My guest today is Urban Fantasy writer, award-winning editor and archaeologist, Amanda Pillar! I first met Amanda at a Continuum convention in Melbourne a few years back as we had the same publisher, and we’ve been good friends ever since. So, let’s get chatting so you can get to know her too:
How did you come to be a writer? Was it always something you were interested in or did you fall into it?
When I was 13 years old, I was in a class at school called ‘Open Learning’. We had one of the year 12 English teachers come in and talk about writing, and one thing she said stuck with me ‘every book starts with a single sentence’. I was like, I can do that! I went home, started that first sentence, and have been going ever since.
What were your favourite books/films growing up? What kick-started your creativity?
Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series was a big favourite, as were LJ Smith’s Nightworld series. Unfortunately, Smith still hasn’t finished the series (she’s busy writing Vampire Diary books), and the final book was due out 18 years ago. I will keep waiting… I also loved Buffy. So it’s probably no surprise I write urban fantasy…
Your Graced series involves vampires, shifters and a new breed of character, the Graced. Can you tell us a bit about this world?
It’s set in a world far in the future. Humans created the Graced, vampires and shifters in labs, trying to breed the ideal ‘immortal human’. Unfortunately, things didn’t go to plan. A civil war later, and society was utterly destroyed, and humans were rounded up and living in camps, food for the shifters and vampires. Captive tells that story in a little more detail. Once you arrive at Graced though, the world has started to repair itself, and vampires, shifters, and humans now live in an uneasy truce.
Okay, Vamps vs Shifters vs a Graced – who would win?
Depends very much on the shifter, the vampire and the Graced. Graceds are humans with psychic abilities who live in secret. There are some so powerful they can level cities. If it came to a fight, they’d win hands down (literally, they wouldn’t need their hands). But there’s a vampire alive today, who was once created in those very labs the humans used to make their ‘immortals’. She is insane, amazingly strong, and has no problems with killing. There wouldn’t be many people in the Graced world who could survive a confrontation with her.
You’ve also been working on some other series, namely the Tangled Threads series which revolves around a Fae world, and the Moonlit Hills series that you co-wrote with K.V. Adair which involves witches and demons. Can you tell us a little bit about them?
The Tangled Threads series has one book out currently, and I just finished writing the first full length novel which is with my agent. The story is set in a place called the Borderlands, which is an interdimensional bridge between our world and the fae world of the Hills. Humans know the fae exist – we have reality TV shows, and talk shows dedicated to their antics. Rose Tears (currently out), tells the story of a half-Succubus half-Sidhe woman on the run, and the fae White Queen’s ‘cleaner’.
The Moonlit Hills series is a lot of fun. It’s set in our world, in the sleepy town of Moonlit Hills. Verity is a born necromancer and is shunned by the magical community as a result. Gabe is a non-magical man born to a magical family, who runs a magic shop. It’s a recipe for a disaster. A fun one.
Now, by night you’re an author and by day you’re an archaeologist. That sounds so interesting! Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Well, first off, my life is nowhere near as exciting as Indiana Jones’ or Lara Croft’s, but I also am a proper archaeologist, not a grave robber *wink*. I work in Australian archaeology, so I spend a lot of time working closely with our Traditional Owners, trying to help protect our cultural heritage as much as possible. It’s driven by a lot of legislation, and each State is different. I didn’t do archaeology to become a lawyer, but sometimes that’s what my job is…
You’re also an award-winning editor of anthologies who’s worked with some big names in both Australian and International spec fic. What are the key elements you look for in a short story?
First off, that the first page is clean, polished, and hooks me in straight away. After that, it’s seeing whether or not the short story is full self-contained. A lot of stories I receive are the start of something bigger. Afterwards, I need to love the story. If I am working on it for an anthology, I’ll probably read it close to 15-20 times. So I need to be passionate about it.
If you weren’t a writer, what would your dream job be? Do you have a secret passion that we don’t know about?
Archaeology. And if I wasn’t an archaeologist, a writer. I’m super lucky I get to do both.
What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had told you when starting your writing career? What do you know now, that you wished you knew then?
Learning how to edit my own work earlier would have been great. Knowing that not every word is needed, that you can always cut. And that I’d understood what voice was.
What can we expect from you next?
Next on the list is another brand-new series – Heaven’s Heart. This is a paranormal romance series about angels and demons, and missing artefacts. After that, there will be another Graced story, and KV Adair and I will get stuck into the next Moonlit Hills book. Full steam ahead!
Fantastic! Thanks for being my guest today, Amanda.
If you would like to find out more about Amanda and her work, here’s how you can find her: