Friday, October 3, 2014

FANTASTIC FRIDAY w/ Author Interview and GIVEAWAY: Atlantis Rising by T.A. Barron


ABOUT THE BOOK

From T.A. Barron, the New York Times bestselling author of the Merlin Saga, comes a new fantasy world about the origins of Atlantis, perfect for fans of The Lord of the Rings, Eragon, The Beyonders and Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

In a magical land called Ellegandia, a young boy named Promi scrapes by, stealing pies, cakes and sweets to survive. But little does he know that his country is a pawn in an ages-old war between good and evil, battled both in the spirit realm and in the human world. Harboring secrets of his own, Promi teams up with a courageous girl named Atlanta and the two vow to save their land—and each other—no matter the cost. But their vow has greater repercussions than they ever could imagine—in fact, it may just bring about the creation of Atlantis, an island cut off from the rest of the world, where magic reigns supreme.

With his trademark action, adventure, and poignancy,master of fantasy, T.A. Barron explores a new mythology—the origin of the legendary isle of Atlantis. This book is perfect for fans of Rick Riordan, Brandon Mull, Christopher Paolini and, of course, T. A. Barron’s Merlin Saga.

Full_TAB_ProfilePicABOUT THE AUTHOR (from author's website)

T.A. Barron grew up in Colorado ranch country and traveled widely as a Rhodes Scholar. He is the winner of the 2011 de Grummond Medallion for “lifetime contribution to the field of children’s and young adult literature” and many other awards. T. A. Barron is the author of more than 25 highly acclaimed books, many of which are international bestsellers. They include The Lost Years of Merlin (now being developed into a feature film), 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).
Though he’d dreamed as a young man of becoming a writer, he couldn’t find anyone to publish his first novel. He joined a business, eventually became president, then decided to try again. So in 1990, he surprised his business partners by moving back to Colorado to become a writer and conservationist.

In 2000, he founded a national award to honor outstanding young people who help their communities or the environment: the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, which honors 25 highly diverse, public-spirited kids each year. He recently 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. His favorite pastime is hiking, camping, or skiing in Colorado with his family.

REVIEW

One of the things that I have always loved about Barron's books is the vivid imagery he uses in building his world.  When I read fantasy I always look for powerful world building because it makes the story that much more believable even when full of magic and other imaginary things.  Barron does this very well.  Plus, he provides plenty of detail allowing the reader to fully immerse him/herself in the story.  In addition to the fabulous world building, Barron also creates characters that have depth with both strengths and weaknesses that the story brings out clearly.  This is done through the characters actions rather than through telling.  In this story, Promi are main character quickly reveals himself to be a rather foolhardy young man who begins the story by humiliating one of the most powerful people in the city.  And he follows that up with something even more dangerous and unfortunately he doesn't exercise enough caution and ends up imprisoned.  Interestingly this proves to be a pivotal moment in his life that changes everything he has ever believed about himself and his home.

Another thing that shines through clearly in this book is Barron's passion for the natural world.  The natural world always plays a strong role in his stories and Atlantis Rising is no exception.  The Great Forest where some of the immortal spirits dwell is vitally important in Ellandia's survival.  Because of a gift many years earlier the forest protects the country from invasion, but there are those who don't understand this and seek to control what they don't understand and the results could be devastating for Promi and his new found friends.  The question then becomes not just one of Promi's individual survival but the survival of the entire land.

A wonderful story about what being a hero really means, about risking oneself for a greater cause, and being willing to sacrifice everything for something more important.  This book would be great for more advanced fantasy readers who love lots of details in their stories, lyrical writing, and a strong dose of passion for the natural world.

INTERVIEW

*What aspects of writing fantasy to you particularly enjoy? Which aspects not so much?

I write books I would like to read. That means each story must have a character, a relationship, a place, a dilemma, and an idea that I care about. A lot.  All these qualities fit perfectly with fantasy!  And something more – fantasy lets us bend the rules of existence, highlighting tough issues of our time. In this way, fantasy is like a bent mirror. You can reflect the reality of our experience with more intricacy and power—bending life—emphasizing certain elements and de-emphasizing others.  If it succeeds, fantasy transports us to a whole new world, bizarre and terrifying and wonderful, while also illuminating our world.  The trick is to make all this feel true:  Fantasy, as I’ve often said, must be true!

In addition, fantasy gives us a chance to ask some of life's biggest questions in the context of a good old-fashioned page-turner. For example, Merlin's origin story – his lost years – let me explore the idea that all of us, whatever our backgrounds, have some special magic down inside ourselves. Just like that unknown boy who washed ashore, all of us have the potential to reach for the stars.  That point comes across much more powerfully when it’s woven into a story.

What don’t I like about fantasy?  Just how hard it is to write!  Other than that, I love exploring new worlds, characters, and ideas in this way.

*Could you give us some background on the Barron Prize for Young Heroes? Where it came from, what it's intended to do?

I created the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes because young people deserve to hear about real, live kids who are making a difference – kids who have discovered that they have the power to act on their ideals.  When I was on a book tour in 1999, I met some young people who were very cynical and discouraged, who didn’t think they mattered at all – and I realized they needed something stronger than the fictional heroes in my novels.  They needed authentic role models who are making a meaningful difference in the world. We need heroes today more than ever, and the whole point of the Prize is to share the stories of real heroic kids…and hope that those stories might inspire others.

*How would you define a hero? What makes someone a hero in terms of your stories?

True heroism is about character, not fame and glory. Every hero faces a great challenge. Whether it’s something within themselves or something from the world outside, they must reach deep into their hearts to survive—and to triumph. That’s when they find extraordinary courage, wisdom, or inspiration. Heroes give us an idea of our own potential and show us just how far we can go and how high we can climb. Heroes may never be famous, but they clearly make a difference to our lives. Partly because their actions directly touch other people, and often make the world a better place. And partly because their examples have great power to inspire.

*Tell us about the Atlantis series and where you see it going (in terms of what you can share)?

The second book picks up immediately after Atlantis Rising finishes.  But time works differently between Earth and the spirit realm. Quite a bit more could have happened up in the spirit realm than has happened on Atlantis.  You see, during that brief interval, which feels just like a few days on Earth, many perils have risen. Some of them are dangers that come from old enemies—enemies who want to control all the magic and power of the Earth. And some of the perils come from romance…and we all know how tricky that can be.

*What's the most enjoyable part of being a writer?

Writing allows me to explore — wherever and whatever I choose. It’s taken me back in time, to a distant galaxy, to the place where the sea begins, and to the origins of Merlin and Atlantis. Best of all, though, writing is a way to explore the biggest questions of life. Not to find the answers, perhaps, but to do some thoughtful exploring of the questions. The two best parts of the experience are, first, when a word or character or place or idea comes out just right — and, second, when something I’ve written truly touches someone in a meaningful way. And I’m always amazed and humbled by how much stories can mean to people!  Believe me, over the years I’ve been given some truly amazing letters, comments, paintings, sculptures, music, theatrical productions, and even clothing from fans all around the world – not to mention some loving hugs – so I feel very lucky indeed to be a storyteller.

GIVEAWAY

1 signed print paperback copy of Atlantis Rising
US/Canada only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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