Writers and artists have for centuries been using their imaginations to make the Creation and Fall accounts in Genesis come alive for readers. John Milton's Paradise Lost is the most epic and well-known example; others include Perelandra, the second installment of C. S. Lewis's space trilogy, and David Maine's provocative Fallen, from 2006. But what if the story of Adam and Eve were imagined from a - or the - woman's perspective? That's the question Elissa Elliott asks in her 2009 work of literary fiction, Eve: A Novel of the First Woman.

Elliott tells the Genesis story from the perspective of Eve and her three daughters, Naava, Aya, and Dara, who narrate the events of the summer leading up to Cain's murder of Abel. Although the women's voices vary in their believability, Eve's internal monologue as she lives out her curse (Gen. 3:16) adds depth to the sparsely outlined Genesis account. Elliott toys with possibilities, creating family rivalries and another, older civilization with which Eve's family collides to explain the motivation behind Cain's infamous murder. The result is a thought-provoking read.

Elliott, who spent two years at Biola University before receiving a degree in biology and an M.A. in education from UCLA, lives in Minnesota with her husband and child. Eve came out in January from Delacorte Press, and Books & Culture editor John Wilson gave Eve a mini-review here. Her.meneutics editor Ruth Moon sat down with Elliott recently to talk about her faith, women, and her debut novel.

What did you learn by writing from the perspective of Eve?

When I started writing the book, I thought I was going to redeem Eve. I thought I was going to pull her from the depths of obscurity and somehow raise her to a level of humanity. I came away with a more personal God who was concerned about me as a woman. He's been trying to talk to me but I cannot hear him, I cannot see him, and I get so obsessed with my everyday problems that I rant and I rave, but he's there for me.

The second thing is about women in general. Four years ago, I was co-teaching a married couples' Sunday school class that both my husband and I attended. On the days that I would teach, there were certain men who would leave the room and go sit in the café. Their wives would openly tell me they didn't want to be taught by a woman. I felt offended, not that they wouldn't want to hear me, but that they wouldn't want to hear a woman's perspective. So in writing [about] the women of the Bible, I wanted to give them a voice, I wanted to give them an avenue that perhaps God might speak through them.

How would you describe your theological stance?

Let me clarify that I'd love to have Eve touted as literary fiction, but that's impossible because it has too many religious overtones. If I had my choice, it would be a Jewish book, and here's why: Adam and Eve didn't know anything that was coming down the pipe. They don't know that the apostle Paul would later say that through one man sin entered the world (Rom. 5:12). So to a certain extent I had to disregard the New Testament while writing Eve, because I wanted the story to fit on its own.

I wouldn't put myself in a denomination, simply because I have so many questions. I've attended Evangelical Free and we attended a Baptist church down in Houston that we adored. My theology has always been pretty on target in terms of conservative Christians, but over the years I've begun to wonder things. There are so many abuses at the hands of the church. (I know this because I was one of the victims of that.) And I have friends who are atheist, agnostic, and ex-Christian who don't want to have anything to do with the church. They all grew up like I did, and they are very curious how I still ended up with God.

How did you get interested in writing?

Several years ago, while my husband was at Baylor for a surgery fellowship, I took a few classes and started writing a children's novel. I queried tons of editors and didn't get any responses for three years. I really wasted time, but in the meantime, I began to learn to write. Growing up a voracious reader helped. I read only literary fiction and books that were highly reviewed or had won awards. I figured that if I knew what the best looked like, I would at least be studying the correct way of doing it. I got an agent based on my memoir about a childhood growing up in a very conservative Christian household with an angry pastor father. The memoir didn't sell, although it had some serious looks. Then in spring 2006, my agent wrote me and asked, "What about Eve?" He's Jewish, and he knew that I love those stories.

Tell me about your forthcoming book on Noah's Ark.

When I wrote Eve, I truly in my heart wanted to bring my reader to God. I want to do the same thing with Noah, but there are so many questions to ask with Noah, such as why would God destroy the entire world except us, and yet not all of us are good people? How does he determine who's good and who's bad? It's such a tender thing for me. My questions are directing people in a very gentle and careful way to God, and yet a lot of people do not see it that way.