For me, writing is exploring. Whether it's the surprising connections among people, the wondrous patterns of nature, or the mysterious wellsprings of the spirit, the universe beckons. And I love to explore it, whether by foot or by pen.
Writing is both the most joyous—and most agonizing—labor I know. And it is by far the best way to travel—in our world or any other. Ever since my youth on a ranch in Colorado, I've felt passionate about nature…and about writing. (I even published my own magazine when I was a kid, called The Idiot's Odyssey, which sold about five copies an issue—including the ones bought by my parents.) I kept writing during my college years at Princeton, and during my time as a Rhodes Scholar. (While at Oxford, I confess, I studied mostly the hiking trails of Scotland.) During those years abroad, I composed stories and poems while hiking in the Scottish highlands; while sitting beneath the boughs of an English oak I called Merlin's Tree; while backpacking through Asia, Africa, and the Arctic; and while participating in a traditional roof thatching in Japan. Even during my years helping to manage a fast-growing business in New York City, my writing continued. In all those years, I often rose before dawn just to write.
Finally, I followed my dream to write full time. In 1990, I moved back to Colorado and started writing in the attic of my home, with the help of my wife and our five young children. So I still often get up before dawn to write—but now I can keep going after breakfast.
If you haven't read any of my books yet, you may want to start with my three novels about a heroic young woman named Kate Gordon. The New York Times Book Review said about The Ancient One: “Mortality, in all its splendor and sadness, is T.A. Barron's subject.” Perhaps so, but Kate's three adventures concern other subjects, as well—the fragility of our environment, and the power of just one person to make a difference. She travels far and wide in these books: back in time to a lost Native American tribe in The Ancient One; to a distant galaxy to save the life of her astronomer grandfather in Heartlight; and down to the very bottom of the sea—“the womb where the waters are born”—in The Merlin Effect.
But don't take my word about these books. Read the reviews and the excerpts, and judge for yourself. You can read the first chapters right on this website by going to the world of “The Heartlight Saga.” I hope you will come to the same conclusion as Madeleine L'Engle, who has called these books “stories to celebrate.”
You could also join the great wizard Merlin—the greatest enchanter of all times and the mentor to King Arthur—as he reveals at last the secrets of his lost youth. My 5-book epic, called The Lost Years of Merlin, gave me a chance to add another, new dimension to the lore of this fascinating, immensely rich character. The tale begins when a young boy washes ashore, nearly drowned, on page one of Book One of The Lost Years of Merlin…and finally concludes when that same young man, now a great wizard, makes the most agonizing choice of his life in the final pages of Book Five of The Lost Years of Merlin: The Wings of Merlin.
What have readers said about these five books? Lloyd Alexander called them “brilliant, significant, and illuminating…an intense and profoundly spiritual adventure.” To see reviews by other people—or to read the first chapters of any of the five books—just go to the world of The Lost Years of Merlin. And I hope you'll also enjoy the color map of Fincayra that you will find there!
The Merlin’s Dragon trilogy follows the amazing adventures of a fellow named Basil ... who is very small in size, but very big in destiny. He is an unlikely hero for Avalon — and an even more unlikely friend for the great wizard Merlin. Miraculously he becomes both ... with many surprises along the way! But can he save the wondrous world of Avalon? Fantasy Literature says, "This is one of T. A. Barron's most thrilling adventures yet and features a new and unforgettable character in his earliest years."
The Great Tree of Avalon trilogy, a New York Times bestseller series, continues the saga of Merlin and his worlds. Isabel Allende has called this trilogy “a real gift”, while Robert Redford has said that “appreciation for nature shines through [this] rich and inventive tale.”
The exciting new illustrated treasury, MERLIN: The Book of Magic is the 12th and final volume in the Merlin Saga! In it, readers will discover the secrets and mysteries of Merlin’s worlds as never before. The guide includes full-color art, maps, and untold stories about the creatures, places, and magic of Merlin’s worlds. Plus many secrets about Merlin and his companions never revealed before! (It caps off an 18-year creative process for me ... quite a journey.)
THE MERLIN SAGA: Announcing a new, complete Puffin edition of all twelve books in the adventures of Merlin! This new set—with fabulous covers—connects The Lost Years of Merlin epic, the Merlin’s Dragon trilogy, and The Great Tree of Avalon trilogy into one complete saga. And now the new illustrated treasury, MERLIN: The Book of Magic;, completes that Saga. All 12 books are now available wherever books are sold!
