve is a lot different from what I heard in Sunday school growing up. What’s fact? What’s fiction? And are you allowed to take license like this?”
Here are a some of my answers to a few difficult questions. Updated 2.14.11.
Why are there two different accounts of Creation, back to back, in the Old Testament and the Torah?
It has long been thought that the Torah—or the first five books of the Old Testament, otherwise known as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—was written by a handful of authors. Biblical scholars base this hypothesis on the divine names used, the diction and style, the comparison of accounts, the political agenda, and the personality of the writers. If you’re curious about this notion, take a look at the first two chapters of Genesis. You’ll find two separate creation accounts. The first is a lush, almost poetic rendering, in which man and woman are created together at the same time. The second is a rather dry accounting of how things occurred, and how Eve was created from Adam’s rib—you’ll hear more about the difficulties of this word rib later. Harold Bloom, a literary critic who’s not immune to controversy, proposed the radical idea, in his Book of J, that one of the writers may have been female. We can only speculate, of course.
One more item of interest: in the case of the Creation story and the Flood story, there are older accounts than the Biblical accounts. It is thought that the Hebrew scribes culled the story from the older versions and changed them in two major ways: (1) They wrote about one God, not many, and (2) They told the stories as moral tales. If you’re interested in exploring this further, read Karel van der Toorn’s Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible.
I thought Adam and Eve were the very first people in the world. Why did you include other people in the story?
This was a huge decision for me: Where in history do I place Adam and Eve? Again, readers of the Genesis account will insist, “Well, at the very beginning of time, of course!” but what makes this so difficult is that scientists and archaeologists disagree on when the beginning of humankind actually was, anywhere from fifteen thousand years ago to a hundreds of thousands of years ago. Biblical researchers have placed Adam and Eve’s creation at about 4000 B.C. (based on generational studies listed in the Bible and Torah), but other researchers and archaeologists date the Sumerians even earlier, based on archaeological excavations by J. E. Taylor, R. Campbell Thompson, Dr. H. R. Hall, and Sir Leonard Woolley, among myriads of other archaeologists. And there I defer to others because I’m not an archaeologist.
You might find it fascinating to note that when Cain kills Abel, he is fearful of retaliation by other people. Look at Genesis 4: 13-14 (quoting the NIV translation): Cain says, “…I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” I am assuming Cain was the oldest child of Adam and Eve, so to what other people was he referring? Is it possible that there were other people inhabiting the earth at the same time as Adam and Eve and their family?
One other curious thing, along the same lines, which I have found no satisfactory answer for, in all of the books I have read, is: Who are the Nephilim in Genesis 6:1-5? I quote from the NIV Bible: “When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal, his days will be a hundred and twenty years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”
This is important because, although the Nephilim are a quick mention, it somehow affected how evil men became and what they learned. Certainly, there are people with theories, of which the Book of Enoch—a book not included in the Torah or the Old Testament—is one. Readers may want to look at Forbidden Mysteries of Enoch: Fallen Angels and the Origins of Evil by Elizabeth Clare Prophet for further enlightenment.
So, all said and done, it is with this information in mind, I let my imagination work. Suppose Adam and Eve were influenced by other people? Another culture? Whether or not these people were Nephilim—whoever they might be—or Sumerian-like people was not for me to answer. Having a city nearby gave me my much-needed conflict for an interesting story.
Creation of Adam & Eve
Do you think Adam and Eve are real people?
Did Adam and Eve exist? Or were they part of a larger Creation myth, whose traces are found even in Sumerian and Babylonian literature? Faithful readers of the Genesis account will insist Adam and Eve were real people. I, myself, am not so sure. They may have been characters placed in a moral tale. Or perhaps they were the first Hebrew people. As a sidenote to those of you who love history and would like to delve into this further, search out the Creation story in Sumerian and Babylonian literature. They even have a Flood story, which is remarkably similar to the Genesis account. Stephen Bertman’s Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia has a nice summary of both.
Do you really believe that Adam and Eve were created the way you’ve portrayed it?
I have stuck to the Genesis accounting, in which Adam and Eve were made by God in a sudden and abrupt way. For the evolutionists—theistic or not—this will be disappointing because they want to know, Couldn’t God have chosen to breathe spirit or breath into an ape-like creature, at a certain point in time? Yes, He could have. I have no problem with that. I do not want to limit God, for I believe He is capable of anything, so that was not my intention. I simply chose to stay close to the poetic Genesis story.
