Friday, February 22, 2008

You either love fantasy or you don't

I once was at a book-signing and attempted to strike up a conversation with a customer who had entered the bookstore.

"Do you like epic fantasy?" I said.

"I gave that up in seventh grade, buddy," he said with a sneer. Then he strode away toward the historical fiction department, quite proud of himself for putting me in my childish place.

From my experience, only about one in five adults enjoy reading epic fantasy. The 20 percent who do are rabid about it. But the 80 percent who don't seem to view epic fantasy as little more than kids stuff.

I remember once describing my work to someone at a party, and I emphasized that a lot of my series is adult in nature, equivalent to an R-rated movie that is borderline X. Not fifteen minutes later, I heard that same person telling someone else that I write "Harry Potter stories."

Not that there's anything wrong with "Harry Potter stories," but you get my gist.

So I've been asking myself, why do I enjoy reading and writing epic fantasy so much? Am I just a kid at heart? It doesn't feel that way to me. A lot of the epic fantasy out there right now is fiction at its highest levels -- and is certainly sophisticated enough to entertain adults.

Obviously, my childhood had a lot to do with my love for the genre. The ideas for my series literally were a lifetime in developing. I grew up on the waterfront in Florida and was lucky to have about ten other boys my age all living on the same street. We hung out morning, noon and night, playing all the usual sports that young boys adore. But we also were obsessed with fantastical games that contained super powers and super heroes. Rather than “grow out of it,” my love for magic and monsters stayed with me into adulthood.

The historical fiction department has some great books, I know, but whenever I grab a cup of coffee and wander through a bookstore, you'll know where to find me. Heck, I gave up historical fiction in the seventh grade.


Michael said...

Yeah, me too, Jim. For me, personally, it's because I am a kid at heart, but certainly there's a lot of sophisticated fantasy out there. Regardless of some the ridiculous statements I've made in the past, your story would surely be closer to an "LotR" type of thing than Harry Potter.

Harry Potter ... sheesh, some people...

Alex said...

ha, I really liked that. Especially that last bit, "I gave up historical fiction..."

Jim Melvin said...


LOTR where Aragorn and Arwin actually get it on. Ha!

We fantasy fans have to stick together!

Eric Lizotte said...

I've always had a liking for fantasy, including Harry Potter--but, I know that not every piece of fantasy written is like Harry Potter. That would be ridiculous to think that it was!

As a writer, I find myself at the moment writing a historical-romance. But, my heart is set on writing the epic sci-fi/fantasy story that's currently in my head (and which has been there for several years now). And I would consider it a bit like your Death Wizard Chronicles, Jim, as in it has some R-rated material and has a certain darkness to it--but always with a ray of hope, somewhere.

Jim Melvin said...


That sounds very interesting. I wish you the very best of luck on the fantasy project. I know what you mean about it being "in your head." My series was in mine for 25-plus years.

Mehalia said...

Thanks for writing this.


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

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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.