I recently read and reviewed The Kiss of the Butterfly by James Lyon, you can find my review here.
James was so kind as to take time out to answer some of my questions and even to offer up a copy for a giveaway! So read below to learn some more about James and then enter the giveaway for a chance to win an incredibly unique vampire story :).
Author Bio: 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.
1.Let's start off by learning a little a bit about you, what can you tell us about yourself?
Books and travel have shaped my life. Travel has included Eastern and Western Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. I have also lived outside the United States for almost 19 years. As for the books…by the time I was 18, I had amassed a substantial library and read many of the classics of world literature.
2. The impression I get from this book is that you are quite interested in the mythology behind vampires. You made them seem so very real. What exactly is your stand on vampires? What makes them so interesting to you?
No matter how deeply one delves into fantasy, the plot and interactions between the characters must be plausible. After Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, the pop culture vampire began to move away from its roots. The more it did so, the more implausible it became. So, in the search for greater plausibility, I traced the origin of the vampire legend back to its beginning (in Serbia, not Transylvania). I based my descriptions of vampires on those found in centuries-old South Slavic folklore, and then placed them in a modern context that was both real-life dystopian and historically accurate. I was also interested in vampires as a metaphor for other issues, that were not always easy to discuss and were usually reserved for more serious books.
3. What is your favorite scene in your book?
It is twilight at the foot of the Petrovaradin fortress next to the Danube River, Steven is standing on the cobblestone street outside Mrs. Lazarevic’s 18th century house, pressing a broken doorbell, wondering why no one is answering. A wrinkled old woman appears on the street behind him and begins to interrogate him, mistaking him for a thief. Upon discovering he is from America and knows Mrs. Lazarevic’s daughter, Katarina, she immediately assumes a romantic connection exists between Steven and Katarina and broadcasts it loudly up and down the street as curious neighbors poke their heads out their windows. When Mrs. Lazarevic finally answers the door, the old lady loudly lectures her that Katarina needs to get married and have children quickly, and gives here approval of Steven as a potential match, all to Steven’s embarrassment.
4. If you could pick any character from your book and spend a day with them, who would you pick?
The inquisitive bookstore owner, Mr. Niedermeyer.
5. It's obvious you did a lot of research to write this book, has history always been something you have been interested in?
I have always loved history, because I figure that it’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are, and it’s even harder to know where you are if you don’t know how you got there.
6. What 3 words would you use to describe The Kiss of the Butterfly?
Real Live Vampires.
7. let's talk a bit about your taste in books, What are some favorites of yours?
I love the British children’s authors, especially those who wrote at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries. British writers have a long tradition of writing multi-layered children's books that are actually quite sophisticated and make equally good reading for adults: C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia and Alice in Wonderland, J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan, Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, Rikki Tikki Tavi, Just So Stories, and Puck of Pook's Hill, Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, J.R.R.Tolkien's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, etc.
8.Do you have a genre that you stick to, or do you like to branch out?
I love pretty much all genres and like to read widely. I’ve even read romance novels, largely because I have an aunt who has written over one hundred Harlequin titles. My wife and I will have even read them out loud to each other. It’s a great way to spend a rainy day at home.
9. If you could collaborate with any writer, alive or not, and write a story, who would you pick and why?
Either Mark Twain or Rudyard Kipling, as both had great senses of humor, were well traveled, and made great observations about life.
10. Is there any one book, or even couple of books, that you feel everyone should read at some point in their lives?
I have always felt that everyone should read the books of the world’s great religions: the Bible, Bhagavad Gita, Koran, I Ching, etc. These books provide millennia of wisdom and knowledge, and are the foundation of many folk sayings and phrases. They also give insight into other cultures and civilizations, and when you read them, you’ll find that there is no such thing as an original plot in literature. Everything you can think of in terms of plot twists, was written down several thousand years ago. This is especially important for authors of fantasy and paranormal books.
11.With books moving into the digital age, what is your take on e-book vs. print? What do you think the future is for print copy books?
There will never be anything quite like holding a paper book in between your fingers while lying in bed on a rainy day. I somehow suspect that in spite of all the current problems in the publishing industry, paper will continue to be popular.
12. If you could live inside the world of one book, which one would you choose?
I don’t know. I feel sometimes as though my life is a book that I’m writing, and it seems like an interesting enough book to me.
13. Going back to your own writing experiences, what has been the most rewarding moment you've had since being published?
Since I published “Kiss of the Butterfly”, I’ve met some really wonderful and fascinating people on the blogosphere. It’s opened up a whole new world, in some respects, and has also given me insights into how people experience books and relate to them.
14. At what point did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
That’s hard to say. Probably about the point that I realized I was writing hundreds of pages each year for other people, and not for myself.
15. What advice would you give to those out there who are just getting into writing?
Learn to accept criticism. Rewrite. Edit. Rewrite. Edit. Repeat. Share it with your friends. Ask them what they think. Listen carefully. Then rewrite and edit again. Remember, your real friends will be the ones who tell you they don’t like it, and then tell you why.
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