Cassandra Clare’s Lord of Shadows was published in Germany on October 9 so her German publisher Goldmann Verlag brought Cassie to Frankfurt and Cologne to celebrate and meet her many fans. First off, Cassie was at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 14 and two days later, Cassie was at Mayersche Buchhandlung in Cologne. Since 1) I always wanted to go to the Book Fair, 2) Cologne isn’t that far away from where I live and 3) it’s Cassie whom I love, I decided to attend both events.
These two days were pretty great although I couldn’t live-tweet as much as I wanted to (or tweet at all on Monday because of technical problems). The majority of the questions were the same at both events so I highlighted Cassie’s answers when they were from the event on Monday. Get ready for a very looong recap 🙂
The Open Stage in the background of the photo was where German author Mona Kasten, a fellow Shadowhunter Chronicles fan, interviewed Cassie and did a fabulous job! 😀
Cassie took a picture of the crowd and posted it on her Instagram.
Also pictured: German actor Bastian Hagen, who read from Lord of Shadows and did a fantastic job, and Mona Kasten.
Both events started out with Bastian reading from the very first chapter of Lord of Shadows. When he got to the following part “Kit stripped off the demin jacket he was wearing”, Bastian did the same among laughter and some applause. He read until ““I’m Jace, by the way. Jace Herondale.”” and that’s when the interview really kicked off.
Cassie was asked how she dealt with writing older versions of her Mortal Instruments characters and she did have a lot of fun revisiting them since “they’re a little bit more mature, a little bit more adult, some of them, maybe not Jace” which made the audience laugh.
“To Emma and Julian these are heroes that they admire and look up to so it’s fun to have them interact with them.” (From Cassie’s event in Cologne.)
The German fan reaction to Lord of Shadows was addressed as well and it’s been great so far. There’s been “a certain amount of ‘Why did you kill those people?’ A lot of ‘Whys?’ So far the fans have been super positive about the book.” and “People that I’ve met really love it.”
Mona asked what the creation process for the Blackthorn family was like so Cassie, as an only child, admitted that she always wanted to be part of a big family. The Blackthorns are very connected and protective of each other but also all very different. They appreciate their differences and “love each other more for that.” A big family with all these people to love was a fantasy. “The Blackthorns love each other very intensely and would do anything for each other.” Cassie also learned the German word for only child (Einzelkind) so she repeated it while pointing to herself which was very cute.
Julian and Emma’s role reversal – Julian as the caretaker and Emma as the unstoppable warrior – was addressed which was something that Cassie did deliberately to show that these characteristics didn’t make them any less male or female. “Some people notice that and others just accept it which is fine. It was interesting to write Julian.” She wanted Emma and Julian to be believable characters and “it’s not true that men are not nurturing and caretaking, that women are not fighters. It felt very right to write them that way.”
Since Julian is not only the caretaker of the family but also “an evil mastermind who manipulates people and seems to enjoy it”, Mona wanted to know if it was challenging to write Julian, to develop his character. For Cassie, Julian embodies opposites (loving/caring vs ruthless/manipulative). It was a challenge to keep Julian realistic, as loving and dangerous, and to still maintain sympathy towards him.
She likes to call Julian “‘the secret badass’ because he’s very gentle, but underneath he has this secret side where he’ll lie and cheat and manipulate to do anything to protect his family. The biggest challenge to me was to figure out where he would draw the line, what would he not do to protect his family. And also to keep him sympathetic so that we still like Julian and sympathsize with him even when he’s doing these things.”
About the Blackthorn family motto ‘Lex malla, lex nulla’ (A bad law is no law):
It’s a good motto for them, “they clearly don’t pay attention to the Shadowhunter laws and certainly by the third book, Queen of Air and Darkness, they stopped even pretending to care what the Clave wants them to do so it fits them well.
The Blackthorns have always had a history of being rebellious. It’s also the motto of The Dark Artifices. It’s really a story of what do you do when your government makes bad decisions. They’re your government, but you don’t agree with their morals or their ethics so how do you make the right kind of moral decisions that aren’t legal, but are moral?”
Favourite Blackthorn child? (Mona admitted that it was a mean question)
“I don’t know if I could pick a favourite. It’s a tie between Julian and Ty.
I love them all equally. Maybe everybody but Tavvy, he’s okay. He’s too young.” (Lots of laughter in Cologne)
Fans were then treated to another excerpt from Lord of Shadows before Mona asked Cassie about the weirdest ship she’d ever seen online:
“I don’t think Valentine would be a very good boyfriend. Especially because they only met like one time and Valentine cut his throat. It’s not very romantic.“
Furthermore, Cassie answered which superpowers the Blackthorns would have if they were modern day superheroes:
Julian: ability to read minds to manipulate people or the power of persuasion.
