For most, meeting a life-long hero is the thing of legend. For Sam Weller however, meeting his hero was the beginning of a new world of possibilities. Yesterday at 4 p.m., the author visited the Warsaw Community Public Library to discuss his life pursuit of his favorite author.
Weller states his love for author Ray Bradbury was born before he was. While still in the womb, Weller listened to his father read The Illustrated Man, a collection of 18 science fiction short stories by Bradbury, to his mother. This love pushed Weller forward, creating an insatiable appetite for Bradbury’s work. Weller’s passion for Bradbury’s writings became an inspiration for him to begin crafting stories of his own, and he soon became an author for the Chicago Tribune.
It was through this publication that Bradbury was able to transcend from Weller’s beloved hero, to a friend, father figure and mentor. Upon Bradbury’s 80th birthday, Weller proposed an article celebrating the author of such beloved classics as, Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles and Dandelion Wine. After receiving approval from publishers, Weller flew to Los Angeles to interview Bradbury at his home. This interview lasted a total of six hours according to Weller. After finishing the article, Weller sent a copy to Bradbury who, at 1 a.m. the following day, responded in a way that changed Weller’s life tremendously.
“I have received your story, and you are a beautiful writer,” recalled Weller. It was after this statement that Bradbury enthusiastically invited Weller back, and though reluctant at first, eventually agreed to appoint Weller as his official biographer.
Today, Weller brings Bradbury’s life, thoughts and experiences to numerous people who never had the opportunity to meet the decorated author. Weller, who now teaches at Columbia College in Chicago, instructs the only college level course on Bradbury. In addition, he has published four books on the author, including his official biography The Bradbury Chronicles, as well as an anthology of stories in celebration of Bradbury titled Shadow Show.
If you missed the opportunity to hear Weller speak yesterday, he will be available tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the North Webster Public Library as well. The author will present a presentation of the life and work of Bradbury and an opportunity to purchase Weller’s books will be available. All proceeds raised will be donated to Kosciusko Literacy Services, who not only hosted Weller but has purchased copies of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 to be distributed to the public free of charge. The only request is that those finishing the novel pass it on to a friend, family member or co-worker to allow others to to enjoy Bradbury’s work as well.