T(om) A. Barron was born on March 26, 1952, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As a boy growing up surrounded by the mountains of Colorado, Barron developed a great respect for the natural world. Always an avid reader, he also loved to write down his own thoughts and feelings, and as a fifth grader even produced a personal magazine for his family and friends entitled "The Idiot's Odyssey." After receiving a bachelor's degree from Princeton University, he spent several years in Europe studying at Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship and traveling. During this period, he also continued to write, completing his first novel. After over forty publishers rejected this manuscript, he abandoned his plans to be a professional writer and returned to the United States to pursue a law degree at Harvard University. However, instead of completing his law degree, he moved to New York to seek success in the business world working for a small venture capital firm.
Although he temporarily stopped writing fiction, Barron continued to dream of one day becoming a writer. In 1990, a number of traumatic life events—including the death of a close friend, marriage, and the birth of a child—happened in rapid succession and prompted him to begin writing again in earnest. At this point he also was fortunate enough to meet Madeleine L'Engle, who asked to read the novel he was working on. L'Engle was so favorably impressed with Barron's work that she passed the manuscript on to her agent who in turn submitted it to Philomel, the children's division of Putnam Publishing, where Heartlight was published in the fall of 1990.
With the publication of Heartlight, Barron decided to take a chance on pursuing his long-time dream of becoming a full-time writer. So, in 1990, he moved back to Colorado and started writing from his home office in Boulder. Since 1990, he has written and published eight young adult novels, two nature books—To Walk in Wilderness: A Rocky Mountain Journal and Rocky Mountain National Park: A Hundred Year Perspective—and a picture book—Where Is Grandpa? An additional novel, Tree Girl, is scheduled for publication in 2001.
Barron's books have been well received by critics and young adult readers alike. The Ancient One and The Merlin Effect have both appeared frequently on lists of best books chosen by young adult readers as well as those selected by adults. For example, The Ancient One was selected for the International Reading Association's Young Adult Choices list and the Voice of Youth Advocates Best Books of 1992 list, while The Merlin Effect won the 1997 Texas Lone Star Award, the 2000 Best of the Texas Lone Star Reading Lists, and the 1998 Utah Book Award among others. Barron's "Lost Years of Merlin" series continues to be honored by such groups as the American Library Association, the New York Public Library, and the Children's Book Council.
Barron says that he writes because it allows him to explore wherever and whenever he chooses, whether into space, back in...
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