Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Jayne Lockwood – 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.
Thanks so much, Jayne, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Jayne Lockwood: I was at primary (junior) school, and pretty young, about eight years old, I think. We lived on a main road, opposite a junction that was notorious for accidents, and my room overlooked it. It wasn’t uncommon to hear a screech of brakes, followed by a thud. If it happened at night, I would be able to see through the trees as the emergency crews went to help the injured.
I used that experience in one of my creative writing tasks for English and was given an A+ I think that was the moment I realized those things. The passion never really left after that.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
JL: Unique. I’ve never read anyone else that write quite the way I do. And slightly odd. I like to mix genres, throw in curveballs. I started out with straight erotica as Savannah Smythe, then moved on to straight romance as Jayne Lockwood (Closer Than Blood and The Cloud Seeker) before dabbling in M/M romance/erotica as S A Smythe. I’ve now closed a door on the hardcore stuff and want everything I write now to be under Jayne Lockwood. That way, everyone knows to expect the unexpected. Diversity, romance, sex (including tentacles…) YA, LGBTQA, who knows? And I think that’s rather fun. People say my style is easy to read, and that’s good, isn’t it? I don’t think I’m capable of literary fiction.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
JL: First actual published work was an article in a college newspaper, about Paul Webster, a Liverpudlian photographer who had come in to display a series of “Human Landscapes.” People were up in arms about it because some thought it objectified women, so I interviewed various people and wrote the article as part of my Journalism course. It made front page, so I was pleased about that. I didn’t expect it. And I received a Distinction for the course, which was a huge plus.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
JL: Chaotic. I have two characters I like, then start throwing things at them. Conversations, scenarios, all seemingly random until a pattern begins to develop. When it does, I get a bit more disciplined about it and start at the beginning, then gradually build it into a cohesive whole.
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
JL: Well…. I’m just finishing off an M/F love story which I have no idea what to do with, but I want to finish that so it isn’t lurking about in my subconscious, and when that’s over, I think I’m going back to an Oxford-based story about a man who has lost his lover through illness, and has to deal with the relatives afterwards. It’s a sort of tragi-comedy with all kinds of colourful characters. It’s about 30K in so we’ll see how that develops.
JSC: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
JL: This changes every time I’m asked. I definitely wanted to be a pirate. I never had any desire to be a princess or a bride, which was the aspiration most little girls were expected to have. I was in love with Captain Hook, you see, and thought Peter Pan was a boastful, annoying shit. I preferred to make up my own ending to the story where Peter was eaten by the crocodile. Or Robin Hood. I was very keen on being one of his Merry Men. Actually, no, I wanted to be Maid Marian, but live in the woods and be as good with a bow and arrow as he was. No wimples or any of that nonsense.
The short answer, is I still have no idea what I want to be! A successful author? That would be nice.
JSC: If I were a Hollywood producer about to put your book on the big screen, who would you want me to cast as the leads? Why?
JL: Euphoria is a difficult one to cast, because Vardam is alien and iridescent. I still haven’t managed to capture an image that really captures their spirit. The other two main characters are Kurt Lomax and Tom Soames, both endearing in their own ways, but my idea of cute is very different to anyone else’s. Ben Wishaw is a definite for Tom, as he can do the sweet Goth thing and always looks ever so slightly grubby.
And Kurt, my MC, who I have a lot of fun with in the book, is an absolute favourite of mine. Anyone who follows me on Facebook knows about my Guy Henry fetish. But if readers want to imagine Henry Cavill in the role, that’s fine by me!
JSC: If you were stuck on a desert island all alone with only three things, what would they be?
JL: Another question where the answers depend on my mood at the time. Right now, assuming there is no tech, I’d say a sharp knife, some twine, and Guy Henry. Make of that what you will…
JSC: Tell me one thing hardly anyone knows about you.
