Today I am excited to have James Lyon author of Kiss of the Butterfly
here with a guest post. Enjoy his tale, learn about his novel and enter to win an ebook of it.
Things That Go Bump In The Day:
In Search Of The Emperor’s Vampires
I swear on the grave of my dead cat, Cile II, that the
following is true.
Once upon a time, three hundred years ago to be precise, a
Holy Roman Emperor, Charles VI
, dwelt in an elegant palace in the center of
Vienna. Sitting in a fancy palace all day was quite boring, especially if you
were a vampire fanatic. Back then there was no premium cable TV, so Charles
couldn’t watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer
or True Blood
. Even though Charles ruled
Transylvania, Bram Stoker hadn’t yet been born and had therefore been unable to
confuse the Romanians with claims that Dracula was from Transylvania -- and a
vampire to boot. Motion pictures and multiplex cinemas hadn’t yet been
invented, so he couldn’t watch Bela Lugosi, Johnny Depp or Robert Pattinson.
Even though Charles ruled over such strange and exotic lands
as Bohemia, Dalmatia, Moravia, Bukovina, Wallachia, and Transylvania, there
just were no vampires to be found: whatever was a vampire fan-boy to do? One
day, that all changed when his army conquered the Turks and took control over an
exotic and wonderful new land far to the south -- Serbia.
In Serbia, Charles’ soldiers began to hear stories of hideous
monsters that walked at night, sucked the blood from living creatures, had
teeth of iron, changed their shape (often into butterflies), and carried a
burial shroud with them. These monsters had numerous names, the most common
being “vampir”. So Charles ordered
that anything vampire-related be sent directly to him at the Imperial Court.
Whenever Austrian officials attended a vampire staking, they wrote to Vienna.
And when a military surgeon wrote about how he conducted autopsies on suspected
vampires…well, it created a vampire hysteria in Europe that became the 18th
century equivalent of the “Twilight”
Because I’m an historian specializing in Balkan history, I decided
to set off in search of these vampires. Fortunately, much of the Balkans
remains agricultural, so I am able to stop at roadside farms to buy long
garlands of braided garlic.
My first stop was the small, isolated mining town of
Srebrenica, set deep within Bosnia’s forested mountains. Why Bosnia? Well, Vlad
Dracula visited Srebrenica in 1476 and conducted a horrific massacre there,
impaling people on stakes. Disturbingly, in July 1995, a genocidal Balkan
warlord massacred 8,000 men and boys in the same town over the course of two
days. There exists video footage of a priest blessing the executioners as they
set off for the killing fields, telling them their enemies had become vampires.
From Bosnia I went to Serbia to visit the site of the first high-profile
vampire, Petar Plogojowitz, who died in 1725 in the village of Kisiljevo
south of the Danube River
. Even though Kisiljevo is marked on the map, there
was nary a road sign to mark the way, as though the village sought anonymity. Thoroughly
lost, I bounced along a rutted dirt track until I came across a rather gaunt
hitchhiker in the middle of a dried-out cornfield. He claimed to be an off-duty
policeman, said he was going towards Kisiljevo, and he’d show me the way. “I’ve
been out of town, visiting a family member who recently moved”, he proffered by
way of explanation.
He sniffed the air inside the car: “garlic?” he asked. I
told him of the purpose of my journey and my garlic garlands in the trunk and
he nodded knowingly, while rolling down the window. He said that his family had
been protecting these parts for two centuries. “Better than garlic”, he
As we meandered along unpaved roads through labyrinths of head-high
corn, he told me how folks in Kisiljevo bury their dead underneath the
fireplace or the front door threshold. “We believe the spirits of our ancestors
will protect us from vampires and evil spirits”. He told me that if you sell
your home, the ancestral spirits feel betrayed and will seek revenge for abandoning
their graves. No matter how far away you go, the spirits of the dead will come
after you. “Need I say”, he chuckled, “that property values aren’t very high in
Kisiljevo”. He told me that after dark the town’s other residents emerge, and
humans stay off the only street. “Imagine being a teenager in Kisiljevo who’s
out after curfew…” he grinned raggedly, showing his few remaining teeth.
As we entered Kisiljevo, I saw gravestones built into the
walls of many homes. “It’s good to be back home”, he nodded, then asked that I
let him out in the small deserted triangular crossroads that served as the town
center. As I drove off in a cloud of dust, I glanced in the rearview mirror and
could have sworn that he dissipated into thin air.
Since that day, no matter how hard I’ve tried, I haven’t
been able to find my way back to Kisiljevo. The maps don’t quite seem to align
with reality, as though the town doesn’t wish to be found. ~James
Wow..what a creepy tale!
Now let's learn more about Lyon's novel:
Kiss of the Butterfly
by James Lyon
Publication date: July 22, 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction/Vampires
Purchase: Barnes and Noble/Amazon
"The smell of blood is in the air, 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 mysterious letter starts
a university student on a journey into the war-torn lands of rapidly
disintegrating Yugoslavia. Naively trusting his enigmatic professor, the
student unwittingly descends into a dystopian crucible of decay, destruction, passion,
death, romance, lust, immorality, genocide, and forbidden knowledge promising
immortality. As the journey grows ever more perilous, he realizes he must
confront an ancient evil that has been once again loosed upon the earth: from
medieval Bosnia to enlightenment-era Vienna, from the bright beaches of
modern-day Southern California to the exotically dark cityscapes of Budapest
and Belgrade, and horrors of Bosnia.
Vampires have formed an integral part of Balkan folklore for
over a thousand years. "Kiss" represents a radical departure from
popular vampire legend, based as it is on genuine Balkan folklore from as far
back as the 14th century, not on pop culture or fantasy. "Kiss of the
Butterfly" offers up the real, horrible creatures that existed long before
Dracula and places them within a modern spectrum.
Meticulously researched, “Kiss of the Butterfly” weaves
together intricate threads from the 15th, 18th and 20th centuries to create a
rich phantasmagorical tapestry of allegory and reality. It is about divided
loyalties, friendship and betrayal, virtue and innocence lost, obsession and
devotion, desire and denial, the thirst for life and hunger for death, rebirth
and salvation. “Kiss” blends history and the terrors of the Balkans as it
explores dark corners of the soul.
“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 when troops
commanded by General Ratko Mladic entered Srebrenica and slaughtered nearly
8,000 people, making it the worst massacre Europe had seen since the Second
World War. For most people, the two events seemed unconnected…
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.
The author has graciously agreed to give two
followers an ebook of Kiss of the Butterfly.
Open internationally, just fill out the rafflecopter below:
Labels: giveaway, historical fiction, James Lyon, Kiss of the Butterfly, Things that Go bump in the Night, vampire