Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Guest Post: James Lyon + Kiss of the Butterfly


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:

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Amazon Buy Link
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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... 

73 comments:

  1. OMG that post was hilarious and those Youtube vides made my morning :) Just like Jenny I also love when authors create their own Vampires and the lore behind it. Oh and .. I love Vampires in general :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love vampires in general too:) And who would have thought finding info on tap-dancing vampires would have been so difficult ;-)

      Delete
    2. Danny,

      I'm glad it made your morning.

      James

      Delete
  2. Great post :D The search for tapdancing vamps, epic ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just so I don't have to write about tap-dancing werewolves... :-)

      Delete
  3. Hahahaha. Well, I kind of hate Gangam style so I'd prefer the tap dancing vampires any day. Ugh.. That song is just ridiculously awful. And now it's haunting me!! Help needed! I better go and listen to something else by Imagine Dragons or Snow Patrol. But this post made me laugh out loud and I pretty much scared my cat out of sleep. Thank you, James and Jenny :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Frightening animals because you laughed so loud is a sign of a successful blog post I think. Win:)

      Delete
    2. Sirtsu,

      On behalf of the Gangnam vampires, I apologize to your frightened cat.

      If you need an equally horrible song to chase Gangnam style out of your head, try something by David Hasselhoff in German. :-)
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwC_ej9qS_k

      James

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it Leanna!

      Delete
    2. Leanna,

      Glad you liked it. I hope you enjoy "Kiss of the Butterfly" just as much.

      James

      Delete
  5. Most excellent post -- made me giggle. I totally remember that Buffy episode, which was great (if you ignore all the Buffy-back-from-heaven angst going on). Tap-dancing vamps, FTW!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BUFFY! Sorry, that just slipped right out. Love that show:)

      Delete
    2. Mary,

      Believe it or not, during my research I came across a real-life Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer wannabee from the 1660s in Dalmatia. A guy with a suit of armor and a hawthorn stake was running around offering his services to local villagers, until he was finally locked up.

      Hope you enjoy "Kiss of the Butterfly" as much as you did the post.

      Best

      James

      Delete
  6. Omg, Sweet was the first thing that popped into my head when I read "tap dancing". LOL! I would have loved to see Spike tap dancing but he was busy...:) What a fun guest post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would have loved to have seen that as well. *shakes fist at Joss Whedon for not making that happen* ;-)

      Delete
    2. Rummanah,

      Glad you liked it. Now, if we can generate enough market demand for tap-dancing vampires, I'm certain we can get HBO to make an entire episode of True Blood devoted to tap-dancing.

      Even though "Kiss of the Butterfly" doesn't have any tap-dancing vampires, there is one vampire who does the tango.

      Best

      James

      Delete
  7. Oh thanks for sharing this fun post with us Jenny and James, to see tap dancing vampires that would be hilarious! And garlic flavoured chocolate bars, sure they sound so appealling but I think I'll pass this time :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jasprit,

      Believe it or not, there is actually garlic jam. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=527175340627342&set=a.478574132154130.110801.203838056294407&type=1&relevant_count=1

      I hope you like "Kiss of the Butterfly" better than garlic flavored chocolate. :-)

      James

      Delete
  8. Well I guess James will just have to write a tap dancing vampire now that he has opened the door. I would like that. Thanks for the fun post. I needed a laugh this morning. It is snowing here in Portland today, we don't get snow often....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heidi,

      It's snowing here in Sarajevo...actually it's all turning slushy. Blyak!!

      I hope you enjoy "Kiss of the Butterfly", even though there are some snowy scenes in it.

      James

      Delete
  9. Greetings from Snowy Sarajevo.

    I'm glad you liked the post, and hope you like "Kiss of the Butterfly" as well. Given everyone's reactions, I'll just have to figure out a way to write tap-dancing into the sequel to "Kiss".

