Mississippi Writers and Musicians
MISSISSIPPI WRITERS: Jim Fraiser


Jim FraiserJim Fraiser (r) with sports writer Rick Cleveland.  Photo by Nancy Jacobs 1954-

Major Works

  • The Plutonian Chronicles (1989)
  • M is for Mississippi: An Irreverent Guide to the Magnolia State (1991)
  • Shadow Seed (1997) 
  • Majesty of the Mississippi Delta with John C. Willis and West Freeman 2002
  • For Love of the Game: The Holy Wars of Millsaps College & Mississippi College Football
  • Mississippi River Country Tales: A Celebration of 500 Years of Deep South History 2000
  • The French Quarter of New Orleans 2003
  • Vanished Mississippi Gulf Coast with Rick Guy 2006
  • Whiskey with Chaser: The John Clements Novels 2007

Photo above: Jim Fraiser (r.) with Mississippi sports writer Rick Cleveland. Photo by Nancy Jacobs

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A Biography of Jim Fraiser
By Anna Elizabeth Hillman (SHS)

Mississippi is known as home to many of the South's most well known and respected authors.  It provides a unique cultural setting for many writers.  Jim Fraiser grew up in the Magnolia State, which remains his home.  Though he has been writing now for many years,  he has only just begun his career as a Mississippi writer (Ole Miss 2).

Jim Fraiser grew up in the Mississippi Delta in a small town called Greenwood.  He was born on  October 27, 1954 .  His name, John James Fraiser, III, was given to him after being passed down through the generations.  In 1972, he graduated from Greenwood High School with plans of attending the University of Mississippi.  While at Ole Miss, he received a Bachelor of Arts in English as well as history in 1976.  Then in 1979 he received his law degree from the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss 2). Shadow Seed by Jim Fraiser

From there, Fraiser acquired his first job in the legal profession as the assistant district attorney under Ed Peters for Hinds County (Criss 10).  In 1983, Fraiser began his own private practice which he had until 1995 when he became the special assistant attorney general in the Civil Litigation Division.  This is a position he still holds today.  Between this stretch of time, Fraiser had many other occupations.  In 1988 he practiced his writing techniques as a columnist for Down South Magazine.  From 1990 until 1993,  he worked as a paralegal instructor both at Ole Miss and the Mississippi University for Women.  To continue in his writing career, Fraiser is now the contributing editor for the Jackson Business Journal, and the contributing writer for the Northside Sun (Ole Miss 2).  Under General Mike Moore, Fraiser also acts as the General Counsel for the Mississippi Claims Board (Criss 10).

In 1981, he picked up other interests and began performing professionally with Jackson's New Stage Theater.  He performed in films such as Good Ole Boy, Mississippi Burning, and Blind Vengeance.  These roles lead  to aJackson Business Journal cover features Jim Fraiser membership in the Screen Actors Guild.  Fraiser not only performed, but he also wrote a few unpublished plays.  For example, he wrote adaptations of Walter Percy's novel Love in the Ruins and Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Arises as well as Fraiser's own Cosmos by Copernicus and The Judas Principle, all of which have been performed.  Fraiser then became more involved in writing as he wrote articles for an assortment of journals and newspapers.  Some of his freelance writing  was done for The American Bar Journal, The Clarion Ledger, Daily Mississippian, Down South Magazine, Greenwood Commonwealth, Mississippi Lawyer Magazine, National Women Lawyers Journal, and North Mississippi Business Journal (Ole Miss 2).

Fraiser's first short story was called "The Plutonian Chronicles" and was published by Down South Magazine in 1989.  Next, Jim FraiserFraiser published first book, M is for Mississippi:  An Irreverent Guide to the Magnolia State, which he said did very well.  He also wrote the novel Shadow Seed.  In an interview done by Amazon .com, Fraiser lays out the plot of Shadow Seed by saying that it "concerns a lawyer who lies to a judge and obtains bail for a vicious murderer, who in turn executes witnesses until the lawyer attempts to stop him, and then the murderer goes after the lawyer".  Fraiser continues telling about a second plot which involves the lawyer's grandfather (also a lawyer) who is representing a man accused of a murder that he did not commit;  furthermore, Fraiser says that this second plot is shown through a diary which had belonged to the grandfather (Amazon.com 1).

He appreciates philosophy and history and enjoys the work of many Mississippi writers such as Walker Percy, William Faulkner, Willie Morris, Barry Hannah, Richard Ford, Eudora Welty, Charles Wilson, and Larry Brown.  He also enjoys Ernest Hemmingway's work.  Fraiser enjoys fiction books such as  Percy's The Moviegoer and Love in the Ruins, Hemmingway's The Sun Also Arises, and Ford's Independence Day (Amazon.com 1). He appeared in the film My Dog Skip by Willie Morris playing himself.

The son of Chief Judge John Fraiser, Jr. of Greenwood and Adelyn Gerald Stokes, Fraiser grew up surrounded by Mississippi's influential heritage, which has paved the way for much of his work.    In an article in the Jackson Business Journal, Fraiser says, "...if you write about the South, which I do in Shadow Seed, you can't help but be drawn in by the mystique and the legend surrounding this region," (Criss 1).  Fraiser says that he can follow his love of literature and theater all the way back to his parents.  Both his mother and father supported him in his creativity as a child.  Fraiser talks about how much his parents helped as he was growing up.  He says that they helped any way they could, always encouraging him.  "They both have always been very supportive of my creative urges, in writing and in acting," says Fraiser.  He also gives credit to his wife, Carol, who he says was his first real editor.  "She has a natural sense for writing, actually a much better sense than I do," he says of her, while also adding what a tremendous help she was (Criss 2).

