Wednesday, June 6, 2012

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury

I can't even begin to say how much Ray Bradbury, the writer and the man, has meant to my life and career without sounding like a gushing idiot.

Ray was there when I was first discovering serious science fiction and fantasy, as I luckily stumbled across a paperback copy of his masterpiece, Something Wicked This Way Comes, in the clutter of my brother's closet. As I turned the pungent pulpy pages, at the ripe old age of ten, I fell in love forever.

Years later, when I became determined to be a professional writer myself, I frequently wrote to Ray, who was extraordinarily accessible, and he always responded with a typed letter here, a handwritten card there. His advice and encouragement were absolutely invaluable as I feverishly pounded at my portable manual typewriter, sending out a new short story each week, collecting more than enough rejection slips to fill an anthology. And, I continued with this insanity, with Ray's enthusiastic encouragement, for five years before I made my first sale and was finally published.

Think about that for a moment.

Five full years.

Week upon week, month after month, mopping store floors at night while attending a few Science, English, and Art classes, and typing my fingers raw with never so much as a nibble of interest from some invisible editor I'd never hear from again. My family and friends had begun to think that there was something very wrong with me.

But , that never mattered because Ray Bradbury believed in me. He never doubted that I would make it someday, so somehow I didn't doubt it either.

As a friend, mentor, and spiritual father, I owe him more than I can ever say or repay.

Now, with the terrible news of his passing this morning at age 91, it's next to impossible for me to imagine my world without Ray Bradbury. He still lives, and will always live, in his books and in my heart. I would not be who I am without the direct influence, kindly patience, and inspiration of this wonderful man, whom I've always considered the greatest American author of this age.

So, rest easy, sir. And thank you from the bottom of my breaking heart. You made this world, and so many others, wondrous places to read about.

Adieu, Ray Bradbury -- August 22, 1920 — June 5, 2012

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