T.A. Barron, creator of the beloved series The Lost Years of Merlin and The Great Tree of Avalon, began his explorations of fantasy worlds as a student at Oxford University. He cites two main areas of inspiration for his tales: heroism and the environment. T.A. Barron's belief that every child has the potential to be a hero led him to write The Hero's Trail, featuring real-life stories about young heroes, and to create The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, which celebrates children who have helped change the world. An environmental activist, Barron co-founded the Princeton Environmental Institute in 1990, which recently created the T.A. Barron Prize for Environmental Leadership. Barron lives in Colorado with his wife and children.

T.A. Barron Says:

Hi, everyone.

Know what I like the most about books? They're the very best way to travel! No ticket necessary. Just pick your favorite time, place, and character—and go. As a boy, I enjoyed reading Greek and Norse myths, as well as biographies of great athletes or people like Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Gandhi, Anne Frank, or Albert Einstein. Then I discovered Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and a whole new world opened before my eyes!

After that, I've never stopped traveling through stories. There is an entire universe of destinations!

My first creations, written in fifth grade, were for my own, truly idiotic little magazine. (Appropriately, it was called The Idiot's Odyssey.) When I wrote a secret exposé on what really went on inside the teachers' lounge at my school (all made up, of course), I got into a heap of trouble! But that didn't matter, because I'd discovered how much fun it is to write a story and share it with others.

Now that I get to write full time, I feel very lucky. This is the hardest work I've ever done—but also the most joyous and rewarding. Here's the best part: Writing lets me experience and explore other lives in rich and adventurous ways—a twelve-year-old boy, a great dragon, an ancient stone, a powerful wizard. If I'm lucky enough to find a character who becomes a close friend—someone like Merlin—then that friendship will last through many adventures we will have together. And readers can join in the experience!

In every one of my books—and now there are more than twenty of them—you will always find two essential ideas: First, there is a hero in every person. Each of us has the capacity to do something special, something remarkable, just like that young boy who washes ashore on the first page of The Lost Years of Merlin books. Second, Nature can be a wonderful friend, teacher, and great inspiration. But we must take care of the environment! Saving the Earth is about saving ourselves.

So are you feeling ready to travel? There's absolutely no limit to where we can go, what amazing times we can have, and what characters—whether heroic, bizarre, terrifying, inspiring, or funny—we can meet.

Enjoy the journey!

—T.A. Barron

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