Stefan Bachmann

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Japan Adventures – Tokyo and Kyoto

 

 

This post will be ONE GIANT THROWBACK THURSDAY. I never got around to blogging about being in Japan last year, but I took many pictures which I think are pyootiful – not because I know anything about photography but because Japan is so pretty you could have your camera on self-timer and just pirouette through the streets and you’d get lots of good pictures – so I figured I would do a massive post full of pictures or they will never see the light of day.

Backstory: My mom was there for her 60th birthday. She made lovely paintings. I jogged around Nijo Castle every evening. We lived in a house in Kyoto made mostly of paper, and then Mom returned to Switzerland and I moved into an apartment the size of a small packing crate in the depths of Tokyo’s Takadanobaba district. It was great. I’ve split this post very scientifically into phyla, classes, genera, and species, beginning with. . .

Random Pretty Pictures

Origami crane

 

Fluffy Chrysanthemums at a Chrysanthemum competition in a temple courtyard. (I hope that purple one won. It was A++ fluffy.)

 

Fall colours.

 

I imagine these lanterns having the personalities of grouchy elderly people and gossiping about everyone who passes by. Make it a short, Pixar.

 

 

 

 

Judge-y, judge-y.

 

The famous Torii gates in Kyoto, featuring a black cat who is almost certainly a spirit of the dead.

 

 

 

This is my favourite picture. It looks like a corny postcard, but it was just a regular scene we stumbled across one afternoon in a Kyoto park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This photo makes the Golden Pavilion look very serene and lovely, like something you would find while frolicking through a woodland glen a thousand miles from civilisation, but no, dear reader, do not be fooled. There were a million people around and I held the camera really high in the air so their heads would not be in it. If you look carefully you can still see a head, though. Off with it.

 

FOOD!!!

Now I’ve gotten most of the fancy pictures out of the way, here are the food pictures.

 

Green tea ice cream

Elena, who has an excellent instagram and who happened to be in Kyoto at the same time as me, knew of a pretty great ramen place. It was cool. You ordered and paid at a machine in a narrow passageway, got a stub of ticket, waited a good long while, because lots of other people thought it was a cool place, too, and then got the above dish, which was delectable.

 

Travelling with family means eating much nicer food than I would ever buy for myself. Note the six raspberries. Someone had to count those out. Imagine being a Counter of Raspberries. Also, please tell you me you thought that red goop was jam, because I did, and I dipped a ridiculously perfect bite of French toast into it and it was KETCHUP. I’m still mad about the shock of that bite.

 

Every department store in Tokyo has a food court in the basement with the vastest, most beautifulest array of pastries you will ever see.

 

Yum.

 

Yummm.

 

Yummmmmmmmm.

 

Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

 

YUMMMMMMM. (Ok, I don’t actually know what this is, but I’m sure it’s good. Don’t judge books by their covers. Don’t judge people by their shoes. Don’t judge gobbets of brown goo by the pale, tumorous lumps floating within.)

This was the pastry I ended up buying. It had about seventeen layers under that shiny red shell.

 

Look at this small adorable bird, which is edible and filled with sweet bean paste.

 

Look at these small adorable birds, which are also technically edible but are not filled with sweet bean paste and therefor should be left alone.

 

After 22 o’ clock the pasta ceases to be yummy. Don’t say they didn’t warn you.

 

Random pictures that are not artsy at all

Fashion. Also, how I feel when more than one person tries to call me on any given day. (Also-also, I don’t know what was going on here, but I think they were filming a video?)

 

My head would literally snap off my neck if I had to carry around that much hair on top of it.

 

The only picture I got of Shibuya crossing. Note Miss Tay Tay Swift in the top left corner, swinging on her swing, getting that Japanese coin. Look what you made her do indeed.

 

 

Uh, rude, I’m tryna take yuh pic-shah hya.

 

This cool squad. I love how the people in the background are wearing dark, serious clothes and this group is *not* partaking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At some point a bullet train was taken to Kyoto. People say Switzerland is precise and has a great train system, and like… it’s fine, but Switzerland’s got nooooooothing on Japan. See those little lanes on the ground? Those are people lanes. You form a queue to board the train. Every door of the train stops exactly in front of its corresponding gate, and each gate is marked so no one has to walk through miles of wagons to find their seat. Also, every time a bullet train pulls in, these women in pink go in and do a lightning-fast, perfectly coordinated clean up and are out again in two minutes flat. It’s fascinating to watch.

