Recap of Cassandra Clare’s Dublin event – Part Two
Happy Sunday and welcome to the second part of the Dublin recap! 😊 Once author Ciannon Smart had asked all her questions, the floor was opened to questions from the audience. Chain of Thorns spoilers are once again at the end of the text and highlighted. Let’s jump straight into the Q&A part of the event.
- The Irish audience had a bone to pick with Cassie when Will commented on Bridget coming from the Dublin Institute [“Lord, you’re Irish,” said Will. “Can you make things that don’t have potatoes in them? We had an Irish cook once when I was a boy. Potato pie, potato custard, potatoes with potato sauce…”]. Have you ever thought about where the Dublin Institute would be? Cassie hasn’t, but she knows that there is one. She asked the audience whether they might know a good place for it. It doesn’t have to be a church, it’s sanctified ground so it can be a church, a synagogue, a mosque. Usually, Cassie only figures out where an Institute is when she is actually going to that city in the story. There’s still a chance Cassie will go to Dublin.
- Is there a character that Cassie relates to more than the others? Cassie relates to Tessa because of her reading and the way she reads. Tessa, and also Cassie when she was Tessa’s age, reads everything, no matter its quality. She also really relates to Simon, because he is a totally ordinary human being who is Jewish like Cassie and who lived in Brooklyn. He has always reminded Cassie of herself because she would also be immediately killed if she was dragged into the Shadowhunter world against her will. It’s a very dangerous place. “I can’t remember who said it, but the worst thing you can be is a protagonist in an adventure novel because only terrible things will happen to you.”
- Would you ever think of killing off everyone in The Wicked Powers or completely getting rid of the use of Shadowhunters? “I entertained the idea of killing off everybody extremely briefly, because I remembered there is no way that would jibe with anything that happened afterwards and there was no way I could square the surviving characters as they exist later with that kind of death and destruction. I don’t think even Magnus would come out of something like that unbroken. So, I thought of it. It’s interesting because Wicked Powers is the end, the end of everything and we don’t know any characters who do exist beyond that whereas when I’m doing The Last Hours or The Infernal Devices I have to think about that we know the future of these families and of some of the characters who are immortal will exist later so whatever happens in those books has to square up with how those characters exist at a later date. Whereas sure […] I could absolutely end [The Wicked Powers] by dropping a huge weight on everybody and squash them. [Cassie laughed.] I do know the end of The Wicked Powers. That is not it. A huge thing does happen that changes the Shadowhunter world forever. […] And people do die, but everybody does not die, because to me what that says is everything that they ever did before, didn’t matter. […] All the things that they did are kind of meaningless if what they ended up with is everybody is dead.
Ciannon: “So there’s hope.” Cassie: “Not for everyone.” Cassie laughed again.
- How did Cassie get the idea for Shadowhunters? “I know I wanted to write an urban fantasy and I’ve always loved the structure of a team of people working together. […] I wasn’t sure who they were or how any of it worked. It was a very vague idea and then I went to visit a friend of mine who worked at a tattoo shop, and she showed me her book of tattoos.” Cassie thought the designs were really interesting and Cassie’s friend [Val Freire] said that tattoos/ink on a body has been magical in many different cultures. People tattooed themselves to be stronger in battle or make them braver. Cassie likes folklore that crosses different cultures, so this gave her the idea of these warriors with tattoos that have magical powers. Cassie began to think about everything (main character, enemy, magic system) and that’s how everything started. Cassie’s friend actually did all of the rune designs for the world.
- Are we ever going to find out why Magnus was banned from Peru? Maybe. Cassie thought it’s fun to wonder what Magnus could possibly have done. Maybe it’s the last thing in the [final The Wicked Powers] book. “After everything that has happened in The Wicked Powers, the ambassador of Peru shows up and is like: ‘After what you did, you can never come to Peru!’” Cassie thought she should go to Peru and ask the people there what reasons would get someone banned from the country. “Did he kill a llama?”
- At what point was Cassie confident enough in her writing to go to a publisher to try and get published? Cassie thinks you’ll never be completely confident. Lots of writers Cassie has met experience a lot of anxiety and think their books need to be better. This is why it’s difficult to reach that moment. Cassie would encourage everyone to have an objective critique partner who can give you feedback on when your book is ready. You also should query an agent who works with you on your book. “What you are doing doesn’t have to be perfect, it only has to be as good as you can make it.”
