Sunday, May 27, 2007

Saying goodbye to some dear friends

I've been writing my six-book series for almost three years and am most of the way through Book 6.

In some ways, this is a relief. I'm the type person who is driven to finish what he started, even though I know in my heart that the journey is more important than its conclusion.

In other ways, I feel sad. I've grown to love my characters as if they were real. When I finally type The End, I'll miss them all more than I can say.

For better or worse, this is my life's work. Other than the welfare of my family, friends, and pet cat, I hold nothing more dear to my heart. Even if this series sells very little and I subsequently write an unrelated best-seller, I still will treasure The DW Chronicles more than anything else I've ever done.

Life is littered with beginnings, middles, and endings. In this case, I'm near the end.

As always, it's bittersweet.

-- Jim

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Five questions from Ima

Ima, who writes a fascinating blog called I Was Just Thinking (, sent me the following five questions as part of an interview series she coordinates. Here are my answers:

1: When you were ten years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Fantasy-wise, I wanted to be James Bond. I'm 49 now, so when I was 10, Sean Connery was cool beyond cool. Reality-wise, I would have opted to become a sports hero: either a great quarterback or a prolific home run hitter.

2: You have one year and unlimited funds to travel around the world. Which three countries or regions will you visit first, and why? Which three will you skip, and why?

I've only traveled outside of the United States to three locations: once to Cambodia to adopt a child; once to Canada when I was very young; and many times to the Caribbean on cruises, etc. So by no means am I a world traveler.

Which three would I visit?
1: Great Britain/Ireland. Why? I love the intelligence and diversity of the people, and the terrain seems mesmerizing.
2: Costa Rica: It's gorgeous, diverse, and friendly to Americans. I only wish I had bought land there ten years ago when it was more affordable.
3: New Zealand: I'm a huge LOTR fan and would love to visit the different film sites.

Which three would I skip?
1: Anywhere there's a war going on. Not because I'm afraid for myself, but because I wouldn't want to inflict that kind of heartache on my family.
2: Venezuela. I don't like Bush, but Chavez scares me even more.
3: Siberia. I hear the mosquitoes are as big as bumble bees -- and mosquitoes love the taste of my blood more than any other.

3: Sports ... some people love them, some people hate them. Some people have dearly loved favorites and others that they can't stand. But, even if you love all sports, you are now required to banish one team sport and one individual sport from the face of the earth forever. Which ones, and why?

Is tag-team wrestling a team sport? Hmmm. I love football, baseball, basketball, and hockey, so I wouldn't want to ban any of those. Auto racing bores me to tears, so gentlemen, stop your engines. As for individual sports, I love golf and bowling. Men's tennis doesn't do much for me, but women's tennis ... yummy. Hmmm. How about celebrity poker? That enrages me, for some reason. So out it goes.

4) This one is just for me. You mention that George R.R. Martin is one of the authors you most enjoy reading. I've tried to read A Game of Thrones three or four times, but I've never managed to get through it. Convince me to give it another try.

Very good question. In my opinion, some books/writers are just plain fun. You read, you laugh, you cry ... and you don't have to work at it. Some books/writers take more effort. There's a density to their prose that can be downright tiresome. Martin is the latter. There's nothing easy about his fantasy series, but when you dig deep and really concentrate, you'll see that there's a brilliance to it that is in some ways unmatched. No one does medieval quite as well, yet his characters are what make the series so groundbreaking. They are as sophisticated as they are believable. In addition, I'm stunned by his attention to detail. His descriptions of cities, castles, fortresses, costumes, armor, and weapons are first class, and his fight scenes reek of authenticity. He's so damn good, it makes me jealous. But I respect genius -- and very much enjoy reading it, even when it starts out kind of slow.

5: What was your favorite thing about working as a journalist? Your least favorite thing?

My favorite? There was never a dull moment. Hours passed like minutes, minutes like seconds. My least favorite? It sucked out all my creative energy, to the point that I had none left for my true love: writing novels. That's why I had to retire before I could achieve this dream.

Would someone else out there like me to ask them five questions. If so, here are Ima's rules:

1) Leave me a comment telling me you want to be interviewed. Either leave your e-mail address in the comment or e-mail me. (See bottom of my blog.)

2) I will respond by e-mailing you five questions of my choice.

3) You answer the questions in your blog.

4) When you post your answers, include this explanation in the post and offer to interview someone else.

5) You send five questions of your choice to those who ask to be interviewed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Let's talk sex!

Okay, so I didn't mean it quite the way it sounded. Let's talk sex in the literary sense. My series contains several brief yet relatively explicit sexual encounters. None last more than a couple of pages and all play integral roles in terms of plot development. Using the movie system, I would rate these scenes a soft R, but my wife blushes and says hard R. I'm not sure how others would rate them.

How do you feel about explicit sex in novels? All of us would agree that it is not appropriate for young readers. But how about college level and above? Or is college level even too young? And are there a lot of adults out there who would find descriptions of sexual encounters offensive?

-- Jim

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Otherworldly class

Since the early 1970s, I have been a fan of Jesus Christ Superstar. For me, it's not the spiritual aspects of the rock opera that attract me. I just love the music.

Ted Neeley, who starred as Jesus in the 1973 movie and who has portrayed Jesus thousands of times on stage around the world, is in the midst of a farewell tour. At age 63, he's going strong -- and still hitting the high notes.

The elaborate production is in my neck of the woods for a week, and I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Neeley by phone last Friday for a freelance article. Neeley was gracious and good-natured, and he asked me to come back stage on Tuesday night (opening night) to meet him.

