Monday, May 9, 2011

Interview with Author Jill Ammon Vanderwood

Jill grew up in Oregon and was the third of eleven children. She is the author of five children’s/young adult books. She enjoys writing for kids and hopes to make a difference for this generation. Besides writing fiction she has won several awards for her nonfiction book—What’s it Like Living Green: Kids Teaching Kids by the Way They Live. Her newest work is a teen book, written with her teenage granddaughter, Savanna Peterson—Drugs Make You Un-Smarter. Jill is the mother of four children and has six grandchildren, and one great grandchild. She and her husband have made their home in Utah.

Hello Jill. Please tell us about your book, Through the Rug.

This is a magical adventure series. When Grandma Emma signs up for cooking school, she doesn’t realize she is learning magic. She tries a formula to clean her dog, and turns her black and white dog, Domino, to pink and green. Her dog attracts the attention of a dogcatcher. While her granddaughter, ten-year-old Alyssa, comes to visit, Grandma makes a formula for more days in the week, the formula spills onto the kitchen rug. Grandma slips into the spill and falls through the rug. Alyssa and Domino are followed through the rug by the dogcatcher. They find themselves in a magical place called Wishville, where all wishes are granted.

Readers are invited to follow Grandma Emma, Alyssa and Domino on adventures including a reception where they can eat as much as they wish, without getting full. They visit an island with pirates and Alyssa dances in a professional ballet. Many fun and often-misguided wishes await the reader in Through the Rug.

This series sounds wonderful. Where did you get your inspiration for this novel? Do you get any ideas from real life experiences?

My stories are inspired by my own grandchildren, and ten year old Alyssa is actually my granddaughter. The grandmother is loosely based on my own personality. In the story, Grandma went to the store in her slippers and her granddaughter was so embarrassed. This incident actually happened.

When I was growing up in Portland, Oregon, we had a lake called Blue Lake. One year voters would decide if the city should put blue dye in the water, to make the lake blue. My friends often joked, “I wonder if we will turn blue when we go swimming” or “I wonder if the water will taste like blue punch.” I used this scenario in the story and everyone who goes swimming in the lake turns blue. The water also tastes like punch. 

Wow! I love it when an author uses real experiences from their own life. Through the Rug 2: Follow That Dog is the second book in this series. What is it about and will there be more books in this series?

The dogcatcher returns for Domino, or is it the rug he’s after? Grandma and Alyssa follow Domino through the rug, back to Wishville, where all wishes are granted. Domino outsmarts the dogcatcher, and makes sure things don’t turn out well for a bank robber with a bag full of money. Alyssa falls into the nest of a strange bird and Grandma’s most embarrassing moment is broadcast on national television. Rub your return token and come to Wishville, for more fun adventures and magical mishaps. Follow that Dog is a winning recipe for fun.

I’m usually reading Through the Rug to a classroom. I finished reading to a class of sixth graders before Christmas and now I’m reading to a class of fifth graders. The kids are always asking for Through the Rug Three. I have the book about 3/4 finished but I’m not sure when I will finish and release this book. The title of the book is Through the Rug 3: Charm Forrest. 

It sounds like you’re kept busy. What does your family think about your writing?

My grandchildren all want to be featured in a book. Through the Rug 2: Follow that Dog includes three more granddaughters. My husband thought my writing was just a phase, at first, but then it continued. I have published a new book each year, since 2006, and still have many ideas brewing. He’s getting use to the idea that this is for real. He was at the League of Utah Writer’s Roundup in 2008, when I won the Writer of the Year Award.

It shows that you’re never too old to start something new. My first book was published in 2006, also. It was the beginning of a new life for me. I’m sure you agree. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

This is something my family certainly won’t forget. After publishing my fourth book, What’s It Like, Living Green? Kids Teaching Kids, by the Way They Live, I went skydiving to promote literacy. In the book I encourage readers to “Take a Green Leap” and decide to take my own “Leap for Literacy” I took donations for the Literacy Action Center in Salt Lake City and even made it onto the channel 4 news.

I actually went skydiving twice, because I wanted to make sure I could really go through with it. The first time, I didn’t even tell my husband. For the real jump, he tried very hard to talk me out of it, but that didn’t work. You can see the video of my first jump on my website. It’s in the information section for What’s It Like, Living Green?

Find more information about me and my books at:
Through the Rug is available @ and

Thank you so much for this interview, Jill. Now I know the real you! The “skydiving” author, who dares to take a chance at life and do something new…a mother and grandmother who decided to become an author in her later years! Congratulations, Jill, for taking a chance.


Coreena McBurnie said...

Great interview! I have to look out for these books for my kids. Thank you.

apple blossom said...

this looks like it could be an interesting series for kids. thanks. love to win

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Anonymous said...

Wow! Third of eleven children. I'm the last of seven and I thought that was a lot. Thanks for the giveaway!


Melanie Ski said...

I have read many series on magical places with my kids, but I honestly dont think I have ever seen one with a Grandma as the main character, how original and fun!

Louise said...

Cool, I keep meeting more Utah authors. Since I'm both a grandma AND a kid at heart, these stories really appeal to me. I wish you the best of luck and will be watching for your name and books.

PS I love the cute cover, too.


Shawna said...

What a fun concept! I'd love swimming in blue punch - or maybe blue jello.

anmlvrami at yahoo dot com

Linda Badurek said...

Now we are talking! This is MY kind of book! I would love to fall Through the Rug with you and go on these adventures. My grandchildren and I love stories like these! We would love to win and read this one! Many thanks! Linda Badurek

Kat said...

Wow, I think my kids would love this book! Thanks for the opportunity to win it!

katsaddress AT gmail DOT com

Linda Weaver Clarke said...

Congratulations, Margaret! You're the winner of this awesome book. I know you'll enjoy it. Thanks, everyone, for stopping by. Don't forget to check every Monday for a new giveaway.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully some bloggers can write. Thanks for this post..