Becoming an architect was Mina Witteman’s childhood wish, but all her designs, sketches and drawings invariably ended in words and stories. She dropped out of architecture school and for ages she wandered from job to job, doing her very best to escape the pull of fiction. But fiction is stronger than reality and when it caught up with her, she had no choice but to answer its call: she was a writer. She had to write.
She wrote and revised, revised and wrote. She chucked entire manuscripts in the trash, often despaired but always persevered at what felt was the only job in the world that could make her happy. The persistence paid off. Mina’s debut De wraak van Deedee (Deedee’s Revenge) came out in 2005 with Van Goor Children’s Books, followed by two more middle-grade novels, before she moved to Ploegsma Children’s Books. Her latest books Boreas en de zeven zeeën (Boreas and the Seven Seas, 2015) was elected focus title for the 2019 National Children’s Book Week, an honor that brought the book into every elementary school, library and bookstore in the Netherlands. The sequels, Boreas en de duizend eilanden (Boreas and the Thousand Islands, 2016), and Boreas en de vier windstreken, (Boreas and the Four Winds, 2017), and Boreas en de vijftien vrienden, (Boreas and the Fifteen Friends, 2018) are too highly praised by her young readers, teachers and librarians.
Mina writes for every age group and every story is a spine-chilling adventure, for the writer and for the reader. Her writing is said to be intense, pulling readers dead into the stories. Her trade secret? Experiencing what her characters experience: if the protagonist crashes down a waterfall in his kayak, you can be sure that she crashed down a waterfall too. If her hero roams icy cold mountains or scorching deserts, she wandered the same icy cold mountains and scorching deserts. Caught in a storm at sea on a sailboat or racing tractors like the protagonist in the Boreas series? She did it, too.
To hone her storytelling and writing craft, Mina attended the four-year course Writing for Children at Script Plus (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences). As a non-degree seeking student, she completed the master program Book Editing at the University of Amsterdam. Mina is an certified teacher Creative Writing, trained through the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.
Mina lives in Berkeley, California, where she writes in English and Dutch, and works as a freelance editor. She teaches creative writing to kids and adults and she mentors aspiring and published writers.
Mina is the Youth Program Manager for the Bay Area Book Festival and the Program Director for Cinnamongirl, an Oakland-based grassroots organization that supports girls of color destined for greatness. In collaboration with the Bay Area Book Festival, she designed and developed Write Your Story, a yearlong writing program for girls of color, ages 12-18. She is currently working on STEAMgirl, a program intended to be a pipeline for girls of color toward an education and a career in STEAM, and she is preparing an Entrepreneurship program.
Mina teaches Dutch to elementary school students at the Dutch School of Silicon Valley.
For the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she serves as the International Published Authors’ Coordinator, after serving as the Regional Advisor for the Netherlands until 2016. She is a member and judge of the EU Planning Committee of the Undiscovered Voices Contest of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators British Isles.
Mina serves as a longtime jury member for the Young Authors Fiction Festival of the American Library in Paris.
Until recently, Mina was the chairperson of the Section Children’s Books of the Dutch Authors Guild. From 2011 until 2019, she nominated children’s authors and illustrators for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Mina was the Coordinator Children’s and Young Adult Literature for the US of the Dutch Foundation for Literature.