Author Interview – Stefan Bachmann

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One of my favorite parts about Stefan Bachmann‘s writing is the beauty and imagination of his prose. Not only are his worlds so imaginative, but each character, each description, and each setting is infused with wonder. I first came across his work in THE PECULIAR, which I highly recommend. Bachmann has since published a sequel, THE WHATNOT, and a new title, A DROP OF NIGHT.

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THE PECULIAR has received a number of fantastic accolades: it has been named a New York Time’s Editor’s Choice, A Top Ten Indie Next Pick, a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of 2012, and more. I’m so happy to have had the chance to ask Stefan a few questions about his publishing journey, and be sure to check out below the ways that you can follow him.


1. What is some of the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? 

“If something is too clever, you need to cut it.” My editor wrote that in my very first edit letter and at the time I was like “Wut” but it’s so true. Isolated bits of cleverness, too-pretty writing you spent hours labouring over, puns, etc., can rip a reader out of the flow, slow things down, be jarring and annoying. I’m still learning this lesson, but I think writing books is about sustaining and modulating mood, not stringing together clever bits of dialogue and visuals.


2. What is some of the worst advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? 

I don’t think I ever gotten actively terrible advice. “Know your audience” has always been a bit confusing to me, though. I get emails from grown-ups in the UK, kids in Bangladesh, a school class in Brazil. I’m so grateful they found something in my books that they liked, but I don’t *know* them. To me, it’s more about knowing yourself, what you want to achieve with your story, and after that I just hope it finds the people who want and need it. I think your main audience should be you. That sounds weirdly selfish, but for me it’s always felt scary and counterproductive to try to know what other people want from me.


3. What is your Harry Potter house, your most likely Game of Thrones family, and your favorite Lord of the Rings character?

HP: Hufflepuff.

GOT: Ack, I honestly don’t know GOT well enough to answer that. It’s been ages since I read the books.

LOTR: I lurv LOTR. My favourite character has always been Gimli.


4. What is something that surprised you about your career path?

That it’s very non-linear. Getting a book deal is only one tiny step. After that there are so many things to learn: how to handle an auditorium of 500 high-schoolers, how to handle a book-signing where 3 people show up, how to scrap half a book and start over, how to deal with attention, success, and failure. Also the fact that every book is different to write. Sometimes the writing process feels a lot like luck, too, and everything just clicks, and sometimes it’s like pulling teeth, and the book fights you every step of the way.


5. What is one book–fiction or nonfiction–that you would recommend writers pick up?

A volume of short stories maybe? Something like Tolstoy or Maeve Brennan. I think short fiction is sometimes super underrated by writers starting out. My first professionally published things were short stories, and for me it was so, so helpful learning to write with 500 words, 1,000 words, 5,000 words and trying to make that cohere before doing something 20 times the size. It’s also a marginally nicer way to learn to deal with rejection and critique, because you didn’t just spend a year-or-six working on a book. 🙂


Here are the ways you can connect with Stefan!

Visit his site.

Find him on Goodreads.

Follow him on Twitter.

Subscribe to his blog.


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