Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Q+A with James Lyon (Kiss of the Butterfly)

Please welcome today's paranormal guest author James Lyon.  James is the author Kiss of the Butterfly.

EJ:  When did you begin writing?

James:
  At age 19 I began keeping a diary, which helped me discover the magic of the written word. On a whim I entered a creative writing contest in college and won an award. Since then, my work as an historian and political analyst meant that I was constantly writing Op/Ed pieces, long analytical reports, book chapters, and even entire books, as well as editing other people’s work. At one point I noticed that about 90% of published fiction is poorly written insults the intelligence, and I decided I could do better. At the time I was living in Belgrade, Serbia, which provides great inspiration for a writer. I began writing “Kiss of the Butterfly” in 2005 and finished 120,000 words within 6 months.

EJ:  What brought you to the paranormal genre?

James:
  Long ago and far away across an ocean, a most curious anecdote from a dusty old book grabbed my attention while I was writing my doctoral dissertation at UCLA. In 1476, 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. I, however, wondered if there might be a metaphysical connection.

As I worked and lived in Bosnia and Serbia and travelled throughout Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Slovenia, it soon became apparent that vampires were embedded in the culture. I began studying Balkan vampires in folklore, and soon discovered that we get our English word “vampire” from the Serbo-Croatian “vampir”. Then I discovered even greater peculiarities, such as vampire trials in Croatia, vampire autopsies by Austrian Army military surgeons in Serbia, laws against killing vampires dating from the 1300s, etc. Even today you can read reports in the local language newspapers about vampires being reported in certain villages. Clearly, something was going on. I began to put two and two together, and “Kiss of the Butterfly” was born.

But just because there happen to be vampires (and a couple of mangy werewolves) in “Kiss of the Butterfly” doesn’t mean it’s paranormal. Here in the Balkans such creatures seem to lurk in the background of everyday life: in politics, the economy, society, the arts, etc. In fact, they lurk quite nicely, thank you. And it’s not as if just anyone can lurk: inexperienced lurkers usually get arrested for stalking.

EJ:  If you could be any paranormal or have any one supernatural talent, what would it be? Why?

James:
  X-Ray vision. I could microwave food with a single glance, and read books without turning the pages.

EJ:  Tell us why readers will enjoy your new release.

James:
  Gee, let’s see…love triangles, a car chase in a Yugo, fanged blood-suckers, na├»ve stake-wielders, epic love that spans the centuries, sexy foreign accents, fine wines in exotic locations, and crumbling communism. And no sparkly vampires! Who could ask for anything more?

“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.

EJ:  If your book(s) were being made into a movie, who would you cast for the leading roles? Why?

James:
  Steven -- Andrew Garfield (Spiderman 2012); Mrs. Lazarevic -- Angelina Jolie. Marko Slatina -- Jude Law; Ian McKellen -- Professor Nagy. Rade Serbedzija -- Professor Ljubovic; Hugh Laurie -- Professor Stojadinovic; Ralph Fiennes -- Lynx. The roles of Vesna, Katarina, Bear and Tamara should all be played by actors and actresses from Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia.

Who do I not want in the movie? Kristin Stewart… Robert Pattinson… Tom Cruise… Shia LaBeouf… Megan Fox… Kate Hudson… Matthew McConaughey, to name a few.























Kiss of the Butterfly by James Lyon. 

In the year of his death, 1476, the Vojvoda 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…


Meticulously researched and based on real events, “Kiss” descends into the chaos of Yugoslavia's breakup, creating a phantasmagorical tapestry of allegory and reality,divided loyalties, friendship and betrayal, Good vs. Evil, virtue and innocence lost, obsession and devotion, desire and denial, lust and rejection. It is about the thirst for life and the hunger for death, rebirth and salvation, and the search for faith. From Bosnia to California, to Belgrade, Budapest, Novi Sad, and back to ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, “Kiss” blends history and the terrors of the Balkans as it explores the darker corners of the human soul.


And there just may be some vampires. But not the sparkly, gothic romance kind. These are "real", Balkan vampires, based on authentic folklore from the region that first introduced the word "vampir" to the world.


Thank you James for joining us here today at From the Shadows!

James Lyon is an accidental Balkanologist, having spent the better part of 32 years studying and working with 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. 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 traveled 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.

15 comments:

  1. This sounds really interesting; I've always been fascinated by the real history and folklore of vampires in all their permutations. I'll be checking this book out.

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  2. Katy,

    I hope you like it. I tried to redefine the genre by taking it back to its roots, i.e., original accounts from Balkan folklore, which is where the vampire legends originated. This will give it a bit of an unusual twist.

