Thursday, December 5, 2013

"The Whatnot"

Stefan Bachmann is a writer and musician. He was born in Colorado and now lives with his parents and siblings in Switzerland. He is currently studying film composing at the Z├╝rich Conservatory, and writing his third book. His debut, The Peculiar, was published when he was nineteen years old. It is followed by the newly released companion novel, The Whatnot.

Bachmann applied the Page 69 Test to The Whatnot and reported the following:
I did one of these for The Peculiar, too, and now I'm pretty sure I'm going to turn to the sixty-ninth page of my type-set books for the rest of my life and make sure it's wildly exciting, or at least semi-coherent. I mean, technically all the pages in a book should stand up to a test like this, but I never think of it that way while I'm writing. Page 69 of The Whatnot is right in the middle of a scene where our guttersnipe main character, Pikey Thomas, is being visited by a shadowy faery in steampunk London, where all faery activity has been outlawed. The faery brings a gift to pay for a past favor, and it sets off an entire chain of events that thrusts Pikey into the center of a massive plot between the faeries and the English. The section doesn't make a ton of sense out of context, but oh well! Here it is:
“It’s for me?” Pikey breathed. He could already see it all: running away, finding someplace good, someplace where there were thick warm socks and a stove and people who didn’t only kick at him and shoo him away when he walked too close, and—

Coach wheels rattled in Bell Lane. Iron horseshoes hammered the cobbles. The faery’s smile vanished. It looked at Pikey an instant longer, its mirror-eyes wide and limpid. Then it whirled, black wings sweeping, and disappeared down the alley.

Pikey watched it go, the gemstone heavy in his hand. The gem was very cold. But it was solid, too, reassuring like nothing he had ever held before. He wanted to laugh, holding it. He wanted to whoop and yell and dance up the alley, and tell all the few people he knew that he was richer than them and the landlord put together. He stared at the gem a second longer, cupping it in his hands and watching his breath cloud around it. Then, with a start, he realized what he was holding and clutched it to his chest. He looked sharply up the alley. He wriggled into his hole and wrapped himself in his blankets, the gem hard against his heart, like a piece of a good luck.
Learn more about the book and author at Stefan Bachmann's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: The Peculiar.

The Page 69 Test: The Peculiar.

Writers Read: Stefan Bachmann.

--Marshal Zeringue