Interview with Tammie Painter

How did The Trials of Hercules, the first book in The Osteria Chronicles, come to life?
I’ve always been fascinated with Greek mythology and came across a documentary series about the historical basis of many of the characters in Greek legends. One of the episodes was on Hercules’s Twelve Labors and I thought, “How would that play out if this was set in modern times?”

I played around with the story trying to force it into a modern setting, but couldn’t get it to fit. About fifty pages into that draft, I realized it just wasn’t working, but didn’t want to give up on the idea. After thinking it over, I considered how the story could work if I set it in a post-apocalyptic future society that has adopted Greek – and some Roman – ways of life. And what if the gods were real players in this world?

The idea took hold quickly. The outline for it flowed out in less than a couple hours and I had a rough draft in about six weeks. As I began working on subsequent drafts, I began to see how the concept of Osteria could work into a series that covers many other Greek legends. I sketched out a rough outline and suddenly my single-book idea turned into a six-book series.
Osteria? You know that’s a type of restaurant, right?
I do know all about Italian pizzerias, trattorias, and even osterias. The Osteria Chronicles series has nothing to do with restaurant life, but has to do with my playing around with what I should name my world. Since it’s in the Northwest, it was tempting to call it Westeria, but that’s a bit too close to Games of Thrones’s Westeros to not seem like I’m riding George R.R. Martin’s coattails. I then thought Nowesteria, but that’s just a jumble of letters that I could see people stumbling over as they read. however, drop a couple letters and you have Osteria, which I quite liked the sound of. Also, the word Osteria derives from hospitable or homey and since my characters are going to end up fighting a battle to keep their land hospitable, i thought the name was a good fit.
How does history fit in with The Osteria Chronicles if it the series is set in the future?
The world of Osteria is heavily based on my studies of the Roman world combined with aspects of Greek culture. Clothing and architecture has been lifted from my readings of the Greco-Roman culture, the order of religious woman who serve Hera are very similar to the Roman Vestal Virgins, and the structure of the police force and the ruler’s personal guard reflect the Roman vigiles and Praetorian Guard.

As far as the future aspect, this isn’t a technologically advanced future. No space ships. The world, our world, has essentially killed itself off. This was followed by a complete societal collapse including the loss of technology. The world of Osteria has slowly built itself up from the ruins of what we left, and only recently have they been uncovering parts of our world, giving them things such as electricity. But the discoveries have been limited to a very few people, so for the most part, it’s technologically similar to a Greco-Roman world.

So why not just set it in ancient times? You may ask.

I needed the technology to make some scenes in the books work. That sounds like a cop out, but there is an immediacy required and having messengers running information back and forth just wouldn’t produce the same effect. The technology is subtle, and many Osterians are rightfully wary of it. Overall, despite relying aspects of the story and setting on solid research, I wanted to be able to create my own world with my own rules without committing the sin of being historically inaccurate.
If you based The Osteria Chronicles on Greek legends, aren’t the books predictable?
I hope not. Of course, I do hope people who aren’t familiar with the legends pick up the book – for them everything will be a new twist. For those familiar with the myths, the underlying subplots and the character development will add a new dimension and depth to the story. Although most of Theseus’s exploits do end up with the same result, I have changed some aspects of the story to bring new life to the myth and to increase the pace and tension. So far, readers have not found the series predictable in any way.
Published 2017-08-23.
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Books by This Author

13th Hour - Tales from Light to Midnight
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 42,610. Language: English. Published: April 5, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
In the tradition of Stephen King's dark humor and even darker monsters, 13th Hour will delight you, mystify you, and make you cringe. "This is a great collection of short stories! So well written, each story totally unique, a really great read!" -Reader Review