- Was there a point in her life when Cassie decided to have more diversity in her books? When Cassie first wrote her books, she wasn’t sure whether anyone would read them. She didn’t know if there would be more books after the three Mortal Instruments books. Back then there was also a really strong discourse of “You should write what you know”. She wished she had done more diverse characters, because the books became read by more people and she was approached by many who asked: “Would you write a character like me?” Cassie always wanted the Shadowhunters world “to be a place where everybody could feel like they could be a Shadowhunter. Since then we’ve had trans Shadowhunters, neurodivergent Shadowhunters, Shadowhunters of multiple ethnicities and races, and a lot of that is just because I wanted to feel inclusive. I know there is a lot more that I could do and having Cordelia as a heroine, she is my first heroine of colour, was something that a lot of people have talked to me about and made me feel like it was something really important to them. So, all of that is good information for me to take on board and try to do better. And going forward, it’s always a process of learning, and adding, and trying to do more and open the world more so that there aren’t people who feel like ‘this world is closed to me’.”
- Would Cassie include older characters in the future who fight alongside the younger Shadowhunters and who are more active? Cassie understood where the fan was coming from, but it wouldn’t be YA. It’s a different genre. Some older characters are fine – Cassie had to fight to have Diana as an older character – but it depends on the genre you’re writing in. The core of YA is that it’s about people who are young adults and who have the agency. If there were adults, they would take over. In The Last Hours Cassie had to make sure that the parents weren’t featured too much so that they couldn’t affect what was going on. They were away or didn’t know what was going on because otherwise they would have taken over.
- Would you write a novella about Malcolm and Annabel and their love story? Cassie said it seemed like fun because “it has all the things I like: doomed love and bad weather.” She has thought about it, and she was glad that “at least one person would want to read it.” We already know a lot of details about their relationship and their lives, and it would be fun to see more. “Writing Malcolm in Last Hours was a strange experience because we know Malcolm from The Dark Artifices. Malcolm is a bad guy, he is a murderer and betrayer and generally not good. But then to go back to The Last Hours […] he was a good guy.” To write somebody bad and then flip to back when they were good, was really interesting to Cassie. So, a novella would be “a really interesting idea.”
- Who was Cassie’s favourite villain to write and who of our heroes would make an excellent villain? Sebastian was her favourite villain “because what makes a villain interesting in a lot of ways is how close they are to your hero and the relationship they have with your hero.” He also could have been a good person, which we’ve actually seen if it hadn’t been for the demon blood so that was another interesting aspect. Cassie had the most fun with Sebastian.
About the hero who could be a villain, the fan suggested Magnus and Cassie joked: “What would Alec tell the kids? Dad’s gone evil.” The thought made Cassie sad, although Magnus would be a good villain because he’s inventive and powerful. We’re going to basically see Jace as a villain in The Wicked Powers. All of Jace’s qualities also make him a really good villain.
- Final question [of the event and before several spoilers]: Has Cassie ever thought of creating a loophole so that Tessa could live a mortal life with Jem and die at the same time instead of living forever? “I think we’ll have to see what happens. We have another couple who is in the same situation, which is Magnus and Alec. […] I think we have to think about how it would play out to have only one of those couples get that ending. […] I do not think of it as a sad ending necessarily because what do you get with anyone you love? You get a lifetime and what your lifetime is in these books differs. But I do think it’s interesting because we do have more than one couple who is immortal and mortal […] so we have to think about ‘How does this work? What’s the messaging of only one of them getting this particular ending?’. We’ll have to see how it goes, obviously I can’t say anything.”
CHAIN OF THORNS SPOILERS BELOW! DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED THE BOOK! IF YOU DO, YOU WILL FIND OUT WHO DIED, WHO LIVED AND ONE ROMANTIC COUPLE!
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
- MAJOR SPOILER: Fan: “I feel like in every other Shadowunter book, anyone who was important got more of a send-off [than Christopher]. Christopher’s was just very abrupt and for someone who was so fundamental for everything in the Shadowhunter universe, especially with the fire-messages […] It felt like just so flippant for one of the Merry Thieves, and […] he was just that one joyous character that was really relatable in his awkwardness and his weird interests in comparison to all his friends. Had you written a different ending for Christopher?” “No. […] He was meant to accomplish all the things in his life that he did accomplish. He is a significant character, and he did invent the fire-message. It may have been finished off by other people, but it wouldn’t exist without him. The Merry Thieves wouldn’t have existed as they had without him, his whole group of friends wouldn’t have existed as they did without him nor his family. But just because a character is sweet and likeable and relatable doesn’t mean that they cannot die, because ultimately books are meant to feel like real life.”
Fan: “I know […] the thing that got a lot of people but myself especially, he never really got a send-off. [There was] the intermission in the book and I first thought: ‘Okay, great. We’re gonna address Christopher’ and then it didn’t address Christopher. There is this emptiness for me that hasn’t been filled about Christopher.”