Ty: visibility to be a detective and to sneak around.
Livvy: she would enjoy flying.
Dru: she would be like Wolverine and take injuries and heal or maybe strike fear into people.
Tavvy: “he’s only seven so he probably thinks he’s Ironman.”
Mark: power of consuming sugar. “I don’t think that’s magic.”
The interview then moved to a pretty serious question about the Cohort and whether it was inspied by the current situation in the world.
Yes! In the first draft the Cohort was a much smaller character and Cassie’s editor said: “‘These people are the real villains of the story. They should be a bigger part of the story.’
When you see things in the world that horrify you, that’s the best kind of thing to put into your writing because it feels the most real as a threat instead of somebody who wants to blow up the world for no reason. You are modelling your villains on real people who have real feelings about the kind of evil that they do. I think we write of our own personal experiences, the things that frighten and frustrate us so I knew I wanted to write about the Clave being corrupt, but I think that they took the form that they took – especially with Zara Dearborn and her father – because of current political figures.”
Writing Lord of Shadows with such a heartbreaking ending must have been a challenge and does Cassie cry while writing such scenes?
The answer was a definite yes. She cried when she wrote the end of Clockwork Princess and then asked how many of her fans cried when they read it. To the ones who raised their hands, “That’s good, you have feelings. (laughter) I don’t know about you other people. (more laughter).”
Cassie cried because it was extremely sad and also a difficult scene to write so she rewrote it many times to capture the feeling of intense grief. “When you write a sad scene you have to go inside yourself and remember the times that you felt very intense grief. That’s the part that’s extremely difficult. You’re crying partly because of the characters and because you’re forcing yourself to remember this terrible feeling. I think it’s the only way to be honest about the grief the characters are feeling.”
During her event in Cologne Cassie also added, “I think it’s very difficult to write scenes of intense grief and emotion. There are definitely many in my books, but it does not really get easier because as a writer you have to sort of look inside yourself. When was the time that I felt the most grief and unhappiness? And you have to put that on the page. A lot of times you find that you’re crying, but you don’t know it. But that’s part of the experience and hopefully what makes it relatable.”
Church/Jonathan will rise up during the final battle and save everybody. “It’s such a good theory, I kind of want to use it.”
Mona: “Do it!”
Mona also asked to which of Cassie’s characters she relates to most?
Simon because he’s a lot like Cassie (Jewish, dorky, nerdy, interested in things like Star Wars). He dies almost instantly and that’d also happen to her. “He’s totally normal with no magic powers.”
Tessa because she reads all the time and Cassie was the same when she was Tessa’s age. The way Tessa loves books is like Cassie loves books.
Magnus although he is nothing like Cassie but he is her favourite.
Cassie read until “Once Julian had been the person she could tell everything. Now he was the one person she couldn’t tell anything.” and there were some sighs in the audience at both events.
There are going to be five main book series when The Shadowhunter Chronicles are over – The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, The Dark Artifices, The Last Hours and The Wicked Powers. Was it always Cassie’s plan to have five linked series?
When Cassie started with City of Bones, she didn’t know how popular her books would be so she had no idea how many books she’d be able to publish. She always wanted to write a lot of Shadowhunter books and luckily people liked her books. At the end of The Infernal Devices she knew there would be five series. “You’re very limited as a writer on what you can plan because it depends on what your publisher is willing to publish.”
Cassie is currently working on Queen of Air and Darkness and “it’s going very well. It’s a lot of fun – I know I say it’s a lot of fun and people are like ‘After that ending? How can it be fun?’ Writers have a very weird idea of fun. I’m enjoying myself because in Queen of Air and Darkness we go to a new place that we’ve never been before and that place is going to share the story of The Wicked Powers. For me it’s exciting.”
Other books she is working on: Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1) and the short story collaboration Ghosts of the Shadow Market which is about Jem. “I love Jem. This follows him through his life from pretty much the time after The Infernal Devices to the time of The Dark Artifices and the thing that connects it is different times he visited the Shadow Market and his paths crossed with other Shadowhunters. We’re going to see his paths cross with obviously Tessa, but also the characters from The Last Hours, The Mortal Instruments and The Dark Artifices.”
The Dark Artifices is a very diverse trilogy, what kind of research did Cassie do for it?
“For me the most important kind of research you can do when you’re writing stories that fall outside your personal experience is talk to people for whom that is their experience. I think that talking about diversity and representation in books is something that we’re all very interested in right now. And certainly when you’re writing a book that involves talking about stories from people who have different backgrounds than you and who have different experiences than you then the best thing to do is to spend as much time as possible talking to people who do have these experiences.”
(Anya DeNiro is a fellow author and trans woman. Cassie mentioned her in her acknowledgments).
