The first book I ever picked up because I wanted to (not counting books for kids and teens) was Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which I read at age 14. Yes, Mr. Huxley ushered me into the world of literature and for that he will always be a hero and mentor.

English by birth, Huxley was in his early 40s when he moved to Los Angeles in 1937 — and lived in Southern California for the rest of his life. (He passed away on November 22, 1963, the same day as JFK.) Huxley worked briefly as a Hollywood screenwriter — with projects that included a treatment for Alice and Wonderland, which Walt Disney rejected because he “only understood every third word” (according to one Huxley biographer).

Huxley loved the lushness of California, the kitschiness of California, and the openness of California — he stopped by for a visit in 1937 and never left. Every time I drive past the Hollywood Hills, where Huxley lived  at 3276 Deronda Drive, I think of him.

Thank you, Mr. Huxley. Brave New World changed my life and made me want to become a writer.

Painting of Aldous Huxley by Scott Richard. Find more work here.