Monday, 28 January 2013
Exclusive Interview with Stefan Bachmann, author of The Peculiar
Stefan : Sure! It was fairly standard, though. I wrote a terrible book, then I wrote a less-terrible book, then I wrote an ok book, and then I wrote a book I was pretty happy with and sent it off to literary agents in the US. I got rejections at first, as one does, which was great because after each one I would go back to the manuscript and polish it like crazy, so each rejection made the book a little bit better. After about a year Sara Megibow of Nelson literary agency offered representation. She sent the book to NYC editors on a Monday. That same day we had an offer. A few days later we had more offers. Then there was an auction and HarperCollins won and now here I am! :D It was a really surreal experience, and I feel very lucky and grateful.
Me : What was your first piece of writing?
Stefan : When I was six I tried to write my own version of The Hobbit. It was about twenty pages long and illustrated with Pokemon stickers. So bad.
Me : What was the idea behind The Peculiar?
Stefan : I wanted to read a book about steampunk, Victoriana, and creepy faeries, and I couldn't find one at the bookstore, so I tried writing it myself. I love all those elements and I think they fit together well. I also like the concept of magic vs. machinery.
Me : What do you like most to see in a character of your book?
Stefan : Perseverance. Underdogs proving their worth. Not being afraid to do hard things. Actually, scratch that last one: being afraid to do hard things but doing them anyway. I think that's what makes a hero.
Me : Would you like to tell us a little bit about The Whatnot?
Stefan : The Whatnot is The Peculiar's sequel, and it wraps up Bartholomew and Hettie's adventures. It's a bigger book than the first one, not really in page-count, but it definitely has a broader scope. We get to see the inside of the faery world, and there's a sinister war going on, and everything's just a little bit more epic. I'm really excited about it.
Me : As The Peculiar is based of folklore, you must have did tons of research. Would you like to tell us about them?
Stefan : I did do a lot of research! Not so much into folklore, though. I think I had absorbed a lot of that through the fairy tales and books I read while growing up, so the biggest challenge was to get the historical aspects right - 19th century customs, manners, clothes, and especially geography. London doesn't have all the same streets as it does now, and maps drawn in say, 1840 are much different from maps drawn in 1860, so there was quite a lot of that: figuring out how long it would take to walk/steam-engine/run desperately from one part of the city to another.
Me : Any particular book you are looking forward to read?
Stefan : So many. I just made a list of 2013 over on my blog, but excluding those, I'm excited to start The Diviners by Libba Bray. It's supposed to be quite creepy.
Me : You have inspired many teenage aspiring authors. Would you like to share some piece of advice?
Stefan : Aw, thank you! You guys have probably heard this before, but it's probably the best advice there is: read a lot and write a lot. Also, write about things you love. If you're enthusiastic about your subject matter the enthusiasm will show up on the page. And if you have trouble finishing books, try knowing the ending from the start and pointing all the book's elements (character arcs/suspense, etc.) toward that point. That helped me a lot.
Me : Thank you Stefan for stopping over my blog. The Peculiar is an amazing book and can’t wait to read the next installment.
Stefan : Thanks so much for having me here! Also, I'm really happy you liked the book. :)