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One-on-One with the Author: Ray Bradbury

Published: August 24, 2009

In 2009, Post writer Shirrel Rhoades spoke with Ray Bradbury, the legendary fantasy writer and an esteemed member of The Saturday Evening Post’s Fiction Advisory Board. In honor of Bradbury, we are reprinting that interview. You can also read his short story “Juggernaut,” mentioned in the article. –Post Editors

Bradbury is a wizard with words. Dandelion Wine was a magical evocation of childhood. Something Wicked This Way Comes offered chills that outdid the Brothers Grimm. The Martian Chronicles took us to other worlds of imagination. The Illustrated Man was a paean to storytelling. Fahrenheit 451 was a love affair with books.

“Back when I was 12 years old, I was madly in love with L. Frank Baum and the Oz books, along with the novels of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, and especially the Tarzan books and the John Carter, Warlord of Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I began to think about becoming a writer at that time,” recalls Bradbury. “Simultaneously, I saw Blackstone the Magician on stage and thought, ‘What a wonderful life it would be if I could grow up and become a magician.’ In many ways, that is exactly what I did.”

His first published book was a collection of short stories called Dark Carnival, which set the tone.

Bradbury collaborated with Charles Addams on the creation of that macabre family that eventually took Addams’ name. Bradbury originally called them the Elliotts. His first story about them was “Homecoming,” published in the October issue of Mademoiselle magazine in 1946, replete with Addams’ illustrations.

However, despite being a fantasy writer, his ideas are often grounded in reality. When we asked him about “Juggernaut,” the original short fiction in this issue of the Post, he had this to say:

“The story ‘Juggernaut’ came to be because I happened to grow up among several different people who had physically moved their houses from one location to another. This always fascinated me and made me want to write a story about it.

“I was especially inspired about 60 years ago, in downtown Los Angeles, when I saw a house being moved down a big hill. Someone had painted some Indian symbols on the wheels, which I found fascinating, and I knew I must write something about this.”

In addition to a wall filled with awards and accolades, even a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, Bradbury received, in 2007, a special citation from the Pulitzer board for his “distinguished, prolific, and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.”

He likes to tell the story of his childhood meeting with a carnival performer billed as Mr. Electrico, a man who changed his life by tapping him with an electrified sword, saying, “Live forever!”

“I thought that was a wonderful idea, but how did you do it?” he reflected at the time.

We know. Through his wondrous books and stories, he will live on with readers forever.

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  • Thank you so much for reposting this interview. I too have always loved Ray Bradbury’s work, my favorite being Dandelion Wine, (if I were forced to choose a favorite that is). It always aggravates me to hear someone, and especially the media, refer to Bradbury as a sci-fi writer, for he was so much more! He even said that himself in an interview once: “Why do people call me a science fiction writer? I write more than science fiction.” (paraphrasing), I don’t recall where I read that interview I’m sorry to say.
    I will forever appreciate not only the joy of reading Bradbury’s stories, but also the profound influence he’s had on my own work.

  • When I was about 12 yrs old I wrote to Ray Bradbury asking him for advice on becoming a writer. I did receive a form letter from him. However, I also received a paragraph at the bottom of the letter written in his own handwriting. That was awesome to a 12 yr old.

    Ray Bradbury is my all time favorite writer! He will be greatly missed! I’m 60 yrs old now and still love reading Dandelion Wine, Martian Chronicles, October Country, etc. etc.

  • Mark Negus

    I laughed at the part about the fat lady; things being what they are. The short story Juggernaut was fun to read. Although being one of the minor baby boomers, I know there were, and may still be houseboats. I remember a Debbie Reynolds Tammy movie featuring a houseboat. I saw an early 20th century photograph once of houseboats on the Blue River between K.C. and Independence, Mo, in an area called the Fairmount District, which had a very early amusement park; one whence my unborn mother was caught up on a Ferris Wheel. None of that is there now, nor is it part of my memory, but such things are good postcards.
    I really like the work of Ray Bradbury, and wish him a whole lot more ink, and maybe Moby Dick withstanding.
    Thanks.