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

James Lyon … with ‘Kiss of the Butterfly’

This is another of those unexpected, yet always welcome review requests, from an author who is certainly no stranger to seeing his name in print, however is new and aspiring in the fast moving and wild world of fiction writing.

Although James has yet to succomb to the rigours of maintaining a dedicated website, there is a well supported and active, ‘Kiss of the Butterfly’ facebook page, here.

JAMES LYON

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.

So how did vampires work their way into the storyline?

Well, to keep a reader from dozing off, James realised that you have to have a compelling story to move things along……

‘KISS of the BUTTERFLY’

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.

…. so James combines Dan Brown, Indiana Jones, Bram Stoker, and Umberto Eco, with the vampires serving both as the villains and as a metaphor for the broader issues. The fact that vampires come from Balkan folklore (not Romanian), means he was able to abuse his academic training for a good cause!

 …

This is James’s take on ‘Kiss of the Butterfly’:

“Kiss of the Butterfly” has something for everyone and doesn’t fit into any particular genre: there is romance, adventure, and it is definitely a thriller. Readers will enjoy the fast-paced “Da Vinci Code” style of action and discovery. And there are a few places where it gets just a teensy bit scary, but not Steven King scary.

Along the way you’ll find out about “real” Balkan vampires, their characteristics, and how they differ from the pop culture vampires we see in today’s books and films. You’ll find out the answers to questions such as: what shape and color are a vampire’s eyes?; where does a vampire’s power lie?; where do vampires sleep on Good Friday?; what is the relationship between vampires and butterflies?; and what happens if a vampire bites you?. Spoiler alert – just any old stake won’t kill a vampire.

 As this was an author invitation to read and review, a PDF of  ‘Kiss of the Butterfly’, was sent to me free of charge, by its author James Lyon.

This will in no way influence any comments I may express about the book, in any blog article I may post. Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article.

UPDATE 30/11/2012

James and ‘Kiss Of The Butterfly’ have just been mentioned on ABC News. Click here to read the article in full.

Written by
Yvonne

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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19 comments
    • Hi Kathy,

      I have had quite an ongoing email exchange with James and he is certainly a character, obviously very learned and academic, however very keen to participate in a conversation and with a seemingly good sense of humour and quick wit.

      To be honest, this will be my very first foray into ‘vampire territory’ and I am a little apprehensive about the whole concept, however, James is also very persuasive, so I agreed to give ‘Kiss of the Butterfly’ a try!

      I am definitely going to approach this book with a completely open mind, although with the atrocities in the former Yugoslavia hitting the headlines constantly back in the 90’s, I am not sure that is always going to be possible.

      Thanks for stopping by, your visits and comments are always appreciated.

    • Kathy (aka Bermuda Onion),

      It’s 2:30 AM here in Sarajevo and I’m up late, keeping vampire hours. Somebody shoot me! Or at least whack me on the head with a large piece of garlic.

      Judging by your skepticism about vampires, I’m assuming you’ve had your fill of them, either the glittery sort or the southern Gothic type. I too am skeptical about any book with vampires… which brings to mind a quote by Groucho Marx: “I sent the club a wire stating, PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT ME AS A MEMBER”.

      Believe it or not, the book isn’t really about vampires… I mean, they inhabit it and are the de rigueur bad guys. But the book is more about humans facing difficult choices in real world situations that become at times phantasmogorical. So the vampires aren’t just bad guys, they are also a metaphor for certain things.

      So the “Kiss of the Butterfly” is a bit like Bulgakov’s “Master and Margerita” as written by a hung-over Umberto Eco who has just read too much Steven King and Dan Brown.

      There. Now that I’ve thoroughly confused you. Rush out and buy it. :-))

      Best

      James

    • Hi Tracy,

      I am also intrigued to know if James can make the mix of fiction and fact work, when we are talking about the terrible atrocities which took place throughout the Balkan region during the 1990’s and way back in the 1400’s.

      My world history is obviously very rusty, as I can’t recall ever learning about the earlier massacre at Srebrenica, however I shall be interested to see if the shift from history article to vampire thriller, has a good mix of historical detail without getting too heavy going and enough fiction thriller elements to arouse my hitherto none existent interest in vampires.

      This is a very brave venture on James’s part and I really hope that he has pulled it off!

      Thanks for your comments, they are always so interesting and relevant.

  • This definitely sounds very interesting, now I’m wondering what is the relationship between vampires and butterflies 🙂
    On another note, the author sounds like he’s lead quite an interesting life visiting such diverse places. I’m very curious to see how he weaves fact with fiction. My husband is Serbian. He visited what used to be Yugoslavia almost thirty years ago as a child.

      • Hi Naida,

        Thanks for coming back with those kind words, they always mean so much to me.

        I see that whilst I have slept, James has been beavering away with some great responses to all your comments.

        His ‘semi-spoilers’ have made the book sound even more intriguing to me, particularly the link between vampires and butterflies, I am never going to be able to look at the fragile beauty of a butterfly in the same way again!

