James Lyon has kindly agreed to guest post here about his work, and share his inspiration for becoming a writer in honor of his newest release, A Balkan Novel: Kiss of the Butterfly.
About The Author:
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.Find James Lyon on the Web: Facebook
Why do I write? Well, I live in Sarajevo, where I am a diplomat by day, a writer by night, and a part-time vampire hunter on the weekends. My vampire hunting, however, is largely limited to libraries and historical archives in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia, where I attempt to dig up long lost materials relating to the real Balkan vampires that brought the word and concept of “vampir” into the western European languages in the early 1730s.
I do, however, take the occasional field trip to visit sites where vampires are reputed to have been in abundance. Imagine visiting a town where all the deceased are buried under the fireplace hearths and front doorsteps to ward off evil, and tombstones are embedded in the walls of the homes – it wrecks havoc with real estate values. Imagine traipsing through 9 miles of sealed-off, uncharted tunnels inside the belly of an 18th century fortress, with strange inscriptions and bas-reliefs on the walls, where bats hang from the ceiling. Imagine walking through a Balkan forest in the dead of night, as snow whirls around you and the wolves cry out behind you in the dark. These are some of the things I’ve done in my quest to track down the elusive blood-suckers.
But by far the scariest things I’ve encountered are real human beings and the evil they have done.
During the course of my work in the war-torn Balkans (Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia), 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.
On the more glamorous side, I’ve attended intimate family birthday parties for royalty, gone skinny-dipping in the Dead Sea at midnight, hobnobbed with some of the world’s wealthiest people, and met numerous Hollywood celebrities, some of whom were actually fully-clothed and apparently sober. I’ve met all the leading politicians in the Balkans, including all the presidents and prime ministers, as well as many of the region’s exceedingly beautiful leading ladies of screen and stage.
In the midst of all this, I’ve loved and lost, been energized and sapped by all the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve encountered. In other words, I have stories I wish to tell. What better way to depict the ambiguity and contradictions of mankind than through vampires? They encompass the struggle between good and evil, our struggle with our passions and desires, and our pain when we notice the contradictions between the ideal and the real. So now I’m off to search some more, in the hope that I might entertain and tantalize you further, and that nothing will bite me on the neck.
A Balkan Novel: Kiss of the Butterfly:
Book Title: A Balkan Novel: Kiss of the Butterfly
Author: James Lyon
"Kiss of the Butterfly" is historical novel, which ties together the 15th and 20th century Srebrenica massacres in a logical whole. Think of a mixture of Indiana Jones and Dan Brown. If you like historical fiction, adventure, horror, Bram Stoker, gothic romance, and vampires, or are simply an ex-Yugo fan, then this is the book for you: a passionate, emotionally moving, thinking man's page-turner, guaranteed to keep you awake at night.
Against the backdrop of Yugoslavia's breakup, "Kiss" weaves together intricate threads from the 15th, 18th and 20th centuries to create a rich phantasmagorical tapestry of allegory and reality about 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. But most of all, it is a novel about faith.
"Kiss" represents a radical departure from popular vampire legend, as its bloodsuckers are based on genuine Balkan folklore from as far back as the 14th century. "Kiss" offers up the real, horrible creatures that existed long before Dracula and places them within their modern spectrum.
Happy reading until next time!