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‘Marlon Bundo’ author Jill Twiss tells story behind the vice presidential parody

“I never thought it would actually get published,” the “Last Week Tonight” writer says.

Jill Twiss, author of

Jill Twiss, author of "A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo" and writer for "Last Week Tonight," spoke with amNewYork about the best-selling children's book. Photo Credit: Gabrielle Stubbert Photography

#BOTUS may not typically make headlines, but “Last Week Tonight’s” Jill Twiss wasn’t going to let an opportunity to poke fun at the Pence family’s pet bunny hop away.

Twiss’ children’s book, “A Day In The Life of Marlon Bundo” debuted this past March, aligned with the publication of Charlotte and Karen Pence’s book, “Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President.” Unlike the second family’s illustrated tale published by a conservative press, Twiss’ take shares the story of BOTUS — or Bunny of the United States — falling in love with another boy bunny.

In advance of Twiss’ appearance at Books Are Magic in Brooklyn on July 14, we caught up with the writer to learn more about her comedic ideas, writing process and what liberal, anthropomorphized animals we can look forward to reading about next.

What was it like to write “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo” with both kids and adults in mind?

To be honest, it was much easier than it should have been because I never thought it would actually get published. You can do anything if you think you’re just doing something silly that no one will ever read. It’s only later on in the process that it started to seem real.

How did you make the story entertaining and interesting to both age groups? Who is this book for?

The book is absolutely for kids, but if adults like it — all the better. Our goal was to make something very genuinely for children, that you could also really irritate Mike Pence by buying.

What was your writing process for this book like?

I’m a writer at “Last Week Tonight” and I had a personal obsession with the Vice Presidential bunny, Marlon Bundo and his Instagram — mostly because, what a great name! When we saw that the Pences were coming out with a book, we thought we could use the opportunity to support some really great charities — the Trevor Project and AIDS United — while also hopefully putting out an inclusive, loving children’s book in the process.

While I wrote the story, there was tons of help from our entire staff, and our illustrator Gerald Kelley was just incredible. It’s amazing how quickly the whole process happened. I’m told picture books usually take almost two years and we did ours in just a few months. That credit goes to Gerald, our staff and Chronicle Books, whom I’m sure we caused a lot of stress for with our crazy timeline.

Is there anywhere in New York you especially like to write?

I love to write at the Signature Theater. They have wonderful couches upstairs and lots of brilliant people working on projects I’m convinced will be on Broadway soon. They also have prosecco, which I firmly believe helps the writing process.

Your book became an immediate bestseller, what has that been like? Did you expect it?

I am honestly shocked by the sales. It’s incomprehensible. I think we sold out our first printing just a few minutes after we aired that night. I still take a picture every time I see it in a bookstore. It’s insane to me.

Personally, of course, I’m so proud of the sales of a book whose message is that “different is special.” Sometimes it’s hard for kids to deal with feeling out of place or having a family that looks different than that of their friends. I hope there’s just a little comfort for those kids in this book about two boy bunnies who love each other.

Can we expect more kids books from you?

I’m definitely hoping to write more kids books if I get the chance! It’s such a hopeful world to dip your toe into and I’m such a huge fan of the genre anyway. I’m currently working on a book on immigration that stars a very curious chipmunk. I’m also penguin-obsessed, so I’d love to write a book about a mischievous penguin sometime in the future.

What are you favorite children’s books?

I don’t read a ton of picture books because I don’t have kids, but for the slightly older crowd, I love Tim Federle’s “Nate” series, starting with “Better Nate Than Ever.” And I’ve been reading all of Maureen Johnson’s young adult novels. I especially loved “Truly Devious.” Also, my officemate Raquel D’Apice wrote a great parenting book called “Welcome to the Club: 100 Parenting Milestones You Never Saw Coming” that makes me laugh on literally every single page.

And adult books?

As for grown-up stuff, I just devoured Curtis Sittenfeld’s book of short stories “You Think It, I’ll Say It.” I’m also constantly rereading anything and everything by Christopher Durang. I’m mostly just mentioning that because I’m hoping he’ll read this and decide that he wants to be my friend.

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