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.


T. A. Barron grew up in Colorado ranch country and traveled widely as a Rhodes Scholar. Though he’d long dreamed of becoming a writer, his first novel was overwhelmingly rejected by publishers. He joined a successful business in New York and eventually became president – but he just couldn’t stop dreaming of becoming an author. So in 1990, he surprised his business partners and resigned. He moved back to Colorado to pursue his dream to be a writer, outdoorsman, and conservationist.

Today, T. A. Barron is the award-winning author of more than 30 highly acclaimed books, many of which are international bestsellers. He has won the de Grummond Medallion for “lifetime contribution to the field of children’s and young adult literature” and many other awards.

His books include The Merlin Saga (now being developed into a feature film by Disney), The Great Tree of Avalon (a New York Times bestselling series), The Ancient One (the tale of a brave girl and a magical tree), and The Hero’s Trail (nonfiction stories of courageous kids).

In 2000, he founded the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, a national award that honors outstanding young people who help their communities or the environment. Each year, the award honors 25 inspiring, public-spirited kids from diverse backgrounds. Also, he produced a documentary film, Dream Big, profiling seven winners of the Barron Prize.

When not writing or speaking, T. A. Barron serves on many boards including Princeton University, where he helped to create the Princeton Environmental Institute, and The Wilderness Society, which recently honored him with its highest award for conservation work. T. A. Barron also loves hiking, camping, and skiing in Colorado with his family.


Date of Birth 1952
Place of Birth Boston, Mass
Grew up in Colorado
Currently lives near Boulder, CO
Children 5


Where do you get your ideas?

My best ideas come from life itself. Especially being out in nature, observing the intricate wonders of wildflower meadows or rambling rivers, opens all my senses: I smell, hear, taste, touch, and see many things that inspire me to feel fully alive — and also to write. It’s the same when I’m with my kids. They unfailingly open my senses and make me more aware. Ideas also come from reading an interesting book, or thinking about the problems of the world today. Ultimately, if you notice what’s around you, and really take it in, you have a limitless source of material. Then just add a pinch of imagination and anything — literally anything — is possible.

What is your current writing project?

Happily, I’ve just finished writing the final book in The Atlantis Saga, Atlantis Lost. It’s a great feeling to have completed this tale! And like all my books, it’s an environmental fable that raises questions about how we can live sustainably on our beautiful but beleaguered planet – which is, like Atlantis, an island.

The first book, Atlantis Rising, revealed how the mythic isle of Atlantis was created — what people were central to its birth, what was the real source of danger, and why this magical place had such power and inspiration. The book also reveals the seeds of the island’s ultimate destruction. And it’s also 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.

When you read Atlantis Lost…you will indeed experience the destruction of Atlantis. But you will also find out how Atlantis may still be here with us today. More than that, I cannot say!

Beyond that…I’m doing whatever I can to help the terrific team of people at Disney who are making a movie of The Merlin Saga, the epic tale of young Merlin’s adventures.

What did you learn in writing about Merlin?

I learned about the wizard—the hero—that lives inside us all. That’s quite an inspiring thought that Merlin gave me. I also learned about what a truly remarkable character Merlin is, full of contrast and depth and wisdom. There’s a metaphor at the heart of all of the books from The Merlin Saga. Just like the young Merlin, all of us are washed ashore, half-drowned, at some point in our lives. All of us have hidden struggles — and hidden potential. And all of us, like the greatest wizard of all, have magic within us — and the ability to reach for the stars.