Author Jayne Lockwood has a new book out and I’m happy to be part of the release tour!
It might take the arrival of an alien being to remind an isolated man what it means to be human.
With a stressful job, his boss breathing down his neck for profitable results, and an estranged wife and daughter, scientist Kurt Lomax doesn’t think life can get much harder. Until a nonbinary extraterrestrial with an otherworldly beauty, captivating elegance, and a wicked sense of humor inconveniently shows up at his apartment.
Vardam watched the destruction of their own world, and they don’t want to see the same thing happen on Earth. They are lonely, and feelings soon develop between them and the supposedly straight scientist—feelings Kurt reciprocates, much to his confusion.
The arrival of cheery interpreter Tom Soames—whose Goth appearance belies a gentle heart—is like a ray of sunshine in the somber lab. He acts as matchmaker for man and tentacled extraterrestrial, unwittingly instigating a national crisis when the news breaks out.
But will a misunderstanding ruin Kurt and Vardam’s chances for happiness together—along with the hope for peace between humanity and the Var?
Author Name: Jayne Lockwood
Publisher: DSP Publications
Release Date: Tuesday, August 14 2018
Is This Book Romance?: No
Story Type: Novel >50k
Word Count: 96,000
Cover Artist: Emmy Ellis at studioenp.com
Genres: sci fi, romance, fantasy, dystopia
Warnings: some description of historical child abuse
Three hours later, they were still none the wiser.
“Any joy with communications?”
Nic shook her head. “None. They don’t seem to respond to any spoken language. I’ve tried binary code, sonar, whale music, radio waves. Not a flicker. I’m not sure how well they can see or hear. They won’t let me near enough to do any examinations. They just keep staring at me like I’m the one who isn’t getting it. It’s really frustrating.”
When Kurt looked again, Vardam was there. With a graceful tilt of the head, they watched him as he approached the glass.
“What about the forensics on that note?”
“Just got them,” Troy said, looking up from his computer. “The note was written with an old-style Bic ballpoint pen by a human female….”
“Human? Are you sure?”
“I can’t argue with the evidence. There was a trace of fingerprint on the paper but nothing I can analyze. The paper looks like any A4 copy from a twentieth century printer or photocopier. The only thing is, I think it might have been written by someone in distress. The handwriting is very jerky, like they weren’t sure what to write and then just dashed it down. But….” Troy shrugged his wide shoulders. “That last bit’s a hunch. Could be totally wrong. Still waiting on the DNA.”
“Thanks, Troy. Let me know as soon as you get it.”
He turned back to where Vardam was standing, staring at him with those unnerving gemstone eyes.
“Who are you?”
Vardam raised their hand, running the back of it down the glass close to Kurt’s face. He jerked away. It was too close for comfort, even with three inches of glass between them. Vardam backed away as well, as if alarmed by his sudden movement. For reasons he didn’t understand, he was irritated beyond measure by their wounded expression.
“Talk to me, damn it! What do you want with me?” He smacked his hand against the glass. The sharp slap shocked Vardam into stepping back. They bared gold teeth at him and made a gesture that looked almost obscene. Then they dropped into a crouch. Immediately, a smooth iridescent shell closed over their hunched body, covering it completely.
Kurt and Nic exchanged glances, then looked back at the pod. It was completely smooth, devoid of any seams or openings. Every few seconds it quivered. Kurt could almost feel the waves of disapproval emanating from the gleaming surface.
“Well, that’s new,” Nic said. “Get some rest. I’ll babysit until ten. Troy will take the graveyard shift.”
Kurt tore his angry gaze away from the strange pod. The way it hunched reproachfully in the corner didn’t improve his mood one bit. He knew he was more than tired. He felt emotionally and physically drained and couldn’t remember the last time he had eaten a proper meal. Not that he was hungry. He just wanted sleep.
In his apartment, he lay naked in his wide bed. He was thinking about his continued feud with James Dyer. The issue dangled over his career like a sword of Damocles but all he could see was the beautiful creature. Those eyes, staring into his ragged soul. What did they want?
The telephone by his bed rang, waking him from an unnerving dream. Glancing at the clock, he saw it was 6:15. The last eight hours had passed frighteningly quickly.
