Writing Gold


They say you should write the book you always wanted to read. That’s where the inspiration to write Gold In Havilah came from, for those early chapters of Genesis are a life-long fascination of mine. There’s nothing like that mysterious narrative about a paradise called Eden and the human beings who once lived both within it, and later, maybe just outside its gates. Apparently I’m not the only one, though some people’s interest takes what appears to be more subtle forms. Everything from song lyrics to the legend of Atlantis to our craving for tropical vacation getaways enjoyed in the semi-nude suggest we know at an intuitive level that the earth was once a pristine bliss bath where there were no words for things like clothes and work and sickness. In her hit song “Woodstock,” songwriter Joni Mitchell expressed what many of us already ache in the knowing of: We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden. We all strive by some means—holy or profane—to get back to that garden. We want to be golden again.

Though my Gold in Havilah protagonist, Akliah, is a speculative character, her name, as well as her sister Luluwa’s, are mentioned in several extra-biblical texts as being among Eve’s children besides the two we know about: Cain and Abel. I’ve chosen to tell Akliah’s story in the straightforward way the author/s of Genesis tell theirs, working from the assumption that the people and mysterious events in the Bible’s first stories happened in real time and space, not serving as evasive metaphors for something else. If we accept that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are historical figures—and most historians do, not to mention traditional Jews, Christians and Muslims— then why do we balk at the Adam and Eve tale just because it seems so otherworldly? That’s part of the point: things have definitely changed around here since God created it in a pristine state. We don’t have to understand something for it to be helpful, or true. And the first three chapters of Genesis offer about as good an explanation as any as to why things are the way they are on earth.

Thank you for reading Gold in Havilah. Zyla: A Seer’s Tale, the next book in this series, should make its appearance around the end of 2017. Its lead character is Zyla, one of the wives of Lamech, mentioned in Genesis 4:19. It’s these biblical women with little or no story behind their names that attract me.

6 replies
  1. Mike Shoemake
    Mike Shoemake says:

    Jean, I have followed you on the Relief Journal blog for years now and love your writing, moreso, your perspective. Congratulations on your forthcoming novel! If it contains the richness of your non-fiction, and probably even more, it will surely paint us a picture of the “first past,” that past that fascinates us all. Please keep me up-to-date on all things as you go forward. Thank you also for the insights you provide on the writing of the book, your motivations, etc. And I agree with your premise regarding history, by the way.

  2. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Can’t wait to purchase my copy, but how will the author sign it if the UPS truck delivers it?? Great Christmas idea! So excited to read it. Maybe Mike will read his first novel?!


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