“I talked to trans women what they would like to see in a character and what they would not like to see.”
Cassie has several readers who are autistic who read for Ty or Mexican readers who read for Cristina.
“It’s very important, especially if you have a series like this one that’s read by many people, to try to represent many different experiences, but also to try to be as respectful as you possibly can and remember that the people whose experiences these are, it’s their story, not yours.”
Cassie got a lot of applause for her answers.
Of course you can’t interview Cassie without asking her for some writing advice.
The best advice she ever received was to turn off the negative voices in her head and to “tell yourself: No one’s ever going to read this. It does help for that first draft to get it down on paper. Tell yourself: no one is going to see this – I’m just doing this for me.”
The final questions that were asked in Frankfurt:
Will Queen of Air and Darkness heal Mona’s/our broken hearts and who will be on the cover?
About the cover: “It’s very beautiful. It’s a girl and it’s a lovely cover, but I can’t tell you who’s on it or my publisher will kill me.”
She does hope that seeing how the characters do heal will help, though.
Bastian read another scene from Lord of Shadows amid a lot of sighs because it was a Jemma scene and then it was time to wrap the inteview up. Cassie’s final message to her German fans was:
“Thank you. Vielen Danke because Germany was only the second country where City of Bones was a bestseller in all of the world. (lots of applause) So thank you for being fans and readers for such a long time and for supporting the books. It’s wonderful. Thank you!”
Mona’s interview with Cassie in Cologne was a bit longer and fans also had the opportunity to ask questions.
Mona’s final question: What’s the best and what’s the least favourite thing about seeing your books being turned into film adaptions?
“It’s always interesting to see how people interpret the books and… Oh, I hate this question. I think you all know that. (laughter)
I really have no control at all over the TV show and I’m not involved in it in any way so I don’t really have an opinion about it.
With the movie it was really fun to see the sets, to go on the sets and to see Clary’s bedroom and Simon’s house and the inside of the Institute. Movies are very, very complete so you open the drawers and you’d see Clary’s books or clothes which the camera would never pick up, but it’s cool that they are there. But I didn’t really have any control over that either.”
One fan wanted to know whether writing fan fiction is a good way to start out or whether they should start out creating their own story. They also asked if Cassie liked Shadowhunter fan fiction.
Cassie doesn’t read Shadowhunter fan fiction because “in general they advise you not to read the fan fiction of your own work so you don’t get confused. But I’m really glad it exists, it comes from a place of love, you do it because you love the books. I think a lot of authors, who don’t like fan fiction of their work, think it’s disrespectful or they think that people are trying to fix the books and I know it’s not that. I know that it comes from a place of loving the books and wanting there to be more. I’m happy that people write fanfiction about Mortal Instruments and that’s great! But they should not write so much Valentine and Simon!
All writing is good practice. You can learn a lot from writing fan fiction or from writing technical work or from writing non-fiction because it’s really good practice.”
Another fan mentioned Magnus’s short story about Peru and that we still don’t know why he was banned from there. Will we ever find out what Magnus did? Cassie’s short but sweet answer: If we find out why, it’d be at the very end!
Other questions that were asked:
1. How does Cassie connect all the stories and remember everything?
She started out with a “murder wall” with lots of post-its with names on them and string, but it turned too excessive so she got an assistant whose job it is to keep track of all the connections.
2. Most important advice for being a writer?
Write every day. (Cassie’s husband Josh wore a t-shirt with ‘Write every day’ on it so he had to show it.)
You should always write down your ideas and write continually. Even if it’s only 300 words, if you write every single day you will have a story eventually. When you see you can do it, it’ll be easier the next time.
3. The hardest scene to write in all of her books?
The end scene of Lord of Shadows.
4. The first character Cassie created in her mind?
Clary. “It’s not surprising, right? I had the idea first and then asked ‘Who is the story about? It’s a hero’s journey so who is that person?'”
5. Cassie’s ultimate book boyfriend?
Her first answer was Benedict Cumberbatch (a lot of fans clapped) but then she said “if it wasn’t Benedict Cumberbatch because he’s not really in a book: Mr Darcy.” (There were a lot of ‘aws’ in the audience.)
I loved going to both events and had a lot of fun! Cassie was as sweet and funny as ever and Mona as well as Bastian did great jobs to entertain the fans. If you are interested in Mona’s books, one of them is going to be published in English very soon.
Danke, Goldmann Verlag, for two memorable days with Cassie! ❤
I hope you enjoyed this recap 🙂 Stay tuned for my German/English interview with Cassie which is hopefully going to be posted soon.
Header image from Goldmann Verlag’s Facebook page.
Cassie waving to fans from my friend Oli – thank you.