 

Japanese convenience stores are an experience unto themselves. I don’t know what any of those things in the picture are but I find them delightful and intriguing, and if a convenience store can delight and intrigue you, it’s pretty good.

 

A Dance Thing and more random pictures

In Kyoto, we stumbled across some sort of dance event. I don’t know exactly what it was and never quite found out, but doooooozens of colourfully costumed dance troupes were walking from point to point throughout the city and performing choreography and looking super happy. It was a cool thing to happen upon.

 

 




More random pretty pictures

 

Evening light.

 

Why you starin’.

 

Reading material and a book.

 

Those leeeeeeaves.

 

Where does the door in the water go?

 

 

And that’s that! After leaving Japan, I went to South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, but I got very ill there and consequently took very few pictures, so we’ll see if they get a post. I hope everyone’s well! 🙂

 

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Berlin Adventures

 

I have not blogged in 70,000 yearssss. Is blogging dead? Am I dead? Yes, probably, to both, but every few months I remember fondly the lovely little community over on Scathing Jellyfish (which somehow over the last year got another 80,000 hits? Like, who is reading it? Whoooo?) and how I used to post whole blogs about . . . cows. And cake. And visiting a renaissance fair. I don’t even know. And last year I lived in Japan, and did an internship in Prague, and blogged about pretty much none of it. Lame.

Anyway.

I’m moved! To Berlin. I love it. It’s very different from anywhere I’ve lived before, much more relaxed than Zürich, much huger than Prague. But the main difference is that people are soooooo busily active here.

Which is a change, let me tell you. I’m a merry lil’ introvert and can coast along happily on 2-3 meaningful social interactions per week.

Examples of meaningful social interactions for a Stefan:

One of any of those and I’m like, “Whew!” *wipes brow* *returns to apartment* *ensconces self*

But in BERLIN this . . . doesn’t fly. Here it seems like everyone is always doing things. And not work things.

Kind, well-meaning Berliner friends: “Stefan, d’you want to come to my sister’s aunt’s baby’s baby shower? Do you want to grill radishes in an abandoned airport? Do you want to protest nuclear armaments, but like in a fun, cute way? Do you want to sacrifice a goat to an obscure moon goddess and bathe in its entrails while listening to Enya?”

And I’m like, “I kind of just want to sit on my balcony and write short stories.”

And they’re like, “NO. THE MOON GODDESS AWAITS HER SACRIFICE.” *pulls a screaming goat by its horns from flow-y shoulder-bag*

So somehow I still end up bathing in entrails while listening to Enya.

(I’m kidding, issa joke, I would never, and anyway 99% of Berliners seem to be vegetarian, so they would never either.)

(Also, I think old-school Berliners might protest that statement, but look, Hypothetical Old-school Berliner who somehow stumbled across this blog: there are a lot of vegetarians here, ok? Ok. Thanks for reading.)

 

 

Random Berlin things:

 

The abandoned airport where one might grill radishes with one’s friends if one were so inclined.

 

In Berlin, especially in my neighbourhood were there are a lot of Turkish restaurants and bars, I smell that same straciatellia steam floating on the air and am like, “WHERE IS HE?” *wheels around in a panic, expecting to drop to the ground and do twenty* But he’s not there. So that’s nice.

 

 

Awkward.

Every once in a while I pass him again on my jogs and he gives me a dirty look, and I want to be like, “Sir, I need you to know that I had VERY good intentions, like the communists, but you did not allow me to enact my plans.”

The moral of the story is that when someone asks you for money either say no and stick with it, or tell them to wait while you go get it, but don’t have dramatic changes of hearts halfway up the stairs, mmmkay? Mmkay.

That’s that. Have a nice day. 🙂

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Updates – Writing, Military, a Tiny Story + Music Project

Kyoto, Japan

 

Helloooo, poor dusty blog. *blows cobwebs from the windows* *throws wide the curtains* I’m back from Asia, and I loved it, and those posts are still coming, but slowly, alas, for lots of reasons.

I was really sick for most of my time in Hong Kong, and most of December in general. I got all the way through Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, drinking tap-water all the way, and then China KNOCKED ME OUT. My body was not ready.