Was Eve really created after Adam? Couldn’t they have been created at the same time?
Are you really asking: is Adam superior and Eve inferior, or are they equal? There are two very different accounts in Genesis, one in which Adam and Eve are referred to as a unit—some scholars say an androgynous being—and the other in which Eve is created from Adam’s side. Why? I don’t know. I am grateful to Phyllis Trible’s article, “Eve and Adam: Genesis 2-3 Reread.” In it, she obliterates any need for us to think of men and women as being either above or under the other. And again, in her engaging God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (p. 128), she encourages us to view Eve’s “curse” as a consequence, not as a punishment: “Hence, the woman is corrupted in becoming a slave, and the man is corrupted in becoming a master. His supremacy is neither a divine right nor a male prerogative. Her subordination is neither a divine decree nor the female destiny. Both their positions result from shared disobedience. God describes this consequence but does not prescribe it as punishment.”
Believe it or not, there is a plethora of opinion just on the word rib. There seems to be some difficulty in the translation of that pesky Hebrew word. No one knows exactly what it is.
The Garden of Eden
Do you really know the location of the Garden of Eden?
Certainly not. There are a lot of conjectures on this point and not a lot of answers. I took the opinion of William Willcocks, in his article, “The Garden of Eden and Its Restoration”, as published in The Geographical Journal, Vol. 40, No. 2 (August 1912). He places the Garden of Eden “on the upper Euphrates between Anah and Hit. Here must have been the first civilized settlement of the Semites, the ancestors of the children of Israel, as they moved down from the north-west.” In the Biblical account, Eden is located at the source of a river whose four headwaters include the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers.
It didn’t rain in the Garden. So why do you have Adam and Eve experiencing a rainstorm in the Garden?
You know, it’s funny. I was taught that, too, as a child. Except that I cannot, for the life of me, find a verse reference for this assumption. Other than Noah’s adventure on the ark, and the simple statement in Genesis 7:11 that the fountains of the deep were opened, and the floodgates of the sky were opened, I cannot find one. Will you please let me know if you do find one? Since I’m a biologist at heart, I would think that if God made this world and said it was good, I would like to think that all the laws of nature would apply–green growing things need water, after all–that sort of thing.
I am aware of the Creationists’ view of a canopy over the earth, lending a greenhouse effect to the world back-in-the-day (see the verses they use to support this: Genesis 1:7 & 20, Psalms 136:6), but this is a hypothesis similar to the ones everyone else has to make because…no one was there to see it happen. Oh, except God.
I thought the Garden of Eden was a perfect place. Why have you made it messy?
Was the Garden a perfect paradise with no sickness, disease, or pain—as I was taught as a child—or was it a world like ours today, and it is only our minds that have changed? For this, I used the thought-provoking book Mosquitoes in Paradise: A New Look at Genesis, Jesus and the Meaning of Life by John R. Aurelio, in which he suggests that it is our minds and our visions that have been altered. Read Elohim’s wording carefully. Elohim commands Adam and Eve to work the Garden: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” To many people, this would not signify a perfect place. After all, who wants to work? Now, pay close attention to Elohim’s language when he curses Adam and Eve, after they’ve eaten of the forbidden fruit. To Adam, Elohim says, “…By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground….” Did Adam’s work in the Garden not cause him to sweat? Or was it simply easier in the Garden? Elohim says to Eve (italics mine), “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children….” In my mind, this means that she had already experienced pain in the Garden. As my reader will note, all I could do was wonder.
Eve & Adam Eat of the Fruit
What was meant by the serpent? And what was all that about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Puh-leese.
As to what was meant by the serpent, and what was meant by Elohim’s forbidding of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, I used three sources: Gerald J. Blidstein’s In the Rabbi’s Garden: Adam and Eve in the Midrash, Rabbi David Fohrman’s The Beast That Crouches at the Door: Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, and Beyond, and Elaine Pagels’ Adam, Eve, and the Serpent.
So, who was this creature? The translation of the Hebrew word is pesky; it’s become serpent because no one knows what the Hebrew word really stands for. Was it really a snake that could talk? One of the angels? Maybe Satan? Again, it’s not simple.