JL: I’m terrified of balloons. Not hot air balloons, or those helium ones, but the rubbery, squeaky, will-burst-in-your-face-at-any-moment balloons. Just keep them away from me, otherwise I will be holding every conversation with my fingers firmly in my ears. It will not be a sensible conversation.
JSC: What pets are currently on your keyboard, and what are their names? Pictures?
JL: Keith is on my keyboard. He’s a part-time cat and full-time bastard. His name should be Ray, after Ray Winstone, but the Cat Protection League had already named him when I took him on. He’s fine as long as you jump up and feed him WHENEVER HE DEMANDS. It’s actually like the 50 Shades idea of a BDSM relationship. I’m his sub but I have no control whatsoever.
JSC: Which of your own characters would you Kill? Fuck? Marry? And why?
I’d kill Greg Roscoe, from Closer Than Blood, because he’s an evil son-of-a-bitch who uses anyone to get what he wants. He doesn’t love anyone but himself, and takes pleasure in being mean to children. He gets his just deserts in the book, though.
JL: And I’d DEFINITELY fuck Richard Mason, also from Closer Than Blood, because I still think he’s my most compelling male lead. He does have slightly Neanderthal ideas about women but is willing to be put right (usually with a thump in the balls.) He’s hot, dangerous, ruthless, wealthy, pansexual and proud of it. And he has a Lamborghini Aventador. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t?
As for marry, can I have a polyamorous marriage with Cat and Max from The Cloud Seeker? Cat and I can indulge our love of storm-watching and the countryside. We would never run out of conversation and she’s the one person I know I can run barefoot with in the woods, not caring if our dresses get torn. Max can keep the home-fires burning, keeping his body toned with lots of wood-chopping when he isn’t making exquisite furniture to decorate our rose-embellished cottage. He has a filthy mouth and drinks slightly too much bourbon, but at heart he is a family orientated man. He’s a good fuck, too.
And now for Jayne’s new book: TITLE:
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?
In this excerpt, it is Tom Soames’ first full day at Pharmacure’s hidden laboratories and he is about to meet his aloof boss, Professor Lomax. However, he is about to discover that things aren’t quite as perfect as they might first appear.
The next morning, he woke wondering why he felt so nervous.
Then he remembered. It was the first day in his new job.
As he showered, he went over the night before. Rashad had fallen asleep on his shoulder halfway through the movie, which was kind of sweet. When Tom woke him at the end of the film, he had been embarrassed, muttering sheepishly about pulling a seventy-hour week before that weekend. At the door they had hugged, exchanged a quick peck on the lips, and that was it.
Which was great. It seemed right. There was an ease between them, not a huge flaring of lust, and Tom could live with that. He had too much else to take in before engaging in a complicated relationship with a man who was way above his pay grade.
“Hell, I’m really growing up,” he said into the mirror as he fastened his black shirt. He chose the black skinny jeans to go with it.
At precisely 8:30, Sally knocked on his door. She smiled when he thanked her for the groceries. “It’s a pleasure, Tom. I hope you don’t mind Rashad visiting last night.”
“We had a great time. I don’t think I’ll ever stop appreciating everything you’ve done. This is all new for me. Do I look okay?”
Another reassuring smile. “You look fine. Once you’re in a lab coat, no one will see what you’re wearing. Let’s go.” She headed for the door and he followed her. “Remember your lanyard, Tom.”
“Yes!” He ran back and grabbed it. As they walked back out of the building, he put his apartment key on the strap as well and hung it round his neck.
He followed Sally to an unassuming building, mostly smothered in a thick coat of ivy. As they stood outside an old green door, the paint chipped and peeling, he took in the cobweb-covered windows on either side.
“Is this it?”
Sally laughed. “It’s cunningly hidden for a reason.” She pressed the card on her lanyard to a reader hidden in the ivy and the door clicked open. “Come on. Don’t be nervous.”
“Should I be?”
