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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

‘The Accidental Balkanologist’…

It is always good to know just what happens to an author long after their book has been reviewed and archived here at Fiction Books, especially when the author involved was so interesting and knowledgeable; and the book offered up such thought provoking comment and critical acclaim.

Of course, Dr. James Lyon is no stranger to acclaim and success, as when he isn’t writing excellent fiction, he is known to millions as an experienced, highly qualified and eminently respected Balkanologist.

For those of you who didn’t catch the posts about this excellent paranormal literary thriller, a quick recap:


Meticulously researched, “Kiss of the Butterfly” weaves together intricate threads from the 15th, 18th and 20th centuries to create a rich phantasmagorical tapestry of allegory and reality. It is about divided loyalties, friendship and betrayal, virtue and innocence lost, obsession and devotion, desire and denial, the thirst for life and hunger for death, rebirth and salvation. “Kiss” blends history and the terrors of the Balkans as it explores dark corners of the soul, from medieval Bosnia to enlightenment-era Vienna, from the bright beaches of modern-day Southern California to the exotically dark cityscapes of Budapest and Belgrade, and horrors of Bosnia.

“Kiss of the Butterfly” is based on true historical events. In the year of his death, 1476, the Prince of Wallachia — Vlad III (Dracula) — committed atrocities under the cloak of medieval Bosnia’s forested mountains, culminating in a bloody massacre in the mining town of Srebrenica. A little over 500 years later, in July 1995, history repeated itself when troops commanded by General Ratko Mladic entered Srebrenica and slaughtered nearly 8,000 people, making it the worst massacre Europe had seen since the Second World War. For most people, the two events seemed unconnected…

Vampires have formed an integral part of Balkan folklore for over a thousand years. “Kiss” represents a radical departure from popular vampire legend, based as it is on genuine Balkan folklore from as far back as the 14th century. “Kiss of the Butterfly” offers up the vampires that existed long before Dracula and places them within a modern spectrum.


A picture of author James Lyon…. an American ex-pat, is an accidental Balkanologist, having spent the better part of 32 years studying and working within the lands of the former Yugoslavia. He has a Ph.D. in Modern Balkan History from UCLA and a B.A. in Russian from BYU and has worked as a historian, editor and political analyst.

He has lived in Germany, Russia, England, Massachusetts, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Utah, and California, and spent the better part of 18 years living in the lands of the former Yugoslavia, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia, and has worked in Macedonia and Kosovo. He has travelled widely, from Africa to Latin America to the Middle East, and all over Europe. He currently works in Sarajevo and bounces back and forth to Belgrade.

In his spare time he likes sailing through the Dalmatian islands and eating Sachertorte in Vienna at the old Habsburg Imperial Court’s Confectionary Bakery, Demel. He lost his cat in the forests of Bosnia and can’t find it. If you see a black and white cat that ignores you when you call the name “Cile II”, a reward is being offered…provided the cat hasn’t turned into a vampire.

James  wanted to deal with some of the more difficult issues which accompanied the collapse of the former Yugoslavia, such as ethnic cleansing, fratricide, genocide and the breakdown in society. Although, given his academic background, he has published a great deal in the fields of political science, analysis and history, he has found the articles wanting when getting the reader to engage with some of the greater moral questions on an emotional level, so he turned to telling his story through writing fiction, hoping to use this as a platform to evoke discussion on some of these important issues.

To coincide with the season and spread a little of the Halloween spirit, ABC7 News from Los Angeles, California, sent out a documentary team, headed by David Ono, to Serbia, to track down the first historical vampire, find its grave, and interview its oldest living heir. James enjoyed the privilege of escorting them around and doing quite a bit of the narration.


Visit James at his excellent Facebook page, here

Read my review of ‘Kiss Of the Butterfly’, here

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I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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    • Hi James,

      You are most welcome. It is so good to be able to follow the progress of the authors I feature, here at Fiction Books and I thank you for ‘keeping me in the loop’ with your latest projects.

      Best Wishes for the future success of ‘Kiss Of the Butterfly’ and I hope to one day get the news that a new title is available on the shelves.

    • Hi Vicki,

      It was a fantastic read, a real page turner, with just the correct balance between fact and fiction to make it an engrossing story.

      I am not one for contemporary vampire and werewolf stories, but ‘Kiss Of the Butterfly’ was so unique in its concept and so beautifully written and composed, that it had me enthralled.

      Definitely one to watch out for, in my opinion.

      Thanks for stopping by, I always value your visits and comments.

  • Interesting post! Thanks for the clips too! My hubby is Serbian and I have heard of these old vampire tales from my inlaws. I enjoyed seeing the vampire burial sites in the video!
    My mother in law and father in law definitely look like they were plucked right out of those villages in the video…lol.
    You have peaked my interest in Kiss of the Butterfly from the first time you posted about it.

    • Hi Naida,

      ‘Kiss Of The Butterfly’ is definitely worth reading if you come by a copy. The mix and blend of fact and fiction is managed amazingly well, making for an excellent storyline.

      I too, enjoyed seeing some of the Serbian burial sites, it somehow made the entire experience more complete and finished off the story for me.

      We visited the old Yugoslavia, before it was broken up and I also have vivid images of a local population living in a bygone age in some of the small villages we came across on our walks.

      I am sure that these days, the major cities are pretty much the same as anywhere else in the world, however the true heart of a nation, no matter which one it is, can be seen in the faces of its rural communities.

      I bet your in-laws have some amazing stories to tell.

Written by Yvonne