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, and The Prince and the Prodigal. She is also the author of the nonfiction books When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams and She Walked Before Us. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.
In this interview, Jill shares some of her thoughts regarding her latest novel, Daughter of Eden.
FF: Please provide a brief summary of your new book, Daughter of Eden.
The first time her eyes open, Eve gazes on one whose beauty nearly blinds her, the one who has given her breath in her lungs. The Creator takes her hand and gives her to one who is like her and yet very different. A burst of joy fills her entire being. The man’s fingers intertwine with hers, and together they run and laugh, celebrate creation, and explore Eden. But her favorite moments are when the Creator comes to walk with them in the cool of the day. Day after day for as long as she can remember, all is perfect…until everything changes when she disobeys Him.
Suddenly, the world is no longer a friendly place of trust. She faces the dark, the unknown future, births, deaths, sacrifices, and the loss of so much, including the loss of trust, not only in the Creator but in the man who shares her life—the only other human in the world. How will they ever survive out of Eden?
FF: Daughter of Eden is your fifteen Biblical novel. Why did you decide to write about the life of Eve?
Eve has always fascinated me. I’ve pondered why she gave in to temptation when she was created without sin. She had no inner sin nature to wrestle with. So was it outside influence alone (from the serpent) or the knowledge that she and Adam had been given a choice that led to her downfall? I wanted to explore Eden, which also fascinates me, and what life was like after sin entered the world. Most of all, who was Eve? Writing her story allowed me to pursue the answer to that question, at least to my satisfaction.
FF: Breaking God’s trust is one of Eve’s biggest regrets. How did this one act of disobedience forever change the world that she was living in?
The obvious answer, of course, is that Adam and Eve were barred from ever entering the Garden of Eden again. Life outside of the garden held the curse on the earth (thorns and thistles) and the pain Eve (and all women) would suffer in childbirth. Animals were no longer friendly, and some became dangerous carnivores when in the past they had all been plant eaters. Adam and Eve no longer had God’s presence with them on a daily basis and had to figure out how to survive in a world that was no longer friendly. Their one act of disobedience changed human nature forever. We are still feeling the effects of sin today.
FF: There are so many valuable lessons that we can learn from Eve. Can you please expound upon some of them?
I think Eve learned the hard way, as we all do, that disobedience to God has consequences. When God says “Do this” or “Don’t do that,” He means it. And if He says there will be consequences for certain choices, we can be certain He means that too and will carry them out.
If we want to live at peace with God, we need to bring Him our regrets. We need to be honest with Him about our struggles and confess our sins. He is merciful and loves us, but when we hide from Him, He can’t help us. He waits for us to seek Him and calls us to do just that.
We are responsible to God for our own choices, not the choices of another, even if that person is our son or daughter. In Eve’s story, she feels guilty over Cain killing his brother Abel. She struggles with guilt, blaming herself when her children sin because she was the one who began it all. She had to learn that although her children inherited a sin nature from their parents, they still grew up to make their own choices. Parents today still struggle with blaming themselves for their children’s poor choices. But each person answers to God on their own.
FF: You are well known for your detailed research. What type of research was required to write Daughter of Eden?
No one knows the location of Eden. There is no historical or archaeological evidence left to prove that it existed, but we have Scripture and ancient stories of creation. I studied the scriptural account and the unseen realm and tried to fit together the pieces of when God created the angels, the heavens and the earth, and people, and when the angels rebelled. All of that affected Adam and Eve, so the story was mostly written based on how I envisioned creation coming together and what Eden might have looked like. Since I enjoy imagining heaven, it wasn’t hard to imagine Eden.
After the fall was harder. Adam and Eve had nothing and no one to help them, so I had to research how people survive with little. For instance, when Adam utilizes every part of the lion he is forced to kill, I took that from indigenous people using every part of a buffalo. People of old wasted nothing—not like we do today—so I used that idea. I believe God created intelligent human beings from the start, and since they lived hundreds of years, they would have become very good at utilizing the earth’s resources. I wrote from that premise.
FF: The setting for Daughter of Eden is the Garden of Eden. Can you provide a contrast between Eden and Eve’s life after the fall?
If we can imagine heaven, we can picture Eden. It was a place of perfection, beautiful, without flaw or defect. God walked there with humanity, exactly as He always intended to do. There was nothing separating Adam and Eve from Him. It was God’s intention from the beginning to dwell with humanity. All of Scripture reflects this desire. The incarnation of Jesus Christ, his death, and his resurrection fulfill what was lost in Eden. God could walk with men and women again, but this time instead of providing a temporary covering for their sin, Jesus provided a permanent solution.
When Adam and Eve sinned, life became what we know today—a very broken world that grows only more grievous with time. From the very first act of disobedience against Him, God promised Eve that He would send a Redeemer to fix what they had broken. Jesus did that. By trusting in Him, we can one day walk with Him in paradise as God always meant it to be.
FF: How did the fall impact Eve’s life with her husband, Adam?
If we look at relationships between husbands and wives today, we know that there is no perfect marriage, no perfect human connection. Sin caused all of us to become deeply self-centered, whether we realize it or not. Marriage is self-sacrificing by its very nature, or at least it should be to succeed. I have no doubt that Adam and Eve struggled and failed to regain the perfect love they had in Eden. I can’t imagine how hard that was to accept.
FF: What do you love most about writing Biblical novels?
I love studying the stories in Scripture and trying to see God’s message to us in the people’s life histories. It takes time to understand what might have been, and some books are more challenging to write than others depending on how much Scripture tells us. I find that God always teaches me something in the process of recording the stories.
FF: What are you working on next?
I’m currently writing the first draft of Noah’s Wife. She is unnamed in Scripture, but history gives several possible names for her. I’ve chosen to name her Emzara from the Book of Jubilees, which is the name given to her at the Ark Encounter in Kentucky.
Daughter of Eden
Jill Eileen Smith
Genres: Historical Romance
Release Date: February 14, 2023
Daughter of Eden is set in paradise—a place of great beauty and adventure and devoid of sin. The first time she opens her eyes, Eve gazes on her Creator, who takes her hand and gives her to one like her and yet different. Together, she and Adam experience pure joy as they explore Eden. But her favorite moments are when the Creator comes to walk with them in the cool of the day.
God had given the couple every possible freedom, with the exception of one command—do not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. With one act of disobedience, Eve’s world is forever changed. The world is no longer a friendly place. She and Adam must now face the unknown future—births, deaths, sacrifices, and the loss of the only home she has ever known. Perhaps worst of all is the loss of trust, not only with her Creator but with the man who shares her life.
How will they ever survive outside of Eden?
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