    It's a different type of vampire book from most of what you will find on the market today. And hopefully you'll find that it entertains, edifies, illuminates, frightens, makes you laugh, makes you cry, and causes you to think.

    But most of all, I hope that you have a rollicking good time reading a great tale. I always feel that first and foremost, no matter the genre (even literary fiction), the first task of any novel should be to entertain the reader. If the reader happens to learn something new along the way, or if the material should cause them to ponder certain issues, then all the better.

    Enjoy the book.

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  3. Have you seen the web site "I Write Like..."? You type in your text and it analyzes your style and tells you which author you write like. "Kiss of the Butterfly" is divided into 26 sections, so just for fun, I put in each section individually, and here's what I got.

    - Prologue: Anne Rice
    - Chapter 1: H. P. Lovecraft (early 20th century New England horror writer)
    - Interlude 1: H. G. Wells
    - Chapter 2: H. P. Lovecraft
    - Interlude 2: Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels)
    - Chapter 3: Stephen King
    - Interlude 3: Dan Brown
    - Chapter 4: Ernest Hemingway
    - Interlude 4: Dan Brown
    - Chapter 5: Stephen King
    - Interlude 5: Douglas Adams (Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy)
    - Chapter 6: Stephen King
    - Interlude 6: H. P. Lovecraft
    - Chapter 7: Stephen King
    - Interlude 7: Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse Five)
    - Chapter 8: Arthur Clarke
    - Interlude 8: Kurt Vonnegut
    - Chapter 9: Stephen King
    - Interlude 9: Rudyard Kipling
    -Chapter 10: Stephen King
    - Interlude 10: J. K. Rowling
    - Chapter 11: Stephen King
    - Interlude 11: Mario Puzo
    - Chapter 12: Stephen King
    - Interlude 12: Agatha Christie
    - Chapter 13: Stephen King

    That means I write like:
    Stephen King -- 9 sections
    H. P. Lovecraft -- 3 sections
    Dan Brown -- 2 sections
    Kurt Vonnegut -- 2 sections
    And one each for Anne Rice, J. K. Rowling, Agatha Christie, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, H. G. Wells, Douglas Adams, Arthur C. Clarke, Jonathan Swift, and Mario Puzo.

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  4. I haven't a question. Everything I wanted to know was covered completely. I was very impressed with the results of how your writing compares to other authors. Hemmingway, Vonnekut to name only two is exceedingly exciting for potential readers to know in advance your writing is excellent. Also I do hope it becomes a movie! I concur with your list of actors:)

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  5. I haven't a question. Everything I wanted to know was covered completely. I was very impressed with the results of how your writing compares to other authors. Hemmingway, Vonnekut to name only two is exceedingly exciting for potential readers to know in advance your writing is excellent. Also I do hope it becomes a movie! I concur with your list of actors:)

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  6. Dear Sally (my cousin in Utah from whom I am separated by 8 time zones),

    I am still trying to figure out who would play the role of Natalija. Andjelina Jolie would be perfect, in terms of physical appearance. Sadly, she is now too old for the part, although she would be perfect for Mrs. Lazarevic. Natalija needs to be someone much younger, around 21 years old. I would prefer a British actress, but which one I don't know. Perhaps someone unknown.

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  7. Dear James,

    I think that Mila Jovovich would be much better Natalya. She knows how to act (unlike Jolie) and has this radiating beauty.

    Maya

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  8. Maya,

    Yes, you are right about Mila Jovovich on several counts. First, unlike Andjelina, she can act. Second, she has a very expressive and beautiful face. Sadly, Natalija needs to look about 21 years old, and Mila no longer falls into that category. Perhaps someone like Keira Knightly?

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  9. P.S. I have since been informed by a reliable female source (my wife) that Ryan Gosling would be much better as Marko Slatina.

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    Replies
    1. Jude Law sounds like perfect Slatina, but Gosling is hot.

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  10. She can act but has not fatal inner radiance. Maybe Eva Green?

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  11. Replies
    1. Is there a French actress who can't act?!

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    2. Good point. The French produce fantastic actresses.

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  12. I've read some great reviews for this book and look forward to reading it!

    All I can say is with James Lyon having extensively studied Balkan history, customs, language, etc. and intermingling it all with the medieval vampiric lore of the land, this tale sounds very unique...not the cookie cutter variety that has lately saturated the market. I along with others here applaud you for it, Mr.Lyon...:>

    Thanks for the very interesting and fun Q.& A., E.J. & James! I look forward to reading this in the near future.

    Cheers!
    --Cecilia H.

    ceciliah(at)apl(dot)kscoxmail(dot)com

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