Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling and award-winning author of the biblical fiction series The Wives of King David, Wives of the Patriarchs, and Daughters of the Promised Land, as well as The Heart of a King, Star of Persia: Esther’s Story, Miriam’s Song, The Prince and the Prodigal, and Daughter of Eden. She is also the author of the nonfiction books When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams and She Walked Before Us.

In this interview, Jill talks with us about her latest book, The Ark and the Dove.

FF: Can you please provide a brief summary of your novel The Ark and the Dove?
Emzara and Noah live in a world that no longer respects or believes in the Creator. Except for a few of their remaining ancestors, they are alone in their beliefs. The world is a dark place because of the demonic infiltration of the Nephilim, which began in the days of Adam and Eve. When Noah hears from the Creator, who says He is going to destroy the world as they know it and tells Noah to build an ark to save himself and his family and the animals, Noah obeys without question. The challenge of building such an enormous ship takes years fraught with trials, loss, sabotage, and continuing animosity from friends and family. When the time comes to enter the ark, Zara and her family embark on an adventure that tests their faith and patience until that wonderful day when they step again onto dry ground. But the future is nothing like what they expected. Can their family survive in this newly cleansed world when their own hearts are far from free?

FF: What drew you to the story of Noah’s wife and convinced you to make Zara the subject of your next novel?
The story of Noah and the ark has been the subject of much speculation and interest for generations. Besides the many children’s stories and Hollywood films on the subject, people have searched for the lost ark for years. The ark intrigues us, but nothing is really known about the people who boarded it and lived on it with the animals for over a year. Noah’s wife and daughters-in-law are not even named in Scripture. So who were they? What was it like to live with a man who heard from God and did what He said, even if it meant building a huge ship in the middle of a field? I wanted to get to know Zara and her family and imagine what life was like before, during, and after that famous flood.

FF: Where did you turn to do research for this novel?
I visited the Ark Encounter in Kentucky the year I began this book. I bought books there that helped me to picture the ins and outs of life back then. I read the scriptural account many times and searched online and in my store of reference books for anything I could find to help me grasp what Noah’s family went through and what that might have been like.

FF: What fictional elements did you weave into this story? Can you explain the purpose behind one of them?
Every character contains fictional elements because the Bible doesn’t tell us much about any of them. I had to create personalities for each individual, and I chose to make one of the daughters-in-law—Keziah, Ham’s wife—more difficult to live with to add conflict to the story. This also helps us to imagine why Ham is the one who later laughs at his father’s drunken nakedness and why Noah ends up cursing Ham’s son. Giving Ham a difficult wife added to his own rebellious spirit.

FF: Throughout the book, Zara struggles with heartbreak. What allows her to push through?
She prays. She does try to fix things sometimes, but when fixing fails, she talks first to her mother and later to Noah. But most of the time she turns to the Creator because she recognizes that He is the only one with power to do anything regarding her circumstances.

FF: Often, retellings of Noah’s story end when they leave the ark. Why did you decide to continue the story beyond that point?
Noah lived for many years after the flood, and if we do the math with regard to his age and that of his sons, we realize that they lived until the Tower of Babel and the confusing of the languages. I wanted to show what happened generations later without going into too much detail, while imagining what Noah and Zara might have felt when they saw their family moving in different directions. After they had been so close aboard the ark, that couldn’t have been easy, and yet they knew this was what God wanted. When I look at someone who has lived a long life, I find it fascinating to see what they lived through.

FF: What do you hope readers will gain from reading The Ark and the Dove?
My hope is that readers will look at this story less as a mythical tale and more as a fictionalized account of history. That they will see God’s heart in creating humanity and how sin and evil caused Him great sorrow because sin broke our fellowship with Him. The flood came as judgment to show us how heinous sin is and to restore us to a relationship with the Creator. Of course, true restoration didn’t come until God sent the Redeemer. I hope my readers will seek to know our Redeemer, Jesus Messiah.

FF: Is it intimidating to retell and flesh out the stories of the Bible?
Yes. Most of the time it feels nearly impossible to find the bigger story within the vignette given in Scripture. Every time thus far, after much prayer and many drafts, God has shown me that there is a story worth telling.

FF: What are you working on next?
The story of Mary Magdalene.

The Ark and the Dove
The Story of Noah’s Wife
Jill Eileen Smith
Genres: Historical, Historical Romance, Biblical Fiction
Release Date: February 27, 2024

ISBN-10: ‎0800737652
ISBN-13: ‎978-0800737658

Book Summary:
Experience the story of the great flood as you never have before

Zara and Noah have walked together with the Creator for their entire lives. They have done their best in an increasingly wicked and defiant world to raise their three sons to follow in their footsteps. It has been a challenge—and it’s about to get much, much harder.

When the Creator tells her husband to build an ark to escape the coming wrath against the sins of humankind, Zara steps out with him in faith. But the derision and sabotage directed their way from both friends and extended family are difficult to bear, as is knowing that everyone she interacts with beyond her husband, her sons, and their wives is doomed to destruction.

When the ark is finally finished and the animals have been shut up inside, Zara and her family embark on an adventure that will test their patience and their faith as they await deliverance and dry ground.


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About The Author

Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling and award-winning author of the biblical fiction series The Wives of King David, Wives of the Patriarchs, and Daughters of the Promised Land, as well as The Heart of a King and Star of Persia: Esther's Story. She is also the author of the nonfiction book When Life Doesn't Match Your Dreams. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.