“Not at all, unless you’re up to no good.” She began to walk briskly down a long, dimly lit flight of stairs. It seemed to go on and on, deep into the bowels of the earth. Their footsteps echoed around the steep walls. When they reached the last stair, a brighter light flicked on, illuminating a long, bare corridor. They passed doors with signs on them: Operations Room 1, Radar Detection, and most worryingly, Nuclear Launch Room.
“All these are now empty and unused,” Sally said, as if reading his mind. “They’ve been empty a long time. See?” She held her security pass to a keypad and opened the door with the Nuclear Launch Room sign. It was a dark room, smelling old and stale, and full of ancient computers and monitors.
“Where are the offices and labs? Where’s Professor Lomax?”
“On U4. That’s where the real work is done.” She looked at his anxious face. “Tom, it’s fine. You’ll be okay.”
“Yeah, I know that. It’s just… weird.”
“It is, but you’ll get used to it. And don’t worry about the guards.
You get used to them as well. I was scared of the guns at first, but not anymore.”
They came to a lift flanked by two blank-faced guards carrying automatic rifles. They did not acknowledge Tom or Sally as she pressed the down button.
“Are these guys really needed?”
“Philip Worley is very serious about security. That’s what he’s paid for. And Professor Lomax is a natural target from animal rights activists because of the experiments he’s conducted in the past.”
Tom could not blame them. He hated the thought of animals being hurt in the name of science, but he knew better than to say so. Even so, he hadn’t signed up to see rabbits with wires attached to their brains.
“There are no animals here now,” Sally said, almost as if she could read his mind again. “We’re using human subjects to test out the latest MRSA vaccine. That’s all I’m allowed to tell you for now. One thing you need to know about the professor. He is extremely strict about cleanliness. He doesn’t shake hands with anyone, so don’t try.”
“Uh, thanks for the tip.”
The lift doors slid open to reveal a tall, slim man in a smart three-piece suit. His dark hair had not one strand out of place. Dark brown eyes appraised Tom from head to foot and back up again. A look of disdain passed over the man’s angular features.
“Who is this?”
“Tom Soames, your new lab porter,” Sally said.
Lomax did not look like Tom’s idea of a mad scientist. He reminded him more of his head teacher at secondary school, whom he’d had a serious crush on for over four years. He resisted the urge to put his hands behind his back.
“I’ll take him down. Thank you, Sally.”
“Yes, sir. Good luck, Tom.” She turned smartly away and was gone before Tom could thank her.
Tom stepped into the lift before the doors could shut again. His stomach lurched as the lift descended. There seemed to be a lot of floors. Professor Lomax had not said a word to him. His posture was very stiff, his back pressed against the side of the elevator as if he wanted as much distance as possible between them.
“Is your apartment to your liking?” Lomax barked, making Tom jump.
“It’s fantastic. I wasn’t expecting—”
The lift door slid open with a soft ping. Professor Lomax was through the door before it had fully opened, as if he could not wait to get away. Tom had to run to keep up with his long stride.
Lomax led him down another long corridor, only this one was covered in plush gray carpet, and windows into brightly lit laboratories on one side. People in white coats sat at counters, peering into microscopes or poring through heavy books. A meeting was going on in another, a cluster of white-clad, serious people. It felt alien and the whole place smelled like a hospital. On the other side were doors at regular intervals, each one with a name and number on a slot-in card.
As he glanced in one of the small windows, a face appeared, making him jump back in alarm. The man looked wild, his teeth bared.
“Help me,” he hissed. “Get me out of here! They’re killing me!”
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 has been writing since her early teens, starting with appalling poetry railing against nuclear war (it was the 1970’s). There followed a couple of novels, long since consigned to flames (probably just as well, TBH), one of them based on A Clockwork Orange after her mother (again) banned her from asking questions about the film.
Moral of this story—don’t stop your children listening to or reading what they want. It will turn them into strange, silent kids who draw graveyards and fantasize about being an orphan….
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.