2008 UPDATE: Jim Fraiser produced Majesty of the Mississippi Delta with John C. Willis and West Freeman in 2002 and Vanished Mississippi Gulf Coast with Rick Guy in 2003. Fraiser published Whiskey with Chaser: The John Clements Novels in 2007.

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A Timeline for Jim Fraiser

October 7, 1954-  John James Fraiser III was born in New Orleans , Louisiana
1972- Graduated from Greenwood High School
1 976- Received Bachelor of Arts in English & history at the University of Mississippi
1979- Received law degree from University of Mississippi
1980-1982- Hinds County Assistant District Attorney
1981-1991- Performed professionally with Jackson's New Stage Theater
1980-1982  Served as assistant district attorney for Hinds County
1982-1995- Private law practice
1988- Plays veterinarian in film based on Willie Morris's Good Ole Boy
1988- Became member of the Screen Actors Guild
1988-1990-Philosophy columnist for Down South Magazine
1989- Film role in Mississippi Burning
1990-1993  Paralegal instructor at the University of Mississippi and Mississippi University  for Women
1992- Film role in Blind Vengeance
1997 -Published novel called Shadow Seed
1995-present,  Special assistant attorney general in the Civil Litigation Division for the State of Mississippi, still holds  position
       - Contributing editor for Jackson Business Journal, contributing writer for the Northside  Sun
       - Lives in Jackson with wife and two daughters

2003-Published The French Quarter of New Orleans

2006--Published Vanished Mississippi Gulf Coast

2007--Published Whiskey with Chaser: The John Clements Novels            

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A Review of Shadow Seed
by Anna Elizabeth Hillman (SHS)

Jim Fraiser's Shadow Seed is a novel of excitement tied into the legal scene.  Fraiser goes into detail in both the life of a lawyer as well as his practice and moral responsibilities.  Using these areas of his protagonist's life, Fraiser also brings thrilling action into the novel.

John Clements, the protagonist in the novel, is an average man who is married with no children.  He is a lawyer who has come to try his cases only for the victory and not for the right reasons.  Clements's'  life is at a point of turmoil.  He and his wife are separated because she became vividly aware of an affair which he was having with his secretary.  Clements struggles throughout the novel with what is morally right and wrong, both in his business life and in his private life.  He also struggles with the direction in which his life is going.  He feels that somewhere along the way he has gotten off track from the principles with which his father, who is now deceased, raised him.  He finds himself constantly entranced in a journal whichAnna Hillman he has found that belonged to his grandfather.  Throughout the novel, Clements compares himself to the kind of man he once was and the kind of man he has come to be.  Eventually, Clements is forced to face reality when he is assigned a man who has killed a helpless, innocent elderly woman in cold blood.  His client's name is Roosevelt Daulks, a man who thrives off violence and fails to see what is right and what is wrong.  While trying Daulk's case, Clements is put in a position where he must choose whether to lie and win the case, risking the life of a witness and putting a murderer back on the streets;  or tell everything that he knows, making the case a much harder one to win.  Leaning more towards risking anything to win, Clements selfishly lies to the judge, freeing his client.  Soon, more and more people involved in Daulk's criminal activity show up dead, and all evidence points to Daulks.  When Clements is accidentally aware of new evidence and faced with the decision, once again, of  telling all he knows, he looks back for guidance in his father and grandfathers teachings.  This time, Clements chooses to make the right decision and therefore is the next victim on Daulk's list.

Fraiser uses this to begin the part of the novel which makes it a thriller.  Clements finds himself in fear of his life and also needing time to decide between his marriage and his affair.  He leaves town to escape his client, or so he thinks.  Soon, Clements finds himself within the grasp of a crazed murderer with no hope of escape.  After all of the excitement is over, Clements finds himself content with his life, as he feels he has gotten it back on the right track.  No longer having a tempting secretary, his personal life is also headed in the right direction, leaving Fraiser with a great ending.

Fraiser did a great job of tying everything together.  The suspense and the great detail were captivating.  Although his writing is somewhat simple at first, it becomes much more experienced towards the end.  I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and will be sure to read any more of Fraiser's in the future,  but I will give a fair warning:  If you are opposed to explicit language and sexual content, you may want to steer clear of this book.  Otherwise, it was a great read.

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Related Websites

The Mississippi Writers Page is similar to the Mississippi Writers and Musicians Page, but it is done by Ole Miss.

Information about Fraiser's The French Quarter.

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Bibliography

Criss, Jack.  "Jim Fraiser/Novelist;  Another Great Mississippi Writer:  The 'seed' has been  planted."  Jackson Business Journal July 1997:  10-11.

Fraiser, Jim.  Shadow Seed.  Montgomery, AL:  The Black Belt Press, 1997.

"Amazon.com Talks to Jim Fraiser."  Amazon.com Author Interview:  n. pag.  Online.  4 Nov. 1998.  Available http://amazon.com/exec/obidos/show-interview/f-j-raiserim/002-6771966-1730428

"Jim Fraiser."  Mississippi Writers Page:  n. pag.  Online. 29 Oct. 1998. Available
       http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/english/ms-writers/dir/fraiser_jim

"Your Say."  Bookwire:  n. pag. Online.  World Wide Web. 12 Nov. 1998.  Available
    http://www.bookwire.com/banned-books/yoursay.html

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