Author Top 5s - Amanda Pillar

In Author Top 5s I'm inviting a number of authors to share top 5 lists somehow related to the genre they write. They'll be discussing things they love and how they've been influenced by them. Should prove to be interesting and hopefully we'll all pick up a few recommendations of good stuff to check out.

Today Amanda Pillar, accomplished short-story writer, editor, archeologist (yes, like Indiana Jones) and most recently author of her debut novel Graced from Momentum Books joins me to share the top 5 influences on her work. Go for it Amanda.

Wow. Like everyone else, it’s really hard to narrow down the top five books or movies that inspire you in the genre you write. But, I’m nothing if not an optimist, so let me have a crack! (I may cheat though, and go for movies, TV shows and books).

The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop

For anyone who knows me, or who has read Graced, this may seem a little obvious. Anne Bishop wrote this deliciously dark trilogy where there were no love triangles, just a woman born to a special – and deadly – destiny. In Bishop’s world, there are people of the ‘blood’ and those born human. Their level of their power is shown by the coloured jewels they obtain through two rite of passage ceremonies. This story is dark, and certainly has its gory moments. And yes, the jewels are coloured, but they signify rank, not ability.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Well, there aren’t any vampire slayers in Graced, but when it comes to urban fantasy, I like to think we all want a kickass heroine (at least for one book). And you can’t really get more kickass than Buffy. Sure, she’s got some magical slayer-juju going on, but she can stand up for herself, which makes her a great role model and someone who you’d want to be friends with, despite the 15 year old attitude she first screened with. Plus, Joss Whedon’s dialogue.


This may not appear all that related, but Archer has great, snappy dialogue. While set in a completely different genre to Graced, the fast-paced, hilarious and sharp dialogue are wonderful inspirations. Each episode is short, rather like a chapter, and really highlights how important constant engagement with the medium is.

Psy/Changeling series – Nalini Singh

While paranormal romance rather than urban fantasy, it has a great, over-arching plot that is set in an alternate-earth world. The rich world-building associated with this series and a plot that spans over 10 books highlights how a story can be told through numerous protagonists, each with their own set storyline.

Twilight – Stephanie Meyer

I’ve written elsewhere that this book is a great inspiration, but possibly not for the reasons most people will think. I’ve heard a lot of commentary on how the writing isn’t all that great, about the weaknesses of Bella as a character, and the controlling, unhealthy obsession of Edward. But here’s the thing: Twilight hit its target audience perfectly.

Twilight made me realise that targeting the audience while writing a story that you – as the author – enjoys is equally important. And…it also made me strive to write a strong female character, romantic elements that are about equal power and mutual affection (not obsession), and vampires with a scientific explanation that makes sense. Oh, and no love triangle (it often – to me – feels too contrived).

Amanda Pillar is an award-winning editor and author who lives in Victoria, Australia, with her husband and two cats, Saxon and Lilith.

Amanda has had numerous short stories published and has co-edited the fiction anthologies Voices (2008), Grants Pass (2009), The Phantom Queen Awakes (2010), Scenes from the Second Storey (2010), Ishtar (2011) and Damnation and Dames (2012). Her first solo anthology was published by Ticonderoga Publications, titled Bloodstones (2012). Amanda is currently working on the sequel, Bloodlines, due for publication in 2015.

Amanda's first novel, Graced, was published by Momentum in 2015.

In her day job, she works as an archaeologist.

You can find Graced in all these places:

Amazon (Kindle)

Amazon UK (Kindle)

Barnes and Noble (Nook devices)

Google Play (All devices except Kindle)

iBooks Store (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac)

Kobo (All devices except Kindle)