I recovered enough to get on a plane back to Zürich, and then I sat next to a sick Swiss guy and became ill all over again. (On an unrelated note, this guy watched Inside Out six times on our 13-hour flight, and like . . . I adore Pixar as much as the next person, but whoa.) Anyway, when I got to my parents house for holiday feasting, my older brother, who was visiting from the US, was sick. So between Chinese, Swiss, and American pathogens I got *really* sick. Like, catatonic, stay-away-or-you’ll-die-a-miserable-plague-ish-death, too, sick.

And that’s the tragic tale of why I’ve been non-existent on the internet, even more than usual.

Now military is starting (ahhhhh. . .) and I’ll be confined to barracks and cut-off from the internet, so I’ve been trying to catch up on things before then, and break in my boots, which are awfully uncomfortable and apparently if you don’t wear them in before military they’ll mangle your feet.

Also, I have a massive revision to do, and fun little story project, so let’s talk about those!

 

A picture of lovely Japan, until the actual Japan post happens.

 

The Revision

Monster Middle Grade continues its sloooooow evolution into readable book-form. A part of me doesn’t want to talk about this, because I think there’s sometimes this expectation that book-writing should be a straightforward flash of inspiration, a flurry of passionate writing in a garret, some careful revision, and then you churn out a tidy book a year, and it’s lovely, and the characters are all perfectly evolved, and the plot has no holes, and the world-building is neither too much nor too little.

And if that doesn’t happen, there must be something wrong with you, or you’re a bad writer, or whatever. And the thing is, some writers do manage to put out an excellent book every year, and keep up the appearance of having everything under control (which is very cool, and I admire them for that greatly).

But once you meet other writers and get a peek behind the scenes, you realise that book-writing is almost never tidy and appearances can be gravely misleading. Some books are messy and bursting at the seams. Some books – probably some of your very favourites – didn’t only take 1-2 drafts to get right. Maybe they took 3-4 drafts. Maybe they took 10 drafts or 15 drafts or 20 drafts, and the writer despaired many times, and doubted they were up for the task, and questioned whether the book would ever work the way it worked in their head, or whether they should become a Yak-herder in Nepal.

So, thats where I am right now. But I’m also determined to do this, and if your book or piece of music or whatever you’re working on is taking a long time to click, I would say that’s ok, and you’re ok, and you’re growing an entire world, and that takes time. If people outside of the working process don’t understand, that’s on them.

The good news is, Monster Middle Grade is getting there, creeping closer with every massive, unwieldy draft, and I’m so, so grateful I have an awesome publisher and editor and agent who let me work at until I get it right.

 

Carnations at a temple in Kyoto.

 

Military and Absence

I’ll be gone from everything – life, friends, emails, texting, social media – while in military, so I’m very sorry if you’re waiting for a response on something. I have a backlog of emails, and I will answer them. I heard things get less stringent as the months go by, and so I should be able to catch up before I’m discharged at the end of May, but the first few weeks are rough and busy, and I only have about 24 hours off every weekend, and so I just won’t be online much, or doing any of things I’ve done in my life thus far, like having a piano, or writing. Which brings me to. . .

 

Hello, kitty.

 

A Tiny Story + Music Project!!!

To keep the creative juices flowing on a hopefully easy-to-manage scale, I’m going to be posting a super-short story on the weekends, together with a short piece of music I’ll write that’s meant to be listened to while reading the story. I think it’ll be fun way to recover from running around with guns and being shouted at by sergeants. I hope by the end of military I’ll have 4-5 short nice little bundles of stories and music.

The first one is called The Whale and the Tea-Kettle, and I’ll post it on Sunday!

I hope everyone’s well! See you on the other side! 🙂

 

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Aarhus / Stockholm / Copenhagen

 

 

The second half of 2017 has been The Half-Year Stefan Travels Everywhere, partly because I’m finally out of college, partly because I have work or internships in those places, and partly because I’m going to military in a mere 25 days, from which I’m assuming I will emerge a̶ ̶b̶r̶a̶i̶n̶w̶a̶s̶h̶e̶d̶ ̶v̶e̶g̶e̶t̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ utterly changed and intent on getting serious about life.

SO NOW’S THE TIME.

