Cassandra Clare

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Today our guest is Cassandra Clare, author of The Mortal Instruments series: City of Bones, City of Ashes and City of Glass. City of Fallen Angels, the final book in the series, will be published in 2011.

It’s an urban fantasy series and Cassie says this about the first book:

City of Bones is about a fifteen-year old girl named Clary Fray, whose search for her missing mother leads her into an alternate New York called Downworld, filled with mysterious faeries, hard-partying warlocks, not-what-they-seem vampires, an army of werewolves, and the demons who want to destroy it all. She also finds herself torn between two boys — her best friend, Simon, for whom she’s developing new feelings, and the mysterious demon hunter, Jace. She becomes a part of the secret world of the demon hunters, or Nephilim, and as she does she discovers that rescuing her mother might mean putting their whole world in jeopardy.

And the number one question asked of authors is…. where did you get the idea for your story?

The idea for the Mortal Instruments came to me one afternoon in the East Village. I was with a good friend of mine, who was taking me to see the tattoo shop where she used to work. She wanted to show me that her footprints were on the ceiling in black paint — in fact the footprints of everyone who’d worked there were on the ceiling, crisscrossing each other and making patterns. To me it looked like some fabulous supernatural battle had been fought there by beings who’d left their footprints behind. I started thinking about a magical battle in a New York tattoo shop and the idea of a secret society of demon-hunters whose magic was based on an elaborate system of tattooed runes just sprang into my mind. When I sat down to sketch out the book, I wanted to write something that would combine elements of traditional high fantasy — an epic battle between good and evil, terrible monsters, brave heroes, enchanted swords — and recast it through a modern, urban lens. So you have the Shadowhunters, who are these very classic warriors following their millennia-old traditions, but in these urban, modern spaces: skyscrapers, warehouses, abandoned hotels, rock concerts. In fairy tales, it was the dark and mysterious forest outside the town that held the magic and danger. I wanted to create a world where the city has become the forest — where these urban spaces hold their own enchantments, danger, mysteries and strange beauty. It’s just that only the Shadowhunters can see them as they really are.

If you read the urban fantasy novel Valiant by Holly Black, also set in New York, and Cassie’s City of Bones you might spot the crossover….

Holly and I are friends; I helped her edit Valiant and she helped me edit City of Bones. That’s why we thank each other in our acknowledgements sections. We often joked that our words are connected and overlap; look for a mention of Jace in Holly’s upcoming book, The White Cat.

On being a writer, Cassie says:

I always loved writing. And reading. Most people who love to write, start with a love of reading. I started writing books when I was about 12. They were all terrible and all in different genres. I wrote a terrible vampire novel and a terrible mystery novel and a terrible romance novel and a terrible Arthurian novel. Then I went to college and I took some writing classes, and I didn’t really enjoy them all that much, and I figured maybe I didn’t want to be a fiction writer. After college I worked as a journalist and I also worked part-time in a children’s bookstore. It was working in the children’s bookstore and starting to re-read the books I’d read when I was a kid that rekindled my desire to write. I started writing again, and went through several different novel ideas before I moved to New York City from Los Angeles, which is what inspired the idea of setting a book in New York and its environs. From that, City of Bones developed. It was the first book I ever sold to a publisher.
At no point during that process do I remember thinking that I had realized I was, or had decided to be, a writer. I liked writing, it was something I always enjoyed, and it seemed logical to try to make a living at it.

And why did she choose to write teen books?

Why not teen books? More seriously, when I started out writing City of Bones, I didn’t think of it as young adult, just as a fantasy novel. The characters simply happened to be teenagers. At some point I was approached by a publisher who was interested in the book, but they wanted me to “age up the characters” and make them adults. I toyed with the idea for a while, but I knew it wouldn’t work. I wanted to tell a story about characters at that crucial life stage just between adolescence and adulthood, where your choices determine the kind of person you’re going to be rather than reflecting who you already are.

You can follow these links to find out more about Cassie (and read the rest of her answers to a whole lot of questions), much more about Mortal Instruments, and an interview with Cassie at Walker Books, where she talks about City of Ashes.

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