Science fiction and fantasy writer Ray Bradbury spoke to listeners during a Thursday afternoon tele-conference at Bradley University’s Neumiller Hall. The author of "Fahrenheit 451" told his audience, "Before you go to bed at night ask yourself, ‘What do I love with all my heart?’ Then when you wake up in the morning, go out and do it."
Even though he had to work later that night at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Calvin Patterson III took the time to field a Thursday afternoon phone call.
The Peoria man was one of several who showed up to hear renowned author Ray Bradbury speak during a tele-conference at Bradley University’s Neumiller Hall.
"He was very good," Patterson said. "I thought it was very interesting to hear him say when he wakes up in the morning he explodes with ideas for his writing. How often do you get to listen to someone like him?"
Bradbury’s "Fahrenheit 451" was this year’s choice for the Peoria Public Library’s Big Read, a program that invites the community to read a selected book and then participate in discussions about the book among other events.
Before the session began, Robert Thompson, director for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University, who conducted the interview with Bradbury, warned his audiences in both Syracuse, N.Y. and Peoria that the 88-year-old author is very hard of hearing and therefore there would be lots of awkward pauses.
And there were segments when the Peoria audience could barely hear Bradbury above the static or when his voice become very soft, but that was mainly due to technological problems. The message that everyone heard loud and clear was, "Do what you love and love what you do."
Bradbury went on to tell his listeners, "Before you go to bed at night ask yourself, ‘What do I love with all my heart?’ Then when you wake up in the morning, go out and do it."
Mary Kay Berjohn, a school psychologist and a self-proclaimed fan of the Peoria Reads program and Bradbury, said she was impressed with his philosophy. "There are just so many things he said that really make you think."
A prolific writer, Bradbury has penned more than 30 books besides "Fahrenheit 451." In that novel, he envisions a dystopic society in which books are forbidden and where firefighters burn the works. Bradbury has also written numerous short stories.
When asked about his writing regimen, Bradbury said, "I get up every morning and I explode. The ideas are colliding inside my head and I jump out of bed and I run to my typewriter." Following a stroke, however, Bradbury says he now dictates to his daughter via telephone and she prints out the piece for him to edit.
Reading can change your life, he said, while television and video games, "are flibberty jib elements and the computer is too fragmented. It doesn’t help you be a reader, writer or thinker."
He also believes that the future of mankind is in the universe and walking on the moon is only the first step. "Next is Mars," he predicted.
Bradbury left his Peoria fans even more enamored of him than they already were. After the interview, Michael Lang, who teaches mathematics at Bradley University said, "I thought it was fantastic, just being able to hear the thoughts of such a good author really humanizes him when you hear him speak directly."
Catharine Schaidle can be reached at (309) 686-3290 or firstname.lastname@example.org.