BackStory: Five Questions with Patience Mackarness

Moulded ceramic plaque of embracing couple, ca. 2000–1700 B.C., Southern Mesopotamia.

BackStory: Five Questions with Patience Mackarness
Author of Enkidu’s Harlot

What inspired you to write ‘Enkidu’s Harlot’?

I first read the Epic of Gilgamesh while living on the island of Bahrain, sometimes identified with the mythical land visited by Gilgamesh after the death of his friend Enkidu. The idea of focusing on a minor character’s experience was suggested by Joolz Denby’s poem Hrothgar’s Queen.

What is your favourite part of the writing process, and why?

The last bit. Fine-tuning a story that’s almost the way I want it. A word here, a comma there  it feels very instinctive and satisfying.

If you could live for one year in any historical period, when and where would it be, and why?

Almost any past era would be a terrible shock  violence, disease, infant mortality and so on. Socrates’ Athens would have been amazing, but not if you were female. I envy middle-class Victorians their excitement in new discoveries, their huge appetite for reading and learning, but not their smugness, and their certainty they were entitled to rule.

What, if anything, do you have in common with your main character?

I’m attracted to wild places and (especially when writing) larger-than-life personalities.

Can you share with us something from your early drafts that didn’t make the final piece?

I edited out of my piece (originally a poem) the line ‘Huge-muscled beasts shook their horns at the dawn’. Probably over suggestive, given that the story centres on a week-long sex marathon!

Patience Mackarness lives and writes in Brittany, France. Her stories have appeared in Lost Balloon, Lunch Ticket, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, Spelk, Brilliant Flash Fiction and elsewhere. Her published work can be found at

Moulded ceramic plaque, ca. 2000–1700 B.C., Southern Mesopotamia. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1974.347.1.