[about-author name=”Mike Van Horn”]
1) When did you first discover your love for writing?
I’ve been writing for fifty years. My published stuff is mostly non-fiction. About thirty years ago I started writing short sci fi sketches, but mostly narrative, not much dialogue or interaction. I was too busy writing business books to finish my fiction. Not until a few years ago did I start telling stories, and writing them down.
So the real question is, when did I honor my passion for fiction writing? My wife and I went to a workshop called Unfinished Business. I saw that if I was ever going to get my stories told in this lifetime, it had to be then. I committed to work less and write more. (Yeah, I know—writing is work, but it’s a labor of love.) Since then, I’ve written many stories, including a trilogy that is 2/3 done.
2) Do you have a favourite place to write?
Yes, Hawaii! Look at my profile picture. Sitting on the beach in the shade of a palm. No, actually I write in many ways. Sitting at the dining table with my laptop. I walk in the hills and dictate, then get that transcribed. I sit with my feet up on our deck and scribble in my journal. I edit at my desktop computer. I wake up at 3:00 am with some idea or image and mumble into my recorder.
3) Do you have a writing routine or process that you adhere to?
Routine? Me? [ laughs ruefully ] Alas, no. But I write or edit most days.
4) Are there any authors or specific books you aspire to?
I’m inspired by Ursula LeGuin. Her gentle tone, her characters and landscapes, her narratives and world building, her alien races. Also David Brin’s Uplift Series. I love the way he creates non-human beings and makes them into interesting characters that must work together.
5) What inspired you to write Aliens Crashed in My Back Yard?
I have night-time fantasies that turn into stories, and this was one. I wanted an alien that was very non-human, was marooned on Earth, and was not threatening. That became “Breadbox.” But how did my MC become a woman singer? I don’t recall. But if she hadn’t emerged, I wouldn’t have written all the songs she performs.
6) You wrote songs for your science fiction book?
Yes, by accident. My MC is a singer and I had to write snippets of lyrics for songs she performs. Snippets became verses. I thought, if I have lyrics I need music. So I found a guy to compose and a vocalist to sing them. These are not weird-sounding sci fi tunes, but mainstream songs. Two of the titles are “Cotton Candy Lovin’” and “My Lover Done Left Me.” “Rocket Gal” is a tribute to Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” You can listen to them on my website.
Which means, in addition to being a writer, I can call myself a lyricist! For a guy who can’t sing, that really tickles me.
7) Can you tell us a little about your book?
With pleasure! Selena M was chosen “Songstress of the Year” some time ago. But her singing has grown ho-hum for her. A spaceship crashes on her property. She decides to nurse the surviving alien (whom she nicknames Breadbox) back to health, not turn it over to the authorities. When the government finds out, it comes after the spaceship, which Selena says belongs to her because it fell onto her property. Is Selena in cahoots with other aliens, as the government believes? Can Selena retake the spaceship? And if she did, what would she do with it—fly off into space? Or stay on Earth and focus on her singing to which she just recommitted?
8) Do you have a favourite amongst all your characters?
Oh I like my MC, Selena M. I’d love to fly off into space the way she does, thumbing her nose at the authorities, visiting alien worlds, and hobnobbing with alien beings. She also inherited my irreverent sense of humor.
9) Does your book contain a message for readers to consider?
This is a light-hearted story, not heavy on “message.” But my MC is a woman who’s bored with her singing career because she’s afraid to sing her songs that have the deepest meaning to her. The alien, Breadbox, was also a singer who ran away from her home world because she had to sing the propaganda songs of the Elders, not her own music. Selena and Breadbox encourage each other to regain the passion for their singing. She learns, little by little, to put it all out there, and that people love that. This path is familiar to many who are reluctant to acknowledge their creativity and pursue their passion.
10) Would you be interested in sharing a teaser?
Why, of course! Here’s the opening of Aliens Crashed on my website. Also on that page are pics of my heroine and her alien, plus lyrics of her hit song, “Cotton Candy Lovin’.”
11) What would say has been your biggest challenge and achievement in writing your trilogy?
Getting the stories done! Writing takes time. Rewriting and editing take even more time. I get impatient. The achievement? They’re almost done! Yay!
12) What have you learned about yourself as a writer through writing your trilogy?
I’ve learned that I’m a pretty decent writer, that I can spin a good yarn, create interesting characters, and draw readers in. Having confidence in your ability makes writing a lot easier.
13) Do you have any advice for other aspiring authors?
I’m a teacher, so I’m full of advice—some of it even good.
- Write for yourself. Write what turns you on, not what some ephemeral “market” might demand.
- Follow your creativity wherever it takes you. I could never have imagined myself writing lyrics and getting songs produced.
- Don’t wait 30 years! If you have stories within you, find a way to get them out—despite the demands of life. I waited till I was in my 70s, and now I have two lifetimes of stories to complete.
- Find a circle of other writers to give each other feedback on your stories. I have a crit group that meets every month to go over the latest chapters we’ve written. Varied genres: historical romance, medieval fantasy, social commentary, and memoir. Doesn’t matter. This has been invaluable to me. Having to meet the group’s deadlines is a tremendous motivator!
14) And finally, do you have any future works planned?
Oh yes! Again, look on my website. On the Home page scroll down. You’ll see eight book covers, along with brief blurbs. The first three are my trilogy. The others are “in process” at various stages. In addition, short stories keep dribbling out.
15) Anything else you would like to say?
Thanks for this opportunity. I would be delighted to answer people’s questions—from here or my website.
Aliens Crashed in My Back Yard (Agate and Breadbox trilogy #1)
“Sci Fi with a Sound Track”
Singer Selena M rescues a very non-human alien from a crashed spaceship and nurses it back to health. She is surprised to discover that it communicates through song, and they help each other rekindle their passion for singing. But the government wants that spaceship and comes to take it from Selena.
How did this young alien escape her home world and make a taboo trip to Earth? What was she running from? How long before the Elders come after her?
And if Selena is recommitted to her music, how can she be pulled into an adventure in space?
You’ll find no shoot ’em up space battles or all-powerful alien monsters. But if you like David Brin’s Uplift series, where diverse beings have to get along, you’ll love my stories. Light-hearted, wry humor, real characters, and I make my impossibilities plausible.
Plus, there’s music, sung by Selena and the alien. You can listen on Soundcloud. Sci fi with a sound track!
This is Book 1 of the Agate and Breadbox trilogy. My Spaceship Calls Out to Me and Space Girl Yearning continue Selena’s adventures. And more music!
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