Friday, June 07, 2013


When I was younger, I was in love with Bruce Coville books. I bought the second book in the My Teacher is an Alien series, and was immediately hooked. A few years after I started reading, he put out Bruce Coville's Book of Monsters. It featured short stories by Coville and several other young adult authors. He released a few others with different themes: aliens, nightmares, magic, etc.

They found that elusive, perfect balance between familiarity and novelty. The sort of fantastic stories I already loved with the addition of refreshing, new authorial voices made them amazing books. They taught me to appreciate authors and creators outside of those I was already familiar with.

The most memorable volume was Bruce Coville's Book of Spine Tinglers. It had a story called "Past Sunset" that reached right in and pulled my heart out. Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying it was any better than the other stories in the series, but it was the one that stuck with me.
A short time later, my brother, his best friend, and I were playing Tank Wars on our computer. Now, there are about 1000 different versions of Tank Wars, so I couldn't say which one it was, but this one let you enter names for each of your tanks.

I named my tanks for our games, but I named them after a random assortment of characters from Bruce Coville books (either I didn't think at the time to name them after Star Trek dudes, or my brother beat me to it). Eventually, I was tired of always using someone else's name and wanted something that was my own.

Perhaps not fully understanding the definition of "my own," younger Kris started looking for reference material. "Past Sunset" was my first choice. Everyone in it was French, so those names weren't a strong pull for a young, Southern American (no offense France). The author's name was an obvious second choice. Vivian Vande Velde has an awesome name. Even if it's a pseudonym, it's rockin'. I dropped "Vivian" for obvious reasons (no offense to females), truncated "Vande" to the more common "Van," and probably pulled from my real last name to conjugate "Velde" into "Velding."

And because neither my brother nor his best friend read this, I'll add that I rocked at Tank Wars.

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