Featured Author – Jim Melvin

Join epic fantasy author Jim Melvin, author of THE DEATH WIZARD CHRONICLES, BOOK 1, THE PIT, as he virtually tours the blogosphere in December on his first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours!

THE DEATH WIZARD CHRONICLES, BOOK 1, THE PIT SYNOPSIS:

The Death Wizard Chronicles is a six-book epic fantasy series from Rain Publishing Inc. Book One (The Pit) debuted September 2007; Book Two (Moon Goddess) will be published in October; Book Three (Eve of War) in November; Book Four (World on Fire) in December; Book Five (Sun God) in January 2008; Book Six (Death-Know) in February 2008. All six books will be available for purchase at rainbooks.com, amazon.com, and select bookstores in the U.S. and Canada.

The DW Chronicles is not for children and teenagers — or the faint of heart. But fans of authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, and Steven Erikson will find much to enjoy in this 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.

Graphic and action-packed, spanning a millenium 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.

Hi Jim,
 
Welcome to Paperback Writer
 
 
Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book? 
 
Like most ideas of this scope, it literally was 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.
I wrote my first novel when I was 20 years old. It was a Stephen King-like horror novel entitled 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.   About four years ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to semi-retire. In September 2004, I wrote the first word of Book One, entitled The Pit. Seven-hundred-thousand words later, I’m in the final revision process of Book Six.
 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.

Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?

From the time I finished Sarah’s Curse (more than 30 years ago) until now, a magical fantasy that eventually would become The Death Wizard Chronicles took center stage in my mind. When I was falling asleep at night, taking a shower, or driving alone in the car, I daydreamed about a wizard who could die and return to life enriched with magical powers. I did this for hundreds of hours, all told.
Because of this, I literally had entire scenes memorized, and I knew most of my characters like they were family. So even though the series is quite large in scope, I never needed an outline. That said, I’m a trained journalist and a good organizer, so I kept track of events using a very detailed timeline and glossary — and I also paid a professional artist to do a map for me that I referred to quite frequently during the writing process.

Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?
 
In terms of The Death Wizard Chronicles, I knew the endings of all six books far in advance. But do I consider myself the kind of writer who has to know the ending before he or she can start? Nah. In fact, it would be fun to write a book where the ending reveals itself of its own accord. Seems to me, though, that it would have to be a standalone, not a series.

Do you have a process for developing your characters?
 
As I touched on earlier, the process that I used for The Death Wizard Chronicles was chronic daydreaming. Most of us have favorite movies that we’ve watched a dozen or more times, and we can replay scenes in our minds, sometimes in great detail. My series was this way for me, and it included the formation of my characters. I knew their strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies far in advance of writing. However, this is not to say that there weren’t surprises. My original imagined cast went through a lot of changes, and several new characters emerged in powerful roles.
Of course, one of the main keys of developing characters is consistency. When a character changes — for better or worse — it has to happen with careful consideration. A coward doesn’t become a hero overnight.
It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what they would be?

This is a good question, though not one that’s easy to answer. One thing I like to say to people is that a writer is a product of his world view. Life is a long, difficult haul — and it shapes a person. All writers draw from this very deep and complex pool of experiences. So in that regard, parts of me are in all my characters.
They take life seriously; so do I. They view the world as a maelstrom of joy and suffering; so do I. My main character is seven feet tall, muscular, and very good looking; so am I. Okay, so I don’t take life that seriously.

What is your most favorite part about this book?
 
For me, the favorite part of each book was the ending. For me, the endings are what make everything else worthwhile. And yes, I cried each time.
In Book One, there is an epic battle between the Death Wizard and a giant spider. That one ranks among my favorites scenes, but there are several others that I find equally pleasing.

When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?
 