The performance earned a standing ovation, and afterward I was led through the bowels of the theater to Ted's dressing room. My guide was none other than Darrel Whitney, who plays Caiaphas. I stood outside the closed door for about twenty minutes, waiting anxiously and wondering if perhaps Ted was having second thoughts. After all, I was just a writer from a small town. Why would I mean anything to him?

Eventually Ted emerged. He looked tired, but not in a bad way -- more like the kind of warm weariness that comes from a long workout at the gym. He came to me and shook my hand, greeting me like I was an old friend. Yet our only previous encounter had been a brief phone interview.

I told him that I was honored to watch him perform and even more honored to meet him. His eyes gleamed, as if it was the first compliment he had ever received. Then I gave him a copy of the newspaper article I had written, along with a business card plugging my fantasy series and blog. Ted seemed genuinely interested, and he asked me at least a dozen questions about The Death Wizard Chronicles. Surprisingly, we ended up talking a good deal more about my work than his -- and our face-to-face conversation went on for at least twenty minutes. When we parted ways, Ted even gave me a hug. Then he swept into the main lobby, where dozens of fans had waited more than an hour for his autograph. I can only imagine how many of them would have loved to have traded places with me.

I guess the point of all this is two-fold: One, I was privileged to meet a man I had admired for more than thirty-five years. Everyone has a top five list of the people he or she would most like to meet: Ted was on mine. Second, Ted represents the rare breed of celebrity who has somehow managed to remain humble. It's amazing how some people are able to keep their heads on straight no matter how much adulation is heaped upon them.

I didn't ask for an autograph; I'm not a big autograph guy. I didn't ask for a photo of he and I standing together; I'm not big on that either. In fact, I hadn't even asked beforehand to meet him and say hello. He offered that himself.

And on top of all this ... while exhausted from another draining performance, the superstar singer/composer/actor had the courtesy to ask me questions about my work.

That's class, in my book. The kind of class that comes not from fame and fortune but from the depths of a humble heart.

-- Jim

Monday, May 7, 2007

Coming Wednesday!

On Tuesday night (May 8), I'm scheduled to do something very exciting, at least to me. I'll report on it Wednesday. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The long road to a dream

When I was 16 years old and a junior at Lakewood High in St. Petersburg, Fla., I began making plans for my future, asking myself the age-old question ... "What do I want to do when I grow up?"

The light went on bright! I wanted to become a novelist, write several dozen best-sellers, and make somewhere between $25-million and $75-million. And considering this was the late-1970s, we're talking $200-million to $300-million taking inflation into account.

When I was 21, I wrote my first novel -- a Stephen King-like horror story called Sarah's Curse. It was represented by an agent (a friend of the family) for a short time and received some positive-sounding rejections, but it ended up falling short of publication. However, I wasn't overly concerned. Surely my second novel would hit it big and propel me down stardom's well-lighted road.

In the meantime I got married, had kids, and began a career in journalism that involved a lot of six-day, 50-hour-plus weeks. Needless to say, there never was a second book. But I never quit believing in my heart that I was a novelist, and I spent countless hours in the solitude of my thoughts creating a fantasy world that I hoped to one day bring to life.

Almost a quarter-century after Sarah's Curse, I finally have written a second novel ... and a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and (midway through the) seventh. Though some might argue that I wasted a sizable portion of my life, it doesn't feel that way to me. In truth, I'm far readier now -- in terms of worldliness, maturity and education -- than I was as a 21-year-old. This is my time.

I hope that most of you will follow my blog and then buy my series when it debuts in September. The Death Wizard Chronicles was a long time coming, but I assure you it will be worth every second -- and cent -- you spend on it.

Does anyone have any dreams-come-true of your own that you'd like to share?

-- Jim


The Death Wizard Chronicles is a sexy, action-packed six-book epic fantasy series: Book One (Forged by Death), Book Two (Chained by Fear), Book Three (Eve of War), Book Four (World on Fire), Book Five (Sun God), Book Six (Death-Know).

The DW Chronicles is not for children and teenagers -- or the faint of heart. But if you like graphic fantasy that is bursting with excitement yet still has a lot going on between the lines, I think you'll love my series.

In a groundbreaking paradox, the Death Wizard, a champion of good, derives his power from a source traditionally seen as negative -- death. His nemesis, an evil sorcerer, derives his power from the sun, the benevolent source of all life. Their struggle to control the fate of the planet Triken will take your breath away.

In an original twist never before seen in this genre, the Death Wizard is able to enter the realm of death during a "temporary suicide." Through intense concentration, he stops his heartbeat and feeds on death energy, which provides him with an array of magical powers.

The series also is a love triangle involving two desperate characters attempting to come together despite the machinations of an all-powerful psychopath with incestuous cravings.

Graphic and action-packed, spanning a millennium of turmoil, The DW Chronicles carries readers on a journey they will never forget.

Do you fear death? The Death Wizard does not. Find out why.

-- Please go to for more details.

About Me

My photo
Clemson, SC, United States
I was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla. I graduated from the University of South Florida (Tampa) in 1979 with a B.A. in Journalism. I now live in South Carolina near the Blue Ridge Mountains, a pleasant setting for writing, to say the least. I was an award-winning journalist at the St. Petersburg Times for twenty-five years and I currently work at the Charlotte Observer. I am married with five daughters.

The author

The author
Jim Melvin, a veteran journalist, debuts as novelist.