Reams of books have been written on Satan. As I child, I was taught that the serpent was Satan, but nowhere in the Old Testament or Torah is Satan with a big “S” mentioned (certainly this has been changed in the Job story?). That’s something we’ve gained from John Milton’s 17th century Paradise Lost, believe it or not.
Elaine Pagels’ book, The Origin of Satan, is a great one to start with concerning this matter, if you’d like a explore further. Here is a teaser: “In the Hebrew Bible, as in mainstream Judaism to this day, Satan never appears as Western Christendom has come to know him, as the leader of an “evil empire,” an army of hostile spirits who make war on God and humankind alike. As he first appears in the Hebrew Bible, Satan is not necessarily evil, much less opposed to God….In biblical sources the Hebrew term the satan described an adversarial role. It is not the name of a particular character….The satan’s presence in a story could help account for unexpected obstacles or reversals of fortune. Hebrew storytellers often attribute misfortunes to human sin.”
As for the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If you’ve read carefully, you may have noticed that Eve changes Elohim’s commandment by adding the fact they may not touch the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (from Elohim’s original command). This flummoxed me. Why would she have done this? It is a point that is much debated in the literature on Adam and Eve.
For hashing out the why of Adam and Eve’s expulsion, for such a seemingly minor offense, I relied heavily on Rabbi David Fohrman’s The Beast That Crouches at the Door: Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, and Beyond. Fohrman’s book is warm and conversational. It takes an unflinching look at what are some of the most confusing passages of this famous story.
Why did you change the fruit that Eve ate of? I thought it was an apple.
Well, no. It has become an apple in illustrations and paintings by artists who needed to paint something, so they made it an apple. No one knows what the fruit looked like, although, again, there is much speculation.
Was Eve simply stupid for eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?
Eve is fascinated with the fruit-she-cannot-eat. She deems it beautiful and desirable and having all the signs of being delicious. This is important because we see that she is capable of making a good decision. She wants wisdom, certainly. It is interesting that in the Biblical account, she asks questions when given the chance, and considers what to do. Adam, on the other hand, simply takes it from his wife’s hand and eats it (Genesis 3:6).
Is God’s indictment of Adam and Eve a curse, as you see it, or a consequence?
No one can say for sure. I think Adam and Eve are hearing the consequences of their transgression. I think it’s interesting that God includes the job title “working with their hands” before they eat of the fruit, so the fact that Adam will have to work harder is a consequence. And in Eve’s case, her consequence parallels Cain’s. In essence, God is saying to Eve (italics mine), “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you (because of that).” How many women do you know who are running around for their husbands? They change their schedules to accommodate their husband’s; they are glorified secretaries. How long have all women been suppressed? Might this be a consequence? God tells Cain, basically, that if Cain’s desire is for sin, sin will overtake him. How many people do you know who are stuck in a vicious cycle? They’ve given in and can’t get out.
Elohim & Eve & Adam
Is Elohim male? If not, why do you insist on using male pronouns?
I have no evidence Elohim has any gender. I used male pronouns, only because that is how most of my readers will have heard of Him, and because there are no gender-neutral pronouns that sounded right. I would have liked to have used female pronouns, but I think I would have lost half my readership. So until I know what Elohim should be called, I resort to male pronouns, following strict grammatical rules. If you read Eve, though, you’ll notice that Eve asks Him what He is, and He answers that He can be anything.
Had Adam and Eve really spent time with Elohim, they would have believed in Him, right?
There’s a short verse included in the Bible and the Torah, right after Eve has Seth, one that I had never noticed before and gets very little mention, at least in all the sermons I’ve heard. Look at Genesis 4:26 (italics are mine): “Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord.” What? Didn’t Adam and Eve worship Elohim? Didn’t they teach their children about Him? Or did they not know how? Better yet: did they struggle with their expulsion and their loyalty to Elohim? I went with the latter.
How do you know what Elohim was like? Or what He looked like?
I don’t. Absolutely not. I think this was one of the hardest parts about writing this story–how to portray Elohim—how He spoke, what He looked like. I ran the risk of making Him appear like Bob Newhart, and that, I didn’t want, as you can imagine—my sincerest apologies to Bob Newhart. Eve is at a loss for words, as I was, too.
Did Adam and Eve have sex in the Garden, or later, when they were thrown out?