Anyway. I’m writing this post in Hong Kong, on the 103rd floor of the Ritz Carlton, which is not a brag so much as an admission of having friends who drag your stingy, plebeian self into those places because they’re nice like that. (Thanks, L. 😊). But this post is about Scandinavia, and I’ll blog about Asia – where I’ve been since November – next week. And probably the week after and the week after, into infinity. It will help  keep my morale up while I’m wriggling around in the mud.

 

 

So. All of this happened back in October. I left Berlin, where I was doing some transcriptions for a teacher of mine, went home to Zürich briefly for some sad events, and from there went to Scandinavia for the Aarhus International Hay Festival for Literature. It was a great festival. I’ve almost never been to a not-great book event because book people are truly the best people, but I’m still always surprised when they’re enjoyable, because I’m shy and public performances where one is expected to show off one’s glittering personality make me anxious. I don’t necessarily *act* shy, and people usually mistake my jabbering for friendliness but NO. It’s terror. People are crazy and if you avoid them you are less likely to be murdered. That’s just, like . . . a reasonable, not-at-all paranoid fact of life.

 

 

Aarhus

We did an event on a boat.

 

This was the boat. It was an excellent boat. It didn’t sink. That is the sign of an excellent boat.

While I and some other writers were loitering in front of said boat, two missionaries from Utah came up to me. No doubt deciding I looked the most heathen of all of us, they started making conversation with me, and the other writers immediately sidled away and abandoned me to my fate. I told them I was from Colorado because that’s what I tell Americans, even though I was only born in Colorado and then left fairly promptly afterwards. We talked about the Dutch language, which they had learned, and they taught me some words. There’s no punchline to this story except to say that I made some awkward excuse and escaped into the library, and I felt kind of bad for them afterwards because they tried.

Speaking of the library: Aarhus has the best library.

 

Very sleek, like it just landed.

 

They also have an excellent art museum.

 

Personal flurry over the rainbow walk on top of the art museum.

 

On the last evening, we had dinner with the English ambassador to Denmark and got to paint our own plates.

 

 

For some reason I thought the plate was edible and asked my table mates how to eat it and they patiently explained to me that they didn’t suspect the plate was edible. Well done, Stefan. That said, if Iiiii were the chef I would have made it edible. If you have rose-hip and celeriac paint shouldn’t the canvas be like . . . a flat bread or edible wafer or something? Not complain, though. It was delicious, and famous book-people like Chris Riddle and Meg Rosoff were close by, also painting their plates.

Speaking of food, there are going to be lots of food pictures in this post, because I ate lots of good food.

 

This is an egg salad and curry bagel I got at the train station in Aarhus, and it was DELICIOUS.

After the festival, where I met many friendly authors like Sarah Crossen, Jana Sramkova, Victor Dixon, and Maria Turtschaninoff, I went to Stockholm which I had never visited before.

Stockholm

 

Yaas, Stockholm, you look so good.

 

Scandinavia is very egalitarian; even their bridges have crowns.

 

The old town is one of the very prettiest old towns I’ve ever been to, even coming close to ZÜRICH’S, which is objectively probably not even the best old town but it’s *my* old town so it gets the top spot.

Obligatory food picture. This is how lemon meringue looks when it’s died and gone to heaven. It’s like, the ultimate Pokemon form. The highest evolutionary phase. The zenith of patisserie. It didn’t taste very good.

 

But it looked good, and that’s what life’s all about.

And then I went back to Denmark! I slept the whole flight, which is a really boring thing to put in a blog post, but I was thrilled about it because no matter how short a flight is, it always ends with me staring feverishly at the little screen-thing and counting down the minutes to landing so that I can escape my seat and my seat-mates and airplanes in general. I suggest that upon entering the planes, flight attendants just start knocking us out with stylish little clubs.

 

I didn’t know there were factories and shipping yards behind the Little Mermaid statue, but there are and it makes the sculpture even more tragic. Should have stayed a mermaid. Princes aren’t worth it.

 

Copenhagen

My apartment in Copenhagen was very nice, sparse, frighteningly sterile, definitely a change from my hippy-dippy apartment in Berlin. The only problem was that its sole book was a coffee-sized edition of The Da Vinci Code. This made me question everyone and everything. (Who would buy such an enormous version of The Da Vinci CodeIs it ironic? Why put it on the coffee table? Do they want the renters to read it? Are they superfans? Also, who even reads The Da Vinci Code? What’s that? 80 million people? Oh.)

