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Moments of Transcendent Joy

I have a lot to report on regarding Mythcon and Comicon - but there are some happenings which are special enough they require their own post separate from everything else.

My Keynote Address at Mythcon was about my belief that one's life and work should be about finding - and seizing - those rare moments of Transcendent Joy that cross our paths. Some people have them all the time. I'm getting better at looking for them. And at Comicon, there was one such moment that surpassed all the rest.

I'd agreed to do a signing at Comicon for one of my favorite galleries, Every Picture Tells A Story. About an hour into the signing, the owner, Lee, came over to where I was sitting with the other authors and told me someone wanted to buy my book. I responded with a puzzled look (because that was, after all, why I was sitting in his booth), and he smiled and pointed to the other end of their floorspace.

"It's Ray Bradbury."

I jumped out of my chair and flew over to him. "Ray!" I said. "It's James Owen!"

He took my hand (with his left) and shook it. "But you do comics!"

(I've sent him copies of STARCHILD for years - to which he always responded with a counter-gift of his latest book.)

"Now I'm doing books, too!" I told him.

"It's a beautiful book!" Ray told me. "I want to buy it! Right now!"

"I have one for you," I said, and hopped back to my chair where I had a copy with a dragon drawing already done. I signed it to "Uncle Ray", and handed it to him.

"It's such a beautiful book," he said again. "Your drawings are wonderful! I can't wait to read it!"

"I hope you like it," I told him. "You're one of the reasons it exists. Thank you for the inspiration. Do you think we could get a picture together?"

"Absolutely, my boy!" he said. "I'm very proud of you! Such a beautiful book!"

I knelt next to him and he threw his arm around my shoulder and hugged me. I'm pretty sure I floated back over to my table.

My first exposure to Ray's work was the book S IS FOR SPACE, in the school library that's not 100 yards from where I'm sitting right this moment. Sending him my work was a way of paying him tribute - but his seeing and wanting to buy mine is the fulfillment of a ten-year-old boy's fondest dreams.

Thank you, Uncle Ray.


( 83 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jul. 28th, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
That's so wonderful, and I'm so pleased for you! How gratifying is that, eh? ^_^
Jul. 29th, 2009 03:33 am (UTC)
Utterly. Utterly.
Jul. 28th, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC)
That's so wonderful.
Jul. 28th, 2009 09:11 pm (UTC)
When you told me about this in SD, you were postively glowing. I think you could have lit the hall if the lights had gone out.

And I think Jeremy secretly had you tethered to the floor, just to keep you from floating away.

Jul. 28th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)
How very, very cool. You're glowing in that picture, you know.
Jul. 28th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I know. ;)
Jul. 28th, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC)
Oh wow. This actually made me a little teary eyed. I can't imagine what that must be like. :) Thanks for sharing the pictures of you and Uncle Ray. It cheered my day immensely!
Jul. 28th, 2009 09:57 pm (UTC)
It's four days later, and I still am. ;)
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 28th, 2009 09:58 pm (UTC)
He's 88 now. He said he plans to make it to 100, then when he does go, he wants to be buried on Mars.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 28th, 2009 09:58 pm (UTC)

Oh, WOW! Ray Bradbury is one of my favourite wordsmiths of all-time, and that had to have been such a wonderful, joyful honour!

Congratulations to living the life you always dreamed about, James!
Jul. 28th, 2009 10:15 pm (UTC)
You stinker! Why did't you tell me at Con? I've been a Bradbury fan since High school when we read Fahrenheit 451. One of my high school graduation presents was an 800 page collection of his short stories. I think it was '86 when I met him and got him to sign that book in the dealer's room of the old convention center BEFORE his panel and signing. That was also the year I got George Perez' autograph before anyone,but that's another story. But still that's so cool. It's probably like what I felt when I showed Hallow Evening to both Peter Beagle and Eric Goldberg and having favorable responses to my art, especially from Eric. By the way, |I forgot to tell you at Con, Gabe says hi.
Jul. 28th, 2009 10:33 pm (UTC)
That's fantasic. I'm not sure I'll have anything to show for Bradbury's incalulable influence on my work before the Time Comes, and I'm glad you got a chance to show him what he means to you.
Jul. 28th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
sigh, this post brings tears to my eyes. What a wonderful, wonderful moment for you.

