Jennifer Thwaite, co-author of the successful Mr Hendrix…and Friends series of pre-school picture books explains how she took a leap of faith and went into business with her daughter to make their dreams come true.
So I did it. At an age when I should be planning my retirement, finding new hobbies and generally slowing down, I find myself in a whirlwind of my own making.
I entered my 50s with an unfinished dream
As I went into my 50s, I realised I had an unfinished dream and set about making that dream a reality.
I became a children’s author.
The catalyst for this monumental decision was a tiny scrap of mischief in the shape of a Pomeranian puppy, brought into my life by my daughter Anji, but more about him later.
My dream began on my eight birthday when my parents gave me a copy of ‘The Jennifer Wish’. I was instantly hooked, each page drew me deeper and deeper into a world brought alive by the power of words.
Then life took over and even though my dream was put on hold I scribbled and wrote my way through marriage, two children and two grandchildren. I attended creative writing classes at my local collage, wrote short stories, poems, and even got three quarters of the way through my first and only (so far) novel.
Through all of this not once did I have the courage of my convictions to send off any of my work to an agent or publisher. All that has now changed.
I have always had a great relationship with my daughter, then last year we went on holiday together. One night, over a meal and a glass of wine we began to imagine the mischief her little dog Hendrix was getting up to at home. By the end of that meal we had practically written the first of the Mr Hendrix series of books.
How would working with my daughter affect our relationship?
Now came the serious part, we both knew what we wanted to achieve but how would we cope working together, something so fraught with danger it could potentially damage our mother/daughter relationship? We talked it over and both agreed. We believed so strongly and passionately in what we were doing that it was worth the risk.
The process of writing a book is an intimate and profoundly personal endeavour. Opening yourself up to criticism (of your ideas and thoughts) could be hurtful and destructive.
Luckily, Anji and I are both quite chilled out, easy going individuals. We enjoy bouncing ideas off each other and are more likely to burst into laughter than rip each other to shreds if an idea isn’t working.
We also accept each of us has our own strengths; I bring the experience of life and all it has thrown at me: both the good and the not so good. Anji on the other hand has the energy and positivity of youth. She is the master of social media, a definite must in this IT world and draws out all the storyboards to send to the illustrator, while my skills lie in the logistics of getting us to book readings or nursery/school visits.
Outside of writing Anji is a successful songwriter, writing tracks for film and TV, while I have spent many years helping to run our family business.
I think compromise is one of the most important keys to success in our working relationship. The other is our total belief and passion in what we are doing. We are revelling in our commitment to each other and our future as the creators and writers of the Mr Hendrix books, and we allow each other the freedom to express our opinions, to put forward ideas and concepts without the fear of ridicule, and most importantly to allow ourselves to enjoy this very special time in our lives.
I know I have the ability and determination to succeed in this new and exciting time in my life and say to anyone with an unfulfilled dream, never give up on your hopes and aspirations. It may be a cliché but it is working for me.