But that’s mean. I’m sure the owner is very smart, and I’m sure The Da Vinci Code has redeeming qualities, like entertainment value or speeding up the inevitable demise of the human race through deforestation.

 

Me when I was twelve and an upstart conservatory classmate won first prize over me. Aka green and drooling, but with nice hair.

 

A murder of crows.

 

A fort? I think? I don’t remember, plz forgive.

 

Le Guardia.

 

And that will have to do. I’m a big fan of Scandinavia. Everyone was very tall and friendly, and the food was good, and the architecture was nice

Next post will be Japan / Korea / Taiwan / China adventures.

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Novi Sad / Denver / Prague Adventures

Prague’s Old Town Square

 

Remember when I used to post every Tuesday? About like . . . upcoming costume dramas and random things we talked about at school? And now that I have actual things to blog about, I never do. 🙃🙃🙃

BUT THINGS HAVE BEEN BUSY, etc. etc. so since I know it’ll be a least another month before I get around to posting again, I’m going to condense everything into one giant post about my month in Novi Sad, and floods, and moving to Prague, and all that.

k?

K.

NOVI SAD

 

 

1 – It was great. I already have very fond memories and it’s only been like two months, and usually it takes me much longer to get to the fond-memories stage of things. It started out a bit disconcertingly, though. My friend, who is Serbian, in order to secure the lowest possible rent for my apartment, told the landlord that I was a starving artist paying the last of my savings for the lease. He basically invented an elaborate backstory and filled me in on it just as we were pulling up to the building, which is totally something I would make a character do in a book, but is weird in real life.

Friend: I arrange everything so you don’t pay much money. I say you very poor. Ok?

Me: Um, what. . .

Friend: I also say that you’re my brother.

Me: But I don’t speak Serbian. And I look nothing like you. And it’s kind of basically lying, and also, this is never going to work.

Friend: Don’t worry! Don’t speak.

I realised later that his plan was pretty run-of-the-mill for these parts. It felt like even if the landlord didn’t believe a word he said, it was practically expected there would be some truth-bending going on, and anything else would have been viewed as a glaring lack of business-savvy.

(Just so we’re clear: I’m not really ok with this. I’m probably the last person who deserves an apartment rebate, and there’s about 101 ethical reasons not to pretend to be poor to get a cheap apartment. But a) I didn’t have a say in the matter, literally, because I speak like four words of Serbian, and b) it’s a different culture for sure, very much prone to bargaining and embellishing and doing whatever it takes for a good deal, which leads me to number two. . .)

 

 

2 – Everyone hustles non-stop in Serbia. The country has a pretty crazy history, including NATO bombings, genocide, and potentially triggering World War 1, and the result is that everyone is constantly out to make a buck, prove their worth, and convince the world that they’re just as worthy as any other country. People in Serbia are fiercely proud, and some of them I spoke to seemed to suspect Western Europeans or Americans look down on them, which was sad to see and isn’t the case at all, I don’t think. (Some of my friends didn’t even know Serbia existed, though, which . . . might also contribute to a country’s inferiority complexes.)

That said, there’s so much to recommend Serbia. It’s an old, culturally rich country, lots of agriculture, horse-drawn carriages on the highways, but also sleek, modern malls, and the fooooood. The food is delicious. And the people I met were lovely and kind. “We hate America,” I was told once by a merry Novi Sadian. “But not AMERICANS.”  👍 Good to know.

 

This was close to the long, long tree-lined street I lived on, in an apartment on the back of an old townhouse. This picture was taken in the evening, but I would jog here early in the mornings a lot because pigeons lived in my ventilation shaft and woke me up at unreasonable hours.

 

3 – People have a strange sense of timeliness in Serbia. I grew up in Switzerland, the land of be-on-time-or-else-you-are-a-terrible-rude-person, so I’ve gotten used to making a time with someone and knowing we’ll both there. Not so in Serbia. In Serbia you kind of need to learn to go with the flow, and if you’re not a flow-y sort of person, you’ll still have to go with the flow, just probably a bit later or earlier than you intended. Examplement:

Friend, blithely: I’ll pick you up at 15 or 16 or 17 o’ clock. Ok?

Me: Ok! Which one exactly, tho- *phone clicks*

Me, all dauntless and When-In-Rome-ish: I’m going to assume he’ll come in the middle of those three options. So, 16 o’ clock. (In retrospect, that’s not super logical, but I’m not a super logical person.)

