Today I'm excited to share the blog with author James Lyon so he can tell us a little bit about his novel Kiss of the Butterfly and the vampire mythology found in it. I should mention that it's possible he regrets shooting me his initial email as it led to the creation of a guest post topic I'm sure he never expected to actually have to write about. I find this highly amusing :-) I have to applaud James for being a good sport and tackling his topic with enthusiasm, and I hope you all enjoy the result!
VAMPIRES: TAP DANCING OR GANGNAM STYLE?
Have you ever said something kinda dumb, and then afterwards kicked yourself in the seat of the pants and asked: “why on earth did I say that?” Well, when Jenny and I were corresponding about this post and my new book Kiss of the Butterfly, I did exactly that. Below is the email exchange that took place:
Jenny: “I read in your previous email that this book deviates from popular vampire legend, and one thing I love about vampire stories is how authors create their own mythology, so maybe something along those lines?”
James: “Your comments about each author constructing his/her own vampire is spot-on… I based all my descriptions of vampires on local Balkan folklore, which gives an altogether different vampire than many are accustomed to… since they don't sparkle, I'll have to teach them to tap-dance or something else.” :-))
Jenny: “Hahaha tap-dancing vampires sound brilliant, can't wait” ;-)
Oh boy. Me and my big mouth. Since I personally know of no tap-dancing vampires, I had to find one. Well, I began the hunt, high and low, far and wide, near and far, Google, Yahoo, Bing, Safari, Chrome, everything!! The pickings were slim.
Buffy the Vampire-Slayer had a demon named Sweet, who tap-danced, but he wasn’t a vampire. The cast of Twilight took tap-dancing lessons prior to shooting the sequel New Moon, but can anyone recall tap-dancing scenes in it? A Goth girl posted a video of herself tap-dancing in the driveway in front of her house in full sunlight on youtube, dressed in her interpretation of a vampire, forgetting that daylight might be unhealthy for the undead. And a High School student posted a sketch of tap-dancing vampires she drew in art class, but never finished, because she spilled nail polish on it. And that was it.
No tap-dancing vampires… couldn’t find any. So I thought I’d hold open auditions on Halloween for any trick-or-treaters dressed as vampires, but since I currently live outside the US in a country where they don’t have Halloween, there were no trick-or-treaters. Instead, all the Catholics celebrated All Saints Eve by going to the graveyards in the evening and lighting candles, while the Orthodox Christians and Muslims didn’t celebrate it at all. All those lit-up graveyards made for a spooky sight, but didn’t help me in my quest for the elusive tap-dancing vampire.
And then I figured out why there are no tap-dancing vampires. You’ll find my answer at the end of this post.
But first, let me share with some tidbits about the vampires in my universe. Vampire legends originated in the Balkans over a thousand years ago, and there are written records of them dating back to as far as 1347. Even today many people believe they exist. Just this year, a man was arrested in Serbia for digging up a neighbor’s coffin and driving a stake through his heart, because he was convinced his neighbor had become a vampire and was haunting the village.
So I decided to go back to the roots of the vampire legend and write about the creatures that existed in the millennia-old folk tales from Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, and Macedonia. This meant I read lots of dusty old books in exotic languages, and spoke with people in small villages and observed them practice customs designed to ward off vampires. And the vampires I discovered
were altogether different from today’s pop culture vampires, and bore only a faint resemblance to Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
I discovered why they place coins on the eyes of a dead person, why you shouldn’t hang around watermills after dark, why you must not let an animal pass over or under the body of a dead person awaiting burial, why a simple stake isn’t enough, why butterflies cluster on Hawthorn trees and freshly dug graves, and why your new neighbor might not be who you think he is, especially if he is a butcher, cutlery or cookware salesman. I also gained an appreciation for the taste of garlic, and am waiting for the genius to be born who will invent garlic-flavored chocolate bars.
Spoiler alert for Twilight fans: in Kiss of the Butterfly and Balkan folklore, a conflict between vampires and werewolves is impossible.
Now that you’ve come this far, are you ready for my solution as to why there are no tap-dancing vampires?
Well, of course, they’ve all switched to Gangnam Style!!!
A huge thank you to James for making the most of the hand I dealt him and for his extensive search for the legendary tap-dancing vampire;-) More information on James and his books can be found here:
Amazon Buy Link
Amazon UK Buy Link
KISS OF THE BUTTERFLY
"I sense it even now. People thirst for it; the entire country is mad with desire for it. And now we are going to war with our brothers because they look like us, and because we can smell our blood coursing through their veins...”
A dying man’s cryptic letter to an enigmatic professor launches grad student Steven Roberts on an unwitting quest, shrouded in mystery, into the war-torn labyrinth of a disintegrating Eastern European country. Steven plunges into the maelstrom to unearth long-forgotten documents holding clues to an ancient Emperor’s deeply buried secret, an inconceivable and long-forgotten evil that has slumbered for centuries. Steven’s perilous journey stretches from Southern California’s sunny beaches, to the exotically dystopian city-scapes of Budapest, Belgrade, and Bosnia, as it plays out against a backdrop of events that occurred centuries before in the Balkans.
Meticulously researched and set against the background of collapsing Yugoslavia, “Kiss of the Butterfly” weaves Balkan folklore together with intricate historical threads from the 15th, 18th and 20th centuries to create a rich phantasmagorical tapestry of allegory and reality. It is about passion and betrayal, obsession and desire, the thirst for life and the hunger for death. And vampires – which have formed an integral part of Balkan folklore for over a thousand years – are portrayed in their original folkloric form, which differs dramatically from today’s pop culture creations.
“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 in Srebrenica, when nearly 8,000 people were killed, making it the worst massacre Europe had seen since the Second World War. For most people, the two events seemed unconnected...