Did Adam and Eve have sex in the Garden, or was the Garden too sacred for such a thing? For this, I turned to The Genesis of Perfection: Adam and Eve in Jewish and Christian Imagination by Gary A. Anderson and The Life Story of Adam and Havah: A New Targum of Genesis 1:26-5:5 by Shira Halevi. Anderson’s book also discusses the varying opinions—touted by some Rabbis, and only partly used by me—regarding the “garments of skin” Adam and Eve were given by Elohim to cover their nakedness. For those who believe that no animals were slaughtered until after the flood (Genesis 9:1-7), this presents a problem, so they have come up with an alternative meaning. What if Adam and Eve had a garment of light about them in the garden, and upon their expulsion, Elohim clothed them in garments of skin—their own human, mortal skin?
Character portrayals of Eve & Adam & their children
Ooh, yuck. You have the whole incest thing going between Naava and Cain. Why is that?
If you believe that Adam and Eve were the first people on earth, then who else are their children going to have sex with? Certainly not Eve and Adam. True?
If you don’t believe that Adam and Eve were the first people on earth, then you have to remember that the novel is a work of fiction, and if Adam and Eve’s family did not yet know about other people, they would be interested in each other.
Who was your role model for Eve? And do you feel you portrayed her too modernly?
I have every woman I’ve ever met to thank for Eve. Indeed, she’s a compilation of the life stories and common themes I’ve heard over and over again–from friends, from relatives, from strangers.
I consulted numerous books on how Eve is seen in various cultures and how she has been portrayed in history and literature, for I wanted an Eve who seemed achingly real. Someone whom I could identify with. Someone whom I was rooting for. I relied on Mishael M. Caspi’s Eve in Three Traditions and Literatures: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (in collaboration with Mohammad Jiyad) and Pamela Norris’s Eve: A Biography and Carol Meyers’ Discovering Eve: Ancient Israelite Women in Context. But mostly, it’s as I stated above. Eve comes from my heart and from the experiences of my women friends. After all, if she is human, then she has felt everything we feel. Emotions are the same in any century.
How did you come up with your characters? Eve’s daughters are not mentioned in the Bible or in the Torah.
Right you are! As you already know, the skeleton of the Adam and Eve story is there in Genesis. I have had to bulk it up with muscle and fat. Fictional muscle and fat. Eve’s daughters have emerged from my mind, as has the reason why Elohim rejected Cain’s offering. [To answer the question of why Adam and Eve had to have girls, see the answer to the incest question that begins this section of questions.] I have had to concoct a solution to the puzzle of why Elohim would reward one child and not the other, when they both were being dutiful in their offerings—externally, anyway. Doesn’t every parent know they cannot favor one child over the other?! I used Rabbi David Fohrman’s The Beast That Crouches at the Door: Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, and Beyond to sort out, in my mind, why Cain would kill Abel and what would lead him to do such a thing.
Isn’t Dara too young to watch other children? At the beginning of the novel she speaks in a younger voice than at the end. Why is that?
I think in today’s world, certainly, Dara might have been considered too young, but there are numerous accounts of children much younger than Dara taking on huge adult-like responsibilities. Child labor, anyone?
She grows up over the summer. She still has some questions–don’t we all?–but she’s learned some things being in the city, and this affects her demeanor and voice.
I like Dara’s sweet response to Aya’s insistence that Dara learn to talk to Elohim. Where did you come up with that idea?
For “Maybe Elohim is wild, like the hedgehog,” Dara says. “You can’t count on Him,” I have Philip Yancey to thank. In his book, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?, he tells of a fox den behind his house and how, when he has visitors, he takes them to the fox den, hoping for an appearance of their litter of kits. Yancey warns his guests in advance, “They are wild animals, you know….We’re not in charge. It’s up to them whether they make an appearance or not.” After a particularly exciting viewing, one of Yancey’s guests who had been going through a difficult time, wrote him a letter saying, “He is wild, you know….We’re not in charge.” My sentiments, exactly.
Why have you placed Adam and Eve in the lower regions of Mesopotamia?
