Greetings to all you Awesome Readers out there, and thanks for joining us for the newest edition of Genre Talk here on The Novel Approach Reviews. Today we’ve got DSP Publications author Jayne Lockwood who’s come along to chat about her brand-new Science Fiction release Euphoria. And she’s brought a GIVEAWAY! So kick up your feet, grab a cuppa, and we’ll start by having a glimpse at what we’re in for.
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?
Carole: Wow! So many things from that blurb we want to talk about here, but let’s start with the basics. Tell us about your genre.
Jayne: Euphoria fits squarely in the sci-fi/fantasy/romance genres. The story is set in the near future and is based loosely on issues happening right now. Our overuse of antibiotics, the spread of disease and large corporations holding the world to ransom over drugs that could radically change the way we treat certain illnesses. I say “loosely” because there is a large notice of irony in there somewhere, and a bit of piss-taking of overly-serious and worthy sci-fi films. There is also a hint of magic to explain that which can’t be explained by human science, and the romance is there because any story I write has to have some! I love the freedom writing in these genres gave me. The science is based on fact, but it is surrounded by elements entirely at my control. It’s a great feeling of power. (Mwaaaah ha ha haaa…!)
Carole: And makes for a great story, no doubt. So tell us about Euphoria in particular.
Jayne: Well, there’s a terribly serious and emotionally-challenged scientist, Kurt, and he’s under pressure to produce profitable results for his new CEO. He works with his team in an underground lab and it is business as usual until a nonbinary alien appears in his apartment.
In order to communicate with them, Kurt employs Tom Soames, who knows British Sign Language. Tom is poor, in a crap job, therefore easily bought. His down-to-earth demeanor sends shock waves through the geeky science-y types and could trigger an international crisis.
Then all kinds of shenanigans ensue, and Kurt finds himself in a predicament no man has ever faced before. This doesn’t go down well with anyone but Vardam, who is delighted.
The lonely extra-terrestrial wants to send a message to other drifting Var, saying they’ve found safe sanctuary, but first they have to convince the humans their intentions are peaceful. That is harder than they anticipated, especially when also wrestling with conundrums like the concept of safe sex.
That’s sort of it, really!
Carole: Ha! That’s sort of it, she says. That’s a lot, and seems to cover a lot of bases, but for now we want to focus on the wide-reaching diversity issues you seem to have going on in this story. Tell us how you define “diversity” in your writing, and how you explored it in this book.
Jayne: Diversity is such a hot word right now, it would be easy to dilute or overuse it. When I began the story, I wasn’t thinking about deliberately adding a POC character, or a differently abled character, or this or that label. I just wrote the story with characters that fit. When the story began to take shape, I thought about how diverse characters would add to it, or not. What I didn’t want to do was shoehorn them in just so I could say my book was “diverse.” Now I actually think about it, there is a lot, I guess. Tom’s friend Suri is Downs. Troy is black. Vardam is nonbinary (which made complete sense as I didn’t want to write the stereotype of gay muscled alien (really hot – but green…) Tom is gay, and his love interest is Asian and gay. I think there might be some lesbians buzzing around somewhere. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m English. Multi-culturalism, treating variably abled people as human beings and differing genders and sexualities has just been around all my life. It just came naturally.
That being said, writing a whole book from the POV of a character of a different race, sexuality or physical ability to myself would be really daunting. It was hard to put myself in the mindset of a gay man (in my SA Smythe books), and they were quite light-hearted stories, not to be taken too seriously. Even so, it isn’t something to take on lightly, I don’t think.
Carole: Sorry, we’re still laughing at the mental image of buzzing lesbians. :D But we’ll be good. Anyway! So, Euphoria is being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for genre novels that don’t necessarily focus on or even contain romance. Tell us about the relationship in Euphoria and why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.
Jayne: The main relationship is between Kurt, Head Scientist at Pharmacure’s research facility, and Vardam, who is extra-terrestrial and nonbinary. There is less of will they/won’t they and more if, how and what happens next? Tom Soames is the man who acts as the catalyst. He has a more conventional affair going on with Rashad, the doctor who steals his heart, but that’s definitely in the background. Also, Vardam has the fate of Earth in their hands, which is kind of the crux of the story. I HAVE to have romance, it’s in my DNA, but it doesn’t have to be the be-all and end-all of the story. It just wouldn’t work in Euphoria if it was. There was too much science to be ignored. That’s why I put Tom in there. Amidst all the geeks, he’s the one most like me, scratching their head and asking what the hell is going on.
