I’m excited to be presenting a Q & A with T. A. Barron, the author of Atlantis Rising, the first in a trilogy of books about the origins of the legendary lost land. The paperback release of the novel is this Thursday, September 25. (If you missed my recent post about the free prequel to the Atlantis Saga, Never Again: The Origin of Grukarr, it’s here.)
Widely known for his bestselling Merlin Saga, in 2000 Mr. Barron founded The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, a national award that “honors outstanding young leaders who have made a significant positive difference to people and our planet.” Be sure to visit the Barron Prize website and meet the current and past winners.
And now, on with our interview!
Q: Why did you choose to write about Atlantis?
A: No word evokes more of a feeling of tragedy than the word Atlantis. It stands for almost, what might have been. The tale of Atlantis is such a beautiful story, and for the 2000 years since Plato first wrote about it, people have wondered and dreamed about it. But one thing that has never changed is that the island of Atlantis was utterly destroyed. I started to wonder, though, about something else—how Atlantis began. How did a place that rose to such a level of near perfection get destroyed by the flaws and weaknesses of its people? Ultimately, how did that happen? This big unknown question is what got me to write Atlantis Rising. I wanted to add a new thread to the tapestry of myth about Atlantis—how it all began, the secrets of its origins.
Let’s talk about names:
Q: First, the bad guy. I asked this on Twitter, but I’ll ask again because I know I’m not alone in wondering: How do you pronounce Grukarr’s name?
A: It’s “Gru” as in “Gruesome”…which he truly is.
Q: Now the heroes. Before I knew his name was pronounced PRO-mee, I thought Promi could be derived from either Prometheus or ‘promise’. Are you tipping your hat to the Greeks with his name (Prometheus was a thief who stole fire from the gods)?
A: Yes. Promi’s full name (which is revealed in Book 2, Atlantis in Peril) is Prometheus. Like the mythic fellow who brought fire to humanity, young Promi will bring something very special before it’s all over. And Atlanta, of course, is the inspiration for the name of her beloved homeland, Atlantis.
Q: What other significance do Promi’s and Atlanta’s names hold?
A: Did you know that the Atlantic Ocean got its name from a mapmaker who thought it was where the island of Atlantis once existed?
(ReadLove: No, I didn’t! Very interesting!)
Q: Can you elaborate on the importance of the Ellegandian translation of Atlanta’s name as “voice for all”?
A: The magical forest is more than the place Atlanta lives—it’s her home. And all the creatures who live there are her family. So she took that name when it became clear that she could be the voice for those creatures and the home they shared.
Let’s talk about faith and other themes in the novel:
Q: Your description of the prayer leaves hanging from The Bridge to Nowhere paints a vivid mental picture. Are these leaves inspired from any specific real-life religious practice or ritual you’ve encountered in your travels?
A: When I’ve traveled in Himalayan countries like Bhutan, I’ve been very moved by the Buddhist prayer flags strung from bridges everywhere. They are continually flapping in the mountain wind, sending their blessings to the spirit realm. That’s what inspired the prayer leaves of this story.
Q: For Atlanta and others in The Great Forest, there is no conflict between natural magic and religion/spirituality. Can you talk a bit about how Atlanta’s world view differs from that of the sanctioned religion imposed by those in power like Grukarr?
A: The core difference is this: Atlanta believes that all creatures belong to the community of life, that every living being deserves respect from humanity. But Grukarr sees things very differently: To him, everything exists for the benefit of humanity. The other creatures and the land itself only have value if they serve the needs of one species—humans.
Q: This segues into the topic of nature. Your love and respect for nature comes through loud and clear in Atlantis Rising. Can you tell us about your favorite way to enjoy the outdoors?
A: My favorite spot in nature is the mountains, especially in the Rockies near my home in Colorado. Being up in the mountains combines two vastly different but equally wonderful experiences for me. One is tranquility—I’ve never felt so peaceful as I have sitting beside a mountain stream looking at the fresh track of a newborn fawn, sensing the sounds of the river and the softness of the moss. The other experience is adventure—the thrill of climbing up to a ridge, stretching myself both physically and emotionally to go farther and higher than I’ve ever gone before. When I am in the mountains I feel fully alive.
One last question:
Q: I enjoyed Never Again: The Origin of Grukarr. Do you have any plans to explore other characters or the Ellegandian/Atlantean world in future stories outside the main narrative arc of the Atlantis Saga?
A: No plans as of now. But I never know if one of those characters will make a surprise appearance in my dreams and whisper a secret that changes everything.
ReadLove: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us about Atlantis Rising. I’m really looking forward to reading future installments and getting better acquainted with the characters and world!
T. A. Barron: You’re welcome! And I am looking forward to sharing that world with you.