Euphoria by Jayne Lockwood Blog Tour, Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Hi guys! We have Jayne Lockwood stopping by for a visit today with her new release Euphoria, we have a fantastic new guest post from Jayne, a great new excerpt and a fantastic $10 Amazon GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤ ~Pixie~



Jayne Lockwood

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?

Inspiration for the setting

By Jayne Lockwood

Hi everyone, and very many thanks for letting me take over your blog for this post.

My new release, Euphoria, is set in England and takes place five years from now. We have an Asian-born Prime Minister, and Michelle Obama is back in the White House, this time as President. These are minor details, but I felt they were important. Shit, we have to hope. Right?

Writing science fiction can be intimidating. There is a lot that can go wrong, and any number of highly intellectual individuals just waiting to point out flaws in world-building, tech detail, scientific improbability and implausibility. My solution to this is to stick fingers in ears and blunder on regardless. But choosing a setting is a good start.

The main setting for Euphoria is in a disused nuclear bunker in the Chilterns, very close to where I live. Outside the bunker is the nearby town of High Wycombe, surely a dystopian nightmare in its own right. (I know. I drive there most days.) It seemed too good an opportunity to miss setting some kind of story in these surroundings.

In the 1980’s, when I was growing up, the threat of nuclear war seemed very real (like, it isn’t today, right?) A huge building project was underway in Walters Ash to convert an old 1930’s bunker into one that could accommodate the English government and give the order for missile launch if necessary. I was too young to appreciate that the bunker was for establishment suits and Maggie Thatcher, not oiks like me.

For cool bunker facts, you could do worse than read this Sky News article.

The lights from the building site lit up the night sky above Princes Risborough, my home town. At the time, I was deep into my sci-fi phase, and could imagine all sorts of goings-ons happening up there. I was convinced we were sitting on Area 51, or the Brit equivalent of it, but my friends were into disco and snogging and didn’t care. At the time, school was something to be tolerated, and it didn’t really occur to me to start writing ideas down. They remained in my head and stayed there until 1996 when I began kicking around the idea for my first proper novel (Closer Than Blood) which, incidentally, wasn’t sci-fi at all, but a gangster romance.

For this blog post, I scoured the internet for pictures of the Bunker, and came up with nothing worth repeating. So here is a picture of the Chiltern woods in springtime, with quite possibly some Bunker shenanigans going on underneath…

This place really is a haven of inspiration. Surrounding the bunker are the Chiltern Hills, covered with ancient woodland and riddled with man-made tunnels, flint pits, and caves created for secret libidinous rites by the local gentry (I’m not making this up, honest.)

A few years back, a thirty-foot sinkhole appeared in an unfortunate homeowner’s driveway, swallowing their daughter’s car. A flint pit was blamed, but others think it might have had something to do with the tunnels under the bunker. (The ones that supposedly don’t exist.)

Strange lights routinely appear above the bunker site, which I can see from my bedroom window. We have figured out they are planes queuing for landing at Heathrow airport. But are they? Heathrow is in the opposite direction.

In my village alone, there have been three violent murders in the last twenty-five years, which is a lot, considering we have a population of less than 500. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the whole place is teaming with ghosts. There are three where I live, including a nice lady who cadges a lift in the back of your car when driving up a certain hill. (She was knocked down and killed whilst walking and has been trying to get to the top of the hill ever since, apparently.)

Also, I grew up under the shadow of the Whiteleaf Cross, a huge chalk figure cut into the hill above Risborough. No-one knows why it is there, or how old it is. One theory suggests its a pagan symbol made decent by well-meaning Christians. This is quite possible but cannot be proven. All around it are ancient barrows which could be the graves of long-dead rulers, but no-one knows for sure.

With all these intriguing possibilities, there is bound to be some trigger for a story, whether it stems from folklore of just a writer’s imagination. I did some research on the bunker and found it is still closed to the public. There isn’t a lot of information, which is an interesting fact in itself. After all, we the public paid for the damned thing.

In the face of not much information, I decided to create some. That is the beauty of writing fiction. Any genre of fiction, the trigger can be an overheard comment, the glimpse of an interesting character in a coffee shop, or a visit to a wondrous location. It can be in everyday objects, or the view outside your window. Or lights in the sky. Or memories from years ago. There really is nothing to stop a writer weaving the story the way they want. Sometimes, too much research can be restrictive. I’m glad I didn’t go into the minutae of how the Bunker was run or what it was used for. A few pointers are all that’s necessary to build a setting that makes feasible sense.

And finally, a bit about the book itself. Originally, I wrote the story as an experiment. It wasn’t even supposed to see the light of day. But now it has, and it’s scary and exhilarating at the same time. Euphoria has a nonbinary alien (Vardam) who originally landed on Earth far in the future, just as the human race was being wiped out by a man-made superbug. After assessing the situation, Vardam decides to risk a one-way journey back to the source of the problem, which is a laboratory in the Bunker, run by prickly scientist, Professor Kurt Lomax. As Vardam is still in the early stages of learning English, they communicate with sign language, necessitating the employment of amateur interpreter, Tom Soames. However, confusion ensues when Vardam misunderstands Tom’s attempts to find out more about their reproductive process, leading to potential disaster for Kurt. And this is aside from all that stuff about saving the human race and living in peace and harmony with other species.

It seems that even aliens have to practise safe sex…

Why not stalk me on Facebook and Twitter, and share the places where you find your inspiration? Who knows. It could be the start of something wonderful.

Jayne x

Jayne Lockwood - Euphoria Square


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.

“What’s happening?”

“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?”

About Jayne!

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.

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Jayne Lockwood - Euphoria Square


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