Meet the Author: Tammie Painter
Happy Friday and Juneteenth everyone!
I hope you’re having a good week and have some nice plans this weekend.
I lucked out with work letting us have today off in spite of the current political climate, and I’m grateful for the chance to relax and catch up on things.
I’m happy to have Tammie Painter over today for a digital sit down. Tammie Painter is a historical fiction and fantasy writer and the author of the Domna and Osteria Chronicles, as well as several short stories.
Fun fact, I met Tammie here on WordPress as I was looking for other blogger authors who enjoy a good read.
I’ve had the great opportunity to read a couple of her short stories so far, and man, she is talented! Feel free to check them out below if you’d like my opinion of some of Tammie’s work.
All right, let’s get this thing rolling, shall we?
Tammie Painter worked for years in science before discovering her true passion in writing. Her fascination for myths, history, and how they interweave inspired her flagship series, The Osteria Chronicles.
Tammie is now at work on a contemporary fantasy trilogy that’s filled with magic, mystery, snarky humor, and zombies because who doesn’t love zombies…especially ones with a posh British accent.
A self-proclaimed book nerd, Tammie is currently sharing her passion for quirky books and literary lore on The Book Owl Podcast.
When she isn’t (but probably should be) writing, Tammie can be found gardening, planning her next travel adventure, or wrangling her backyard hive of honeybees.
Hi Tammie, thanks so much for stopping by. To keep things interesting, I like to ask my interviewees a random question to get the blood flowing. Here’s yours!
Through an unknown magic you are teleported to the world of a book you’ve recently read. Where have you ended up?
Tammie: Uh-oh, looks like I’ve landed in Pell, the fantasy world created by Kevin Hearne and Delilah S. Dawson.
It’s not too bad, a nice fairy tale type land with gnomes, dwarves, and a king who used to be a goat and still has a penchant for eating boots and dropping poo pellets when he gets nervous.
The only trouble is, I keep having to endure scolding looks from the residents as I giggle over their place names such as Morningwood, the Damkold Sea, Toodleloo, Splien, and Blatter. Although when I last visited Pell, it looked like a battle was brewing, so I hope I can avoid getting roped into any magical military service.
Jonny: Oh no! Actually, I’ve never heard of Pell before but it sounds like a fun mix of whimsical and fantasy. Magical military service you say? Oh man, I want to be a magical soldier! So jealous.
It looks like I got stuck in the Hunger Games world of Panem. I just hope it’s not time for another Reaping. I have terrible luck in contests! I do NOT volunteer as tribute!
Tammie and the Writing Process
For starters, tell us a little bit about your writing.
Tammie: Well, let’s just say it’s undergoing a little change. I wrote the first book of my historical fantasy series, The Osteria Chronicles, over six years ago. I’d written several manuscripts prior to that, but I still had no idea what I was doing. The writing is rather serious and the tone kind of heavy. By the fourth book, I had loosened up a bit, but still had to keep to the style of the previous books.
By the time I was working on the final two books, I had gotten back into short story writing and this really helped me hone in on a tone and voice that was lighter and smoother, with a good dose of wry humor. Basically it was more “me.” It’s that style and voice you’ll be seeing in my future books and I have to say those are proving far more fun to write.
Jonny: Oh wow, that’s really interesting! We each have our own unique writing journey, and I’m glad you’re continuing to evolve!
I’m definitely continuing to find myself, and have also started to include a smidge of humor in my works as well. It really does makes things a bit lighter.
How do you find inspiration to write?
Tammie: Well…the first lines for my current project came to me while I was waiting for my grandmother’s funeral to start. Which would be fine if it was a touchy feely novel about female relationships, but it’s about zombies. Sorry, Gran.
Jonny: You make a really good point. Inspiration can come at the most random of times. For me it can literally be anything that inspires me. The gym, the way the sunlight hits a room, a fly on the wall.
I’m sure your Gran would be happy she inspired you regardless, and my deepest condolences.
As a writer and blogger, what kind of goals do you set for yourself? How do you achieve them?
