On Books and Reading

I get lots of questions from my fans every single day — via email, snail mail, or Facebook post. Or in person — like today, when two people spotted me at a coffee shop in California. The most unexpected example of that came when a whole class of seventh graders from Vermont found me up at the top of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. They had so many questions that we had a spontaneous writing seminar up there, way above the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol dome, eating our picnic lunches while talking about stories, Merlin, nature, and inspiration.

I really love answering your questions directly, as you can tell. Truth is, I feel honored that you trust me to give a helpful response. But at the same time… I feel that many of you may have questions that you’re not asking! So from time-to-time I’ll blog about some of the recent questions I’ve been asked — with the answers, of course.

Q: Your books are some of my favorites right now. What were some of your favorite novels when you were a teenager?

A: Books allow you to travel wherever you like. And no ticket is required. No toothbrush, even. Just pick your century, your continent, your character — and go. I read avidly. As a boy, I enjoyed reading the Greek and Norse myths; great sports stories; biographies of Abraham Lincoln or Helen Keller or Albert Einstein; Anne Frank’s diary; moral philosophy by people like Socrates and John Stuart Mill; the poetry of Wordsworth, Frost, Keats, and Dickinson; and nature writing by Thoreau, Carlson, and Muir. I never read science-fiction or fantasy until college. Then I encountered Tolkien, and a whole new world opened before my eyes.

Q: Which of your books is your favorite?

A: I can no more answer that, than I could answer which of my five children is my favorite! Each one is special, and there’s no way I could pick just one.

Q: What age or reading level do you recommend for your books?

A: I write books that I would like to read!  So there’s really no age limit for any of my stories.  As long as someone is young at heart, with a healthy imagination, they can enjoy the tales.

Having said that, I believe deeply in the power (and also the poetry) of language. And I make a point of never “writing down” to young readers. As a result, my books are, I hope, both occasionally challenging and always fun, with lasting questions for the reader to ponder.

Good readers—starting in third and fourth grade and continuing up into adulthood—enjoy my novels: the three books in the Heartlight Saga, all twelve books in The Merlin Saga, and the new Atlantis Trilogy. Younger readers (starting in second and third grades) enjoy Tree Girl; those younger still enjoy my picture books.

Q: What do you like to read?

A: I read everything that interests me… which is quite a lot! I’m especially fond of great nature writing, biographies of amazing people, and beautifully crafted novels whatever their genre.

I also read whatever books are needed to research my next book. For The Merlin Saga, I spent a whole year researching Merlin and Celtic lore before starting to write.  For The Ancient One, I researched nine different tribes who lived in the Pacific Northwest five hundred years ago. And I hired a bright student to help me get the facts straight.  In addition, I needed to understand the smells, sounds, and ecological interconnections of an ancient grove of redwoods—which meant, happily, that I needed to do some camping in redwood forests.




4 Comments

  1. Reply

    Michele Goinsalvos

    January 23, 2014

    I’m so glad I popped in to your website today! I needed the title of one of the books I’m missing in the Merlin series and have to write to tell you I absolutely love the new layout.. Now I have all the books in a list in the correct order.. Now I really can’t wait to get what I’m missing so that I can begin this journey I’ve so been looking forward to… In the blog entry above I was surprised to learn that you didn’t read fantasy or sci fi until college and your real first introduction was Tolkein… because that’s how I started reading fantasy and sci fi too!! how funny this strikes me, lol and I have to say that now, almost pushing 60, I’ll only read fantasy for the most part, but I do like biographies and anything that pertains to ancient history… and Thoreau is someone I’ve admired since I was 16 and learned we share a birthday… When I was 34 I went to Massachusetts to visit my long lost sister, who lives somewhat close to Walden Pond… of my 10 day visit there I think 8 of them were spent at “the Pond”… re-reading his books… I would have loved to have known him. We, you and I are miles and lifetimes apart but yet so close!! :)) Honestly, I can’t wait to get the rest of your books and dig in!! I anticipate many late nights in my near future lol… thanks for being such a kind, giving and open person!! Just what our world needs more of! :))))

  2. Reply

    Laura

    January 15, 2017

    Dear T A Barron,
    I think that you should write another Atlantis book. I just finished reading Atlantis Lost and I hate that it ended like that! Over the course of the series, I have come to love the characters. Maybe, you could write a small epilogue that has what happened to Promi, Atlanta, Shangri and Plato. Do Promi and Atlanta go to the spirit realm? what happens when they get there? Is Narkazan gone for good? Where do Shangri and Plato land? Where is the crystal put? What happens to the unicorn Myala? This series is so good I don’t want it to end!
    Laura

    • Reply

      T. A. Barron

      January 16, 2017

      Laura, thanks for your lovely message. I can tell that you have truly felt the magic of Atlantis…and all those characters!

      Right now I have no plans to write another Atlantis book (mainly because I’m putting all my creative energy into helping the Merlin movie project at Disney). But I will tell you that, from time to time, I’ve dreamed of writing a book that is EXACTLY about answering those questions you asked. Something tells me you might have a chance to read about what really happened to that unicorn… as well as the crystal and those people you love. We’ll see what the future brings…

      Meanwhile, I hope you will spin your own yarns about what happened to the survivors of Atlantis. I hope you will have the same joy and excitement that I’ve had being with those characters in the magical world!

      • Reply

        Name*

        January 24, 2017

        thanks so much!
        Laura


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