Here is part two of our interview with Cassie and Holly; click here for part one.
Do not go on reading if you haven’t read The Iron Trial yet. There are major spoilers!
Cathrin: What is the most exciting thing that is going to happen in book two [Holly laughs] that won’t give too much away or what can your readers expect from book two which is hopefully still called The Copper Gauntlet?
Cassie: It is still called The Copper Gauntlet. I think what readers can expect from book two [to Holly] slap me if I say too much! For me the book is a lot about Call and his father now that his father realizes for sure that Call is Constantine Madden, what happens with Call and his dad and also the question of who in the Magisterium finds out the truth about Call and what they do about it.
Holly: Do his friends find out? What does it mean to hide it from them? What would it mean to tell them? It’s a lot of the consequences of what he learned at the end of book one.
Cassie: Call really doesn’t want his friends to know but the more he hides it from Aaron specifically, the worse it looks.
Holly: And also him wrestling of what does it mean to be – potentially – an evil overlord? Like, what does it mean? What about him? Is he evil overlord-like? How much can he monitor himself for evil overlord tendencies? So he’s got a lot of like, ‘Is this being like an evil overlord? Or maybe I should do it or maybe I shouldn’t do it? What would an evil overlord do? Let me do the opposite.’
Cassie: It’s interesting because he’s constantly self-monitoring, like in the way that most of us don’t, ‘Is this a good or evil thing to do?’
Holly: ‘If I were evil, what would I pick from this menu? Is my choice an evil choice?’
Cathrin: But at least he’s got Havoc…
Cassie: He has Havoc who is his …
Holly: Evil pet.
Cassie: Right, he is a little worried that Havoc is an evil pet but he loves Havoc and Havoc loves him. He’s not getting rid of him.
Holly: But he might be an evil pet.
Cassie: He might be evil but Call’s not getting rid of him!
Cathrin: Is there a particular reason why Callum wasn’t in the center of the first cover?
Holly: Yeah, there is a reason. […] If you have heard that there’s a twist in the book, the thing you think that twist is, is when Aaron is revealed to be the Makar and Call isn’t […] In a magic school book where a kid who hasn’t really made much of himself […] we assume a certain set of things. We assume that he is going to find out that he is super, super special and is destined to fight the Big Bad. And so when you realize Aaron is the person who is super, super special and has way more markers of being a hero and then actually is a Makar, he then becomes the person we think of as the main character. In a different book he would be the main character so putting him in the center puts him in that main character/protagonist position and is a nod to that reveal.
Cassie: Actually when we first saw the covers they gave us a number of different positions and designs and we fell in love with that one because the artist was clever enough to put Aaron in the middle.
Cathrin: That’s actually a great answer because it leads to one of my other questions: because Callum isn’t the usual hero, his story doesn’t seem to follow Joseph Campbell’s ‘hero’s journey’, how much fun was it to deviate from this monomyth and how do you think did your readers react to the plot twist or how do you think will your future readers react to it?
Cassie: It was so much fun to deviate. We’ve both done, I think, versions of the hero’s story; I’ve definitely done it with Clary. […] It’s incredibly fun to do something different because we know that story so well we can kind of look at the reverse of the story. It came from a conversation that we were having where Holly constantly observes brilliant and intelligent things and is tragically ignored by her sleeping friends… We were talking about how things in books that mark a character as special and they’re going to be a hero and how they overlap very closely with the things that say ‘This character is gonna be a villain’. This character has a tragic past, that’s a hero thing but it’s also a villain thing. This character has a special powerful power, that’s a hero thing but it’s also a villain thing. This character has a great love that is lost, that’s a hero thing, that’s also a villain thing. We were like, ‘What if we follow what seems like the traditional path? Saying this character has all these marks of a hero’ and then we realize, ‘Oh they’re actually also the same things that mark a villain.’
Cathrin: Is the series set in a particular time – the same as the release year or the early 2000s or is it completely random?
Holly: I think we try to keep it vague so people will not realize, as the story goes on, exactly where it started but I think we can assume that it begins in the year it was published.
Cassie: I would call it nowish.
Holly: Yeah, it’s nowish and as much as you can cheat, nowish is useful to do.
Cassie: I think that, also from what you were saying before, our readers and how they react to the twist: usually very surprised. I have not seen that there were many people who were not pretty surprised, either happy surprised or bad surprised, they’re usually shocked and I get a lot of emails that say, ‘But why? Why?’
Holly: I don’t know how filthy this interview is about to be but you got a great email today!
*There’s unedited use of the f-word in the following answer*
Cassie: Yes! […] It was an email that said, ‘Call is Constantine Madden? Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.’ [everyone laughs] ‘Fuck you why?’ I said, ‘Holly, this is great!’
Holly: It is, truly. When we sat down to write the book it was that reaction that we were hoping for the most. [laughs again]
Cassie: I was like, ‘This is a beautiful piece of fan mail’. [laughs]
A very big THANK YOU to Cassie and Holly for answering all of my questions! I had a brilliant time with the two of them and cannot thank them enough for their generosity and kindness.
I would also like to thank the German Magisterium publisher Bastei Lübbe – especially Ms L. – for arranging the interview and for allowing me to havethat much time with Cassie and Holly. Vielen Dank!
And to all our readers out there who will hopefully get to meet Cassie and/or Holly one day: don’t be nervous; only chocolate, which they both love, is sweeter than them ;-)