Tammie: I went to a grade school where we had to list out our goals for our schoolwork every week then break that down into what we would do each day. That practice has totally carried over. I generally figure out what I need to accomplish each month, then break that down into weeks and days. I have daily, weekly, monthly to-do lists taped up all over my walls. How do I get through the to-do chores? I’m insanely disciplined.
Jonny: Wow, that was some organized school! I’m glad they inspired a sense of order to you. That beats my system. Maybe I should adopt some of your methods and make a monthly goal. Usually I’m very disciplined, but sometimes the big picture can get away from me.
What is your favorite part of writing?
Tammie: Seeing a single sentence in an outline turn into a whole chapter filled with dialogues, characters, settings, and life. Seriously, sometimes I don’t know how it happens and every time it does, I’m astounded.
Jonny: Can’t agree more! I love that feeling when the story is just flowing through your fingertips and you have to type as fast as possible to keep up. It’s been a minute since that happened, but it happens in odd spurts when that inspiration hits like a brick wall.
What genre is your favorite to write in? Why?
Tammie: Fantasy. it provides for the best use of my odd imagination and I have a huge amount of fun creating rules for new worlds. Plus, if I fudge on a bit of research, the historical fiction nerds won’t come at me with pitchforks.
Jonny: Or tridents. *wink* I don’t blame you. Fantasy is a very appealing genre. I find myself attracted most to horror, sci-fi, and fantasy most. I definitely go through phases on which is my favorite to write and read in.
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
Tammie: I’m always at work on something new, and sometimes three or four somethings new!
My currently Main Work in Progress is a contemporary fantasy trilogy. The first book is pretty much done, the second book needs another round of rewrites, and the third book is in the first draft stage. This month, while taking a break from that trilogy, I’m drafting a standalone novel that’s mostly fantasy, but has a few sci-fi elements as well. I also put out an episode of The Book Owl Podcast every couple weeks.
Jonny: Oh nice! You stay super busy! I’ve just recently gotten into working on multiple projects at once, and it really works if you feel like you’re burning out on something else. I’m also working on getting myself to write more daily in hopes that I can speed up the publication process.
Right now I’m working on my Reaper sequel and a short story. After one of those is completed, I’ll finally get back to my urban fantasy series that I plan on writing at least five books for. It’s my first manuscript and my book baby of all time!
What do you find most challenging about writing/blogging?
Tammie: Sitting down to do it. Once I get started, I’m off and running, but it’s that first sentence of the day that is the toughest to get out.
Jonny: I feel you there! Sometimes I just stare at the screen willing the words to come out, but you’re right. Once you hit a groove, it just comes out.
What is the hardest lesson you had to learn as a writer/blogger?
Tammie: No one cares about your books. I mean maybe there are a couple people who care because they understand your passion, but don’t expect your family and friends to give a rat’s behind. It’s up to you to convince them to care (and even then, they still might not).
Jonny: I couldn’t agree more, and it’s definitely a reality in our line of work. You really have to get your name out there and convince people to try it, at least until you get a steady base, which can take years or longer. You’ve done a great job of making your work accessible, and I’m super grateful I was able to try out some of your short stories to amp me up for one of your novels!
I think the hardest lesson for me has been continuing to hone my craft after my first book. I’d written different stories before publishing my Reaper book, but once you publish things just change, especially your priorities. It can be tough, and I’m still navigating the landscape.
What would you say is your interesting writing/blogging quirk?
Tammie: I often write first drafts by hand. No, I’m not kidding. If my hand gets cramped up, I’ll type directly into the computer, but I find the words flow more freely with my first drafts when they’re spit out by a pen and into a notebook.
Jonny: Oh wow! I can’t remember the last time I did that, but there is a certain magic about doing things that way. I have notebooks full of my writings somewhere in my closet. Could never get rid of them.
Oh, also, you’re not tempted by social media when there’s just a pen and notebook in front of you!
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Tammie: Written: More than 20. Published: Eight (although one of those was serialized into six parts). My favorite: The first book in my new trilogy has fully won me over.
Jonny: Wow, congratulations! That’s quite the accomplishment!
