Friday, July 24, 2009

What's in a name?

On Aug. 26, 1957 in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., James Sheldon Fuller entered the world. Quickly, I became known as Jimmy. And I had a lot of energy. Whenever I started to do something reckless, my mom would say to me, "Why would you want to do that, Jimmy?"

When I was in second grade, my parents divorced -- and my mom remarried. Mr. Melvin became my step-dad, and my real dad, Mr. Fuller, sort of stepped out of the picture. Even though I was never legally adopted, I assumed the name Melvin. I became Jimmy Melvin. But my step-dad liked the name James, so I became James Melvin. At the time, I agreed that James was cool.

When I entered high school, I decided that James was no longer cool. And so I became Jim, which I remain to this day. I was able to obtain my driver's license under the last name Melvin by getting a note from my high school principal, and I grew into adulthood/credit cards/student loans/mortages by using my Melvin driver's license. (This was all legal, so don't freak.) I even got a passport under the name Melvin by filling out some long-winded forms.

And so, I am Mr. Melvin to this day.

Do I prefer Melvin over Fuller? No. Do I prefer Fuller over Melvin? No. For whatever reasons, I grew into the kind of adult who doesn't give much credence to names. I judge people, including myself, by their behavior. My behavior has been great in some ways, terrible in others. Like most people, I would assume.

Before my mom died, she and the rest of my family took a driving trip to the mountains, and we rented a white van to hold us all. The van didn't handle well, especially on inclines, and at one point I was faced with driving up a very steep hill. My sister was in the passenger seat, and I turned to her and asked her if I should attempt it. And from way in the back of the van, I heard my mom's high-pitched voice say, "Why would you want to do that, Jimmy?"

I laughed until I cried. At that moment, at least, I was still Jimmy.

But above all, I was still me -- great and terrible.

I drove up the hill. And we went on our way.


Kathy said...

Oh I love this! Good job.

You see how it just takes one little comment on a post on AW to get the ideas flowing?

I think we should give each other topics to write about for our blogs. Sort of like an assignment.

Jim Melvin said...

My llongish wait to find a new publisher has taken the wind out of my sails, blog-wise. But I hope to rediscover some wind one of these days. :)

Kappa no He said...

I really need to spend more time at AW. I'm wondering what I missed/am missing.

I love this memory. So sweet. I'm sure you'll hear her asking the question all through your life, like when you decide to buy a Porsche with some of the money from you six-figure advance...

Jim Melvin said...

It's legendary in my family now. "Why would you want to do that, Jimmy?" Everyone says it.

Why, indeed.

Hope you are doing well!

Cynthia Bronco said...

I was in Poughkeepsie yesterday!


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.