Friend: *arrives at 15:05, pounds on door, me stumbling out of the shower, looking a fright*

Friend: You’re so stressed! We’re not in New York City! Or Zürich! You need to RELAX.

 

Inside a genuiiiiiine Serbian house. Iconic.

 

4 – I finished my book while in Novi Sad. I’ve probably mentioned finishing this book five times now on this blog, which would make sense because this is Draft 6-ish? I asked my editor for more time before she had even read the last draft and went back to the drawing board for some things that weren’t working for me. I thought I would only change a few things, but I changed a lot. And now it’s off, yay!

 

There are so many caption options for this picture but I imagine it as one of those Pixar shorts where an umbrella falls in love with, like, a coat-rack or whatever. That’s definitely what happened here.

 

5 – On my second-to-last night in Novi Sad, my apartment flooded. It was very close to the Danube, and the week before it had rained pretty heavily, and late one evening the Danube got into the pipes and oozed up out of the drains. I heard a gurgling coming from all the pipes at once, then saw this sheet of water spreading over the floor of the living area. I started by frantically shovelling water into buckets with a dustpan and dumping the buckets out the window (loooool, Stefan, so wise, so resourceful), but there was more Danube than dustpans. So in the end I gave up, packed my suitcase, and fled to my friend’s house.

(The landlord was super nice and apologetic about it afterwards, which is funny because I assume it wasn’t his fault? But who knows, maybe he’s a wizard and wanted me gone and so enlisted the help of the rivers and ponds.)

DENVER

After that, I went to Denver. I was in the US for about five seconds, attended a lovely wedding, drank some lovely cocktails, saw some lovely rock formations, spent 3 hours in Iceland, and escaped back to Europe.

 

The loverly, loverly view across Prague from my apartment window. *flourishes*

 

PRAGUE

And now I’m in Prague! The Vltava river is right next door, which is giving me Danube flashbacks but I’m on the 13th floor, OK, RIVER? Please stay away. Plz.

It’s been really nice. I’ve been interning during the mornings and some afternoons, which allows lots of time to visit museums and eat chimney cake and putter around in graveyards. The food is not aaaaaas good as in Serbia, in my humble opinion, but still good. The public transportation system is nice, as there’s a subway and a tram-line. It’s definitely a much bigger city than Novi Sad, or maybe my neighbourhood is just a bit sketchier, but I definitely don’t go jogging after nightfall anymore.

 

I was tying to get this excellently-jacketed person exactly in the corner of the picture for a balanced shot, but she was too quick.

 

My favourite part is the graveyard right behind my apartment. It’s vast and overgrown and quiet, and I’ve spent many a long evening walking through the lanes and mausoleums. The picture below is a teeny tiny grave that has no writing on it but looks old and sad and mysterious. It’s either for children or very short people, but what’s interesting is that even some of the oldest graves still have flowers and candles, as if someone totally remembers the person lying there and cares about them. I usually think graveyards are the height of human hubris, and headstones kind of a sad attempts to last past your expiration date, but if people actually care 500 years later I guess that’s nice.

 

 

And that’s that for a bit! 🙂 I hope everyone’s well.

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PALAST DER FINSTERNIS – release week

Hey! Hi. *waves* This is a super short blog post, because I’m in Prague and busy interning / eating all the Czech people’s food / wandering graveyards, etc., but basically PALAST DER FINSTERNIS is out next week on August 23rd (hurray!) and I’ll be flying back to Zürich for a short while on September 2nd to do a reading for it.

The info:

What and when:

September 2nd, 2017

14:00 – reading from the German edition of A DROP OF NIGHT (Palast der Finsternis)

Book signing afterwards

 

Where:

Zentralbibliothek Zürich

Zähringerplatz 6

Zürich

8001, Schweiz

(The reading is part of the festivities for the 100 Year Anniversary of the Zürich Public Library.)

 

If anyone I know from online or real life can make it, come say hi! 🙂 That would be awesome.

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Bits and Bobs

 

Hiiiii. I’m writing this from a little tiny apartment in Novi Sad, tippy-tapping away, listening to Beethoven loudly to drown out the pigeons living in the ventilation, baking cookies on a panini press. I’ll blog about this adventure later, but basically I need to have this re-write done by the end of the month, and there’s still a lot to do, and I’m vacillating wildly between panic and ya know . . . the joys of writing.

