Interview with Ray Bradbury
The prolific science fiction writer, Ray Bradbury, died in 2012 at the age of 91. His best-known book, Fahrenheit 451, written in 1953, was made into a movie in 2018 for HBO. His book of short stories, The Martian Chronicles was just as popular. His autobiographical novel, Dandelion Wine, was a non-science fiction favorite. In all, he wrote about 60 books and hundreds of short stories.
He gave several interviews throughout his life. He also was a frequent keynote speaker at various events where he discussed how he became a writer and gave advice to aspiring writers. Here are some excerpts take from those interviews and speeches.
How Did You Become a Writer?
“I took a writing course in summer school in 1939. But, it didn’t work.…I started going to the library when I graduated from high school. I went to the library every day for three or four days a week for 10 years and I graduated from the library when I was 28…I read every single book in it. Along the way, I wrote every day of every week of every month, for every year. And, in ten years, I became a writer.”
What Book Would You Memorize if Books Were Banned and Burned as in Fahrenheit 451?
“I would memorize a book of short stories by Edgar Allen Poe.”
Have You Ever Wanted to Be a Journalist?
“No, because that’s just the facts. Facts are not interesting to me.…I take off and fly. Journalism keeps you planted on the ground.”
You have written about space exploration. Would you travel to the moon on a commercial flight if possible?
“No. I wouldn’t do that. That’s not the way to do it. The way to do it is flying with the astronauts.”
What Inspired You to Write the Short Story, “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh.”? It is set in the Real World of the Civil War, Unlike Most of Your Fiction.
“I read the death notice of an actor whose grandfather had been ‘the drummer boy of Shiloh.’ This phrase inspired me to write the story. I researched the weather conditions in Shiloh for that battle so I could paint an accurate description of the setting.”
What Are You Reading Right Now? (He was asked this in 2010.)
“I’m not reading anything right now except Shakespeare.”
What is the Best Advice You Can Give to Aspiring Writers?
“Write only what you love, and love what you write….Teach people to float in the air and fall in love with themselves. To reach out with their hands, and let life out through their fingertips onto paper. If I can teach them that, I’ve done a great job.”
At the time of Ray Bradbury’s death, more than 8 million copies of his books had sold around the world and had been translated into 36 languages. His last story was published just one week before his death in “The New Yorker” magazine.