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Mother's Milk Books Interview

Posted on 19 March 2014. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to Dr Teika Bellamy of Mother's Milk Books

Tell us a bit about Mother's Milk Books: history, ethos, aims, people involved

I founded Mother’s Milk Books in the summer of 2011 with the view to publish books for children, and adults, that normalize breastfeeding. I believe that there are too few books on the market that illustrate the natural beauty of the breastfeeding mother-baby dyad and so I wanted to address that imbalance. I was also aware of the fact that there are many, many talented mothers out there who are fantastic writers and artists, and I wanted to try to showcase their work. Our remit has – quite naturally – broadened and I’ve now redefined what Mother’s Milk Books is about on the website: Normalizing breastfeeding, empowering parents, providing positive role models and encouraging creativity.

At the moment I’m the sole employee of Mother’s Milk Books, doing all the jobs that need to be done: editing, graphic design, typesetting, promotion, publicity, bookselling… (although my husband helps out by proof-reading and my 3-year-old son makes me drinks!). However, I do have a wonderful small team of artists who I work with on a freelance basis (their beautiful images appear on the greetings cards I produce, as well as the book covers).

What's the deal for writers who get taken on by you - do they have to pay or do you offer them a fee for their work, etc?

Writers are important people! There’s a tremendous amount of skill involved in the craft of writing and so, of course, it’s essential to pay writers. I try to offer authors I take on as much as I can, within what I consider to be reasonable rates for a small, independent press. The main problem, obviously, is to find the right balance between paying the authors and artists what they deserve and keeping the business afloat!

Who would be on your wishlist - writers alive or dead and/or books - and why?

Well, as this is a hypothetical question, I would definitely ask for some of my favourite writers: J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charlotte Bronte, Dumas, Dostoevsky, Jane Austen, L.M. Montgomery and Philip Pullman. To me, they are all of the magical race of folk I term ‘true storytellers’ and so anything they wrote would be marked by their innate ability to tell a riveting story that somehow – magically, seamlessly – finds its way into the soul of the reader.

It would also be fascinating to talk to J.K. Rowling about her experience as a new (and single) mother writing a book; mothering with plenty of support (emotional, practical and financial) is quite a challenge as it is, so to be able to write the remarkable Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone at such a difficult time is a testament to the power of motherly willpower and creativity!

What excites you about a piece of writing - what keeps you interested?

Whatever the style of writing - whether it is spare prose or rich, poetical language, for me the real excitement comes from the story and the ideas that are translated through the story. With the right story arc, the writer will easily have the reader turning the pages of their book, absolutely desperate to get on to the next chapter!

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

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