I wish I could have seen him at ComicCon. We met very briefly many years ago, and he couldn't have been nicer or more gracious. I already loved him as a writer but from that moment I loved the very kind man he is. I posted a picture of him with my girls a while back on my blog:

It was great seeing you at ComicCon James. Thanks for sharing these pics and this moment.

Jul. 28th, 2009 11:17 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. It was wonderful (albeit, too brief!) to see you too!
Jul. 28th, 2009 11:19 pm (UTC)
Yay! What a great moment—and I'm tickled that you and everyone else made sure to immortalize the moment in photographs as well as memory.
Jul. 28th, 2009 11:53 pm (UTC)
Definitely. I asked when I realized they were already snapping pics.
Jul. 29th, 2009 12:01 am (UTC)
I think when stories, when people and their stories, go full circle, it is a beautiful thing. I am happy because you are happy.
Jul. 29th, 2009 01:38 am (UTC)
Well, I'm happy that you're happy because I'm happy.

Now THAT'S a full circle. ;)
Jul. 29th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
Big fan of Bradbury. What an honor to meet your hero. I've been following his championing of public libraries, which has made him one of mine.
Jul. 29th, 2009 12:19 am (UTC)
Oh wow, how wonderful! I was moved to tears of joy reading this entry. Thank you for sharing that special moment with the rest of us.
Jul. 29th, 2009 01:37 am (UTC)
You're very welcome, Julie.
Jul. 29th, 2009 04:07 am (UTC)
Wow. Talk about an inspiring story. Just think someday someone will be gushing about meeting you. Ray Bradbury can't be wrong. :-)
Thank you for sharing.
Jul. 29th, 2009 06:12 am (UTC)
I'm doing my best right now not to just start weeping. I'm not even entirely sure why.

I'm also failing miserably at it.
Jul. 29th, 2009 06:24 am (UTC)
No worries, man. Right there with you.
Jul. 29th, 2009 08:01 am (UTC)
Wow. Yep, that says it all.
He and Asimov were the first SF writers I read (way back mumble, ok early 60s).
Just Wow.
He will always be special in every fan's heart. Glad you two were able to connect.

Jul. 29th, 2009 12:20 pm (UTC)
Ah, that is sweet!
Jul. 29th, 2009 01:26 pm (UTC)
OMG. I don't squee, I never squee. But I think I just squeed. Ray Bradbury has been one of my idols for as long as I can remember. I'm so glad to know he is well enough to be out mixing with the public at comic con. Thanks so much for posting these pictures.
Jul. 29th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
how wonderful for you!
in true weepy woman fashion, i have teared up several times in the reading of the post and the comments.

on a slightly unrelated note, i finally finished book 3 last night. i must say, i think it's my favorite of them so far, though that's an accomplishment.

i sent some friends to look for you at comic con, but i'm not sure if they managed to find you in the sea of people.

thanks again for everything you do. you're a true class act. and i'm glad that ray had the chance to get your book in person, and that you had the chance to give it to him in person.
Jul. 29th, 2009 06:52 pm (UTC)
Book 3 is my favorite too - which makes me terrified for Book 4. ;)
Jul. 29th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
:: sniffle ::
I'm so glad you have this story to share!
Jul. 29th, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC)
This made me smile and smile and smile.

I am so happy for you.

S Is For Space was also my first Bradbury and one of my favorites, though the one where he stole my heart for good was A Medicine for Melancholy.
Jul. 29th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
Martian Chronicles has my heart.

(The one hardcover I do have was a modern edition - and a gift from Ray. This place ever catches fire, that's the book I save.)
Jul. 29th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on having that exchange with him, James. I know that meant a lot to you.
Jul. 29th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
It did. A great deal, Lis.
Jul. 30th, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC)
This story made me feel good. Thanks for sharing it!
Aug. 18th, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC)
A voice from your past
Jamie, I have spent the past summer in the Mediterranean traveling with Semester At Sea to Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Egypt and Morocco. All this time I have had this e-mail of the wonderful experience!! Good job! I knew you had it! You knew you had it! Now, the World Knows!! Consider applying to Institute for Shipboard Education or Semester At Sea as a guest lecturer! P. Tejada
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