Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!
Today we’re joined by musician and author Stefan Bachmann! Stefan plays five instruments and is currently studying composing at the Zürich University of Arts in Switzerland. His debut novel, The Peculiar, is a middle-grade fantasy tale set in an alternate Victorian world of elegant upper-class homes and squalid faerie slums. Its companion novel, The Whatnot, is available now in paperback from HarperCollins.
Name your favorite monster from fiction, film, TV, or any other pop culture source.
Ok, I know everyone hates this movie, and I’ll lose all credibility for the rest of the quiz, but the porcupine things in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village creep me out a lot and are therefor pretty great in my mind. THEY’RE HUMAN-SIZED PORCUPINES IN RED CLOAKS. If you met one you would be scared, too.
Do you have a favorite under-read author?
I think Saki is criminally under-read. He’s like a mixture of P.G. Wodehouse and Oscar Wilde, and his short stories are brilliant.
Describe your favorite place to write.
I’ve come to like writing on trains. I live in Switzerland where trains are plentiful, and for some bizarre reason the combination of being surrounded by sleepy/grouchy people and speeding through the countryside works for me.
What is your ideal pet (real or fictional)?
One of those coal-toting creatures from Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. I don’t know what they do besides tote coal, but they seem to be low-maintenance and only need to be fed with tiny multi-colored stars, so that’s nice.
Teleportation. I could be happy never seeing the inside of an airport again. I also think I would be terrified to teleport for fear of The Fly stuff happening, but I’d risk it.
Strangest thing you’ve learned while researching a book?
It was actually while trying to come up with an idea for a short story. I write stories for The Cabinet of Curiosities, which is a site where I and three other MG/YA author friends put up one short story a week just for fun, and while looking up random keywords for inspiration I came across the 21 gram hoax/theory/FACT. Apparently a scientist at the turn of the century was conducting experiments to find the physical human soul, and came to the conclusion that it weighed 21 grams. I thought that was weird and fascinating. This story was the result, in case you’re interested.
Heroes vs. Villains—which are more fun to write?
Villains, or else villainous heroes. I haven’t really written any villainous heroes before, but I’d like to.
If you had to choose one band or artist to provide the official soundtrack to your new book, who would it be?
I’m listening to a lot of Marina and the Diamonds right now (actually always) so probably her. I love how bitter and incisive her music is, while still being fairly bubblegum sonically. I’d like to think my next book will be bitter and incisive, and we will trick people into buying it because it looks like bubblegum.
List three things you’d like our readers to know about you and your work.
1. I love the combination of mundane, real world things and fantasy, especially in a historical context. Soooo, if anybody has historical fantasy rec’s, tell me! :)
2. Despite being enamored with historical fantasy, I’m done writing fairy steampunk books for a while and am working on a weird and crazy YA thriller now. It’s not like anything I’ve ever done before, so I spend most of my time being worried of what my agent and editor will think of it.
3. My writing tends to be odd, with a dark edge. People die.