Thursday, December 20, 2007

Guest Post by Jim Melvin

Though I wrote The Death Wizard Chronicles in three years, the six-book series was a lifetime in the making. I was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but I moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., when I was 5 years old and was raised on an island that jutted into Tampa Bay. I was lucky to grow up on a street on the waterfront that had about ten other boys my age, and we hung out morning, noon, and night. We played all the usual sports that young boys adore, but we also were obsessed with fantastical games that were based on super powers and and super heroes. Rather than "grow out of it," my love and fascination for magic and monsters remained with me into adulthood.

When I was in high school, I boldly decided that I wanted to become a best-selling novelist, and I went around telling everyone I knew that I was going to make $75-million. Keep in mind this was the mid-1970s, so that’s probably around $300-million, if you figure in thirty-plus years of inflation.

I wrote my first novel when I was 20 years old. It was a Stephen King-like horror novel titled Sarah’s Curse. An agent who was a family friend shopped it around, and though it received some nice responses, it never found a publisher. But I wasn’t overly concerned because I believed my second novel would be the one to hit it big. In the meantime, I started my career as a journalist at the St. Petersburg Times in Florida. For me, the rat race officially began. Soon I was working 50-hour weeks and raising a family – and there never was a second book. Twenty-five years later, I was fortunate enough to be able to semi-retire. In September 2004, I wrote the first word of Book One of The Death Wizard Chronicles. Seven-hundred-thousand words later, I’m in the final revision process of Book Six.

Life has an unusual sense of humor, and for a quarter-century my dreams were put on hold. That said, those 25 years ended up serving a valuable purpose. As a reporter and editor, I learned the craft of writing and met a lot of interesting people, significantly expanding my worldview and talents. When I finally began writing my epic fantasy series, I realized that work and family weren’t to blame for all those lost years. Instead, I simply had not been ready as a writer. Finally, it all jelled. This is my time.

I describe my series as a cross between J.R.R. Tolkien and Stephen King – Tolkien because it contains many aspects of epic fantasy, King because it’s pretty darn scary and rough. The Death Wizard Chronicles is a classic tale of good versus evil, with lots of action, monsters, and magic. It also contains a very compelling love story. But what separates my series from most others is that I am an active student of Eastern philosophy, which fuels my world view. The concept of karma and the art of meditation play key roles in the symbolic aspects of my work. While deep in meditation, Buddhist monks have had recorded heart rates of less than 10 beats per minute. My main character takes this to the extreme. In an original twist, the Death Wizard is able to enter the realm of death during a “temporary suicide.” Through intense concentrative meditation, he stops his heartbeat briefly and feeds on death energy, which provides him with an array of magical powers.

My first wife and I divorced about 15 years ago, and I then remarried. My second wife is a Western-convert Buddhist in the Theravada tradition, and she introduced me to Buddhism. The philosophical aspects of Eastern philosophy really rang true for me and helped to further shape the person I have become. My series contains an ancient language that is directly translated from Pali, a dialect closely related to Sanskrit but now extinct as a spoken language. When translated to English, it is beautiful and erotic.

A wise man once said:
“In the end
these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you live?
How deeply did you let go?”

I live life this way. Or at least I try.

Jim Melvin is author of The Death Wizard Chronicles, a six-book epic fantasy. Book One (The Pit) was released in September 2007 by Rain Publishing, followed by Book Two (Moon Goddess) in October and Book Three (Eve of War) in November. Book Four (World on Fire) will be released in December, Book Five (Sun God) in January and Book Six (Death-Know) in February. The series is available for purchase at or The first shipments to Amazon have sold out, but more are on the way. Jim, 50, is married with five daughters and currently lives in Clemson, S.C. He welcomes personal emails at


Jim Melvin said...

Thanks to everyone at StoryCrafters for having me on your blog.

Cat Muldoon said...

Nothing like life experience to deepen our writing. It's not only the craft but the essence that grows with time, because we have more to tap into on a deep level after some life experience has been our teacher.

Jim, I am so excited to present part 2 of our conversation about the deeper aspects of writing.

(Saturday on his blog and mine.)


Jean Hackensmith said...

Hi, Jim. Great post! For some reason, my info didn't appear on Independent Book Report, so it's been a quiet day.

Jim Melvin said...

Dear Cat:

Yes, life experience is huge, though at the same time I think that growing older diminishes or at least changes certain things. So I was glad to be able to write this series in my late 40s instead of my 60s.

Dear Jean:

Yes, I noticed that when I went to comment. I'll check again now.

Theresa Chaze, Wiccan Writer said...

Hi Jim. I'm glad you are having a good tour. You work sounds exciting and I'll be adding the series to my reading list. If you decide you want to publish Sarah's Curse, let me know. I can help. If you publish it yourself, you can do it inexpensively and easily.

Jim Melvin said...

Dear Theresa:

Thanks for your kind words. I don't see Sarah's Curse ever coming out of my closet, but I do have a very cool ghost story in mind after I finish my fantasy series.