Interview & Giveaway: The Jinni's Last Wish by Zenobia Neil

Happy FriYAY, dear readers! Today on the blog I have an interview with Zenobia Neil, author of The Jinni's Last Wish! I loved this book and you can read my review here. Zenobia was kind enough to answer a few questions for me so I hope you enjoy it & don't forget to enter our giveaway!

Hello Zenobia and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Jinni’s Last Wish!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I’m a teacher, a writer and mother from Los Angeles. After my second child was born, I really needed to escape, so I started writing about the ancient world. Having always loved Greco-Roman mythology, I wrote a retelling of the story of Cupid and Psyche. Psyche Unbound became my first book.

What inspired you to write The Jinni’s Last Wish?

I was partially inspired by the book Harem: Life Beyond the Veil by Alev Lytle Croutier. She wrote about life in a harem from a perspective of those who had been there instead of the exoticized view we normally get in the west. She recounted knowing a eunuch when she was a child and quoted a passage where a eunuch asks a doctor to make him whole again. That scene inspired me to imagine what would happen if a eunuch was given a jinni in a bottle. Orientalist art was also a huge visual inspiration while writing the book.

What other research did you undertake when writing The Jinni’s Last Wish?

In addition to reading a lot of non-fiction books on the Ottoman Empire, I also researched the jinn, castration, opium, rug weaving, hashish, and coffee. One surprising part of my research was watching a Turkish soap opera called Magnificent Century about Suleiman the Magnificent and Hurrem Sultan, the Ruthenian woman who became his wife. It was as close as I could get to the Ottoman Imperial Harem and the Topkapi Palace. The costumes and the setting were fantastic, but I was dismayed that the eunuchs in the show were not black as they would have been in real life. A major motivation I had in writing this book was to tell the stories of people time forgot.

Did you come across anything in your research that surprised or fascinated you?

Everything I came across in my research surprised, fascinated, and often horrified me. But what intrigued me the most about the Ottoman Empire was the random switch of fate that could happen to almost anyone. A European girl of noble birth could be captured and become a slave; as could a peasant from the countryside. Either woman could then become a favorite of the sultan. If she bore him a son, she could be assassinated by a rival, or she could become the queen mother, the most powerful woman in the land.

An African boy could be abducted from his village, sold and castrated, then he might live in comfort, or he might rise through the ranks to become the, Kizlar Agasi, Chief Black Eunuch Keeper of the Girls, the third most powerful man in the empire.

In a similar vein, a son born to the sultan was not guaranteed to become sultan himself. The Ottomans did not have a clear law of succession. Fratricide was institutionalized for a period of time. The boy or man who became the next sultan won the throne by killing his brothers. But then someone decided that was too cruel—and too risky. What if the remaining sultan died? So the next in line for the throne was kept in a gilded cage, locked away with sterile concubines and fed opium—this was the sultan I chose to write about.

This strange world of extremes, was so compelling that I couldn’t stop researching it. But what I really wanted to know was how the people felt. How did they deal with these reversals of fortune?

What would you like readers to take away from reading The Jinni’s Last Wish?

The Jinni’s Last Wish is about eunuchs, a jinni, and concubines, but the main question of my story is if you live in a society fueled by cruelty, is it possible to maintain kindness? Sadly, this question seems as relevant now as it was then. I would like readers to come away from this book feeling that despite how bleak a situation is, there’s still hope, that even in the darkest hour, we can create positive change and that love can persevere.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I always have several different novels set in different time periods going on. (Something I do not recommend.) Right now I’m working on a novel about Dionysus and a series that takes place in Ancient Sparta and Persia. I’m also researching ancient Phoenicia.

Thanks for having me!

Thank you for taking time to spend with us today! I look forward to your next book!

The Jinni's Last Wish by Zenobia Neil

Publication Date: September 13, 2018
Paperback & eBook; 224 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy

As a eunuch in the Ottoman Imperial Harem, Olin has already lost his home, his freedom, and his manhood. His only wish is for a painless death, until he meets Dark Star, a beautiful odalisque who promises to give him his deepest desire. He refuses to believe her claim to possess a jinni in a bottle. But when Dark Star is accused of witchcraft, Olin rubs the bottle in desperation and discovers she’s told the truth.

Olin becomes the jinni’s master to save Dark Star, but it's not enough. In the complex world of the Topkapi Palace, where silk pillows conceal knives, sherbets contain poison, and jewels buy loyalty, no one is safe. With each wish, Olin must choose between becoming like the masters he detests or risk his life, his body, and his sanity to break the bonds that tie them all.

"Vividly imagined and achingly beautiful, this is the closest you'll get to an Ottoman harem without a time machine." -- Jessica Cale, Editor of Dirty, Sexy History

"Sensual, magical, and meticulously researched, THE JINNI'S LAST WISH is a scrumptious read." --Heather Webb, international bestselling author of Last Christmas in Paris."

"Hauntingly sensual, The Jinni's Last Wish is an erotic fever dream that lingers long after the last page." -- Mia Hopkins, author of Thirsty

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Chapters

About the Author

Zenobia Neil was named after an ancient warrior queen who fought against the Romans. She writes about the mythic past and Greek and Roman gods having too much fun. Zenobia spends her free time imagining interesting people and putting them in terrible situations.

She lives with her husband, two children, and dog in an overpriced hipster neighborhood of Los Angeles. Visit her at

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 12
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, November 13
Feature at Teaser Addicts Book Blog

Wednesday, November 14
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Thursday, November 15
Feature at Maiden of the Pages

Sunday, November 18
Interview at T's Stuff

Monday, November 19
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, November 20
Review at Bri's Book Nook

Wednesday, November 21
Feature at What Is That Book About

Friday, November 23
Review at Pass Me That Book

Tuesday, November 27
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, November 29
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Friday, November 30
Feature at Book Nerd

Monday, December 3
Review at Bookfever

Wednesday, December 5
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Monday, December 10
Review & Guest Post The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, December 11
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a copy of The Jinni's Last Wish! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 11th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Jinni's Last Wish

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