Author Interview: Zenobia Neil



JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Zenobia. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?

ZN-Hi, Jeanie, thanks for having me. I live in Los Angeles. I feel like it’s been so long since I’ve had some real fun, but I like hanging out with friends and having drinks, traveling, talking about books, and going to museums. Since I’ve been at home with my husband, elderly dog, and two children for over a year, a perfect day would involve a trip to the Korean Spa and going out to dinner.

JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?

ZN- All time periods are fascinating in their own ways, but I love to read and write about the ancient world. For me, exploring the ancient world gives me a chance to learn more about human nature. It’s a bit like the wild west, you can really see what people’s motivations were and there weren’t laws to stop them from being who they really were—which often wasn’t so great. At the same time, so much amazing art, architecture, and technology came from this time period. It’s fun to read, write and learn about.

JMR-Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

ZN- This is such a hard question. There are so many. My namesake, Zenobia is a fantastic historical figure, but the only question I can think to ask her right now is something stupid like “Was it that bad to be exiled to a Roman Villa?” Because to me that sounds delightful. I’d like to ask Alexander the Great what killed him, but he probably didn’t know. So I’m going to say that I’d like to meet Alexander and ask him what he was reading because what I really want to know about is about all the scrolls that were lost in the Library of Alexandra and all the other pieces of writing that were lost to history.

JMR- How did you come to be a writer of historical fiction?

ZN- I grew up in a Victorian house in Los Angeles, so I’ve always been surrounded by history. One of my favorite book series as a young teen was The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. I know that most people don’t think of them as historical fiction, but they really influenced my love of the past and the idea that compelling stories involve magic.

JMR- I had a friend whose name was Zenobia, she really owned it. Do you think your name has influenced your life and your writing?

ZN- I love that you had a friend named Zenobia! Growing up with a different name definitely influenced who I am and how I see the world. My parents loved ancient art and Greek mythology. I was told Greek myths as a child, taken to museums a lot, and given books in French from the Louvre about my namesake. I also feel like being named after someone who fought the Romans contributed to my love of writing history from different perspectives than the stories usually told by the victors.

JMR- Did you visit anyone of the places in your book? Where did you feel closest to your characters?

ZN- Yes. I was able to visit Greece with my best friend and my mom and her French best friend five years ago. It was an amazing experience! My mom’s best friend has a summer home in Greece, so she speaks Greek and did all the driving. We drove to Sparta where I was researching my last book, The Queen of Warriors. Then we flew to Crete, where I got to do research for my new book, Ariadne Unraveled.

JMR- Zenobia, tell us about your new book, Ariadne Unraveled.

ZN- Ariadne Unraveled is a diverse, feminist retelling of the myth that’s most famously known as Theseus and the Minotaur. My novel is told from a more Minoan perspective, and it focuses on Ariadne’s relationship with the new god Dionysus. There are many contradictory myths about Ariadne and Dionysus. I wanted to weave them throughout and come up with a new story that deals with issues of finding one’s self and choosing who to love.

JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?

ZN- I’m working on the prequel to The Queen of Warriors. My next book will be about my protagonist Alexandra of Sparta as a girl in Sparta traveling to Asia Minor 50 years after the death of Alexander and becoming the Queen of Warriors.

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

ZN- I’d love to connect online. My website is  Twitter @ZenobiaNeil

Instagram: Zenobia.neil and Facebook

JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

ZN- All of your questions were fantastic! Thanks for having me.


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