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Audio Interviews with Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury

The born story-teller, Ray Bradbury grew up as a science fiction fanatic. He soon found a passion for writing, a daily hobby that he would start age 12 and never stop. By 1992, he had written 28 books, including Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, and The Martian Chronicles.

His first book, however, was a collection of short stories called Dark Carnival published in 1949. He was paid a $700 advance, which would cover for his rent for the next two years.

Fahrenheit 451 was one of his most famous pieces. Bradbury tells the story in detail his writing process. He paid 10 cents per half hour that he used a UCLA typewriter. All told, he spent $9.80 over the course of eight or nine days to write this book. He explained he was too poor to have an office, and his home office had too many distractions.

To hear more about Bradbury, including his take on the movie renditions of his works and his time on the television program, Ray Bradbury Theater, click on the link below.

Listen to the Ray Bradbury interview with Don Swaim, May 29, 1992
(47 min. 31 sec.)

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A year later, Bradbury comes back to talk more about the 40th anniversary of the publication of Fahrenheit 451. The inspiration for the book, he explains, was from an incident in Los Angeles in 1949, during the period of intense censorship and blacklisting known today as McCarthyism. He and a friend were walking the streets of L.A. when a police officer stopped them and asked them what they were doing. The police officer had no reason to do so, and this angered Bradbury.

The incident was the perfect example of the paranoia and fear that overwhelmed the American society at that time. Fahrenheit 451 is described as a cautionary novel against book burning or censoring, which was another characteristic of McCarthyism. At the time of the interview, 1993, Bradbury said this:

“Today, we don’t have to burn books anymore, because we don’t even teach reading in second, third and fourth grades,” he said. “We have graduating high schoolers that don’t even know how to read – that’s criminal.”

Bradbury continues to talk about the threats of censorship for his book, The Fog Horn, and what he did to stop it. To hear more, click on the link below.

Listen to the Ray Bradbury interview with Don Swaim, September 1, 1993
(33 min. 47 sec.)


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For many years most of the best writers of the English language found their way to Don Swaim's CBS Radio studio in New York. Wired for Books is proud to webcast these interviews in RealAudio.

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