“Hello?” His voice sounded faded.
“Sorry to wake you, Professor, but I’ve got the DNA results back. You need to see them.”
“I’ll be right down.”
He stumbled out of bed and into the shower. Twenty minutes later he was down in the lab, a fresh white coat over his shirt and tie.
In the isolation room, Vardam had emerged from their shell. The melon had been eaten, apart from the rinds, neatly scalloped with teeth marks.
“It was just as I thought it would be. There’s human DNA on that note. Female. I took the liberty of cross-checking it against the National DNA Database and found a match. Whoever wrote this note is related to you. Not just distantly, but directly of your bloodline.”
Kurt looked closer at the screen. It was policy to hold the medical details of everyone at the Bunker, including himself. Even so, he wondered why he wasn’t more surprised.
It was impossible but saying so would have been redundant. The evidence was right there in front of him. He walked over to the glass and beckoned to Vardam. They gave him a withering look and turned away, presenting a bony back to the window.
“I think we’re going to have to use the softly-softly approach,” Troy said. “They’re not going to tell us anything until they’re ready. And I’ve got another hunch. I think they’re using BSL.”
“British Sign Language?” Kurt was skeptical.
“I know it sounds weird, but there’s a guy who works at Tesco in Wycombe. He uses it with some of the customers. It looks the same. It’s worth a try, isn’t it?” Troy prodded buttons on his iPad. The official website came up with a finger-spelling option. “Not all words have signs, obviously, so each letter has a sign, right?”
“I know the principles of sign language,” Kurt said irritably. The alien was an inconvenience, however beautiful they were.
“You write in your name, and the finger shapes come up.” Troy typed rapidly. Kurt’s surname appeared on the screen in sign.
Troy gently tapped on the glass. “Hello?”
Vardam turned around, saw it was Troy, and ambled over. Troy showed them the diagrams on the iPad screen. The alien nodded, repeated the signs, and pointed at Kurt. Then it signed, “I am….”
“I can’t tell what they’re saying,” Troy said. “They’re too fast. Hang on.” He typed again. “I’ve found a YouTube video for learning phrases. Ah! This one is easy.” He put the iPad down and signed, making a sad face, swirling his fist on his stomach, then raising both hands over his head, shaking it at the same time.
“What are you doing?”
“Telling him I don’t understand. It’s ‘way over my head.’ Get it?”
Vardam seemed to. They signed “okay,” then turned to Kurt and made another gesture, flattening one hand and punching up into it with the other.
“My instincts are telling me that isn’t good,” Troy said. “Looks like we need to find ourselves a sign language expert.”
“We can’t bring anyone else in at the moment. Certainly not in a professional capacity. The government will be all over us before we know it.” As Kurt said it, the seed of an idea was forming in his mind. “Where did you say that BSL user worked again?”
Jayne is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win.
Interview with Tom Soames
By Jayne Lockwood
My new novel, Euphoria, has just been released by DSP Publications. The story is about what happens when one alien being decides to travel back in time to save Earth from human destruction.
What follows is an interview with Tom Soames, the interpreter employed to facilitate communication between Vardam and the scientists at Pharmacure’s Bunker complex.
My first impression of Tom is one of a wary young man, his nervousness hidden behind a curtain of dyed black hair and a surly expression. He’s wearing a black sleeveless tee-shirt with a faded picture of Gary Numan, and black jeans so tight I’m surprised he can even breathe. He lounges in the chair, watchful, picking at a fingernail. His forearms are covered in tattoos of skulls, thorned roses and corvids. I say I like them, and he thaws slightly.
TS Thanks. A mate did them for me.
JL He’s very talented.
TS Was. He’s dead. He was a junkie. He was also my best mate.
JL I’m sorry. It’s hard to lose someone so close.
TS Yeah. It’s pretty shitty, but I don’t really want to talk about that.
JL So how did you come to be at the Bunker?
TS It was the weirdest thing. I have this friend, Suri. She’s the sister of my ex. He’s a twat but she’s cool, you know? She’s got Downs and is deaf. I actually learned a bit of sign language so I could talk to her and chat up her brother. We were together three years before I realised what a plonker he was. Suri and I will always be mates, though. Troy was the one who approached me. He saw me signing with Suri at the supermarket and … You know the rest.
