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James Van Pelt

An interviewer asked the author if he wanted to be the next Stephen King: he said, "No, I want to be the first James Van Pelt."

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James Van Pelt fell in love with Zenna Henderson, Ray Bradbury, Ursula le Guin, Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey and a host of others when he started reading. In elementary school, he told his mom he wanted to grow up to be a Ray Bradbury, like Bradbury was a job instead of a person. His work has appeared in Asimov's, Analog, Clarkesworld and many other venues. Stories have been reprinted in Year's Best anthologies and gathered in five of his collections. He has been a finalist for the Nebula, the Sturgeon Award, and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He recently retired from teaching high school English (37 years), to write full time.

Fiction · Posts · Books

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Fiction

The Diorama

Published Feb 15, 2019 · 6,932 words (26 minutes) · 2 likes · 231 views

Fantasy Literary Fiction Love

Restrictive neighborhood covenants protect property values and maintain a sense of propriety in a subdivision, but they also allow the most controlling people power that they can't resist. Maybe not everyone wants to be like everyone else. Maybe that's a good thing.

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Fiction

Nor a Lender Be

Published Feb 9, 2019 · 7,436 words (28 minutes) · 2 likes · 213 views

Science Fiction

Although school districts beg the voters for money to buy computers or to replace crumbling buildings or to implement new testing programs, everyone knows that nothing is better for kids than a good teacher. What if technology discovered a way to put a perfect teacher in every classroom? What is a perfect teacher?

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Fiction

On the Road with the American Dead

Published Feb 1, 2019 · 4,147 words (16 minutes) · 253 views

Fantasy Horror Literary Fiction Historical Strange

Some of the country's most beautiful roads crisscross the midwest, long, lonely stretches where a solo driver has plenty of time to think and let the thoughts run idle. And, occasionally, if his mind is right and circumstances line up, he gets to hear a story.

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Steering Wheel Driver Hand

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Fiction

Once They Were Monarchs

Published Jan 25, 2019 · 4,013 words (15 minutes) · 2 likes · 192 views

Fantasy Horror Mystery

Swimming pools in the summer are about sun and water and lying on towels and watchful guards on the towers. And sometimes there's a troll. I was a lifeguard for many summers, in case you ever wonder where writers get ideas. JVP

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Monarch butterfly sitting on a flower

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Fiction

Home

Published Jan 19, 2019 · 5,090 words (19 minutes) · 223 views

Fantasy Science Fiction

Just about every teenager feels out of place, like they don't belong, even the really confident, successful looking ones. For some of them, this feeling is worse than others. If you would like a soundtrack to this story, try Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill." JVP

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Antony Gormley did an extraordinary job in creating these sculptures in Lake Ballard Western Australia. Visions of aliens in an alien landscape came to mind.

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Fiction

Everything's Unlikely

Published Jan 11, 2019 · 1,516 words (6 minutes) · 1 like · 240 views

Fantasy Literary Fiction Love Strange

Chance rules our lives. It's true! But it's also true that luck favors the prepared. I found that this is a fun story to read out loud. More people relate to the odd mechanism of suspense in the story than I would have thought. Maybe one of the reasons the story works out loud is that I am gray-haired, have a moustache and gold-rimmed glasses. You'll see why that is relevant if you read the story. JVP

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Fiction

Parallel Highways

Published Jan 5, 2019 · 5,503 words (21 minutes) · 240 views

Fantasy Horror

I'm a small-town Colorado kid, so when I went to the LA WorldCon in 1996, the Los Angeles traffic startled me. On the second day, while trying to find my way to Anaheim and the convention, I started thinking about The Flying Dutchman and his poor, cursed crew. "Parallel Highways" rose out of that juxtaposition of traffic and legend. JVP

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Fiction

Eight Words

Published Dec 28, 2018 · 2,721 words (10 minutes) · 227 views

Fantasy Horror Literary Fiction Love

Because I’ve written ghost stories, I'm often asked during panels at conventions if I've ever seen a ghost. At first I said that I didn't believe, but inevitably that meant that someone would wait in the hall to earnestly tell me of their encounters with ghosts. Now, I say I don't believe in flying saucers, but I want to see one. To see a flying saucer, an alien spaceship, would open the universe to possibilities that don't seem to exist. Seeing a ghost would do the same thing. JVP

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Fiction

Deathlehem

Published Dec 20, 2018 · 888 words (4 minutes) · 230 views

Fantasy Horror Literary Fiction Strange

I worried that this story would bother my more Christian friends. No one said anything, but I get the occasional suspicious look. Someone told me once that the way to write a science fiction or fantasy story is to look at who the science fictional or fantastical change impacts the most. What bigger change has occurred in the world that could rival the Christmas story? JVP

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After waiting over a month, the moon was finally in the perfect position for me to be able to take the picture that I had imagined.

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Fiction

O Tannenbaum

Published Dec 16, 2018 · 1,981 words (8 minutes) · 229 views

Fantasy Love Strange

As a part of my writing group's Christmas celebration, we each wrote a seasonal story for the last meeting of the year. We'd read them aloud while sipping punch and eating cookies. Weird Tales published it in 1998. The math on people's ages in the story isn't accurate for 2018, but in 1998, this story was just possible. It is my favorite of the Christmas stories I wrote. JVP

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Christmas tree