Sitting on the patio of a local Clemson coffee shop, Reed Piller seems worlds away. As rain falls all around, she describes the bright, sunny beach of Positano with brilliant clarity.

“We just sat on the beach all day. You would look straight out, and you would see the beach; but then you turned your head, and there were the mountains. I had never seen that. It was beautiful.”

Studying abroad was truly a spiritual experience for her — and one she considers the most inspiring of her Clemson experience.

Reed Pillar sits on a bench in the sun writing.

Reed Piller discovered her passion for writing early in life.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

“We hear all the time how Heaven is incomparable to Earth. … But, then you see a place like that, and you’re just like, ‘wow.’ If God created this for Earth, and I’m not going to stay here on Earth, just imagine what we’re going to see in Heaven,” Piller said.

It’s no coincidence that Piller was drawn to the otherworldliness of Italy’s coast. In fact, she has created her own world — in her books.

A senior marketing major and creative writing minor, Piller is a self-published author. Her trilogy of novels centers on a group of friends who all discover they were born on the moon and possess otherworldly abilities.

Like many authors, Piller’s dream of writing began when she was a child. She was enamored by the art of creative writing after taking a class in middle school. By high school, she was determined to write her first book.

The idea for her novels did not come to her from any particular experience but from a simple writing prompt.

“I was looking up little writing prompts online, and I found one that I liked. It was to combine two ideas, and it said ‘a campfire’ and ‘a secret that keeps getting bigger.’ I thought ‘I like that,’” she said. “My sister and I kept on throwing out ideas and tried to make it a big story and finally came up with it. It just built up into something a whole lot bigger than a little writing prompt.”

As a creative writing minor, Piller is an assistant editor for Clemson’s literary magazine, The South Carolina Review which, she has learned, is different from publishing a book. The South Carolina Review class is, Piller says, “fun because I recognize some of the stuff Professor Keith Morris talks about — like page layout. I like that, and I like seeing what goes into the magazine. I always thought that literary magazines were interesting, and it’s definitely not at all the same as publishing a book.”

While she loves writing and publishing novels, Piller does not envision herself as a professional author. While she insists the world of publishing is not for her, she maintains that she will continue to write her whole life.

“I love stories, and I love writing. But I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do with that — yet.”