August 22, 2012

Guest Post: Please, No More Vampires


Recently James Lyon, indie author of Kiss of the Butterfly, emailed me about his book, wondering if I would be interested in reviewing it. I was fascinated by his personal story and by the book itself, so I said yes! James has graciously written up a guest post for the blog as well! So please welcome him.

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Please, No More Vampires

Author James Lyon
I’m a diplomat by day and an author by night. Although I’m from southern California, I live in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in a building that the Austrians built before the First World War. I have a Ph.D. in Modern Balkan History, so it all seems familiar to me. From my study window I can see the pockmarks from artillery shells in the fa├žade of the building next to mine. Even now, 16 years after the war ended, the scars of the 3½ year siege of the city are still present.

I like to tell stories, and Kiss of the Butterfly is one of the stories I’ve wanted to tell for a long time. Living in the war-torn Balkans (Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia) for 18 years has given me lots of unusual experiences and introduced me to many unusual people. I’ve been shot at, held hostage, interrogated, chased, and threatened. I’ve met refugees who had lost their homes, families and jobs. I’ve met victims of genocide, concentration camp survivors, rape camp survivors, smugglers, warlords, tycoons, politicians, soldiers, spies, diplomats, human rights activists and aid workers. And I’ve visited mass grave sites. But most of all, I’ve had the opportunity to love. And it all provides material for what I write.

And then I discovered Balkan vampires. Not your average run of the mill vampire, mind you, but the original, “real” vampires that brought the word to the English language. You see, the word vampir is a south Slavic word that entered the western languages sometime after 1725, thanks to Austrian troops that occupied northern Serbia and encountered folk beliefs in vampires. These Austrian troops did some rather unusual things, including sending out a military surgeon to conduct autopsies on suspected vampires. Imagine digging up a grave to autopsy a suspected vampire… what if the person in the grave really was a vampire and was waiting for you?

And once I discovered these creatures, I began reading about them in the local folklore and discovered that we in the West know absolutely nothing about what real vampires are. Dracula, Bela Lugosi, Twighlight, Ann Rice, True Blood…those are all fantasies based on what people imagine or want a vampire to be. But here in the Balkans, vampires don’t glitter or sparkle, nor are they chaste. Any immortal creature that is over a thousand years old won’t behave or think like a hormone-addled teenager. Balkan vampires are evil. They are mean. They are nasty. And they’ve begun tearing peoples lives apart. And it is this aspect that I find fascinating: the struggle between Good and Evil, and the choices real people have to make when faced by life’s dilemmas, whether in love or business or school or politics.

So, because I decided to use these blood-sucking creatures, many people have said: “Oh, it’s another vampire book”. But to call Kiss of the Butterfly a vampire book is like calling Gone With The Wind a book about cotton growing, or Twilight a book about rainy weather in the Pacific Northwest. Without giving away too much, I can tell you that it is a fast-paced book with well-developed characters that will take you from the beaches of Southern California, to Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Novi Sad and Bosnia. It will transport you in time from the 1400s to the 1700s to the 1990s. I promise that there is something in it for everyone: romance, mystery, adventure, action, and lots of beautiful women, dashing men, and nasty vampires. There might even be a love triangle or two.

But already I’ve said to much…

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As some of you might know, I'm a big paranormal romance fan. Vampires have always fascinated me. Before I developed a love of reading, I watched a lot of movies. I would rent practically any vampire movie I could get my hands on. Now I read a lot of vampire related books, and I enjoy the differences that authors come up with for how vampires came into existence, how they live, etc. 

Being that my love of reading came from reading the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, I've heard plenty of complaints about her take on vampires. For me, I don't care if it's unrealistic. I don't care if people make fun of the fact that in her world vampires sparkle in the sun. To me, it was different and exciting. And as my twin sister will attest, I love fangs. :D When we got braces as teens, the dentist told me he was going to lower my top canine teeth a bit more (I had too many teeth and my canine teeth were pushed out through the front of my gums), and I was thrilled. Yes, give me fangs, please. LOL So when the vampires in Twilight didn't have fangs, I was a tad disappointed ... for about a minute. Different doesn't mean it's wrong or bad. I got used to it quickly enough.

Now before I rattle on too much more, I'd like to thank James for his contribution to the blog and for allowing me the opportunity to read and review his book.  So stay tuned for that!

Find James Lyon online at: Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter 
Kiss of the ButterflyAmazon, Amazon UK

5 comments:

  1. I think it is great when you have a story in you for a long time before you see it come to publication. There is something so rewarding about that.

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  2. Ciara,

    A story is like a good stew...the longer it stays in the pot and bubbles, the better it tastes. And like a stew, the best stories absorb the flavors of the surrounding meat and vegetables over time. For that reason, both a stew and a story should be left to sit overnight, because they'll both taste better the next day.

    Best

    James Lyon

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  3. You're absolutely right! I'm guilty of this myself - raining on people's parade because they love a cheesy romancy book, well, that's just not right. At least they're picking up a book! And no one really knows how vampires would act if they were real, it is anyone's guess.
    Kiss of the Butterfly looks fantastic and I can't wait to read your review of it!

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  4. Kirkus Reviews wrote: "In the glut of vampire-themed novels now on the market, Lyon’s debut stands out… skillful… authentic… fascinating… inspired… Lyon executes it perfectly... vivid... engaging... highly promising... sophisticated..." https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/unknown/kiss-of-the-butterfly/

    Thanks for hosting my guest post.

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  5. James,
    You're welcome! I was happy to do it. :)

    ReplyDelete