Thursday 27 September 2012

Self-Pubbed Hub #2 - James Lyon & Kiss of the Butterfly!

Today on Self-Pubbed Hub James Lyon is stopping by to talk about his novel Kiss of the Butterfly.  Kirkus Reviews had a lot of good things to say about this vampire which is set against the backdrop of a crumbling Yugoslavia, describing it as  'skillful'....'vivid'...and highly promising.

Big thanks to James for taking part in Self-Pubbed Hub!

Kiss of the Butterfly by James Lyon || Published: July 2012 ||

"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.

An Interview with Kiss of the Butterfly author James Lyon: 

Describe Kiss of the Butterfly in a tweet (140 characters or less):

Two possibilities:

1) @LindseyLohan flashed me but still no 4 film @KissoftheButter: @RyanGosling as Slatina if doesn’t do Christian Grey @E_L_James

2) Mash-up of @UmbertoEco/@DanBrown/@BramStoker/@IndianaJones. @RyanGosling as Slatina for film @KissoftheButter

Can you tell me five things that inspired the characters, storylines and settings of Kiss of the Butterfly?

They always say you should write what you know, and that’s what I did with Kiss. The first inspiration came many years ago in graduate school when I stumbled across a reference in an old book on medieval Balkan mining law about a military campaign and massacre carried out by Vlad Dracula in Bosnia in 1476. The second inspiration came from working closely with the former Yugoslavia and watching it torn apart in blood and flames. This tragic collapse carried with it a tremendous cost in destroyed human lives and families, heart-wrenching stories of loss, and blood-curdling true accounts of human bestiality far worse than anything you could imagine. Working with refugees, survivors of massacres, genocide and rape camps, and visiting mass gravesites, gave me ample material to ponder. It also gave me a desire to write about these events in a manner that would do justice to the people who suffered through it. I realized after a while that I could do this better via fiction than through political analysis or history. The third inspiration for the novel was a professor who I respect deeply, who I used as a model for Marko Slatina. This professor is a gentleman and a scholar in the truest sense of the word as used in pre-World War II Central Europe. The backgrounds and settings were inspired by places I’d visited and frequented – Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Hvar, Bosnia, etc. Although they may come across as Dystopian in Kiss, that is due to the fact that during the early 1990s – with communism and society collapsing – they truly were. The inspiration for the main storyline came in 1995 when a Bosnian Serb warlord committed a massacre of 8,000 men and boys in Srebrenica, where Vlad Dracula had committed a massacre in 1476. I began to look for a metaphysical connection, and that is what Kiss is about. Even though Kiss has vampires in it, it is not a vampire book per se.

Self-publishing is becoming increasingly popular and there are some great success stories out there.  What made you decide to self-publish?

I wrote all 111,000 words of Kiss over a period of four months in early 2005 while living in Belgrade, Serbia. Shortly thereafter Elizabeth Kosotova’s The Historian came out, which kind of took the wind out of my sails. Then in mid-2008 I found an agent who really loved the book. He began shopping it around to publishers in late August/early September of 2008. Within 10 days we were getting calls from prominent editors at major publishing houses, all expressing interest in Kiss. One of them even went so far as to put together a team to review and do a preliminary edit of the book. Then the stock market crashed on 15 September and the publishing industry went into spasms of downsizing, closing imprints and book divisions, layoffs, etc. By mid-October they all began to pass on the book, claiming that they couldn’t risk a new, unknown fiction author in the harsh economic climate. I sat on the book until July 2012, when some friends persuaded me on the spur of the moment to put it up on Amazon.

What has been your best self-publishing experience so far?

One of the reasons I hadn’t self-published earlier was that I was aware of the huge challenge promotion poses. Trying to make a book a success is like trying to get someone to notice your needle in the huge Amazon haystack. I had almost self-published back in 2010 and had begun to make preliminary lists of book bloggers I would approach to review the book. The immensity of this task caused me to wait. Right now I am working between 6-8 hours a day promoting the book via the blogosphere. It’s hard work and I get lots of rejections, but that’s part of the game and I’m in it for the long run. But along the way I’ve been able to meet some really wonderful people in the blogosphere. Their encouragement and kindness helps keep me going.

What advice would you give to any aspiring authors out there? Do you have any top tips to share?

Revise, edit, revise, edit, revise, and edit. Writing can be hard work, and revising is probably the hardest part of it. I revised Kiss countless times, then had several experienced editors go through it, which caused me to make more revisions and edits.

Name three other books that you think readers of your book would also enjoy:

1)      Puck of Pook’s Hill by Rudyard Kipling.
2)      Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
3)      The Historian, by Elizabeth Kosotova

Finally, what are you working on next?

I’ve already written the first chapter for the follow-up to Kiss and outlined the entire book. I’ve now got to find the time to write it, not to mention to do the additional research necessary to flesh out the details. I’ve also written half of a projected 120,000 word espionage/thriller that is set against the backdrop of international finance.

If you are a self-published author and would like to take part in Self-Pubbed Hub send an email to and I will get back to you if your book is a good fit! Please include book cover and synopsis in your email.



  1. I absolutely adore the cover for this one! It makes such a fantastic first impression and immediately has me wanting to read the blurb and know more:) I can't even begin to imagine how much work promoting a self-published book is, that's a full time job in and of itself without trying to write and revise at the same time!

  2. Hi,

    I read Kiss of the Butterfly and really liked it. Why? Because the story is so compelling, passionate and has a great plot. I would like to see movie (but no R. Gosling as Slatina:)



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