Ever since I was a kid, music has been central to my creative process. Whether building an airplane model kit in the basement of my parents’ home; drawing my own comic books late into the night in my childhood bedroom; or writing my very first, simplistic novels when I was all of 11—music has been paramount. I have always listened to music while creating.

Today is certainly no different.

As I worked on the first edition of Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews, and the new, updated art book, I had a constant soundtrack going in the background, a low dB companion to the task of assembling this taut little tome of Bradbury’s memories, philosophies, ideologies, and inspirations. When I am writing, music is seldom a mental distraction. Many writers simply cannot work with background noise. For some reason, I need it. Music has forever been one of the most important things in my life.

It goes back to my very early days. I remember my brother and sisters playing Beatles and Badfinger records.

When I was 8, living in Malibu, California, I was a Beach Boys fanatic. It just so happened that Carl Wilson, the band’s guitarist and velvet-throated vocalist, lived not too far from my own home. His house was a Moroccan-style mansion, fittingly right by the beach, near Trancas Canyon. One sun-soaked afternoon (as most Malibu days are), I decided to hang out on the street near the house. This was a different era when kids wandered around unsupervised, whiling sunny days away, exploring and discovering. I stood on the street outside the Wilson mansion hoping for a glimpse of the famous Beach Boy. It didn’t take long, maybe an hour, and a Mercedes wheeled in to the driveway and a woman stepped out from the vehicle. I recognized her from the liner notes of my vinyl copy of the Beach Boys’ 15 Big Ones—Carl Wilson’s wife. She wore over-sized sunglasses and carried bags from a local children’s clothing store. The rest of the car was loaded with groceries. She saw me right away.

“Are you waiting to meet my husband?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said, nodding. She informed me that her spouse was, predictably, on the road. But then she made a most generous offer:

“If you help me in with my groceries, I can try to find an autograph picture for you.”