    ABC News mentioned "Kiss of the Butterfly" and interviewed its amazingly witty author (that's me) for a story on the recent vampire scare in Serbia. http://abcnews.go.com/International/vampire-threat-terrorizes-serbian-village/story?id=17831327 For those of you interested in more, I have posted a series of photos and the background story on the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kiss-of-the-Butterfly/203838056294407

    ReplyDelete
  10. Don't be sorry about the convo... it made a GREAT post! Now, do you know of any that have done the electric slide? Performed in West Side Story? ;D Hm... you have opened so many new doors of dancing vampire thoughts in my head...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melissa,

      The electric slide? Oh my, someone's taking a walk on the wild side... :-)

      You realize, of course, the electric slide is only a gateway dance into other more serious vampire dances such as moon-walking and the Transylvania Twist. Perhaps True Blood will have an episode with line-dancing vampires. Or the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes could have an all-vampire chorus line.

      However, if you read the dance/seduction scene in "Kiss of the Butterfly", it will become apparent that I prefer my vampires a bit more old-fashioned.

      Here is some vampire-appropriate dance music by the Romanian composer Iosif Ivanovic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ht30HqwXoxA

      Best

      James

      Delete
  11. Ha! Love this post! If tap-dancing didn't form a funny image, then vampires doing Gangnam style most certainly does! ;) Thanks for the fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sam,

      Glad to oblige. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=537527476258795&set=a.478574132154130.110801.203838056294407&type=1&relevant_count=1

      James

      Delete
  12. Never heard of the book but I love the cover. Very interesting synopsis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Savannah,

      Never heard of "Kiss of the Butterfly"? Why it's world famous on my facebook page. :-)

      The cover was designed by British designer David Grogan, who does best-seller covers for major publishers. There is an alternate cover at
      https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=385935394751338&set=a.385935388084672.96469.203838056294407&type=3&theater

      Which do you prefer?

      James

      Delete
  13. Ha, I loved James' answer to why he can't find any tap-dancing vampires.

    I'm not a huge fan of vampire novels - that would be Missie :) - but I like the amount of research the author put into his novel. And, it sounds a lot more serious than the other vampire books I've read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Canadian Girl,

      "Kiss of the Butterfly" isn't a vampire novel per se. Rather, it is a novel about some of life's more serious issues that just happens to have vampires in it -- after all, it takes place largely in the Balkans.

      I hope you get the chance to pick it up and read it.

      Best

      James

      Delete
  14. Love this post! Very fun! I saw this book before and it sounds very good. I have read books along the same vein, at least somewhat similar, and really enjoyed them. One day when I unbury myself from my piles of books I'm going to read this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Candace,

      I hope you can dig yourself out from under that TBR pile soon. :-) A word of warning: "Kiss of the Butterfly" -- while YA appropriate -- is usually enjoyed most by those who are seeking a tale that not only entertains, but also challenges them intellectually.

      I hope you get a chance to read it.

      James

      Delete
  15. A tap-dancing vampire... Nop, can't think of anything. I'm picturing vampires playing baseball, swimming, practising self-defense, but tap-dancing? Nop. The image that appears in my mind is rather amusing, however. :) Really great, entertaining post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leanne,

      Why limit vampires to the ball-room? Why not include them in Olympic events? Figure-skating vampires? Pole-vaulting vampires?

      James

      Delete
  16. Fantastic post, and i am sure somewhere out there you will find a tap-dancing vampire!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kimba,

      Good to hear from you again. If you remember my post on your site...well, I finally found my way back to Kisiljevo two weekends ago in a snow-storm. I was accompanying an Emmy-winning documentary film maker who asked me to be his on-camera expert on Balkan vampires. This all happened in the wake of the ABC News story that mentioned "Kiss of the Butterfly" and quoted me regarding the recent vampire scare in a Serbian village. The story can be found at http://abcnews.go.com/International/vampire-threat-terrorizes-serbian-village/story?id=17831327

      Best

      James

      Delete
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