Interview with J. Manfred Weichsel

Superversive Press: Tell me about your book. How did you come up with the idea?

Manfred Weichsel: Back when I was writing for Millhaven Press, the owner of the press Jeffrey Blehar asked me to write a lost world story. I am a huge fan of the lost world genre, but I wanted to do something different, that had never been done before. I wracked my brain trying to come up with unique takes on the lost world genre.

One idea I came up with was an alternate history novel in which humans had retreated to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States and the rest of the world was “lost” because it was inhabited by monsters. But the idea was too complex for a short story and it didn’t really follow the lost world formula of exploration and discovery.

So, I went back to brainstorming, and suddenly it occurred to me that I could write a lost world story about history’s original lost world, Eden!

So, I wrote Expedition to Eden (then titled Paradise Discovered,) but then Jeffrey had to shut down Millhaven Press for personal reasons and the story was left without a publisher. I really loved the story and wanted to do something more with it, so I expanded it into a 24,000 word novella and self published it.

 

Superversive Press: What kind of work went into developing Eden into a complete world for your book?

Manfred Weichsel: The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there was enough material in the Bible that I could do a lot of really fun and wild world building and create an entire land of Eden that surrounds the garden without having to stray too much from the source material.

 

Superversive Press: What are some examples of source material from the Bible that you incorporated into your world building?

Manfred Weichsel: Well, in the bible after Cain slays Abel he goes to live in the land of Nod, which in the Bible is described as “East of Eden.” This is usually interpreted as meaning Nod lays to the East of Eden, but since I created a land of Eden surrounding the garden, I was able to reinterpret this as meaning Nod lays in the East of Eden.

The descendants of Cain who live in Nod all have a special power. Whatever one does to them is done to the doer sevenfold. So if you hit a descendant of Cain on the arm with a stick, your own arm breaks, and if you punch one in the face, it is as if your own face were punched seven times as hard. This comes from the Bible. Genesis chapter 4:13-15 (NIV) reads, “Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.’

“But the Lord said to him, ‘Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.’ Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.”

I couldn’t possibly come up with a cooler power for a villainous race in an adventure novel than that!

Another land associated with Eden in the Bible is Cush, and there is a whole lot about Cush in other parts of the bible as well. I decided to focus on the descendants of Ham, who goes to live in Cush after Noah exiles him. Ham’s descendants share his err, um, proclivities, and their race serves as more comic relief villains than the descendants of Cain, who are much more dangerous because of their power.

 

Superversive Press: You have just described two villainous races in your book. Are there any good races to be found in Eden?

Manfred Weichsel: Of course! You can’t have a novel about Eden without including naked innocents.

A lot of people don’t know this, but nowhere in the bible does it say that Adam and Eve are the first man and woman. This is a tradition based on a poor reading of the bible. In the Bible, God creates a whole lot of people before creating Adam and Eve.

Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV) reads, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

That is the creation of humans in Genesis chapter 1. Then, later in chapter 2 of Genesis, God creates Adam out of dust and puts him in the Garden of Eden and creates Eve out of Adam’s rib.

So as you can see, it wasn’t much of a stretch for me to imagine that there is still a race of naked innocents who never ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, who still live in the land around the Garden of Eden.

 

Superversive Press: This is all fascinating. Where can people find your book?

Manfred Weichsel: You can buy Expedition to Eden here 

Superversive Press: Where can your fans find you and follow you?

Manfred Weichsel: You can sign up for my newsletter here.

I am also on twitter

L. Jagi Lamplighter-Wright

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