by Stefan Bachmann
(The Peculiar #1)
Published: September 18th 2012 by Greenwillow Books
Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged.
In the faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie live by these words. Bartholomew and Hettie are changelings--Peculiars--and neither faeries nor humans want anything to do with them.
One day a mysterious lady in a plum-colored dress comes gliding down Old Crow Alley. Bartholomew watches her through his window. Who is she? What does she want? And when Bartholomew witnesses the lady whisking away, in a whirling ring of feathers, the boy who lives across the alley--Bartholomew forgets the rules and gets himself noticed.
First he's noticed by the lady in plum herself, then by something darkly magical and mysterious, by Jack Box and the Raggedy Man, by the powerful Mr. Lickerish . . . and by Arthur Jelliby, a young man trying to slip through the world unnoticed, too, and who, against all odds, offers Bartholomew friendship and a way to belong.
Part murder mystery, part gothic fantasy, part steampunk adventure, The Peculiar is Stefan Bachmann's riveting, inventive, and unforgettable debut novel.
How did the idea for The Peculiar come to you?
I guess I just wanted to write a book with all the things I liked in it. So, folklore, Victorian England, steampunk, and scary goings-ons. The whole plot and world kind of grew from there.
How did you come up with the names of the characters? Do their names mean anything?
Some of them mean things! Some I just thought sounded strange and interesting, and some were what the characters were called when they walked into my brain.For instance, Bartholomew Kettle was always called Bartholomew Kettle. Melusine was always Melusine. Mr. Jelliby's name I stole from Dicken's Bleak House, because I think it fits him in several ways. He's a bit jello-y in his morals and sense of duty at the beginning of the book. Later, not so much.
Who's your favorite character in the book? Who was the most fun to write? Who was the hardest?
Mr. Jelliby's my favorite. He was also the funnest to write. Bartholomew, the half-blood boy and the other main character, has a hard, sad life, so it was great to be able to write a really spoiled frivolous character, too. The hardest were probably all the faery characters. They had to be distinct from each other, andreally distinct from the English, and they had to be not-entirely-bad but at the same time not-even-remotely-good.
Did you put something of yourself in the characterization of any characters? To whom are you most alike?
Little bits of me are probably in all the characters, but I'm not sure any of them are very much like me. Maybe Mr. Jelliby. Again. Then again, I couldn't chase a clockwork bird across London or hunt down murderers the way he does in the book, so hmm. . .
The world you built for The Peculiar is very rich in possibilities. Will there be a sequel or a novel set in the same world?
Thank you! And yes! The second (and last) book in this series is going to be called The Whatnot, but only part of it takes place in Steampunk England. I don't want to spoil anything, but one of characters spends much of the book in the Old Country, the land of the faeries, and it's a very strange and creepy place indeed.
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