Meet Stefan Bachmann.
Stefan Bachmann was born in Colorado and spent of most of his childhood in Switzerland, where he’s now a student of music at the Zürich University of Arts. He’s the author of several books, including his debut, The Peculiar, which was an international bestseller translated into eight languages. A Drop of Night is his latest book.
Onto the interview!
I see in your bio that your debut novel, The Peculiar, was published when you were nineteen. What advice do you have for other aspiring young writers?
Write what you love. Don’t give up. Eat cookies when you need to, and celebrate the small stuff, because writing can be hard, and you have to like the process almost as much as the end result.
How do you decide when brainstorming for a novel what age range you want to focus on? I ask since you write both for teens and children.
I think my usual writing style – like the style I would use if I had ten minutes to write a story – is very middle-grade-children’s-book, kind of old-fashioned, kind of quaint. A Drop of Night was always a YA book in my head, though. I knew I wanted to try a really different style, at least for me, something more sharp and modern, and so with this one I had decided it was YA before I started writing. Also, the main character’s personality was clear to me from the beginning, and she was was 17, so that sealed the deal as far as the age range.
What inspired A Drop of Night and how did you juggle the elements of multiple genres – fantasy, science fiction, and history – in your plots?
It was inspired by a dream I had about a group of teenagers running down a long gilded corridor, when suddenly a creepy, pale figure wearing French Revolution era garb steps out in front of them. I knew the teens were from the present. I knew the corridor was underground. And I knew this wasn’t going to be about time travel, so who was the creepy man and why was he there, and what were the kids doing underground? It was a sort of puzzle, also for me, to figure out how all the elements fit together in the story.
How important is character development in A Drop of Night? Did you set a structured character achievement outline that follows the plot or do you write and see what happened?
I used about twelve outlines. This book changed so many times. I remember writing to my editor once and being like “Should there be aliens?” and she replied in all-caps “NO ALIENS!!!” and she was very right, of course. It was definitely an ‘everything-and-the-kitchen-sink’ approach, and I rewrote this book from scratch several times, which is something I had never done before.
About the characters: I think Anouk’s development is really central to the book. She’s prickly and mean at the start, and I love mean characters both in real life and not, because when someone is mean it’s often because they’re insecure or scared or hurting over problems elsewhere in their life, and I’m always curious as to what those problems are. So, in A Drop of Night, she feels trapped and unloved at home, and she tries to escape it by going on this trip to Paris, but ends up in an underground palace full of deadly things. So, the palace and Anouk’s attempts to escape from it is basically her escape from her own demons, and her coming to terms with her problems above ground, too. Since the book is mostly from Anouk’s point of view, the other characters have pretty minimal arcs, except maybe Aurelie in the historical flashbacks. But Anouk slowly starts to appreciate her fellow teens more, too, as the book progresses and she breaks out of her shell a bit.
Is there anything else you want to share?
A Drop of Night looks a bit like horror novel but I don’t think it is. 🙂 It’s not a jolly archeological adventure either. It’s more of an action-thriller with some creepy elements, and some semi-historical flashbacks, and a snarky main character.
Thanks for hosting me on your blog!
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me Stefan!