Scientists seem to agree that the Fertile Crescent was where civilization rose up, where wheat was planted for the first time, and where cities were established. I know the Genesis account has Cain building a city and naming it after his son Enoch. So, Mesopotamia is where I placed my Adam and Eve characters, after their “fall” in the Garden. Indeed, if you look closely at Genesis 4:17-22, within several generations of Adam and Eve’s family, there were skilled artisans working in musical instruments and bronze and iron, something that in history books takes eons of years to accomplish. History students will balk at how I’ve combined the Ubaid (4000-3500 BCE) and Uruk ( 3500-3000 BCE) and Jemdet Nasr (3000-2900 BCE) periods of civilization, based on developments in architecture, writing, seals, metalworking, and pottery. For this, I apologize, but since so much is undecided about when and where things came from, I took a smidgen of literary license. What we do know, so far, is that originally there was no precious stone or timber or metal in the lower Mesopotamian regions. These things had to be imported from the north, either by land or by keleks or boats sailing down the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers.
How did you decide on Sumerian culture for the city people?
I came upon the Sumerian’s fascinating culture—at the Ancient Near Eastern Art Exhibit in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and in Susan Pollock’s Ancient Mesopotamia and Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat’s Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia and Jean Bottéro’s Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia (translated by Antonia Nevill) and Leonard Cottrell’s The Quest for Sumer and Denise Schmandt-Besserat’s edited lectures in a volume called The Legacy of Sumer. Absolutely delightful was Samuel Noah Kramer’s History Begins at Sumer. Readers might be interested in the Sumerian CD collection from California Museum of Ancient Art—talks given by Dr. Samuel Noah Kramer, Dr. Wolfgang Heimpel, and Dr. William Fulco—on everything from astronomy to Inanna to shepherds. Although I do not call my city people Sumerians, they carry numerous similarities. Based on the references in Genesis 4 to metal making and the playing of the lyre and the pipe–also the generational lists in Genesis–I felt that it seemed right to put Adam and Eve in Mesopotamia about the same time as the Sumerians.
Didn’t everyone speak the same language until the Tower of Babel?
Here, I quote from Carol Hill’s article “A Time and a Place for Noah” (PSCF 53.1 (March 2001): 24-40.) “The possibility that before ca. 2500 B.C. all of Mesopotamia spoke one language (Sumerian) may have been the foundation for the statement found in Gen. 11:1: And the whole earth was of one language and one speech. After about 2500 B.C. (or about the time of Peleg and the tower of Babel), other languages such as Old Akkadian and Old Babylonian (Semitic languages), “overtook” the ancient Sumerian, and by 2000 B.C., it had become dead as a spoken language. The oldest historical indications of the Semitic language in Mesopotamia are the names of the scribes found in the archives of Fara (Shuruppak) and Tell Abu Salabikh, dated to ca. 2600-2500 B.C.” I, of course, have Adam and Eve speaking differently from my Sumerian-like people, because in my novel, they hail from the mountainous area above the plains.
How could you possibly know the cuisine of ancient peoples?
Amazingly enough, the crops and cuisine of the Mesopotamian region today—present-day Iraq—are similar to what they were back in ancient times. I consulted two fine books—one scientific, the other contemporary—on Mesopotamian eating habits. The first was Jean Bottéro’s The Oldest Cuisine in the World: Cooking in Mesopotamia (translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan) and the second was Nawal Nasrallah’s Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and a History of the Iraqi Cuisine.
Explain this whole cuneiform writing thingamajig.
Cuneiform writing was introduced by the Sumerians. It began as simple symbols for objects, etched into wet clay with a reed stylus. Later, the symbols were transformed into more elaborate drawings that could substitute for a situation or a phrase. Often, these drawings can only be translated in context. Priest-scribes were the ones who usually taught cuneiform in the schools, but overall, cuneiform writing was used for business transactions and archival records and storytelling. Dara learns the most primitive of this cuneiform, when one might be able to guess, immediately, what the picture stands for. Later cuneiform has to be compared to other texts of the same time period to guess at what the scribe is saying.
Did the Sumerians really know all that stuff about the stars and moon and years and days?
Tentative in my usage of the elements of time, day and year, I was astonished to discover that the Sumerians had already figured out the patterns of the months and seasons. In following the moon’s phases, they were continually short about eleven and three-quarters of a day, so they adjusted their “lunar year calendar” to account for lost time. I refer to the day and night cycle being like our own, but to the Mesopotamians, the day cycle began at sunset. A day lasted from sunset to sunset.
How could you possibly know how people talked back then?
