Ray Bradbury's Ghost

My first love in literature was Ray Bradbury.

I was in junior high when my English teacher gave me a stack of Ray's books, including THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, DANDELION WINE, R IS FOR ROCKET and of course THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, among others. I read them all. Though I'd read books before, none of them took root in my memory the way Ray Bradbury's work did. His style and his words seemed to me as if he'd literally breathed right onto the page. He showed me that words were magic.

It was that same class where the teacher assigned us to look at Chris Van Allsburg's THE MYSTERIES OF HARRIS BURDICK. Our task? To choose a picture from that incredible book and write a short story based on it. (This was long before THE CHRONICLES OF HARRIS BURDICK: FOURTEEN AMAZING AUTHORS TELL THE TALES.) Though I had written short stories from elementary school on (such as the tale of turkeys turning the tables on the farmer before Thanksgiving), that assignment hooked me. I secretly named myself a writer then and there. It took years before I said it out loud, years before I earned a single cent. But I was a writer, and there was no going back.

In my career as a writer, I focused mainly on television and screenplays, but I always had an itch to write something that would stand on its own. Scripts are merely blueprints - sometimes beautiful blueprints - but they require many parts to create a whole. Actors, sets, crew, camera, and on and on. A script is just one piece of the puzzle, one ingredient in the stew. And no one reads scripts for fun. Not really. No one loses themselves in a script. Or falls in love. That only comes with books.

But writing a novel scared me. The canvas was even bigger than a feature screenplay, and I knew from experience how quickly and easily the proverbial train can come off the tracks. So I needed to start small.

And so I wrote short stories first. I wrote CRASH and it was accepted into an e-zine. I wrote INITIATION and it, too, was accepted into a different e-zine. I wrote a third, ABRAHAM LINCOLN MUST DIE, and thought: why not bundle them together, the way Ray Bradbury did with his short stories?

And thus, ABRAHAM LINCOLN MUST DIE was born.

Before WHAT LIES WITHIN, before all my other projects, (and hopefully many yet to come), there was Abraham Lincoln. These stories gave me the confidence to dive into the abyss of a novel. These stories were my proving ground, and I'm proud to share them. You might find a bit of magic in them, too, the way I did with Ray Bradbury.

I never met Mr. Bradbury, but I like to think I knew a part of him through his work. That's why I dedicated ABRAHAM LINCOLN MUST DIE to him.