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

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.



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.










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! 🙂


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.


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:

  • scurrying past my weird neighbour in the stairwell, both of us eying each other mistrustfully
  • saying hello to the cashier at the grocery store and lol’ing at her jokes about my habit of buying large quantities of rucola and oatmeal.
  • saying ‘Nope’ to that one guy on the corner with a smoochy-lips tattoo’d on his neck who keeps asking me for paper for his cigarette even though I’ve told him I don’t smoke and haven’t picked up the habit in the 24 hours since he last asked.
  • Sitting with a friend on the banks of the Spree with my laptop and occasionally asking each other for synonyms.

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:

  • Berlin is not a pretty city. In fact, it’s kinda ugly, and kinda proud of it. I live in a particularly scruffy part of town with all the hipsters and stoners and artistes. I’m very boring and commonplace among all these people with their bowl-cuts and little black sunglasses and fanny packs and trousers that stop well above the ankle, but I love it anyway. It’s cozy and friendly in its scruffiness, and I feel super comfortable here, because I can live my dream of shuffling down to the local shop in flip flops. And granted, you can be a slob anywhere, no one will probably push you down a well, but in Berlin it’s almost encouraged.


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


  • Shisha bars that smell like candy – In the military, one of my sergeants smoked a small portable steam pipe called a shisha. It looked like this. His flavour of choice was straciatella, and he would walk around in a cloud of the stuff, and when you smelled that cloud of straciatella moving toward you out of the depths of barracks or wintry woods, you knew you had to jump up and look BUSY AND RESPECTABLE, because otherwise he would shout at you and call you names, as is wont and customary in the military. Though I’m not 100% sure how shishas work, I think you can stuff it with various special things and set it on fire, and it gives off a really strong, candy-sweet aroma. Sometimes it smells like marshmallows. Sometimes it smells like Maoams? If you’re German, you know the smell. It’s like *breathing* candy. Inhaling it, if you will.

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.



  • A few weeks ago, a homeless gentleman on crutches asked me for money outside my apartment. I told him truthfully I didn’t have any because I WAS JOGGING, OK, and I jog without my wallet in case I get mugged because then they’ll just murder me but at least my wallet’s fine and can live a full and happy life with its wallet family. Anyway, I said I had none and went inside, but then I felt super bad, because what if he was in dire straits? What if he had 19 starving children, or carpal tunnel syndrome, or any of number of problems, and I could help in some small way? So I grabbed two fistfuls of coins from the change plate in my apartment and hurry downstairs to give it to him and he was nowhere to be found, and I was just standing in the street with handfuls of coins and all the hipster Berliners were passing me like, “Are you an art installation?”


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. 🙂

Tidbits and Interestings #7



I’m done!! I did it. It was an experience. I was going to do a big post about the ordeal, but since I’m still technically a member of the army until I’m 30-something and don’t have time to get in trouble over snarking about it, I’m going to wait to tell delightful tales about things like. . .

  • That time our scariest sergeant made me sing the national anthem solo in front of our entire platoon (I’m not a singer by any stretch of the imagination.)
  • What tear-gas feels like (it hurts)
  • Shooting pistols in temperatures so cold our hands cracked (fun fact: the ordinance gloves they give you make your hands colder)
  • That time our sergeants were feeling particularly humane and we had to lie facedown in the gym and literally sweep the floor with our bodies.

I feel so accomplished.


I never posted the pictures from my Japan/South Korea/Hong Kong adventures from last year! I might still do that. In the meantime, I went into the mountains for a bit after military and it was dreamy and here are some pictures. I read books, hiked with the parents, stayed in a castle, ate good food, saw many tiny butterflies which are so tiny they didn’t make it into any pictures. . . .





My little castle room. It brought to mind that Virginia Wolfe quote about how all you need to write fiction is a room of your own. I also need a laptop, headphones, and a steady supply of cashews, but basically yes.


I had no time to write during military, alas, so it feels very nice to get back to it now. I’m rewriting Monster Middle Grade for the 7th time, and as they say, SEVENTH TIME’S THE CHARM. (Do they say that? They should.) This book feels like an enormous puzzle and sloooooowly the pieces are coming together, and it’s thrilling.


I’m off to Berlin for a while. I have a little garret and notebooks and pens and my laptop and music work to do, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

Book events

I’m doing one public book thing between military and moving away, and here it is, this coming weekend! It would be lovely to see you there. 🙂

Lesung in englischer Sprache im Rahmen des Festivals Lauschig – wOrte im Freien.
Park der Villa Jakobsbrunnen
Schwalmenackerstrasse 4
8400 Winterthur
When: 08. Juni 2018, 19:00
Deutscher Part: Mira Frehner
Moderation: Dominik Dusek
Musik: Linda Vogel
Weiterer Autor: Hansjörg Schertenleib

And that’s that! Farewell, friends. 🙂

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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