I don’t. I just took a stab in the dark. I fell back on the fact that even historians have difficulty deciphering Sumerian cuneiform texts. I did not want the language to be jolting or archaic in any way. I did not want my reader to stumble upon the prose and grow frustrated with it. As you know, the English language is replete with words that are derived from other languages, so I became frustrated with which words I could use, which words I should avoid. In the end, the only thing I avoided was to use terms they might not understand at the time. What this means is that Eve could not have talked about a “steel gray sky” because steel did not yet exist. She does use the word plagued because, although we relate that particular word to bubonic plague, there certainly were other plagues at the time—animal plagues, such as locusts, or biological plagues, such as sickness and disease. When Eve is in the Garden, she refers to Lucifer’s many colors in terms of precious stones, which she could not have known at the time, but remember, she is looking back on her life, after she has grown familiar with the precious stones introduced by the city people.
Eve’s voice comes from a culmination of sources—Job, certainly, wailing against Elohim’s injustice to him and his family; Song of Songs, yes, those wonderfully metaphoric ways of describing the marriage bed; and the Psalms, in which David begs for Elohim’s attention and mourns that his body is wasting away with grief.
What are these Sumerian words–pukku and mikki and gidim?
When Balili the priest tells Dara and the children about Inanna and the huluppu-tree, he says that Inanna made a pukku and a mikki for Gilgamesh who had saved her. Opinions range widely on what those objects were. Some conjectures: a drum and drumstick, a hockey stick and puck, or a ball and stick.
Again, when Dara uses a word she doesn’t know—gidim—she likes the effect it has on Shala, her naughty little charge. What she doesn’t know is that the gidim were the Sumerians’ unburied and wandering dead.
Sumerian gods & religion
Was it necessary to bring in all the other pagan gods? And where did you get Inanna?
Well, yes, it is necessary, frankly. It’s part of history, and it makes for great discussions about why they believed what they did–how they came to that understanding. Nietzsche insinuated that people need a god to whom they can give sacrifices, to whom they can be thankful–so they create one. If we are to discuss this notion, we must look at it from all sides.
It was in the researching of Sumeria that I discovered the sensual Inanna. Cities in Sumeria were often dedicated to one god over all others—and indeed this was the case in the ancient city of Erech over which she had divine rulership—thus I made Inanna my city’s primary goddess. Texts differ on what, exactly, she is the goddess of, but according to the wonderfully translated Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer, Inanna is the Goddess of Love and Procreation, worshipped in a “Sacred Marriage” rite at the New Year’s Festival in the fall. The reigning monarch “marries” Inanna, and this act ensures the fertility of the soil and the fecundity of the womb. Naava is Inanna’s substitute, in this case. Neither Naava nor her family—except Cain—understand the significance of this rite. Hence the chaotic aftermath. In later years, the poets continued composing songs for this female goddess, but they sang them to Ishtar, Inanna’s Semitic name.
What exactly was a ziggurat and what was it used for?
One of the outstanding features of a Sumerian city is its ziggurat—the tall, stepped, pyramid-like structure with a temple at the top. No one knows why the Sumerians built them. We might surmise they wanted to reach the heavens, where their gods existed. I discovered the first city of Sumeria, Eridu, had a small one. In Eridu’s earliest phases—dating back to approximately 5500 B.C.—its ziggurat measured about twelve by fifteen feet. It was made of mud brick and had a niche made for a god’s statue and a single altar upon which sacrifices were laid. What a quandary Adam and Eve would be in if confronted with such idolatry! What would they have made of it?
In the Prologue, you have Eve talking to Naava. Why is the story told in the voices of two other daughters who are not present?
Good question. That’s why I added in the clay shards in the Prologue, so that in a certain fashion the clay shards are bringing back the memories of the other sisters–Aya and Dara–who are not present. It was a literary ploy, to be honest.
Why are Eve, Aya, and Dara written in first person, but Naava is in third?
They were all first person to begin with. Then I needed more elbow room when writing Naava. I needed to put information in her chapters that she couldn’t possibly know. So, I changed her to third person, after being reassured by my agent that other authors had done this with success. I’m thinking of Amanda Eyre Ward’s Sleep Toward Heaven. So, there you have it. Three in first and one in third.
How long did it take you to write Eve?
I began research in April of 2006. I started the novel in September of the same year. I sold Eve, based on 80 pages around November 1st, and I finished my first draft in February of 2007.