ABOUT THE BOOK
A book of advice from Merlin, the greatest wizard of all time
Based on an address he gave to students at the University of Oxford in 2013, T.A. Barron, author of the New York Times bestselling Merlin Saga, channels the wizard Merlin and offers advice on how to live a meaningful life. Divided into sections, each revolving around a magical word, this book poetically explores the concepts of Gratitude, Courage, Knowledge, Belief, Wonder, Generosity, Hope, and Love.
A gem of inspiration, this is the perfect graduation gift, sure to encourage readers of all ages to live life to the fullest.
This is a thought-provoking little book told in Merlin's voice. Here we learn the power of gratitude, courage, knowledge, belief, wonder, generosity, hope, and love. Each section contains a short scene with Merlin followed by Merlin explaining the importance of the chosen concept. This makes for a sweet gift book that reminds us all of the importance of the values we choose to exhibit in our own lives. A book that demonstrates beautifully just what a meaningful life can be.
What led you to a writing career?
I’ve always loved writing and telling stories. I wrote stories and poems since I was a kid, even writing and illustrating a silly little magazine in middle school called “The Idiot’s Odyssey”. My first novel, written after college during a year of far-flung travels in Asia and Africa, didn’t exactly get a great reception: It got rejected by every publisher who saw it (32 of them). Ten years later, when I was president of a business in New York, I still yearned to write. Often I’d get up at 4 a.m. to write, and I’d also scribble ideas during meetings or in the back of taxis. Finally I had to make a choice – to do what I love best, because life is just too short not to follow your passions. So I had the fun of shocking my partners by telling them that I was going to quit my job, move back to Colorado, and see if I could try to write something that somebody might like to read. Well, that was 24 years ago – and 30 books ago. More good things have happened in that time than I could ever have guessed. But the best thing of all is to know that I’m doing something I truly love. So I feel deeply grateful that life has worked out this way!
Why did you decide to write about Merlin and what intrigues you most about him?
It all started with a dream. Back in 1993, I dreamed of a boy, half-drowned and barely alive, who washed ashore on a strange rocky coastline. He was weak, nauseous, and terribly confused. Not to mention utterly lost and alone. But he was also something else – the boy who would someday be called Merlin, the original wizard who has inspired stories worldwide for centuries. Merlin has incredible depth, and the reason he endures is because he speaks to so many of our basic human struggles – such as how do we find the courage to reach for our highest aspirations, how do we give our lives meaning, and how do we live peacefully with the natural world that sustains us. For the young Merlin I write about to grow into that exulted wizard of Arthurian lore, he has to learn several things along the way. He must learn about love, grief, compassion, transformation, power, and humility.
This young boy who becomes the greatest wizard of all times is, most of all, a story that I hope people of all ages will enjoy. But it’s also a metaphor – that all of us, whatever our backgrounds, have a magical person hidden down inside of ourselves. Just like that boy who washed ashore on the first page of the Merlin Saga, each of us feels “washed ashore” at some point in our lives. And each of us, just like that boy, has some special magic of our own!
Tell us about the Barron Prize and what you've learned from it?
The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, which I named in honor of my mother, celebrates outstanding kids of all descriptions who have made a positive difference to people and our planet. The whole purpose of the Prize is to turn the spotlight on these amazing kids who are really making a difference – in the hope that their stories will inspire other kids to do the same.
Why is this important? Today’s young people get all kinds of conflicting messages about the difference between a hero and a celebrity. In our culture, we hear lots about celebrities – and very little about the unsung heroes who really hold our world together. To my mind, parents and teachers and other individuals who go that extra mile to help others really are heroes. So are the kids we honor with the Prize.
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. The Prize is now in its 15th year, and every year we honor 25 kids from all around North America. I am amazed by the quality of these kids – their courage, compassion, and perseverance is truly inspiring. These are young people who have faced their own struggles; just like Merlin they have been washed ashore in one form or another in their lives. But they pick themselves up, dry off, and go right back to work helping other people. They make the world a better place somehow, and they do it not because there was some school project or to get a merit badge but because they just simply wanted to help. If anybody had ever told these kids “You don’t matter” or “You can’t make a difference,” they never believed it! And you see that result today. These kids see their lives as a kind of energy – and they just want to take that energy, give it to the world, and try to make all our lives a little better.
What's something about yourself that most people don't know?
I still write all my books by hand. Yes, even those big fat novels like The Great Tree of Avalon I scrawled with my left hand holding a blue felt pen. Why, in this high tech age, would anyone do such a crazy thing? Because the chemistry just works for me. Maybe it brings me back to the creative mindset of when I was a boy sitting under a ponderosa pine tree on my family’s ranch in Colorado. Writing by hand slows me down – which helps me to hear better the language of people and also to describe better the poetry of places. That’s why, in my writing room in our house in Boulder, Colorado, I’m often writing by hand all day long (and then icing my wrist at night). After my first draft is fully composed, I will then transfer that to a computer and do my editing electronically. While I know this system isn’t the most efficient, it has worked for me for 24 years – and 30 books – so I’m sticking with it.
1 copy of The Wisdom of Merlin