Very little about 19-year-old Stefan Bachmann says “typical teenager.” Born in Colorado, he moved to Switzerland with his family at a very early age and is a dual U.S.-Swiss citizen. His mother homeschooled him until he enrolled in the Zurich Conservatory in 2004 at the age of 11.
His book The Peculiar had a first printing of 100,000 copies and met with critical acclaim; it was also a #1 bestseller in Switzerland, and rights have been sold in seven languages. Part murder mystery, part gothic fantasy, part steampunk adventure, it is a riveting, inventive, and unforgettable debut novel.
The young author has just turned in his second novel, The Whatnot, to his editor. “I was nervous because it’s the second book,” he says. “It’s the conclusion to The Peculiar, a duology, so it wraps up the story. The first book had a cliffhanger, and that probably annoyed people.” Bachmann’s next book will “switch between contemporary and historical, which is going to be really new for me, but I can’t really say a lot about it yet. And when I’m 25 I’d like to write an adult book—when I’m actually an adult.”
Amid his literary success, Bachmann sees his music as being just as important as his writing, and he continues to study composition in Zurich. He’s managed to merge his two worlds—he wrote musical pieces for The Peculiar’s Web site and trailer—and sees parallels between the two. “I think the most basic one is that they both take practice,” he says. “You can start music at age five and at first you’ll be bad, obviously, and then you practice a while and you’ll get better. I think it’s the same with writing. If you practice writing a lot and read a lot, you’ll get better at it, though you have to have the spark to begin with.”