I’ve published one and have one other unpublished manuscript basically ready to go, though I’ll be trying to shop around for a publisher once I finish either my short story or the Reaper sequel.
My favorite will always be The Gifted Chronicles. It’s my first book ever written and I’m really hoping it’s well received once I find a publisher.
What do you think makes a good story?
Tammie: Characters who seem real, and plots with good pacing.
Jonny: Well said! I like three-dimensional characters as well and a decent amount of action mixed up with some mystery. If a plot doesn’t move I get bored very quickly.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Tammie: In my Osteria Chronicles series, most of the names were conveniently already created by the Ancient Greeks. In my Domna serial, I took names from Roman history and put a little twist on them. In my upcoming Cassie Black trilogy, many of the names came from pets (my mom’s dog, my dad’s dog, and my own herd of beasts). For other names I often turn to a book called Building Believable Characters or I hit up the baby name websites.
Jonny: That’s really creative to put your own spin on the Ancient Greek names, as well as your other methods. I too use the baby name websites, and with each story there’s some serious research until I find names that ring true in my head. Don’t ask me how I know it’s right or not, it just kind of happens and I’m all “That’s the one”.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Tammie: I have, but I can barely get up the gumption to do the marketing for one name. I cringe at the very idea of trying to do the marketing for two or three names.
Jonny: Good point. The social media setups alone would drive me nuts! I’ve thought about it, but it’s not for me. My name is unique enough that I don’t think I need one. Unless of course another Jonathan Pongratz materializes, then it’s time to duke it out Highlander style, huzzah! There can only be one!
Fun Facts About Tammie
Could you tell us a couple fun facts about you?
Tammie: Sadly, no. I’m really boring.
Jonny: Aw, no you’re not! You do gardening, have a love of travel, and contend with honeybees. I can’t handle the gardening (I have a black thumb of death lol) and bees of any kind terrify me. I will legit run around like a maniac trying to get away from them.
Pancakes or waffles?
Tammie: Pancakes!! Although I’m crap at making them, so at home it’s usually waffles being served.
Jonny: Man, I haven’t made pancakes or waffles in a long time, though I am fond of chicken and waffles. I would probably have to get one of those appliances where you just pour the batter in and voila!
What’s your favorite place that you’ve travelled to?
Tammie: Europe! Wait, that’s probably too vague. Can I pick one place per country? No? Fine. Then I’d have to say London. I LOVE that city and have felt like I’ve come home whenever I’ve been there.
Jonny: Lol, I’m glad you love travel so much. I do too! For the past few years I’ve been travelling to bigger cities, but more recently I’ve been focusing on smaller cities that are more out of the way to enjoy some peace and quiet, mainly for writing retreats.
Out of the writing retreats, I’d have to say Hermann was my favorite vacay so far, and for big cities it’s probably a tie between Denver and Seattle. Both are really beautiful places with great people.
Are pineapples on pizza blasphemy or no?
Tammie: They are pure blasphemy, but I have to admit I am a wicked blasphemer now and then.
Jonny: I’m adventurous with pizza, but pineapples just don’t do it for me. I once bit into a pineapple pizza unknowingly and ended up spitting it back out. But roasted veggie pizza? Yes, yes, yes!
Marvel or DC?
Tammie: Dark Horse – I’m biased because their HQ is only blocks from my house, plus they donated an AMAZING mural to the local library.
I’m also a junkie for the Asterix & Obelix comics in the original French.
Jonny: Oh. My. Goodness! That mural is amazing!
Thank you for switching it up in your choice! I certainly didn’t mean to insinuate that only Marvel or DC were options.
I really like Hellboy and his insane adventures, but I grew up reading X-Men, so I’m Marvel-biased. I recently got some X-Men art to put up on my wall and had to order more due to how much I loved it!
Who are your favorite writers?
Tammie: Ben Aaronovitch, Ruth Downie, Agatha Christie, Charles Finch, Kurt Vonnegut, Steven Johnson, Jonas Jonassen, Matt Haig, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I better stop there.