After this, I have to fly to the US for a millisecond for my older brother’s wedding. (Congrats, older brother!!) And then to Prague for the internship. And then back to Zürich for a reading. (Do I remember how to do readings? And how to speak Swiss German? AND HOW TO SIT ON A STAGE AND SAY WORDS? Doubtful.)

Some writing things:

I wrote a cabinet story! We’re all kind of on hiatus and busy out of our minds, but I had it lying around so I put it up. It’s gloomy and foggy, and in step with the cabinet story I wrote before it, since I wrote them both around the same time.

Two tidbits of book news:

A Drop of Night is out in German later this year, on August 23rd, in mah home country and other German speaking countries. It’s called Palast der Finsternis there. And it can be pre-ordered here. And look at its beautiful cover:

 

 

Also, my short story for the Aarhus 39 is out now in an anthology by Alma Books, and can be ordered here. It looks like so:

 

 

And that’s that!

*pigeons resume cooing aggressively*

*Beethoven SHAKING THE RAFTERS*

*distant yelling in Serbian*

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Writing Update + Vienna + Alps

 

This is my last blog post as a college studennnnnnt. At least for a bit. I’m thrilled. I’ll probably type up a college-y post sometime this summer where I blab about the past four years, and the many eccentric people I met, and the juicy, juicy gossip that was gleaned, and then I will read over that post and decide it must never see the light of day and delete it, so um . . . 👍

A quick writing update: I’m on re-write number five of my next book, and it’s  super long, and it keeps getting LONGER, ack. I love it, though. It involves gods and monsters and the Moon, and a child with a creature living behind his ribs. I’ve just been really glacial at writing this past year, and I can’t wait to be able to concentrate again after graduation. In the meantime, here’s a mood-board of the general aesthetic, courtesy of all the fantastically talented artists with work up on Pinterest:

 

Monsters! Sewers! Magick! Intrepid adventurers climbing stairs!

 

Vienna: I went to Vienna briefly for a friend’s wedding two months ago, and this post is about that because I’M SLOW AT BLOGGING. It was only the second time I’d been. The first time was a super short 24 hour trip where I spent most of the time in a scorchingly hot TV studio in a warehouse. (It was a roundtable discussion of Literature and CultureTM and when we’d finished, one of the producers said “That’s a wrap!” and the moderator was like “That’s the most interesting thing anyone’s said to me all day.” 😂)

This time I had a bit of time to hang out with friends and sight-see and there was no TV studio involved, so it was great.

 

A very famous street in Vienna. I can’t remember what it’s called, but I walked for miles to find it and I kept passing a crowd of people taking pictures, thinking, “What are those crazies even taking pictures of?” and then I realised it was this famous street and was like “AHHH, CRAZIES, let me join you.”

 

“Huge” and “Pale” are the words that come to mind when I think of Vienna. The streets are super wide. The buildings are like Zürich’s buildings but twice as high and usually pink/white/yellow plaster, where Zürich’s are grey stone. The whole place is a bit more Slavic-tinged than Munich or Salzburg, but not full-on Budapestian yet, and it’s cool to see that happening as you move East, and to notice that countries and cultures only sort of adhere to borders.

I also went to the alps last week to finish my grad thesis, which is now handed off, and which I’m very anxious about. Also, final grad performance is next week 13.6.2017, 20 o’ clock / 8PM, in case anyone wants to come listen to the strange music of five chamber musicians and a 3-D printer. 🙂

Back to the alps:

 

This particular valley is an old, old pilgrimage place, so there were a lot of chapels and pious people pilgrimaging and then me.

 

I was in that tower of yonder building, tippy-tapping away.

The hotel was a bit Shining-esque. I met no ghosts that were recognisable as such. I also didn’t use the elevator, though, so I can’t say it’s NOT full of blood.

 

One of the scary hallways in the hotel.

 

And that’s that! There are still a million things to organise for the performance next week and I’m moving away from Switzerland after graduation, so I need to hurry. In my next post I will be either a disgraced former music student with a flop final performance or a graduate, and either way I’ll be off in foreign lands for work, and I’m very excited for all of it, whatever might happen.

Hope everyone’s well! 🙂

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Tidbits and Interestings #6 – Good News Edition

 

I haven’t done a Tidbits and Interestings in a whiiiiiile, but I have lovely news!

