One-on-One with the Author: Ray Bradbury

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.