Jonny: I haven’t heard of most of those, but don’t be surprised. While I can be adventurous with my reads, sometimes the most obvious of reads I should’ve checked out escape me. I plead the fifth on my tunnel vision!
Mine are Victoria Schwab, Emerald Dodge, and lately Ellen Oh and Courtney Alameda.
What are you reading now?
Tammie: I’m listening to Shakespeare for Squirrels by Christopher Moore, and reading A Robot Named Clunk by Simon Haynes.
Jonny: Those sound really interesting. I’ll have to check them out! I just started Animorphs #33 this morning and after that I’ll be checking out Ellen Oh’s sequel to Spirit Hunters.
If you could take a vacation anywhere, where would you go?
Tammie: Europe! But really, right now, I’d settle for anywhere, even the next town over would seem like an adventure.
Jonny: Yeah, I haven’t really been saving up for travel at all since COVID started, but I would love to visit someplace not far outside of the Kansas City limits. There’s a great haunted winery called the Belvoir Winery up in Liberty that I’d love to stay at. Either that or some small town with a winery or two.
If you were a tree, what kind would you be and why?
Tammie: Can I be one of the Ents from the Lord of the Rings? If not, I think a palm tree would be a good choice. I’d get to live in tropical lands, I’d be slim and flexible with a stylish mop top, and I could drop coconuts on people I didn’t like.
Jonny: Oh snap, you took it to the next level! LOL, please drop the coconuts!
Today I’d pick a cactus (those are technically trees right?) because I’ve been a bit prickly this week.
How would you conquer the world?
Tammie: Dropping coconuts on the heads of people I didn’t like.
Jonny: Haha, I am living for this. May you have all the coconuts you need for world domination!
I will pick giant inflatable ducks, because why not? If you have enough giant inflatable ducks, no one can doubt that you’ve conquered the world!
What did you read as a kid? What stuck with you the most?
Tammie: I was such a girl and read ANY book that had a horse in it. I remember reading Watership Down more than once, and I read How to Eat Fried Worms whenever I went to my grandma’s house. My dad was a huge Stephen King fan and I read plenty of those…which might explain a lot about my morbid sense of humor.
Jonny: Aw, horses are great! I mainly read Animorphs, Goosebumps, or anything with lots of action in it. I don’t think I read Stephen King until I was in high school. That’s when I really started reading the darker material along with Anne Rice.
What has been your most bizarre life experience?
Tammie: When I was in kindergarten, the school bus driver let me off at the wrong stop. And I mean, VERY wrong!
I wandered the streets of Portland for probably a couple hours until I finally decided to go into a grocery store and ask for help. Then, hoorah! I realized it was “our” grocery store (the one we went to most often because it was only a few blocks away).
I was crying tears of relief those last few blocks. Then, a neighborhood kid came out, walked with me a bit, and asked why I was crying. I guess even then I liked to keep my feelings close to my chest because I told him, “I’m really upset that I’ve missed Gilligan’s Island today.”
Anyway, I must be part homing pigeon because somehow I made it to my front door.
Jonny: Oh my gosh, that must’ve been terrifying! Well I’m glad you survived that crazy experience!
I’m gonna pick one of mine at random. The time that my family visited my grandparents house after my grandma passed away. I’d had a dream about her visiting me the night before, and when my brother and I went into her room, we both felt her presence at the same time. We stared at each other in horror, wordless, and bolted out of that house!
What do you think would be a fitting epitaph on your gravestone (not meant to be dark, I swear! Just be creative.)
Tammie: “This was not on my to-do list.”
Jonny: Bwahaha! Good one. Here’s mine:
“This fruit punch tastes funn–“
Tammie and Her Works
Tell us about your new book.
Tammie: The next book I’ll release is the first in a trilogy. The book’s called Cassie Black and the Undead Mr. Tenpenny, and here’s a quickie elevator pitch…
Cassie Black works at a funeral home. Cassie Black is used to dead bodies. What she is not used to is them waking up….Which they seem to be doing disturbingly often lately.
