Aliens Crashed in My Back Yard is Book 1 of a trilogy by Mike van Horn, followed by My Spaceship Calls Out to Me and Space Girl Yearning. Selena M is a popular singer who is feeling bored, burned out, and over the hill.
The music. I had to write lyrics for songs Selena sings. If I had lyrics, I needed music, so I got them composed and sung. I now have seven songs produced. Sci fi with a soundtrack! The songs are on Soundcloud.
Our remaining alien was shaking and trembling and drawing into a fetal position. Seemed to be shriveling. “She’s not long for this world,” I said softly, shaking my head. I gave her more water. What else could we do for her? Alas, not much.
Doc’s phone blurted out the beginning of Stars and Stripes Forever. “Gotta take this. Yeah, what’s up?” Frown, then, “I better go. Three goats got into some bad garbage. Belly aches. And that’s something for a goat. Communal farm up on the ridge, those damn hippies. I’ll bring some more stuff when I come back.”
“I’m sticking here with you,” Clay said protectively.
“I know you’ve got choir practice this evening, Clay. I’ll be all right here.” He protested, but I knew he had to go; he’s the choir director. I pushed him outside. “She probably won’t last out the night. I’m staying here with her so she doesn’t die utterly alone.”
“I’ll be back afterward.” Then he added over his shoulder as he headed out, “It’s an it, not a she. Better not personalize it. Just a dying alien being. Don’t let yourself get attached.” Easy for a man to say.
I hurried back to my house and gathered up a few essentials. I hadn’t had anything to eat all day, so I made myself a humongous sandwich, and gulped it down with a beer. Not very ladylike, I know. But on my concert tours, hopping from city to city, sandwich gulping is what keeps me going.
What else would I need overnight? I brought back my down sleeping bag and an inflatable pad—my joints aren’t as limber as they used to be.
By the time I got back it was dusk, hardly twenty-four hours since the crash. I looked in. She hadn’t moved. I spread out my bag and curled up near her as the last light faded away.
Doc and Clay both got delayed, and ended up not returning, but they did check in by phone. You don’t suppose these two strong men were afraid of the dark, with alien ghosts rising from the ground?
Then Sheriff Jim called back. I dreaded his call. Even though he’s a good friend, I always get a bit nervous when I’m being questioned by The Law. Part of me assumes I’m guilty of dastardly crimes. Especially when he started out in his “Just the facts, Ma’am” voice. It was during this conversation that I first referred to my visitor as “Breadbox.” Sheriff’s deputies on this coastline get to see a lot of weird stuff, so hearing about an alien in a flying saucer didn’t faze him as much as I expected.
I lay there in the dark talking to her. I asked her questions. Where are you from? Why did you come here? What happened? What was your life like? How old are you? I got no response, of course. Wasn’t sure she was still alive.
I told her my entire life story. I confessed many things that I’d never revealed to anyone else. Including myself.
How I was strong and self-assured on the outside, but inside? Not so much. How I’d come to the road less traveled, but had stayed on the freeway.
How I had dumped the only guy I’d ever truly loved because of my stupid music career, and all my tours. How I often studied myself in the mirror, standing sideways, wondering if I should bother trying to keep myself slim and in shape, or whether I should let it all go and enjoy my cheeseburgers. How I knew I could never go for Clay, even though I knew he had a big crush on me, and he’d be a damn good catch for an aging chick like me.
How I’d never even tried to publish the songs that were the most important to me because I didn’t think they were marketable, and instead churned out all these maudlin ballads. Which of course made me a shitload of money, and allowed me to buy my dream property here on the coast, psychically as far as possible from La La Land. But which left me with this empty hole here near the core of my being.
I began to hum this one melody I’d written years before, and had never performed in public. It was my internal anthem—the music for my secret self.
My alien companion, lying in the dark covered by a horse blanket, in a tiny, squeaky voice, hummed along with me.
A Bite of... Mike van Horn
Q1: Why do you write?
I don’t need to pay the rent with royalties, but money is acknowledgment and energy. People liking my stories energize me to write all the more.
I write because story ideas bubble up constantly, especially at night. My rule is, when creativity happens, capture it! So I have to write them down—or dictate them. Characters begin inventing themselves, then they tell me what’s going to happen. I have to keep up.
I enjoy reading my own stories.
I have always written. Not just fiction; I’ve written a number of non-fiction books. I’ve done technical reports for organizations. I have journals full of social philosophy I’ve never published. I constantly answer questions on Quora, Medium, and other forums.
But sci fi is the most fun by far!
Q2: Facing your demons? How much of what you write could be classed as therapy?
My MC is a jaded singer; I’m a jaded writer. She’s trying to recapture the passion for her singing and get up the nerve to sing her most meaningful songs; I’m doing that with my writing.
I think I’ve outlived my demons. I’m more concerned with letting my angels show through. I was totally amazed when I started writing lyrics. I, who can’t sing a note! I found a composer and a vocalist, and now I’m a dang lyricist! Who knew? This is therapy of the very best kind.
Q3: How much of your writing is autobiographical?
All my main characters capture a slice of me. My MC, who’s an out-there singer but unsure of herself and an introvert. The tattered country singer gets to say all my smart-ass, corny things. The elegant, professorial scientist. The hyper entrepreneur. The logical, levelheaded astronaut. The nerdy but loyal high school teacher. The ineffectual government agent who plays both sides.
Then there’s the alien! Abandoning responsibility and heading into the unknown.
And the robot. Striving to excel beyond its capabilities.
I write science fiction, but my day job is advising small business owners how to “grow their business without driving themselves crazy”®. I’ve written over a dozen how-to books and workbooks for small business. For years this kept me from completing the sci fi stories I started. Finally I said, “If I’m ever going to finish these stories in this lifetime, it has to be now!” Since then I’ve written three novels plus several short stories, and have another series drafted.
My wife and daughter are also writers. We live just north of San Francisco in one of the best places in the world.
I have an MBA (UCLA) but no training in writing except one class. The only thing I remember from it is this beautiful long-legged blond who sat behind me, to whom I’ve been married for 40+ years.
You can find Mike van Horn on his own website and his blog.