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The Mentor Who Changed Your Life
Ray Bradbury

(Updated August 7th, 2012.)

When revered author Ray Bradbury died in June at the age of ninety-two, multitudes of writers and readers paid tribute to his genius and influence on them. Getting approval from Bradbury to adapt one of his short stories inspired Brad Schreiber. Steve Hauk explained how having seen Bradbury and Hedy Lamarr headed in opposite directions on a department store escalator helps him imagine stories. Loren Rhoads remembered a piece of simple advice he gave her at a book signing.

When suggesting this week’s blog topic, Jacquelyn Mitchard wrote that Bradbury had been one of her most important mentors. But who mentored Ray Bradbury? He wrote, “I spent three days a week for ten years educating myself in the public library, and it's better than college. People should educate themselves—you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of ten years, I had read every book in the library and I'd written a thousand stories.

Recently, we asked Red Roomers to blog about a mentor who changed their lives. A couple of posts stood out:

  • Writer, instructor and script consultant Christina Hamlett gives a detailed, loving portrait with lots practical advice she learned from her own script editor in "Sylvia's Typewriter."
  • Sande Boritz Berger shares a beautiful appreciation of a classic university literature professor, tough, brilliant, and essential. Read "Days of Bloom."


Before the Last Bell Rings

They'll receive copies of Suzy Nelson’s Before the Last Bell Rings , in which a crime of passion leaves a high school teacher in a terrible dilemma.

Read all the mentor blog entries here. I hope you'll comment on your favorites and let the bloggers know what you think about the mentors they chose to write about. All past Red Room blog challenge topics are here. Thanks as always for blogging!

Huntington W. Sharp, Senior Editor, Red Room

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Ray Bradbury

I was, am and always will be, a Ray Bradbury-iac. I first met the man, myth, legend at Santa Barbara Writers Conference, circa 1991; then every year thereafter (he was the Opening Speaker annually), arriving in a town car from LA, dressed in blue blazer, and white shorts, a true original. Eccentric, and a total tonic. Then I had the joy of meeting him at Thousand Oaks Library; Barnes and Noble, Westlake; Motion Picture and TV Fund; Burbank etcetera, etcetera... We even nearly got to go to his house.

I wrote a letter to Ray, and it was in Red Book. Years back. I will dig it up and re-post.

As a writer, producer, actor, and artist, Ray Bradbury was my biggest inspiration. Along with George Orwell; Mark Twain; Dostoyevsky; Peter Carey; Charles Schulz; Poe and Dickens.

I have a Ray Bradbury autographed VHS case of "Moby Dick" (he wrote the screenplay); a shelf of autographed books by him and a poster of him as boy and man, which would be amongst the first things I'd grab in a fire.

Gordon Durich 

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Michael Powell and Chris Welles Feder:

For anyone interested in the History of Movies, written by persons on hand, the two volume autobiography by Director  Michael Powell (THE RED SHOES, 1948) and IN MY FATHER'S SHADOW by Chris Welles Feder (Orson Welles' eldest daughter) are hard to beat.  They provide warmth, insight, and a certain realistic analysis of great films and those who made them.

            Macresarf1 (Epinions.com); Glenn Anders (Wellesnet.com)

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MY MENTORS: up to age 16: Cornell Woolrich and J.D. Salinger. I don't mean personally, I mean through their work. Woolrich, though a sloppy stylist, created the most hair-raising suspense scenes, in stories like The Boy Who Cried Murder (made into The Window) and his classic, It Had to be Murder (made by Hitchcock as Rear Window). He introduced me to the noir genre, which I later appropriated to write an original musical, The Betrayal of Nora Blake -which owes a lot to Woollrich's Phantom Lady.

Salinger's Catcher in the Rye taught me -in one sweeping lesson- about voice. The indelible voice of Holden Caulfield set a contemporary template for anyone's future attempts to capture personality on the page. TO BE CONTINUED -next installment: from 16 to 21.

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C.S. Lewis, Dave Barry

The sublime and the ridiculous...what better combination of mentors?  Just for the record, the sublime refers to the former, and the ridiculous to the latter.

I admire C.S. Lewis for his artful allegory and razor sharp spiritual  insight.  His Christian apologetics are without peer...during his lifetime or since.  I think King Solomon and C.S. Lewis would have had some fascinating drawing room discussions, had they been contemporaries.

Although I strive to be as intelligent and analytical as C.S. Lewis in my writing, by default I find myself emulating Dave Barry.  I completely get Dave Barry...though we have never met (although he did acknowledge a few of my contributions as an "alert reader" during the heydey of his column).  I find I share his warped sense of humor...almost to the letter.  This should probably be a scary thing....perhaps more for him than for me.

An honorable mention should also go to George Lucas....in his pre- Star Wars motif.  THX-1138 seems to be permanently embedded in my psyche for reasons I'll probably never fathom.