Authors & Illustrators
Amanda Rawson Hill
Amanda Rawson Hill grew up in Rock Springs, Wyoming with a library right out her back gate. She moved to Provo, Utah, to earn her bachelor's degree in chemistry at Brigham Young University. Today she resides in Atwater, California with her husband and three children. She loves to knit, homeschool, make music, and volunteer in the community. The Three Rules of Everyday Magic is her first novel.
An Interview with Amanda Rawson Hill
Q. Where did the idea for Everyday Magic and the three rules come from? Did you just make it up? Is it real?
A. I’m not sure where the idea for Everyday Magic came from. When I was writing this story, I didn’t have much of a plan. I was getting to the point where I knew something big needed to happen that would be the “glue” of the book, but I still didn’t know what it was and I was getting worried.
When I finally figured it out, it was late at night. I was in a car because we were driving cross-country to welcome my brother home from Africa. And I got to that conversation where I knew Grammy had to reveal something important, when all of a sudden my fingers typed, “There are three rules for Everyday Magic. The first is to believe that it’s real.”
I had to stop there and read that sentence again because it wasn’t in my brain until it was on the page. Suddenly, the other two rules came to my brain and I had to hurry and write them down. Over the next few days, I refined the rules to believe, give, trust. But I still wasn’t sure about them. Did I really believe that those rules could work Everyday Magic? If I was going to put them in a book as a way for someone to solve their problems, I wanted to make sure I believed them.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized I do believe them. And since finishing the book, I’ve had lots of opportunities to practice the three rules right here in my own neighborhood. And you know what? I’ve seen magic happen! Friendship, forgiveness, connection. It’s been wonderful.
Q. What kind of research did you do to portray Grammy’s dementia?
A. I got some wonderful insights from friends who had cared for family members with dementia, but I mostly drew on my memories of my grandpa’s Alzheimer’s Disease. The scene where Grammy teaches Kate to knit and says, “I’m losing it, aren’t I?” was inspired by a conversation I remember my grandpa having with my mom where he tried to explain to her what was going on and how he wouldn’t really be himself for much longer. I also added the scene where Grammy sits at the piano with Kate’s mom and whistles, in honor of my grandpa. I remember one night when we were visiting, he couldn’t read anymore (and I’m not sure if he was ever much of a singer), but my grandma started playing the piano and he sat next to her and whistled along.
In fact, my grandma started a weekly music therapy program at his adult daycare for other seniors struggling with Alzheimer’s and dementia. She continued it for several years after he passed away as well. The music of one’s youth is one of the things the brain can seem to remember even when it’s forgotten most everything else.
Q. Do you enjoy making music like Kate does?
A. I do! I started taking piano lessons when I was in kindergarten and continued those until I graduated high school. Kate’s mom’s story about skipping eight pages of Pathétique at a recital actually happened to me! It was awful! My parents reacted similarly to Kate’s grandparents. They gave me a big hug and told me they were proud of me anyway for learning such a long, hard piece and that life’s just like that sometimes.
I fell in love with my husband when we played the guitar and sang together—especially when we sang “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” These days I sing in my church choir, fiddle around on the guitar and ukulele, and sing with my kids. Playing music helps me relax and makes me feel good.
Q. It sort of feels like Sofia just drops Kate as a friend all of a sudden. Why do you think she does this? Have you ever had a falling out with a friend?
A. I think that Sofia isn’t trying to hurt Kate, but she has found something in Marisa that Kate can’t give her—an understanding that Kate just doesn’t have. There are things that Marisa and Sofia share, and they forge a new bond over them. That happens. Sometimes when we grow, we change, and sometimes that means we find new people who fit us better. It can really hurt to go through something like that. I definitely experienced it a couple of times, where friends kind of “grew out of” me. They wanted to do things that I wasn’t interested in doing, we didn’t see eye to eye on something, or they just found someone new they enjoyed more. It hurt. But I got through it by reaching out to new friends and appreciating more and becoming even stronger friends with the people who didn’t grow apart from me.
Q. When Jane says, “The people who love you never leave to begin with,” Kate thinks that can’t be true, because what would that mean about her dad? What do you think about the actions of Kate’s dad? Does he love Kate even though he’s left her?
A. I know Kate’s dad loves her. But I also know that Kate’s dad is very sick with depression. And depression makes your brain tell you terrible lies. Lies like “You’re worthless” and “Nobody loves you” and “Everyone would be better off without you.” And because Kate’s dad is so sick, he believes those lies. So in his mind, it’s better for him to leave because he believes the lie that Kate is better off without him. But I have hope that he is going to get help and get better and realize that was a lie and eventually find a way to be part of Kate’s life again.
Q. Music helps Kate get sadness out of her heart. What helps you when you’re very sad?
A. Like Kate, playing music helps me when I’m sad. Sometimes, when I’m really sad, I can’t sing because I’m crying too much. But I can still play the piano. And like Kate’s mom, sometimes you can hear my heart breaking and being put back together with the notes.
Another thing that helps me feel better is to talk to someone I trust and tell them everything that’s bothering me. Sometimes I feel like I need to talk about it over and over again and almost go in circles until I’ve talked all the sadness out. But the people who love me let me do that because they understand.
I also like to go on walks and pray when I’m sad. Write sad poetry. Bake cookies. Cuddle with my dog. Give my husband or kids really good, long hugs. Call my mom. Read outside in the sunshine. And sometimes the best thing I do when I’m sad is go to bed! The world almost always looks better the next morning.
I’ve never experienced depression as severely as Kate’s dad. But I know that if all those things I usually do still don’t help me feel better and I am still very sad for a long time, the best thing I can do is see a doctor.
Q. How can I get started making Everyday Magic?
A. Well, if you’re asking that question, then you probably have the first rule down. Believe. It’s important to believe in the magic all around you. That everyone has good in them and is worth being loved and valued.
Second, make something and give it away! This can be anything you put your heart into, whether that’s baking, music, a letter, or knitting. Remember that you can also give things like a sympathetic ear, a pat on the back, a smile, or an invitation to come spend time with you.
After the first two steps comes the hardest step of all: trusting that everything will work out how it’s supposed to, even if it’s not what you were hoping for. In the end, even if you feel like you didn’t see anything come from the magic you gave away, I bet it helped make you a better, kinder person. And that sounds like magic to me.