Quantcast
Latest Stories

Teen author Stefan Bachmann reaps full-grown success

By

The Peculiar book cover. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/www.stefanbachmann.com

Zurich—Stefan Bachmann is only 19, but his darkly mysterious debut novel set in a parallel world of faeries, goblins and child snatchers has already earned him comparisons to J.K. Rowling, Dickens and Dostoyevsky.

“I didn’t realize it would get published,” Bachmann told AFP, tapping the yellow, mechanical bird depicted on the cover of “The Peculiar”, which first hit shelves in the United States last September.

“I just really, really hoped something would happen with it,” the lanky, blond Swiss-American with rectangular steel-rimmed glasses added with boyish enthusiasm.

And something certainly did. After spending a year trying to find a literary agent, the book he began writing in his bedroom at 16 was suddenly the object of a publisher bidding-war before it was snapped up by the US publishing giant Harper Collins.

With a first print of 100,000 copies and rights sold in seven languages besides the original English, his adventure set in a bleak version of Victorian England where faeries and humans unwillingly live side by side has met rosy reviews, including from the Los Angeles Times which dubbed him an “unusually gifted young writer”.

His second book, “The Whatnot”— which picks up from the first book’s cliffhanger ending and completes its harrowing tale of two young peculiars, half-human, half-faery changelings despised by both sides— is set to be published in September. Both are what is known as middle-grade fiction, targeting the pre-teen age bracket.

“Don’t get yourself noticed and you won’t get yourself hanged”: that is a motto Bachmann’s hero, a peculiar named Bartholomew Kettle, leaves to one side as he is swept into a cataclysmic adventure which sees other peculiar children snatched and killed, their insides drained and their skin left floating in the Thames.

“I know it’s dark,” Bachmann admitted, cradling a cup of hot tea in his hands in a crowded book store cafe in the heart of Zurich.

“I’m not sure why. I think I just really liked scary stories when I was a kid. I wanted to write a story that I would like to read,” he said.

Stefan Bachmann. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/www.stefanbachmann.com

 

‘A long road to success’

He said he decided early on that his book needed to be in the “steampunk” tradition— a sub-genre of science fiction inspired by 19th century Western civilization and typically featuring steam-powered machinery—and that it be set in his favorite period: Victorian England.

Bachmann, who has lived most of his life on the outskirts of Switzerland’s largest city, was home-schooled by his American mother, who he said had always encouraged him to read all different kinds of books.

He lists Charles Dickens, J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” and C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” among his favorites.

“I really like it when writers can make you feel like you’re in this whole other world,” he said.

It may sound strange coming from a 19-year-old, but the way Bachmann tells it, his was a long road to success.

“This is my first published book, but I wrote three before it,” he confided. He began his first book aged just 11.

“But they were definitely 11- to 12-year-old books. They were not very good,” he laughed, adding that he had not tried to get any of his youthful works published.

It was also at 11 that Bachmann began pursuing his second passion in life, when he was enrolled in the Zurich Conservatory.

Now majoring in composition, he hopes to one day also be a film composer, he said, “but that is kind of like writing, a lot of people want to break in… I don’t know if I will have the same luck twice.”

But as he works on a third book and continues to dash around to promote “The Peculiar”, he says his teachers are not always understanding.

“They are intense maestros who are not really impressed by the hype. To them, music is the most important thing ever, and everything else is peripheral.”

Asked if he sometimes wishes he had more time to just be a regular teenager, he shrugged: “You win some, you lose some.”

“I do go out with my friends sometimes, but a lot of times I have to say, no, sorry, I have a deadline,” he said.

“But then you get to go on book tours and go to New York and make new friends. It’s worth it.”


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Adventure Books , Arts & Books , Books , Books for Teens , Education , J.K. Rowling , Literature , middle-grade fiction , Reading Habit , Stefan Bachmann , The Peculiar , world literature

  • http://www.facebook.com/roberto.duran.14224094 Roberto Duran

    I wish I have that gift of writing :( sigh…



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  3. Palawan favorite getaway of show biz celebrities
  4. Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  5. Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  6. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  7. A tale of two Priscillas: my mother Prissy and Chona Recto Kasten
  8. This is not just a farm
  9. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  10. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  1. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  4. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  7. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  8. Prince William fuels speculation of second royal baby
  9. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  10. This is not just a farm
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?

News

  • Healing priest invites political leaders to join ‘prayer for nation’
  • Tagle: Christ’s resurrection a message of hope to faithful
  • Aquino vows to intensify anti-corruption drive further
  • Unease in Vatican over cardinal’s luxury flat—report
  • Nepal calls off search for missing guides on Everest—official
  • Sports

  • Rain or Shine grabs No.4, sends Ginebra to 8th
  • Red-hot Alaska rips injury-depleted San Mig Coffee
  • Pacquiao courtesy call to Aquino set for Monday
  • Nick Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk
  • Teague scores 28 as Hawks soar past Pacers in Game 1
  • Lifestyle

  • Angono petroglyphs in danger of disappearing
  • Britain’s baby Prince George visits Australian zoo
  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Entertainment

  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Business

  • Supper power
  • Condo unit sales boosted Shang Properties earnings
  • ERC mulls over WESM price cap for May, June
  • Whatever happened to the ubiquitous pagers?
  • Huge 2013 net profits seen difficult to surpass in 2014
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Aquino, Obama to tackle US pivot to Asia during state visit
  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
    Marketplace