Q&A: Cassandra Clare | June 1, 2013

Best-selling young adult and urban fantasy author Cassandra Clare writes several series in her Shadowhunters universe. Her first, “The Mortal Instruments,” began with The City of Bones, which introduced the modern-day secret society of Shadowhunters, whose members are sworn to protect humankind from demons, vampires, and other things that go bump in the night. City will make its way to the big screen this August, starring Lily Collins as Clary Fray, the teen who discovers that she has a blood connection to the Shadowhunters, and Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace Wayland, the cruelly handsome Shadowhunter and love of Clary’s life.

A related historical trilogy, “The Infernal Devices,” is set in Victorian England and introduces Tessa Gray, an American who encounters the Shadowhunters—and discovers her own magical talents—as she searches for her wayward brother. Clare’s latest audio release, The Clockwork Princess (S. & S. Audio), is the last “Infernal Devices” novel and opens with Tessa preparing for her wedding to another Shadowhunter as the series’s villain makes plans to destroy them with an army of automatons.

Although published for teens, your books satisfy legions of adult fans. Do you have an audience in mind as you write?

I like to say that I write the books I want to read. I’m always looking for exciting adventure stories with a sense of humor and a healthy serving of fraught romance. It seems lots of other readers are, too!

You’ve had incredible narrators for all of the audiobooks in the series. Are you involved in choosing them? Do you sit in on the tapings? Would you ever want to narrate your own titles?

I have been very involved in choosing the narrators for the books from about City of Fallen Angels on. I specifically asked for Ed Westwick and Jennifer Ehle, for instance, because I love their voices and their acting. The same with Molly Quinn and Daniel Sharman. I’ve never sat in on the tapings—too far from where I live—but I’ve talked to most of [the readers] on the phone. I’d never want to narrate my own books—I leave that sort of thing to the experts!

The sixth (and final?) “Mortal Instruments” book is expected next fall. How difficult was it to maintain the series’ energy past the third book?

Fortunately, City of Glass ends with a major villain introduced but not defeated. So it was easy to begin a second cycle with him as the central antagonist. There were so many delightfully loose ends after the first three. There’s so much to work with, it’s been more a matter of my keeping up with the energy of the series than the other way around. The sixth book is definitely the last.

The film adaptation of City of Bones opens in theaters August 23. What has been your connection to the movie?

The studio was very good about asking my opinions on the production design and the props, and I gave [the producers] a lot of information to work with. I got to visit the set several times, and they really welcomed me, but I wasn’t directly involved in the making of the film.

Any behind-the-scenes insights you can share?

Seeing Jamie and Jonathan do their own stunts was amazing and terrifying. They were jumping from a high balcony, probably 30 feet, to land on a mattress. I kept worrying they would be killed.

Did Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower come close to the Clary and Jace in your head?

Oh, yes. I think they did a great job with the Jace/Clary chemistry. They both very much look the parts—Lily has that delicate vulnerability. Jamie is handsome in an extremely unusual way; he has that kind of face you don’t forget. And they really inhabit the parts.

How do you balance the job of writing urban fantasy fiction with the work of maintaining an enormous fan base? Your social media presence alone must be a full-time job.

I try to have strict time-management skills, to make sure I have time to write and handle the business side of things and still breathe and sleep and hang out with my friends and pet my cats. I keep to a strict word-count schedule for writing, and if I don’t complete the words that day, I don’t go online, answer mail, or do anything else. The social media is important but always comes second to writing.

Will we be seeing Clockwork’s Tessa onscreen anytime in the future?

The film rights for [“The Infernal Devices”] have been optioned by the same studio that’s making the City of Bones movie. Right now it’s in the early stages of development—the Hollywood Reporter just broke the story that the script is finished and [the studio is] seeking directors.

The Clockwork Princess is the final book in the “Devices” series. Was it difficult to leave these characters behind?

It was difficult, but I took comfort in knowing that I was giving the characters the best ending I could…and that I would get to write about some of them again.—­Angelina Benedetti, King Cty. Lib. Syst., WA; LJ columnist, 35 Going on 13