Stefan Bachmann

"A spellbinding coming-of-age story. The halls of Blackbird Castle may be dark and haunted, but the characters that frequent it are warm and lively. Readers will fly through the pages."
—Soman Chainani, New York Times-bestselling author of The School for Good and Evil series
"Bizarre and hugely suspenseful." —Kirkus A DROP OF NIGHT Read More "Richly realized . . . Accomplished . . . This is a story young fantasy buffs are sure to enjoy" -The New York Times THE PECULIAR Read More "A wonderfully evocative world, beautiful prose, and interesting characters. Bachmann just keeps getting better and better". -Christopher Paolini, #1 NYT Bestselling author of the Inheritance Cycle THE WHATNOT Read More "Four of horror fantasy’s newer stars share tales and correspondence . . . A hefty sheaf of chillers—all short enough to share aloud and expertly cast to entice unwary middle graders a step or two into the shadows." -Kirkus (Starred review) THE CABINET OF CURIOSITIES Read More

Tidbits of Cinders #3 – The Castle Arrives


So, a few weeks ago, I teased a project I was working on involving the floorplans of Blackbird Castle, and now it’s herrrrre! Click on the button above! Wander Blackbird Castle’s haunted halls! Poke your head into its secret chambers! Lose your head to a carnivorous piece of furniture! Come back headless and let me tell you about the process, because making this was a JOURNEY.

At first this project was just going to be a printable encyclopedia like the faerie encyclopedia of The Peculiar, but then I thought of doing a floorplan, because as we’ve established, I love floorplans, and then I thought maybe the floorplan should be interactive and clickable, and then I thought maybe I should become an alpine penguin herder because it would be easier than trying to learn programming language, and then I took a deep breath and realized I could enlist the help of others, and so I closed all my tabs on penguin herding, and got to work.

I found one person to make the digital art. I found another person to program everything. I found my mom and asked her to do spot art for 22 rooms, as well as the beautiful frame featuring five very important elements from Cinders and Sparrows, all of which she kindly agreed to do. And then I spent hours and hours compositing, learning how to photoshop, figuring out why cropping an image can make it blurry, writing the music, writing the descriptions of the rooms, ETCETERA. It took a lot longer than I’d thought, but I’m very proud of the results.

Here are a bunch of pictures of the process.


My initial sketches of spot art for Mom. Da Vinci wishes.


Mom’s initial interpretation of the spot art. Mom likes things cute and nice, and in Mom’s opinion, being a ghost is no excuse not to be cute and nice. We had to talk this one out.






The final product lookin’ all marvelous.


‘Sluicing rays of light,’ though. Very important. Also, is parquet spelled correctly? I’ll never know.


Talking Marble Heads in the making.


An early draft of the buttons, before I decided they wouldn’t pop enough and would make the whole thing look a bit tew monochromatic.






And there you have it! I hope you enjoy clicking around, and I just want to say thanks again to Mom for all the great artwork (there’s more coming, ahhh! Character sketches, etc.), and also to the programmer, who was a breeze to work with.

Good news:

  • Cinders and Sparrows got its first review and it’s a starred review from Kirkus! Kirkus is considered one of the toughest of the trade reviewers, and a starred review is the best sort of review one can get, so I am consequently honored, and also very grateful that the reviewer liked it.



  • If you like the cover as much as I do, the Balbusso Sisters, who illustrated it, are selling prints in their store. They have two up, including an exclusive colorized version of the frontispiece of the book, and I’m trying to convince myself to splurge and buy them, or at least the one of the cover because it would look great on my piano.

And that’s that! Only a little over a month until the book is out, ack. I’m excited.

Tidbits of Cinders #2 – Paris + Good News

I have various bits of lovely news, but first: I’m in Paris, in the former of townhouse of a former 19th-century sugar baron. (I say ‘former’, because he’s presumably not a sugar baron anymore and he presumably is a skeleton, or a jar of ashes, or a pan-dimensional being. Though I suppose he could still be a sugar baron, immortal yet decayed, pulling the strings of his sugar empire from beyond the grave. Or better yet, from within the grave, in the velvet-hung crypts of his Montparnasse mausoleum. That would be cool.)