        We visited what used to be the old Yugoslavia about 30 years ago, a place called Kranjska Gora, right up near the Italian border, which I think is now in Slovenian territory?

        We had a lovely time and have fond memories of a lovely coffee/cake shop in the town, which was owned by an ex national team basketball player. The guy was huge, with hands like shovels, but his cakes were to die for and he was so friendly!

        • Kranjska Gora in Slovenia is where the old Yugoslav national basketball team used to go for training, so its no wonder one of them stayed behind, especially with the beautiful scenery.

    • Naida,

      The link between butterflies and vampires… well, I don’t wish to spoil too much of the plot. Suffice it to say that in Balkan folklore, vampires don’t turn into bats… There. I went and spoiled it. Heh heh. 🙂 There is also a connection in Balkan folklore between butterflies and the human soul as it leaves the body upon death. And to the hawthorne tree…whose wood plays an important role in killing vampires.

      Your husband is from Serbia? So is my wife. The people from the Balkans are probably the most warmhearted and generous people you will find anywhere in the world. They open their hearts and homes to you and accept you for who you are. And they have great food. Tell your husband I’m eating home-made Ajvar from a jar right now as I write and watch him turn green with envy.

      Best

      James

      • I didn’t know about butterflies/vampires in Balkan folklore. That’s an interesting tidbit.
        If your wife is Serbian then you know all about the warm people and the good food. Yes, my hubby loves Ajvar, on bread. My mother in law lives near us so we do get to eat her home cooking often. Going to her home is like stepping into a home in Serbia. She makes me spinach pie from scratch, I love it 🙂 And her homemade bread is pretty much famous among my hubbys childood friends and the neighborhood he grew up in as well.

        Yvonne, your trip over there must have been really nice!

        • Hi Naida,

          As I say, the trip to Kranjska Gora was about thirty years ago now, yet the images of the beautiful countryside are still very vivid. I can remember that the weather was beautiful every day and that we walked for miles.

          I can also remember that the hotel used to lay out sample plates of each meal on the evening menu, so that their foreign visitors could see what the dish looked like. As a naive newly married couple, we can both recall every morsel of food, regardless of what it was, being covered in a vivid pink/purple sauce, which turned out to be beetroot mayonnaise of some description. That certainly took some getting used to!

          I certainly didn’t know about vampire/butterflies and that adds a real sense of intrigue to the story for me, as a non Balkan. If you are intrigued enough to want to know more, why not contact James, as I know that he is still interested in receiving more review copy.
          jamesblyon@gmail.com

          Have a great weekend

    • Hi Jo,

      Thank you for your interest and inquiry.

      I think you will find, that at this stage, ‘Kiss Of The Butterfly’, is only available as a Kindle download.

      I will contact James and just double check that I have my facts right and although James doesn’t have his own dedicated website, he does have a facebook page dedicated to the book, where you might be able to contact him yourself.

      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kiss-of-the-Butterfly/203838056294407

      I will ask him to contact your direct, but failing that, I will get back in touch with you if I get a response from him first.

    • Dear Jo,

      Sadly, at this stage I don’t yet have a paper version available. Unless a publisher expresses interest soon, I will put out a paper version at the beginning of 2013.

      Thanks for your interest in the book. I am certain you will find it intriguing, intellectually engaging, entertaining, and informative.

      Best

      James

  • I have been searching online for this book to buy in a paperback! But I cannot find any place, all I’ve found is buying it for a Kindle. 🙁 Where can I buy this online?

    • Hi Maddie,

      It is so good to see ‘Kiss Of The Butterfly’ increasing in popularity, so I thank you for your interest and inquiry.

      Unfortunately, at this moment in time, I can only really repeat the information which was offered to my previous commenter, although I suspect that this isn’t going to be all that helpful to you.

      I think you will find, that at this stage, ‘Kiss Of The Butterfly’, is only available as a Kindle download.

      I will contact James and just double check that I have my facts right and although he doesn’t have his own dedicated website, there is a facebook page dedicated to the book, where you might be able to contact him yourself.

      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kiss-of-the-Butterfly/203838056294407

      I will ask him to contact your direct, but failing that, I will get back in touch with you if I get a response from him first.

      Sorry I am unable to be of more help in this matter and I hope that you are able to find a suitable solution to the problem, in order that you are still able to enjoy reading ‘Kiss Of The Butterfly’.

    • Dear Maddie,

      First of all, thanks to Yvonne for being such a wonderful bog host. Second, I fear she is correct about the availability of “Kiss”: at this stage there is only an e-version. I personally prefer lying in bed and reading a paper copy, but thus far, my efforts to interest a publisher have been in vain. I had strong interest from three major publishers in early September 2008, but they panicked and backed out when the stock market crashed on 15 September of that year.

      Unless a publisher expresses interest soon, I will put out a paper version at the beginning of 2013.

      Best

      James

Written by Yvonne

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