Stephen Bywater: ‘Why I wrote The Devil’s Ark’

April 23, 2014, Article by Tom in Books

Author Stephen Bywater explains how he went about writing his horror masterpiece THE DEVIL’S ARK…

Everybody knows Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back at God’s destruction of Sodom. What’s less well know is that his two daughters, fearing for the future of mankind, plied their father with wine and seduced him. ‘Urrgh,’ was my reaction in Sunday School – having read too far ahead – and that’s still my reaction today, if not – with two daughters of my own and a curious wife who’d certainly have a few words to say to an omnipotent being about to destroy her vegetable garden – an even bigger ‘Urrghh!’

But Lot’s story is not the only one which is rarely told in full and the Old Testament is a mishmash of tales taken from Assyrian and Babylonian myths. The tale of Noah’s Ark, for example, can be traced back to a tablet found in Mesopotamia, which is where The Devil’s Ark is set, albeit in Iraq, a country created by the British, or more specifically by an English woman named Gertrude Bell at the end of the Great War.

Therefore I would say it was the Bible, or those half-told tales, and my interest in the cradle of civilisation which prompted my writing of the novel. Wanting to know more about Lilith, Adam’s first wife, was certainly part of why it came to be written. Lilith is only briefly mentioned in the Bible, but she was created as Adam’s equal and, having tested the idea of equality, was cast out of Eden, making way for Eve.

The idea of having a narrator traumatised by the Great War and stumbling across an archaeological dig where strange things are starting to happen gave me the opportunity to explore the mind of one mentally scarred by the brutal fighting in Mesopotamia. Harry Ward is distressed by memories and self-doubt and his mental stability is tested by desire, for both the earthly and the ethereal, when his own shameful thoughts come into conflict with his understanding of what he is, or was.

devils ark

‘Creepy, classy … full of dread and lust and echoing with the sorrows of war. We need more stories like this’
Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of Snowblind

THE DEVIL’S ARK is published in paperback and ebook on May 8th 2014. ORDER HERE

Follow Stephen on Twitter: @authorbywater