Anyway, here are some Paris pictures, even though they have not much to do with anything, but Paris pictures are always nice.

Said ghostly sugar baron’s house.


My favorite painting I saw on this trip, and also my favorite picture I took. Thank you, Color-Coordinated Museum-Goer for standing just so.






Seats that allow you to better ignore the people around you are 100% my sort of seats.


Good book news: Cinders and Sparrows is a Junior Library Guild Selection!

Further good news: Cinders and Sparrows is also an Indie Next List Pick for Fall 2020!

Even more good news: I got my first blurb for this book from the very kind Soman Chainani, who is a New York Times Bestselling author, and very popular, and who liked it, which pleases me greatly.



Weeeee, thank you so much, Soman, and thank you also to the booksellers who voted for Cinders, and to Junior Library Guild, who has selected several of my books over the years, and to whom I’m incredibly grateful. I’m really glad people are liking Zita’s adventures so far.

Tidbits of Cinders #1 – Exploring Blackbird Castle

It’s raining, I’m holed up in my lil’ brick house in the Dutch-lands, and it’s time to bloooog. Instead of Tidbits and Interestings, which is where I talk about unrelated things that delight me, I’m going to do a blog-series called Tidbits of Cinders in run-up to the release of Cinders and Sparrows in October. I’ll be sharing music, artwork, news, reviews, deleted scenes, flattery, calumny, and various other bits and bobs, including a project!

During revisions, one of my editor’s notes was that Blackbird Castle felt like ‘a moving banquet’ (which is a nice way of saying ‘it’s unclear’) and that I should make a floorplan. So I sketched out a rough one, and then said to myself, “Weeeeee, what if other people could see this floorplan and explore the castle the way Zita does, and visit the Vestibule of Blood and see where exactly the Orchid Room is in relation to the Tiny Queen’s Throne Room?” to which I answered, “Yes, what then, Stefan?” to which I also answered, “I don’t know, but I shall do it.”


And then my mom, who is excellent at these sorts of things, made it look like something one would actually want to look at. (Thanks, Mom!)

I won’t show you what it will look like when it’s up, but it will be snazzy. You’ll be able to click on rooms and view little anecdotes about various hauntings, and see spot-art of spooky phenomena, and get glimpses into Zita’s adventures.

Fun fact: I used to be obsessed with floor-plans as a kid. I wanted to be an architect, and I remember filling entire notepads with floor-plans of imaginary castles and mansions, most of them impossibly large and impractical.

2nd fun fact: When I realized being an architect hardly ever entailed designing impossibly large and impractical mansions and mostly entailed fitting boring concrete blocks into oddly shaped plots of land, I stopped wanting to be an architect.

3rd fun fact: All of my books contain at least one bizarre and labyrinthine house. In The Peculiar it was Nonsuch House, the home of Mr. Lickerish, the faery politican. In The Whatnot it was Piscaltine’s house, with its painted, ever-shifting stage walls and pulleys. In A Drop of Night it was . . . everything. The whole setting. And in Cinders and Sparrows it’s Blackbird Castle.

I blame The Secret Garden for this (When Mrs. Medlock said, ‘The house has over a hundred rooms. .  .” I felt that) and maybe also Beatrix Potter’s kitten stories, where the kittens wander this enormous farmhouse full of cupboards and staircases, before one of them becomes bored, climbs a chimney, and is almost turned into a roly-poly pudding by rats. (If you haven’t read The Tale of Samuel Whiskers, you should. Read it to yourself. Read it to your kids. Read it to your cats. It will teach them never to climb chimneys, give them a healthy fear of rats, and also illuminate the very important differences between a British pudding and an American one.)

4th fun fact: though we’ve only made floorplans of the first and second floors of Blackbird Castle so far, I’m guessing the castle has about five floors and 150 actual rooms, as well as countless antechambers, vestibules, corridors, cellars, dungeons, and attics, most of which are odd or haunted in some way. The game is going to have descriptions of about twenty of those rooms. Maybe more will come later.

Don’t do it. *wags finger*

Anywho. Someone who is very clever with the language of code is going to make it interactive, and hopefully it’ll be up in a month or two, closer to the book’s release. Huge thanks to my mom for all the lovely artwork.

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

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This is my second book

This is my third book

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