JL How did you feel when you first saw Vardam?
TS I thought it was a joke, to be honest. That was my very first thought. Then all these other things came rushing in. Panic, ‘cos I’d left my council flat to live at the Bunker and I thought it might all be taken away, and I was pissed off, too, ‘cos I don’t like being made fun of, but all that was in, like, a nanosecond. When they moved, and looked at me, I dunno. It was like a miracle or something. I shed a tear. I’m not embarrassed to admit it. It was awesome. I can’t think of any other word to describe it.
JL You weren’t afraid?
TS That’s the weird thing. I wasn’t. I just knew they weren’t going to harm me. Even when I realised they had tentacles, much later on, I wasn’t scared. I mean, it was the freakiest fucking thing, but no. The closest I came to shitting myself was when I was on top of that tower. Man, I never want to be that high ever again unless it’s in a jumbo jet or something.
JL You had to put your trust in Vardam to save you. That must have been terrifying.
TS That’s putting it a bit mild, to be honest. But I knew I’d freeze to death or fall so it wasn’t like I had any choice. I was screaming like a little kid all the way down though. And upchucked at the end. Couldn’t help it. Still, it was better than shitting my pants, I suppose. I still have flashbacks about that night. I watched five people die in that crash. It was horrible.
JL Do you blame Vardam for what happened?
TS No way. It was self-defence, definitely. And if they hadn’t saved me, I’d be dead too. It’s because of Vardam my life is so different to what it was. I was stacking shelves and about to be made homeless and now I’ve got a family, a great job and a man I love. I mean, someone has to win sometimes, right? Take Wingnut, for example…
JL He was one of the patients in the clinical trial? Mr. Martin?
TS That’s the one. Wingnut was really down and out. He only agreed to do the experiments ‘cos he wanted a decent night’s sleep and a good meal. It was tough for him, you know? He was a junkie, addicted to smack, and they were trying out this new stuff to help addicts come off the bad stuff. Not like methadone, but something without side effects. I’m not a scientist so I don’t know the terms. Anyway, he’d go cold turkey, then they’d give him more heroin, and see if this stuff worked. I know it sounds creepy. He was a fucking trainwreck when I met him but he’s doing a lot better now, thanks mainly to Vardam.
JL In what way?
TS Um…. I’m not allowed to say. But they helped, and Wingnut is cool. He’s living the high life now. Good on him. That’s what I say.
JL I talked to him earlier. He had some very lovely things to say about you.
TS Yeah, well… I can only be myself, you know? No airs and graces. When I started at the lab, everyone was like, yes, Professor, no, Professor, and real quiet. It was like working in a mortuary. I kind of …. livened things up a bit. The Prof didn’t like it. Always walking round as if someone had shoved an icicle up his bum. Like that tall geezer in Holby City. Not that I watch it but…. Anyway, he didn’t have a choice, did he? He loosened up eventually though. Oh boy, did he ever! Not that I can talk about that either. He’s a top bloke. I better say that as he still pays me, right? I mean it, though. He’s alright.
JL Do you still see Professor Lomax and the other scientists?
TS I’m seeing some of ‘em at Easter. It’s nice. Totally mental, with all the little ones around, but I love it. Wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jayne Lockwood has always wanted to learn to fly. Spending free time honing her Peter Pan skills on an aerial hoop, she also creates flights of fancy in her books, mingling sex and romance with angst and a healthy dash of dark humor.
Since she was a small child, Jayne has always sympathized with the villain. It all began with Alice Cooper, even though she was banned from listening to his music by her mother. From wanting to sail away with Captain Hook or redeeming the Child Catcher, the antihero has been an enduring fascination ever since.
After a two-year sojourn in New Jersey and two decades of child-rearing, Jayne is an outwardly respectable member of an English village community. She also is one of the founder members of WROTE podcast, which is dedicated to showcasing LGBTQA authors and their work, and now writes book reviews as well as diverse fiction.
She is also in a sub/dom relationship with a cat called Keith.