Where We Find Our Inspiration
By Patti Wheeler, coauthor of Travels with Gannon & Wyatt
This past year I have had the pleasure of speaking to thousands of elementary school children about my middle-grade adventure book series. Meeting with parents and teachers along the way, one of the first questions I’m always asked is what inspired me to write these books. The answer is similar, I think, to what a lot of writers would say if asked the same question: my life.
I grew up in a small town in North Florida that most people have never heard of. My father was a truck driver. He drove routes all over the southeastern United States. Sometimes I got to ride along. I remember the first time I saw the Smokey Mountains. Those high, misty mountains seemed like a different world to me, and yet it was only a car ride away. It was those early trips that opened my mind to the possibilities of travel and inspired me to get out and see the world.
Right after high school, I applied for a job as a flight attendant. I wasn’t even old enough, but they overlooked that fact and hired me anyway. I loved the job so much I did it for 15-years. Traveling became a big part of my life, and when my husband Tom and I had our twins, Gannon and Wyatt, we just brought them right along. I’ve always felt so fortunate to be able to travel, to see so many beautiful places, and to share these special experiences with my children has been a real blessing.
Regarding the book series, I think the “ah-ha” moment came when Gannon and Wyatt were in second grade. We were in the South Pacific and had the chance to visit a turtle rehabilitation facility. The boys adopted a sea turtle that had been injured, rescued and nursed back to health. They named the turtle “Gunner,” after their uncle who had just passed, and we got to release him back into the ocean. Standing in the boat, watching my sons release this beautiful turtle back into its natural habitat, I was overwhelmed with emotion. That night I asked myself what I could do pass on all of the wonderful things you learn while traveling to other children and their families. That experience, and all of our travel since, is what truly inspired our fictional adventure series, Travels with Gannon & Wyatt. My goal with each book is entertain young readers with tales of adventure, while subtly communicating the importance of conservation, cultural understanding and strong family values.
It’s taken a tremendous amount of dedication and persistence to bring this series to fruition. Writing is a tough profession for so many reasons, so you really need to love the material you’re working on. For me, passion is what has made this project possible. There is sincerely nothing I would rather be doing and I think that’s what has enabled me to overcome the obstacles I’ve faced along the way. If you believe in what you are writing then you have no choice but to continue doing it. The people I know who have made a career as writers are those that have stuck it out. They are the truly dedicated ones. I’ve always read that the best way to improve your writing is to write every chance you get and it’s true. Write every day and read anything and everything that’s of interest to you. You have to be dedicated to the craft. Write what you love. Write what’s in your heart. And then send it out into the world. It may take time, but eventually all of your hard work will be rewarded.
You can read more about Gannon & Wyatt on their website.
And all four books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and your local retailer.
Follow them on Facebook and see where their next adventure takes them!
Good news! Pattie and Keith are providing all four Travels with Gannon & Wyatt books (featuring Botswana, Great Bear, Egypt, and Greenland) for a lucky mate! Good luck! Makes for a perfect gift for your adventurous kid!