One spring day in the spring of 2006, I received a short e-mail from my agent Dan Lazar. A simple question: "What about Eve?"
Well, of course, my first thought was that Eve must have been done already. I mean, come on, we're centuries removed from her, and with historical fiction being as big as it is, I would have thought someone would have already told her story. But after a quick search, I realized that only three books of note existed—two were comedies and the last was told mainly in Cain, Abel, and Adam's voices. And that, I decided, had to change. Something had to be done.
Throughout the rest of that spring and summer, I read every book I could about Eve, then realized what a hole I might be digging for myself. People, like myself, already know the story, and they don't want it tampered with. The fruit is an apple. The serpent is Satan. The fig leaves are fig leaves. Eve was made from Adam's rib. The problem: none of those things are translatable, meaning Hebrew scholars don't know what to make of those words. They've simply made an educated guess.
To make things more complicated, I had read the various ancient Creation myths and had become convinced that the Hebrew account was culled from those accounts. This would make sense, because Adam means "earth." It's a general catchall name for the first living man. The scribes (there were two, according to scholars) changed the account in two ways. They changed the many-gods reference to one-god. And they made the story moral, so it taught a lesson.
Then the clincher: I learned that archaeologists were in agreement that humankind existed, year-wise, much earlier than Eve. [We know, approximately, where to place Adam in history, because of the generational lists in Genesis…it's somewhere around 4000 B.C.] Evidence for humans comes from as far back as 10,000 to 25,000 years ago. Oh, my. Now I would be claiming that Eve and Adam might not be the first human beings. So, for the novel, I added a group of people who settle down and build a city next to Adam and Eve. Blasphemy! Sacrilege!
What it ultimately came down to is that I desperately wanted to tell the story of a woman who experienced the same range of emotions that we, as women, go through today. Why would Eve be any different? I wanted her daughters (none of whom are mentioned in the Biblical or Torah accounts) to have a voice, too. What would they have been like—a teenaged girl, a crippled girl, and a wee one? I wanted a truthful, earthy-gritty telling of women going through life cycles, women in relationships to each other and their men. I wanted to tell of Eve, a woman who didn't understand why she was thrown out of a beautiful Garden and why this would cause friction between her and the love of her life. How could she have assimilated all those feelings?
Just as we do. I'm sure of it. One day at a time, with the same lows and highs. And that made me love her and her daughters even more.
Please visit Elissa Elliot's website to learn more about her.