Happy Thursday everyone! Today I’d like to talk about heroes. Well specifically my hero, Ray Bradbury.
Good ol’ Ray was born back in 1920 on the 22nd of August. He was named Ray Douglas Bradbury, the middle name Douglas was for screen actor of the time Douglas Fairbanks. Ray was a master story-teller and wrote Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Mystery. Not only is he my greatest hero, he was and still is one of the 20th Century’s most celebrated authors and his work has been spread across Fiction Magazines, Novels, Television, Movies, Stage Plays, even Comic Books. Truly amazing!
Fun fact: Since his birth, Ray Bradbury has never driven a car nor has he ever gotten his drivers license. He had always said he wouldn’t drive until he could fly a rocket ship into the stars.
In the wonderful stories this great man has told, his hometown and place of birth Waukegan, Illinois has become immortalized by the name of Green Town. Green Town has served as the setting for many of his books including Dandelion Wine and its sequel Farewell Summer as well as Something Wicked This Way Comes. This small hamlet has had mysterious carnivals with supernatural powers and an Uncle sprouting wings! Though it was always a secure and safe place to be despite the incredible tales that ripped through it. At one point Green Town even became the place where his Grandparents provided room and board for Charles Dickens.
Perhaps the most heartwarming use of Green Town was in the short story collection Summer Morning, Summer Night. A book filled with stories about the disappearing small-towns across the American Heartland. It was this world where Ray Bradbury spent his youth and the foundation for his writing formed. He began writing around age 9 as his family moved back and forth between Arizona and Illinois. America was in the midst of the Great Depression and many of those early stories by young Ray Bradbury were scrawled out on butcher’s paper.
In 1934 at the age 14 Ray Bradbury’s family finally settled in Los Angeles, California where his father was able to find work making wire for $14 a week. From what I’ve read, Ray loved it and always wanted to collect the autographs of all the famous stars in Hollywood- but honestly at that point in history who wouldn’t want to meet the honored stars of stage and screen?
All through his high-school years he was a huge fan of Edgar Allen Poe and tried to emulate Poe in his teenage writing. He was also a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs and I’d like to think that these authors as well helped shape the writer Ray Bradbury would become. I have to say I’m a big fan of both authors myself though Bradbury is still my ultimate favorite.
Another fun fact: When Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451, he did so in the basement of the UCLA Powell Library on a pay typewriter which cost him ten cents per half hour. The entire book (roughly 50,000 words) took him nine days of feverish writing in that basement and was first published by Ballantine Books in 1953. Later in 1954 the novel was serialized in the March, April, and May issues of Playboy.
Personally for me, I fell in love with Bradbury when I was very young watching Ray Bradbury Theater on TV. My first introduction was with television but then my mom (Linda Williams Stirling- Hi mom!) passed me his books. Hook, line, and sinker I was caught! To this day I own every single book that he has ever written and still search for magazines that contain his short fiction. I also own countless books and magazines about Ray Bradbury. I must include the movie version of The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, which Bradbury wrote as a short story, stage play, and movie script; and the original Moby Dick, which Ray Bradbury wrote the movie script for.
Sappy moment warning! When I was a teenager I saw this huge shooting star that looked like it was going to land in my front yard. So like any Nerd in love with science fiction, I wrote a letter to my hero Ray Bradbury care of one of his publishers. With luck it found its way to my hero and to my surprise he answered. Talk about shaking hands with greatness! Not only did he respond, but it was a hand written letter! I damn near passed out I was so excited. I framed the letter and hung it on the wall in my writing space.
Sadly, Ray Bradbury passed away at the age of 91 on the 5th of June in 2012. He lives on in our hearts and I’d like to think that such a great man is now out among the stars he loved so much. I see him looking up at the blue Earth speck of light in the night sky from his lovely home on Mars with its green grass and white picket fence as he sips a cold glass of iced tea on his porch, with a shiny Rocket Ship in the driveway…
But now I ask all of you dear readers to please, tell me about your hero or heroine. I’d really like to know who it was or even what it was that first inspired you to write. We can have a grand conversation about them!
As always, have a great day and thanks for stopping by!