First bit of lovely news:

I’m super honoured to say that I’m one of the 39 authors picked for the International Hay Festival for Literature in Aarhus 2017, which according to them is a selection of ‘the best emerging writers under 40 in Europe.’ That’s very kind. This was just announced at the London Book Fair, and I’m pleased-but-also-surprised because I spend most of my life in the uni library with earphones in, so how do they know I exist? BUT ANYWAY, I’ll be going to Denmark in October 2017 for the festival, and there’ll be an illustrated anthology out this May in both English and Dutch with a newly-written short story from me called The Honeybee Cemetery.

I’m especially happy because I remember getting the email saying I was on the longlist, and I had to send a sample of writing that was going to be judged by people like Matt Haig, and I was like: “Matt Haig is very famous. I don’t know what Matt Haig likes to read. What if I choose something he hates and in one fell swoop my writing career ends forever?”

So I labored over picking a snippet, and you know how when you think about things too much you make poor decisions that make no sense? So I ended up sending a piece of an obscure short story I wrote for Cabinet a few years ago, which . . . was probably quite weird and morbid. But then I got picked, so I’m very grateful.

Another nice thing:

 

A Drop of Night‘s paperback is releasing in the US this week! Kirkus called it ‘bizarre and hugely suspenseful’. Publishers Weekly called it ‘pulpy’. xD So, if you want some bizarre and hugely suspenseful but also pulpy French Revolution-y thriller adventures, you can now have them for cheaper.

(Publishers Weekly also called it ‘polished and engagingly snarky’, though, so at least it’s polished and engagingly snarky pulp. *pats self-esteem delicately back into place* Also, here’s a deleted scene if you are inclined toward reading deleted things.)

More nice things:

 

It’s meeeee. Looking snotty. In front of a barn.

Switzerland’s Friday Magazine picked me for their 30 under 30 innovators and artists. I’m very flattered, thank you.

Also, I’m in Zürich’s Who’s Who of 2017, which cracks me up, as I’m sure there are much who-ier people in Zürich, but thank you anyway.

 

Current Favorite Music:

 

 

This song is from the 50’s, and I don’t know what ‘ticky-tacky’ is but it’s my new  favourite word. Also, I love that they used a Theremin in the orchestration. (You can hear the Theremin right at the beginning and throughout. It sounds like a very sad, muted violin.)

And that’s that! I’m very grateful for all this good stuff, and for the people who suggest me for these things and read my stories and talk about them, and for my agent and publishers. Thank you, truly.

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Portmanteamsterdam

 

(A portmanteau of Porto and Amsterdam, to continue the tradition of having blog titles that make no sense.)

(Also, I went to Porto, and I didn’t go to Amsterdam.)

(Also, why didn’t you go to Amsterdam when you said you would, and your blog title says Amsterdam in it, ya weirdo? the intrepid reader asks. Well, intrepid reader: my brother and his girlfran went to Amsterdam a few weeks before I was planning to go, and Brother said the food was gross and the air was gross, etc. etc., and while I don’t really believe him, and I’m sure Amsterdam has lots to recommend it, I figured I would only go to Porto and then stay in Switzerland and work instead. So I did.

But Porto was a really pleasant adventure, too, and I’ll just tell about that.

 

The red drink in the background was called ‘Berry Nice’ and it tasted berry nice. Like sour gummy worms.

A list of Porto’s fine features:

 

 

 

These dead people have nicer houses than most live people. They also have garbage cans for when they’re out and about, walking their little ghost-dogs.

 

(*Google tells me he was there for a conference. I didn’t stop to ask. I saw the welcome banner much too late to do me any good.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

And you’re like “AHAHAHA, *awkwardly slides past them, because you don’t want to get arrested*. I think they just offer it to anyone who looks foreign/young/and-or-male, which in their mind seems to equate stupid-enough-to-buy-baggies-of-unidentified-substances-in-broad-daylight-on-the-street-in-a-strange-land . . . which actually would be my plan of action, too, if I were a Portuguese drug-dealer.

But enough about drugs, this is off-brand, I write CHILDREN’S BOOKS.

 

So pretty. Pretty bridge. Pretty houses. Pretty pyjamas soakin’ up the sun.

 

 

 

Bye. 🙂

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