I wrote the first words of Book One in September 2004. I finished The Pit in early January 2005, immediately began the query process for an agent, and was lucky to secure a very reputable one within a month. From then on, my agent and I shopped hard for a publisher. The process went on for two years. I was pleased to sign with Rain Publishing Inc. (a mid-sized, traditional house based in Canada) in March 2007. Not only has Rain treated me respectfully, but it was willing to publish all my books in a timely fashion. That was as big a selling point to me as anything else.
I’ve got great news for anyone who discovers The Death Wizard Chronicles and becomes compelled to see it to its conclusion. There are no two-year waits between the releases of each book. Rain is as excited about the potential of this series as I am, and it has agreed to release the books once a month. Book One (The Pit) was released in September 2007. Book Two (Moon Goddess) was released in October 2007. Book Three (Eve of War) will soon be released by the end of November 2007. Book Four (World on Fire) in December 2007. Book Five (Sun God) in January 2008. And Book Six (Death-Know) in February 2008.

What struggles have you had on the road to being published?
 
First-time fiction is an extremely difficult sell nowadays, especially in the glutted genres such as epic fantasy. My agent and I received a lot of nicely worded rejections from the major houses, most of which only have one or two slots for literally thousands of entries. In some regards, it would be easier to win the lottery, buy the publishing house, appoint yourself president, and then publish your book than it would be to gain an acceptance in the traditional manner.
I can’t say that it doesn’t wear on you. There are times when you feel like the world’s biggest idiot for even attempting such a thing. All you can do is continue to try.

What has been the best part about being published?
 
When you’re published by a mid-sized or small house, the odds are stacked heavily against you, in terms of selling more than a few thousand (or even hundred) books. But at least it gives you a puncher’s chance. I’m a puncher. In terms of marketing, I’ve been working my a– off.

What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?
 
In The Death Wizard Chronicles, I attempt to explore the essence of some of life’s deepest mysteries: What happens to us when we die? Is death something to be feared? What role does the supernatural play? In allegorical fashion, different characters react to these questions in different ways. I would hope that my series will prompt the reader to ask these questions from their personal perspective — and to maybe even come up with some answers of their own.

Do you have plans to write another book?

I’ve been so obsessed with The DW Chronicles, I really haven’t given much thought to my next book. But it most likely will be a standalone horror novel. I’m not big into standalone fantasy. To me, it takes too long to build a world to do it in one book. That said, if my series becomes a big hit, I’d have no problem writing prequels and sequels!

Would you care to share with us how the virtual book tour experience with Pump Up Your Book Promotion has been for you?
 
Well, it’s still early in the process. For the most part, I’ve been doing a lot of online interviews and answering a lot of thought-provoking questions. It’s been fun, but I wouldn’t describe it as easy! When the actual tour swings into full strength, it will be interesting to see how people react to what I have to say. Will I strike any chords?
I will say this: Dorothy Thompson has been a pleasure. I would recommend her to anyone.

Where can readers find a copy of your book?
 
At this early stage, the best places to order would be via www.rainbooks.com or www.amazon.com. However, the first shipment to Amazon sold out quickly, so there’ll be a delay until new books arrive. It’s not yet available in most bookstores, but we’re working on it.
Do you have a website for readers to go to?
 
Yes! Please visit www.deathwizardchronicles.blogspot.com. I frequently add updates about my series — and it’s also a fun blog, overall. Please leave a comment! Or send me a direct email at jsmhimes@yahoo.com.
Thank you, Jim for sharing your book and characters with us today. It has been a pleasure and I hope you have had a successful virtual book tour.

It was an honor. Thank you so much!
 
 

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3 thoughts on “Featured Author – Jim Melvin”

  1. Jim – great in-depth interview. I’m touring and agree that it is not easy per se, but it certainly gives you a lot of tracks on the net.

    Cat Muldoon
    author of magical tales including Rue the Day

  2. Jim, I love the fact that you delve into a topic most people are afraid to address. Congratulations on getting Rain to put the books out so quickly in succession.

    Ronda Del Boccio
    award-winning author and author coach

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