Stefan Bachmann

Book Deal Announcement – RELEASE THE WOLVES

I’m absolutely giddy and grateful and pleased and all those good things . . . to say that my next book, tentatively titled Release the Wolves, will be published in Fall 2022, again by Greenwillow/HarperCollins. Huge thanks to my editor and agent. Here’s the deal announcement from Publishers Weekly:



In further news, my dear little gothic fairy tale Cinders and Sparrows is still going strong and is a finalist for the Vermont Golden Dome Award, previously known as the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, one of the oldest children’s book awards in the country. Thank you so much to the committee for picking it!



And The Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief and Sinister was chosen by Book Riot to sit among a host of luminaries like Neil Gaiman (!), Haruki Murakami (!!), and Shirley Jackson (!!!), as one of the 53 best short stories and anthologies . In 2020. More than six years after its release. Thank you, thank you to everyone involved in making these lovely bits of news a reality.

Blackbird Castle – Encyclopedia of Rooms

The art for all of these were made by my mom – who doesn’t have any sort of internet presence and refuses to be swayed elsewise – for the interactive floor plan of Blackbird Castle, the setting of Cinders and Sparrows. You can view the floorplan here but I thought I would post them in higher detail on the blog for those who would like a closer look. Enjoy!



The Room of Marble Heads – Marble Heads by the hundreds! And they talk. A lot. Mostly idle gossip about the marble heads at the other end of the room, or grandiloquent tales about their past lives. Some spit tiny marbles, so beware. Not to be trifled with, but far less dangerous than other rooms in the castle.


The Dragon Staircase“We went up a monstrously grand staircase carved from wood so dark it appeared almost black. A reddish sheen glowed in its grain, as if blood ran deep in its veins. The entire thing was built to look like a twisting dragon, the banister scaled, the spindles fashioned into claws and folded wings.” It seems–almost–to be alive.


Vestibule of Blood – A small antechamber that has been known to drip blood from a crack in the cornice on nights of the gibbous moon. No one knows why the wood bleeds, but household lore says it is because the tree from which the cornice was carved was used to hang a witch. (Wood, like stone and earth, does not forget.) The room is not dangerous per se, but it casts a melancholy mood, and to linger there  can have a disquieting effect on the mind.


The Orchid Room“The Orchid Room, then! That’s a lovely one, and the wallpaper hasn’t driven anyone mad in ages.” A sumptuous sitting room with floral wallpaper printed with great mauve orchids. Very cozy and lovely, only the orchids have been known to speak, little mouths pressing from among their foliage. Do not stay for long or the voices will goad you to do terrible things.


The Dining Room –Mrs. Cantanker, guardian of the castle, keeps this room firmly locked at all times. And yet it is not empty. Who, or what, is inside?


Servants’ Staircase to the Kitchens“The warmest part of the house, by far, and the nicest smelling.” While ghosts are present in the kitchens, they are of the quiet, unobtrusive variety, wispy things barely clinging to the mortal realm.


The Burnt Wing – The oldest section of Blackbird Castle, now little more than charred ruins. It is said it was burnt down by the owners of the castle themselves, many centuries ago, in order to dispose of a certain wicked family member they had locked in the attic. Today it is full of treacherous corners, malignant spirits, rotting floorboards . . . and perhaps some remnants of that certain family member’s evil still clinging to its blackened stones.


The Ballroom – The largest room in the castle, used for only the most special occasions and the most honored guests, both Living and Dead.


The Training Hall – Once filled with bustling Blackbirds learning to fight the Dead, now empty but for the dust and leaves that blow down through the holes in the roof.


The Blue Staircase – A mysterious flight of steps, very narrow and painted blue. It has no fixed place inside the castle, but appears from time to time to those it would like to climb it. The stairs are rumored to lead straight into the Lands of the Dead, and must never, ever be climbed.


Amsel’s Tower – A crumbling, mostly-abandoned tower in the burnt wing, now occupied by nothing but a band of mysterious little creatures known as Triggles, as well as their horde made up of all the many treasures they steal from about the castle.


The Greenhouse – Full of glorious plants, both poisonous and healing. It is haunted by a green boy and several other mild-mannered botanical ghosts, but they show themselves rarely and are no trouble at all. Dead things do not thrive amidst so much life.


The Black Sitting Room – A nursemaid was confined to this grim little room after being accused of stealing a set of silver figurines. She was found dead by the housekeeper before she could be questioned, and the room was kept locked after that, haunted by the nursemaid’s spirit. Petty theft is not usually a crime terrible enough to make a ghost return from beyond the veil, so it is suspected she committed some other crime, something far, far worse, and put herself to death to avoid discovery. The trouble is, no one knows what that other crime was, and so she remains, standing among the black upholstery, sobbing and waiting for the one person who might forgive her to return to Blackbird Castle. . .

News and Sketches


Cinders and Sparrows has gotten several lovely reviews since I last dawdled in here, including from The Horn Book Magazine (which called it “particularly deft”) and The Southern Bookseller Review (“perfectly atmospheric and spooky”) as well as A Mighty Girl which chose it as one of its books of the year and called it “suspenseful and magical”.

Thank youuuuuu! I’m terribly pleased.



Also, the cover art by the Balbusso sisters won in the book illustration category at the 62nd Annual Illustration Competition, which thrills me. They’re such incredible artists, and every time I so much as glance at the cover on my bookshelf I’m delighted all over again.

Now, for Cinders art that will definitely nawt win any awards, but was fun  regardless, my journey to learn how to draw continues! Here are some sketches from the book that I’ve done these past few months.



A Deathborn-Beast:


A windswept Zita:


Tiny Zita and the Butcher in the land of the dead:


A villainous and float-y Magdeboor III:


My mom gave me a big set of pencils and graphite last time I was in Switzerland, so that’s what I’ve been using. I really want to learn how to work digitally, because I remember when I was 11 and first learning how to write music, the jump from handwriting to digital writing made all the difference. I’m kind of irrationally hoping the same will happen with drawing, which doesn’t make much sense, but I WILL CONTINUE TO HOPE and also maybe buy Photoshop.

Here’s a sinister Mrs. Cantanker to top things off:


This is what I’m reading

French Exit

This is me

This is me

I write words and music. Books are: faerypunk THE PECULIAR (out now), its companion THE WHATNOT (out now), 1/4 of a spooky anthology THE CABINET OF CURIOSITIES (out now), and my YA debut A DROP OF NIGHT (Winter 2016), all from Greenwillow/HarperCollins. I'm repped by Sara Megibow at KT Literary.

This is my first book

This is my first book

This is my second book

This is my second book

This is my third book

This is my third book

This is my fourth book

This is my fourth book

This is my fifth book

This is my fifth book

These are my random ramblings

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