“Small things matter as much as big things” | Stefan Bachmann
Stefan Bachmann is an acclaimed Swiss writer, part of our Aarhus 39 selection of the best emerging writers from across Europe. Stefan will be appearing at the inaugural International Children’s Literature Hay Festival Aarhus 2017 this week. Here he talks about his new story for Quest, our new anthology of stories for children, inspired by journeys.
Tell us about your story…
My story is about a boy sent to live in a huge old house after an accident. He’s given up, is kind of drifting along, and then he meets a girl from a different century who’s been accused of witchcraft. They form a brief friendship and attempt to help each other escape their current situations. The theme is basically that small things matter as much as big things, and that people you would normally overlook can make an impact, even if that impact isn’t obvious.
I had the title in my head for a while, and the story grew from that. It’s called The Honeybee Cemetery, which is a phrase from a song by the band Villagers that always struck me as mysterious. I couldn’t figure out what a honeybee cemetery actually was, so the story is my attempt at an explanation.
What is special about writing for children?
My favorite children’s books have always been about a group of people who are considered powerless finding power and making a change in their world, which is something that I find encouraging and relevant regardless age or social group. So, it’s kind of universal, while still being really specifically focused on one child’s view of the world. I also like that there’s less of a divide between fantasy and reality in kids’ books. The two become much more sharply separated in older age groups, which I’m not crazy about.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the anthology and the Hay Festival?
I’m honoured! I’ve only been to Denmark once, and don’t really remember it, so I’m very excited to visit it for the festival.
Do you have a favorite spot where you write?
I love writing on trains. They’re busy and noisy, and something about the forward motion is nice, because at least you’re moving even if your story isn’t. My other favorite place is my university’s library. I’m a music student, and my university has a nice, sleek new library where we all sit in a long row with our laptops and type away. People probably think I’m being very diligent about my schoolwork, but nope . . . Writing stories.