By the way, it is NOT necessary to read these Merlin Saga books in any particular order. Just choose which adventure you want to experience – whether in Fincayra, Avalon, or the spirit realm – and enjoy the journey!
Lots of people have asked me why I spent almost two decades writing about Merlin. Well, the answer is that he is much, much more than a great wizard. His story is, in truth, a metaphor—for the idea that all of us, no matter how weak or confused, have a magical person down inside, just waiting to be discovered. Through his struggles, losses, and triumphs, Merlin comes to understand both his dark side…and his own inner magic.
If you are a younger reader, or work with them, you might enjoy my short novel, Tree Girl. It features a brave girl named Anna, who sets out on a dangerous quest to find the secret of her true identity. On the way, she finds more than she ever expected. Barbara Helen Berger called this book “a breath of the forest—a delight.”
My first picture book, Where Is Grandpa?, is an autobiographical tale—the story of a wondrous surprise that happened on the saddest day my family had ever known: the day my dad died. My children's loving memories of their grandpa, brought to life in the book by the marvelous paintings of Chris Soentpiet, helped us realize that Grandpa wasn't quite so far away after all.
High as a Hawk, another picture book, is based on an extraordinary page out of American history. It's the story of how a brave eight-year-old girl and a famous mountain guide climbed Long's Peak in Colorado in 1905. And how each of them inspired the other to climb their own "inner mountains" along the way. I am thrilled (and am sure you will be, too), with the luminous paintings by the award-winning painter, Ted Lewin.
The Day the Stones Walked was inspired by my trip to Easter Island, one of the world's most remote—and most mysterious—places. In this story, I imagine what might have happened on the day people suddenly stopped carving moai, the faces. And in my author's note, I explore what the environmental disaster of Easter Island might mean for the bigger island we call Earth. Magical, dramatic paintings by William Low bring this book to life.
Ghost Hands, my new picture book, is now available wherever books are sold. Set in the ancient days of Patagonia wilderness, it is the story of a brave young boy who discovers the secret of the legendary Cueva de los Manos, the Cave of the Hands. My greatest hope is that this book will carry children beyond their known walls, making deeper connections to all who inhabit our world and those who have gone before.
If you believe, as I do, that we need our heroes—today more than ever—then I invite you to check out my new nonfiction book, The Hero's Trail. Through moving profiles of real-life heroic young people, I hope to convey the heroic potential in us all. For whatever your gender, race, age, or background, you can make a difference to the world. Robert Coles, M.D., wrote in his Preface to the book: “Here is so much grace to regard closely, to hold tight in mind, heart, and soul, as we keep moving on our own hiking trails through life.”
Perhaps that belief in life as a journey, a trail we all walk, is what led me to create a national award for young heroes, which I named after my mother: the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. Believe me, the kids who have won this prize are true inspirations—and true trail guides—for us all.
Finally, if you'd just like a good hike in the high country…you could plunge into my nature books. To Walk In Wilderness is the story of my month-long trek in one of Colorado's most pristine and diverse wilderness areas, with stunning photographs by John Fielder to accompany my own journals of our days on the trail. In Rocky Mountain National Park: A 100 Year Perspective, I teamed up again with John to produce a coffee table book that would celebrate a great conservationist, Enos Mills, and the national park he bequeathed to us all.
I am working on a new novel, ATLANTIS RISING. For me, this will be an entirely new mythic setting: the legendary isle of Atlantis. But this is not another one of the many stories that have been written about that island's destruction. Rather, this is the secret, untold story of the creation of Atlantis - a tale that will feel fresh and original (and, I hope, enthralling and exciting) to everyone.
This new novel will reveal exactly how Atlantis was created, what people were central to its birth, and why this magical place had such power and inspiration from the wonders of nature. The book will show, as well, the seeds of its ultimate destruction. In addition to everything else, it will be something of a love story between a young man, Promi, and a young woman, Atlanta, whose great courage is essential to the birth of this magical world.
Enjoy your exploring! And perhaps, as T.S. Eliot said so well, “the end of all our exploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time.”
Feel free to share your thoughts with me. If you'd like to send a letter, just contact me.