Today I mourn with others over the death of Ray Bradbury. I’ll admit that I’ve only read one book of his, which was Something Wicked This Way Comes after watching the movie adaptation. Though I had problems with the story’s climax and denouement, it was still one of those early exposures I had to a hybrid of horror and fantasy, and it stoked my imagination quite a bit. I’ll never look at traveling carnivals the same way ever again.
I guess what this book (or adaptation, since that was my first experience with Ray Bradbury) did was open my eyes to stuff beyond my usual horror fare of Hammer films and ghost stories, which were all pure horror. From that point, I realized that, hey, you can do this kind of twist with horror, too! I was about fourteen when I saw the movie, and up that point, my reading materials were pretty limited to Tolkien and the classics (and textbooks).
I scrounged around my school library for horror books that went beyond ghost hauntings or Dracula. I found a few, but I can’t remember what they were called. The only notable book that I borrowed was an anthology of gothic/horror mysteries that took place in Japan. It was also illustrated in the same traditional style as what you see in The Tale of Genji, and the stories were alternately creepy and surreal and just plain haunting. No pun intended.
In short, it was a fantastic read. :) I read Bradbury’s novel just a few years ago, and since I was way older when revisiting the story (this time in text form), I was a lot more critical and – yep – more cynical, hence my dissatisfaction with the way the conflict was dealt with in the end, though the journey from page one really brought back a lot of great memories of my teen years and especially the dumbstruck wonder of seeing the movie for the first time and totally tripping out over it.
While surfing today, I stumbled across the following quote from Bradbury that I’d like to post here and save. It’s one of those things that I need to access easily and revel in whenever the need for comfort comes. Trust me, those moments tend to happen quite frequently.
To sum it all up, if you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must write dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfume and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish for you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories – science fiction or otherwise. Which means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.
- Ray Bradbury, 1920 – 2012
Today also marked the 109th birthday of Aram Khachaturian, whose Masquerade waltz remains one of my favorite waltzes of all time. It’s also an important “muse fuel” for me, having inspired me to write all those ballroom scenes in Renfred’s Masquerade.
Along with Shostakovich’s Waltz No. 2, I was drawn a lot more toward the heavier, more ponderous sounds of Russian waltzes, not the lighter and prettier ones composed by Johann Strauss II. For the kind of gothic romance plot that I had in mind for Renfred’s Masquerade, I found those waltzes a perfect fit since to me, they did a lot more in evoking magic and mystery in the ballroom. Khachaturian’s music also made me forget about the risks in writing in a very unpopular sub-genre (historical fantasy for gay teens) and just revel in writing the scenes and believe in the impossible alongside Nicola Gregori. Didn’t matter how short-lived those moments were; they were still some of the most sublime and deeply personal times for me.