Wendy and Mina are a mother and daughter, children’s author and illustrator team – and so far, they’ve published a total of four childrens books together. Three are the Wendy Quill series, which were translated into 15 languages, and the other is Dottie Blanket and the Hilltop. Since their success has boomed, they’ve gone from “making books at home (with Mina’s three little brothers playing with their toy train track in the background)” to appearing on BBC Radio Woman’s Hour and CBBC Newsround, and doing events at the Edinburgh Literary Festival. We caught up with the duo to find out what it’s really like living and working together…
Mother-Daughter Duos: Wendy and Mina Meddour
What made you decide to go into business together?
Wendy: We never really thought of it as a ‘business’. We never planned it as such. It’s just something we did for fun that, once publishers starting bidding for our books, became a commercial success. Obviously, we had to set up the financial side of things once contracts had been signed – but that came afterwards. The creative energy and joy of writing and illustrating books definitely came first.
What are your roles?
Wendy: Although I can see Mina becoming a writer in her own right, currently, I’m the author. I write the first draft of the story first. Mina’s the illustrator, as well as being a very talented artist. We tend to work together in the kitchen: as soon as I’m happy with a chapter, I show it to Mina. She tells me what she thinks needs improving, and starts drawing the characters. Then, it’s just a case of giving each other feedback and trying to produce the best thing that we can.
What’s the best part of working together?
Wendy: In an otherwise busy life, our creative projects allow us to have some special time together. It’s our ‘anything is possible - mother and daughter’ time.
Mina: The fact that we have a similar vision of what we want to do and understand each other so well. This makes it so easy to work together.
What’s the worst part of working together?
Wendy: Mina’s brothers sometimes feel left out and publisher deadlines can be quite stressful.
Mina: Because we live and work together, we’re both aware of each other’s deadlines, so we know the pressure each other are under. In other words, you can’t completely switch off.
How do you keep family and business separate?
Wendy: We don’t. Not really. It’s very much a part of our life and home.
Mina: I agree. We don’t. Our work blends into our family life, but not in a bad way. Books have always been a big part of who we are and what we do. My mum’s an English Lecturer and a writer. I’m studying English (and Maths and Art), and want to write in the future. And our mother-daughter publishing experience has shown me that you can achieve all sorts of things if you work hard enough.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Wendy: Trying to fit all the deadlines for the artwork around Mina’s schoolwork, and making sure that I meet my deadlines, still mark my student’s essays on time, and make sure everyone gets fed!
Mina: Learning how to do a lot of work in a short period of time and not get distracted by other things.
What’s been your proudest moment so far?
Wendy: There have been so many but I think I was very proud of Mina on Woman’s Hour. She was so calm and collected, whereas I was a bag of nerves.
Mina: Being told I was the youngest professional illustrator in the world was pretty awesome. When I look back, I’m quite proud of my younger self.
How do you celebrate your successes together?
Wendy: We go for a nice meal out or go shopping. Being a bit of an artist, Mina loves clothes and has great taste. Being a writer, I like coffee and cake.
Mina: Cream Teas. Going for cream teas.
Any advice for budding mother-daughter business owners?
Wendy: Do it because you love it. Then it won’t get in the way of your relationship, it will just enhance it.
Mina: What Mum says: It only works if you have a good relationship already. You need that so that you can absorb the pressure and enjoy all the highs together. If you don’t have a strong mother-daughter relationship, I don’t see how it can work.