Sometimes, a school project can represent the beginning of something beautiful, the kind of work that touches people’s hearts.
Believe it or not, that was the case with Travis, The Traveling Bear.
In this article, we will explore the mind of Donna Breland, an author whose debut novel is based on true events. It all started with a school project. Then, she decided she wanted to share the story of Travis with the world.
Donna is proud of her accomplishment, and we get why. Travis The Traveling Bear had to wait more than 25 years before it got published, but in the end, the wait was worth it.
In this interview, Donna discusses her writing journey, creative process, and future projects. Join us as we learn more about her and get insights into her story!
Meet the Author
“At the time of the school project, I made custom teddy bears and was a ‘Bear Artist’. My son loved my creations, so we combined his love of my bears with his school project.“
― Donna Breland
Hi Donna! We’re glad to have you here. How are you? Could you please talk to us about your background and your biography as an author?
I began the story of “Travis the Traveling Bear” after Travis completed his journey as a school project nearly 25 years ago. His adventure was so successful and touched many hearts throughout the world, that I did not want to forget his story. I sat down and wrote it on paper so I could remember it. It was not perfect; it just had the highlights of his adventure. I did not have an illustrator at the time, so I just filed it away to someday complete it.
What genres do you usually write in? Is there a genre of writing you feel more drawn to and why?
I enjoy Children’s books. I enjoy reading to children and having them interested in the story and being part of it. Travis fit the part as he was part of an elementary school project. His story had to relate to younger children.
Can you share a notable accomplishment that you’re very proud of? And why do you think you were proud of it?
Travis The Traveling Bear is my first accomplishment, and I am very proud of it. Not only is it a true story and based off of true events, but it was from a project that my son and I shared. Unfortunately, my son passed, so this story is extra special to me.
What was the beginning of your writing journey? What was your motivation when you started writing?
My story, “Travis, The Traveling Bear” had been put away for so many years. After so many years and having a one-year grandson, I found my “Travis” file and I read it to my older son, and he absolutely loved it. That was my inspiration to finish the story and to publish it. It was a personal goal to complete it and I am very excited and proud of this accomplishment.
When did you decide to write children’s fiction?
Again, this story was written so long ago. I finally had the desire and motivation to complete it last year. I was able to find an illustrator to illustrate my thoughts throughout my story.
Inspiration and Creative Process
How does your creative process work? How do you find inspiration to write a new book? Do you have a particular method?
I think of my idea first, then write it down on paper for a rough draft, then I put it aside and revise it at another time. Constant research until I feel it is exactly what I am imagining.
Why do you think this method works for you?
I feel that if I put my thoughts on paper, I can revise it with a fresh idea at a later time when my thoughts are at a different level.
Writing Routine and Overcoming Obstacles
To keep from burning out as a writer, what do you do in your free time? Why do you think this helps you?
Sometimes, in order to have a fresh mind, you need to redirect and walk away for a little bit. At times, I get up and take long walks to clear my mind. Sometimes, I will leave it for a few days and come back when I am less tired or have a clear mind.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced on your writing journey?
Sometimes, I get stuck on punctuation. It is also important to keep the story based on the present or the past. It shouldn’t be mixed, unless it is done on purpose.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Practice. Practice is usually the key to success.
Current Projects and Future Plans
Could you tell us about Travis: The Traveling Bear?
Travis was created to be part of my son’s school project. I created Travis to travel to different destinations of the world to teach the 3rd graders about geography.
Where did the inspiration to start writing this book come from?
Travis’ adventures were so successful during the school year. I wrote the story so the events would not be forgotten. Travis captured the hearts of many adults and children throughout the world and made many friends.
Why did you choose a teddy bear as the main character?
At the time of the school project, I made custom teddy bears and was a “Bear Artist”. My son loved my creations, so we combined his love of my bears with his school project.
What do you enjoy most about writing from Travis’ point of view?
I love being in his moment. Sharing his experiences with others and sharing his love of learning and adventures with children … and adults.
What kind of research is needed when you are writing for children?
Research needs to be accurate, especially in teaching children events around the world.
What was the most difficult part of the writing process for Travis: The Traveling Bear and why?
The writing and thoughts and sharing his journey was very enjoyable. The most difficult part was finding someone who could portray my character thoughts in my mind to their drawings on paper. It was a back and forth process until I was completely satisfied with my characters.
Are there any upcoming projects you’re excited about?
Yes. I have continued thoughts on writing more adventures that Travis had ventured to and sharing those stories in upcoming books.
Final Thoughts and Closing Remarks
Finally, what message would you like to convey to your readers?
Keep reading. Always continue to learn. If you have a thought or a challenge you want to pursue, keep at it and pursue it with all that you have and strive to always do your best. Always.
Donna advises new authors to keep learning and pursue to be the best version of themselves. Above all, she insists how crucial it is to never give up on the stories we want to tell.
We thank you, Donna, for letting us know the mind of Travis The Teddy Bear and how the story came to light. We’re sure your readers are grateful for introducing them to Travis and accompanying him through his adventures.
Stay in touch with Donna to follow Travis’ upcoming adventures here. Happy writing!