The fiction-writer, T.A. Barron, was recently in Boulder at the Boulder Book store in Pearl street Mall, giving a book talk about his latest novel, Merlin's Dragon.
The fiction-writer, T.A. Barron, was recently in Boulder at the Boulder Book store in Pearl street Mall, giving a book talk about his latest novel, Merlin's Dragon. Before the speech, I got the opportunity to interview this wonderful author with the following conversation:
TAB(T.A. Barron): Well, Nickie, it is an honor to be interviewed by you.
Me: Thank you, Mr. Barron. Okay, so first of all, I've noticed that on your books you call yourself T.A. Barron, and I was wondering what your first name was.
TAB: I'm sure. My first name is Tom. So I'm Tom when I'm a human being, and I'm T.A. when I'm a writer. They're very different, you know. Just kidding!
Me: Could you tell me about your family?
TAB: Sure. I love to talk about my family. My wife is named Currie, and she is a musician who plays beautiful piano. We have five wonderful kids. They range in age from 13 up to 22. We have two girls and three boys. Plus, I'll tell you something special. My wife and I love to go camping and hiking so much, we named all of our kids after mountains because it gives us some great excuses to go camping in some beautiful places! For example, my oldest daughter is named Denali, as in Denali National Park in Alaska. So, thanks to her, we've had some great camping trips to Alaska!
Me: I like all of your books, but one of my favorites was Heartlight, and I was wondering what inspired you to write the story.
TAB: That is a wonderful question, because that was really my first book to find a publisher and was inspired by the birth of our first child, Denali. And when I was just starting out, I thought this might be my only book, and I thought this beautiful girl who is my daughter might be my only child. So, I wanted to make the story about a heroic girl who saves her grandfather and has a great adventure off in another galaxy, you know the story. It turns out that I was really wrong on both estimates, that we had a lot more kids, and I have written a lot more books! But it was still really special to me to write that book because sometimes characters just come alive when you create them. And Kate, who is the hero of Heartlight, came alive so much that I wanted to have some more adventures with her. That's why I wrote the ancient one and The Merlin Effect.
TAB: Now, can I ask you a question?
TAB: Do you have the hardback of Heartlight or the paperback?
Me: I went to the library and I got the paperback there.
TAB: Well, if you saw the hardback, you would see Kate and Grandfather on the back of this big blue-winged butterfly. In fact, I have the picture here, and at my very first talk at a bookstore like I'm going to do here tonight, and next week at the Tattered Cover, the bookstore in New York City made their whole window a big fabric picture of a giant blue-winged butterfly, and Kate sitting on the back, riding off to the stars. Then, they sent it to me in the mail, and now today in my writing room at my house, I have that same window display up on the ceiling. There's a big blue butterfly up there which came from my very first book reading! So Heartlight is a very special book for me in lots of ways.
TAB: Can I tell you something else that you haven't asked me yet?
TAB: You should know that it was my first book published, but it wasn't the first book. I wrote another book before that, and that other book, I guess you could say that it had a really great reception because it got rejected by 32 different publishers. And I only bring that up because if you like to write and if people read your stories, I hope that you'll know that it's really really important to follow your dreams. If you have a goal, if you have a dream, it's so important to follow it. And if it's hard the first time, well, try try again. And then maybe, who knows? Great things can happen.
Me: Where is your hometown and can you describe it?
TAB: Yeah. Well, I live out in farm country east of Boulder. We live next to some wonderful open space, and there's a farmer there who has horses that we watch grazing. My kids and I are often on the trails out on the open space.
Me: We live in front of a farm and see the horses sometimes.
TAB: Do you? Isn't that nice?
Me: Yes.Me: My next question is why did you want to become an author and when did you make the decision?
TAB: Let's start with why. It's just plain fun to write stories and make up imaginary worlds and then to travel there in your imagination. It's just one of the most fun things I know. So I always enjoyed it even when I was young. When I was your age I would write poems and stories. I even started to write my own little magazine when I was in 5th grade. When I wrote that, I even wrote one issue about the secret life of what teachers really do when nobody is looking! It was a very popular issue! Even teachers wanted to read it! That was really fun. Also, after college, I wrote the book that got rejected every place. Then I started working for a business, and even though I got very busy and became president of the business, I got busier and busier, and yet would still find myself dreaming about story ideas. I still have that dream to be a writer. Sometimes I would get up early at 4 in the morning and write before I would have to go to work, but finally I realized that life is too short to not do something that you love, and so I had the fun of walking in and surprising my partners by quitting my job. They all thought I was crazy! I told them I was going to move back to Colorado and write children's books. My first book was Heartlight, the one that you like so much.
Me: What is your favorite part about writing?
TAB: Well, that is an excellent question. Can I tell you two things?
TAB: First of all, I love getting the words just right. It feels so good to find the right words. And second, I like to share my books with young readers to see what they think of them.
Me: What are some of your hobbies?
TAB: Well, other than writing, I love to do anything outdoors and in the wilderness. Hiking, biking, fishing, skiing, anything outside.
Me: My dad loves to do things outside too.
TAB: Does he? Isn't it just so much fun? And that's why I wrote my two books, Walk in the Wilderness and Rocky Mountain National Park with the famous photographer, John Fielder.
Me: Approximately how many books have you written, published and not published?
TAB: Well, the total right now is 24 published, including my nature books, and one not published.
Me: What is your favorite writing piece that you have written and why?
TAB: You want me to choose just one?!
Me: Well, maybe a couple.
TAB: You want me to choose even just a couple? I'm sorry, Nickie, but I'm afraid that I can't answer that question because I love all of my books just like they are my children. I just can't choose one!
Me: I understand. Okay, my next question was who is your favorite author?
TAB: Well, right now it is my daughter Denali. But if you mean a published author, I would have to say J.R. Tolkien. He wrote the Lord of the Rings, which I'm sure you will enjoy if you decide to read.
Me: And finally, What advice do you have for young writers.
TAB: That is a good question, Nickie. I have three things: Number 1, notice everything. People, places, things. Notice them all. Use your 5 senses. Who knows, maybe they could become handy in a story. Number 2, practice practice practice! Write whenever you can. The more you practice, the better writer you'll become. And Number 3, Never Give Up! You'll never get anywhere if you just give up! You have to persevere to become the best you can be!
Me: Thank you Mr. Barron. I really enjoyed interviewing you.
TAB: You're welcome, Nickie. Hope to see you at my book talk!
Mr. Barron is a fun, witty author. He is a great author and an even better person. If you are interested in some advice from him, go to his website, www.tabarron.com. He will lead the way for you to become the best you can be!