December 18, 2020: This Week We're Wild About... Stefan Bachmann
You might have read one of this week's author's many fantasy novels (click here to see them all!). His latest, Cinders and Sparrows, came out in October and is my personal favorite type of fantasy - the kind that has witches! In this interview, he describes how books can offer both safety and danger and makes the case that readers can confront reality by reading fantasy!
- Natalie McCall (Head of Youth Services)
What's the title of your upcoming book?
Cinders and Sparrows hit shelves on October 13th!
What book should readers go to for an escape from reality?
I'm reading two 2020 releases right now and loving them both: Coo by Kaela Noel is so charming and cozy, and The Forest of Stars by Heather Kassner is a gorgeously written fable. I also recently read and loved the eerie and enchanting Piranesi, which is Susanna Clarke's new book for adults.
What book should readers go to when they want to face reality?
All of the above! I think that's my favorite thing about fantasy (or in the case of COO, gently altered reality): they trick you into thinking they're about magical circuses, or ghosts, or children being raised by pigeons, but they're as much about important human questions as any nonfiction or issue-driven story, only dressed up differently. Fantasy absolutely allows us to face reality, and helps us make sense of it.
What was your reading life like before the pandemic?
Increasingly spotty. I buy so many books, and I'm not a fast reader, so they tend to pile up. I did become a regular audiobook listener in 2019, though, which I heartily recommend to anyone who's experiencing a reading slump. Nothing beats a paper book for me, but audiobooks have really helped with the number of books I've been able to finish this year.
What has your reading life been like since the pandemic?
Slightly better than the year before, weirdly! I'm not sure if it's because of quarantine or the audiobook habit, but I finished my Goodreads challenge months early this year which was very satisfying.
Why should people read for pleasure? Is that any different now?
Doing things because they bring joy is always necessary. And there are so many practical benefits to reading, too, so if it makes you happy on top of increasing your attention span and reducing stress (according to science; they may not have read some of these books...) then I can't think of a compelling reason *not* to read for pleasure.
Also, books give us a lens into the lives of others, their feelings and struggles and hopes. We're given the opportunity to identify and empathize with strangers, and sometimes that lens becomes a mirror and we see ourselves in a new light, too. To be told that you matter and so does everyone else is a vital message, especially during difficult times when we might be prone to forget it.
What do you hope your book gives to readers?
I grew up in Switzerland, and for several years I didn't speak the language and was painfully shy. Books were a safe place where I could explore the world in ways I wouldn't have dared do in real life. I try to write all of my children's books with ten-year-old Stefan in mind. With CINDERS AND SPARROWS, I hope readers find a sense of adventure in the dark halls of Blackbird Castle, and a cozy sanctuary, too, that they'll delight in its spookiness and secrets, and will discover a friend in Zita, who is brave and kind, but also uncertain and lonely at times. (I also hope the book scares them a little bit. Ten-year-old me loved that.)
Should book lovers worry about the future of publishing during the pandemic? If so, how can they help?
I don't think we should worry, but I do think there are some great, simple ways to promote books and reading, and that those things are more important and appreciated now than ever: supporting independent bookstores and their passionate, knowledgeable booksellers is so important at the moment; ordering from bookshop.org is a great way to do so where pick-up isn't possible; using social media to talk about the books we're reading and loving makes a big difference, too, especially now that in-store browsing is limited and discovering new books is harder. Posting a picture of your TBR on Instagram, tweeting your enthusiasm and tagging the author, or reviewing on Amazon and Goodreads are all so helpful and appreciated.
If you could imagine your dream virtual library, what would it be like?
I think my dream virtual library would look like a garden, with the books hanging from willow branches, or hidden in thorn bushes, or nestled among mossy stones. You return a book by burying it, and eventually it sprouts again from the end of a twig.
Where can readers find you online?
At my website, stefanbachmann.com, on Twitter, @stefan_bachmann, and on Instagram, @stefanbachmannwrites.
Do you have a favorite bookstore? Where would you like readers to buy your book (we also have it at the Library, of course!)?
I live overseas, so I don't have a local bookstore to recommend, but I was born in Colorado and whenever I'm back I love to go to Tattered Cover in Denver, Boulder Bookstore, and Powell's in Portland, Oregon.