At first she thinks she has the problem under control, but when the recently-undead Busby Tenpenny tells her he’s been murdered, Cassie gets pulled into a world she never expected. A world where Cassie discovers magic, spells, potions…and the slight problem that she may have cause Mr. Tenpenny’s death.
Jonny: Oh wow, this sounds right up my alley! I love spooky stuff. Please keep me posted on when you plan on publishing or if you need any alpha/beta readers. I’d love to take a look!
How did you come up with the title for this book?
Tammie: Honestly, I just needed some words for filler while I worked on the cover layout, but the more I read it and said it, the more I liked it.
Jonny: Yeah, it sounds darkly whimsical, an instant winner in my book.
What was your favorite part about writing this book?
Tammie: The whole part was my favorite! As I’ve said, I’d been writing in such a serious voice for so long, so when I started to write this book, which has a very snarky, very wry, very “Tammie” voice, the words just fell out of my head.
Jonny: Oh, I love that for you! Dark and witty can sometimes be the best combination. I inherited my darker sense of humor from my mom, and writing in a somewhat sillier tone can definitely be therapeutic.
What did you find was the hardest part about writing this book?
Tammie: After I’d gotten through a couple drafts of book one, I wrote books two and three of the trilogy just to get the bones of the full story arc out. During this writing I realized there were plenty of things I needed to set up in book one for everything to fall into place and make sense. That rewrite wasn’t much of a thrill, but I think the end result was worth it.
Jonny: Oh, edits will be the death of me one day, I swear it! I’m glad you were able to get the kinks out and hope it all works out swimmingly.
What kind of research went into writing your book?
Tammie: This was the frustrating part as I wanted to get the work world of a funeral home right. I contacted several local funeral homes asking if they wouldn’t mind answering a few questions. I made every effort to tell them that I wasn’t going to paint funeral homes in a bad light (which I don’t), but all refused to answer the questions. So, most of it was based on my own imagination and what I could glean from a few websites.
Jonny: Dang, what a bummer that they were all so closed minded. Maybe we all need a mortician friend sometimes lol. I’m sure your research was thorough and well thought out if it’s anything like your other work.
What criteria did you use when selecting the cover for your book?
Tammie: I’ve been playing around with some designs, but I haven’t quite settled on a cover yet….survey coming soon!! I want it to reflect the dark humor, the magic, and to be something I can easily adjust for the three books. And if I can squeeze in a cat, that would be great.
Jonny: Oh, okay! Count me in! I love voting on covers. Cat? CAT?! I love cats! Yes, please!
What other projects do you have in store for the world to see in the future? Anything you can share with us?
Tammie: Yes!! Every other Thursday I put out an episode of The Book Owl Podcast where I share tales of quirky books and literary lore. I’m only a few episodes in, but I’m having tons of fun with it.
I had planned on releasing the first book in my new trilogy this fall, but with the viciousness of the upcoming presidential election that will be eating up most attention spans, I’ve decided to hold off that release until early 2021. Then I’ll probably release all three books in fairly quick succession.
For the rest of 2020, I’m working on putting out a few audio and ebook versions of my short stories, and in the fall, I’ll put out a full box set of my Osteria Chronicles series.
Jonny: Oh wow, that’s amazing that you have a podcast! I always hated my voice when I hear it back on anything recorded. It doesn’t sound the way I hear it at all.
I’m really excited about your releases this year and next year. You have so much to look forward to, and I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines!
Alright, looks like our time is up. Before we go, do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events, and special offers?
Tammie: But of course! My website is TammiePainter.com which is going to be getting a makeover soon. My blog has writing updates and insights, plus book bargains and promos. While you’re there, you can pick up a free story by signing up for my newsletter which often includes coupons for my Payhip Bookstore as well as my writing news, offers and other goodies.
Jonny: Thanks so much for stopping by Tammie. Best of luck with everything!
That’s a Wrap!
All righty book worms, that wraps up my interview with Tammie. I had a great time chatting it up with her, and I hope you enjoyed the experience too!
If you’d like to learn more about Tammie and her work, she can be reached at the social media links provided below.
Thank you for stopping by, and have a great day!
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