I believe Euphoria is unique. I really do. It would be easy to say, ‘oh, MM Romance is all like this, or that, with torsos on the cover and everyone is unrealistically hot.’ Yes, there are stereotypes in any genre, and I’m not going to wade into what is or isn’t. Euphoria is science/wishful thinking/romance, in that order. I think it fits perfectly with DSP Publications and their ethos.
Carole: It certainly sounds it! It also sounds like you spent a lot of time playing with all this in your head. Tell us about the evolution of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of Euphoria?
Jayne: To be honest, it was never meant to be a viable proposition. I wanted to free-run and see what developed. In the 1980’s a nuclear bunker was built not far from my house on the site of an old army base. I’d always wanted to set a story there and in my mind, it had to be sci-fi. But that idea was intimidating so I forced that aside and just began to write. I wasn’t sure I had something worth sharing until I showed it to a friend, and they convinced me to finish it.
Carole: No doubt your readers are thrilled you did. :) Okay, let’s change it up a bit and lighten things up. What do you do for fun?
Jayne: I write for fun! I also sew quilts and read and I go to pilates and aerial hoop classes. If anyone wants to know what that is, they should check out my Facebook album, Hoop Dreams. It’s strength training, basically, and a lot of dangling!
Carole: Good grief, we’re tired just reading that! So do you have a pet who makes you sit down once in a while and supervises your writing?
Jayne: That would be Keith. He’s my cat. We rescued him five years ago. He doesn’t like being picked up, or cuddled. He has rituals which have to be observed. We’ve been trained to feed him cat milk and biscuits at 9pm every evening. And yes, he will sit on the keyboard when he’s hungry. I also have a rescue doggy, Madge, who gets what she wants with melty eyes and pleading. She has this thing where she shows her teeth, willing me to talk to her. And she stamps her foot to get attention. She’s a bit like a fitness tracker with fur.
Carole: Awwww! Did they help you with the research you needed to do for this book?
Jayne: My daughter gave me her A Level Biology notes. To be honest, they were about as high as I could get in grasping the details enough to weave them into a story. I did some research on-line, but some of it was just too deep! (I was a lousy student at school. Now it’s coming back to bite…)
Carole: And because readers always want to know what to look forward to, the old standby: What projects are you working on now and what is coming next from you?
Jayne: For my next trick I’m working on an M/F BDSM romance. It will be a short novel, worked from a piece of fan fiction I did on Wattpad. At the same time, I have another M/M romance set in Oxford between a drag artist and the nephew of his professorial deceased lover. Then there is a suspense novel brewing, based really close to where I live. It starts with a body in a field, and a conflagration, and spans 25 years. The two main characters are lesbian so that will be an awesome challenge, but I’m looking forward to seeing how that pans out.
Carole: So many good things! Thanks for coming to chat with us today, Jayne, but before we let you go, one last question: What did you do with your first advance?
Jayne: I remember thinking it was a fluke, and I’d never get another one (in the end, I had five more advances) so I bought the one thing I really wanted at the time; a personalized name plate for my car. Every time I look at it, I remember that sweet feeling of getting my first advance. It’s been worth every penny. I’ve never regretted it.
What a fun memento! You’ve been awesome, Jayne, and once again, thanks so much for being with us.
And thanks to you too, Awesome Readers, for spending some time with us. We still have Jayne’s giveaway to get to, so don’t go away just yet! But first….
About the Author
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.
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.
And now for the GIVEAWAY!: Jayne is generously giving away a $15 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate to one lucky commenter on this post, who will be randomly chosen on Friday, 31st August. Just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and answer the following question in the comments to enter. Good luck!
QUESTION: If I had to live in a fantasy world that had already been created in a book or a movie, I would definitely choose Pandora from the movie Avatar, so I could be a Na’vi/human hybrid with a tail. It’s the tail that really sells it. What about you? What would be your ideal fantasy world and why?
And that will do it for us this week. Thanks for joining us, everyone! If you’d like to keep tabs on Genre Talk and never miss a post, hop on over and like our Facebook page, join our Facebook group, and check out our web page.
On behalf of me and Co-pilot Extraordinaire Elizabeth Noble, thanks for spending some time with us, and have a great week!