Cassie: “That’s how it’s supposed to feel. I know it’s hard to say something is supposed to feel uncomfortable or that you have to sit with it in that way. The intermission does address Christopher, but it just doesn’t only address Christopher, because so much else is happening. Part of what is going on with Christopher’s death is that there is a war, and he is a soldier in that war and part of what you sacrifice and give up as a Shadowhunter is the ability to have a lot of time to mourn or to sit with death or to think about it. The rest of his friends all have to immediately throw themselves into saving the world from a terrible threat. Christopher is dead, James is missing, Matthew is missing, they’ve got no reason to necessarily think they’re still alive. They’ve got no reason to necessarily think or be sure that all of their families in Idris are still alive or are okay. They have to live with this enormous burden of not knowing and grief and still forge forward. And the only way you can do that is to compartmentalise, so we see grief for Christopher, but it is seen in small ways. Ariadne describes Anna as having not cried since Christopher’s death and having expressed no emotion at all and she’s afraid that Anna will never feel anything again. Thomas is described as his physical appearance has been so altered by Christopher’s death that he’ll never look like the same person again. Matthew can’t say Christopher’s name without choking up in agony. So, all of those things are ways in which we see that these people are extremely sad and grieving for Christopher. But it is sort of by necessity that that is all we see because that is what it sort of means to be a Shadowhunter. […] Christopher is very vibrant, very lively, a very sweet person and taken out of their lives and they just have to kind of go forward. There is no space for them to stop and do some kind of ceremony or mourn on some kind of larger epic scale. We have to assume that the mourning that we’re doing, that we see, is what they do. […] A lot of times you just have to go forward as a Shadowhunter and accept that part of being a Shadowhunter is not being able to grieve in that way.”
- Question about “daddy Will Herondale” 😊: This series had many great scenes with him, what was Cassie’s favourite part about writing Will and Tessa as parents, Sophie and Gideon, Cecily and Gabriel? “It’s fun to revisit them as parents, because they are basically my age.” Cassie can be like: ‘Hey Will, I can legitimately find you sexy, before you were too young.’ “There’s also something really fun to me about it. I’ve had some friends my whole life and I look at them and think: ‘You’re a combination of who you are now, but you’ll always also be that person you were when we were both fifteen years old.’ That sort of core is always in them. Sometimes a friend of mine whom I’ve had for a long time will do something and my husband will be like: ‘I can’t believe they did that!’ and I will be like: ‘I *can* believe they did that because it’s exactly like this thing they did when they were fifteen.’ We always carry that young person that we were inside us. For me it was really fun to do that with Will and Tessa and Sophie and the rest of them. I keep the core of who they were when they were young people in there, and yet we also get to see who they are now that they are older. [MINOR SPOILER:] I really enjoyed the scenes where Will keeps coming into Lucie’s room while Jesse is there and being enormously embarrassing, because he would be, that is just who he is. As a dad he’s going to be the same kind of flamboyant and loving person who sang the demon pox song as he was when he was a kid. But he is also an adult so now he has to be like: ‘Lucie, don’t do this and don’t do that’ and we know that Will did anything he wanted when he was sixteen and seventeen years old. He never listened to anybody so it’s funny to have him now be scolding his own kids for the stuff he did when he was younger. There was a real sort of enjoyment in that.”
- How to choreograph battle scenes and why does Cassie switch POVs? Battles scenes are definitely the hardest part to write because these scenes are difficult logistically. They can take quite some time to map out, to figure where everyone is. “Battle scenes are a combination of things: they’re intense action that’s happening and you have to follow this action. You also have to creature spaces for the people in the battle to actually have emotional feelings or even dialogue. So you have to create a reason why there would be a break in the battle for these things to happen. You have to know where everybody is and keep in mind how this fight is going. [SPOILER] At the end of Chain of Thorns there is a battle at Westminster Abbey and Cassie went there many times, she got an official tour and an unofficial tour about the history of Westminster Abbey, and she had to figure out where everything was back then and how to get from one place in the abbey to another. “I tend to split characters up during a battle because that is how battles work. It’s unusual for a group of people to remain together because part of the point is to spread out and to take on different sections of the enemy. We want to see different aspects of the battle, it gives us a sense of the size of it; how much is going on, how many people are fighting. […] It gives us a sense of who’s living, who’s dying, who’s injured.” We see different aspects of the final battle because the battle outside the abbey is as important as the battle inside of the church.
Cassie’s advice: “Only write battle scenes if you really want to because they are an enormous amount of choreographical work.”
- SPOILER: When Cortana started to reject Cordelia, a reader thought it was the start of Alastair’s redemption arc and that’s how the sword stays in the Carstairs family and eventually lands in Emma Carstairs’ hands. Cassie confirmed that Cordelia would eventually pass Cortana down when she was too old to want to fight anymore. She would choose somebody to pass it down to. Cassie has an idea of how Cortana would get from Cordelia down to Emma through the generations between them. She hasn’t revealed it because she doesn’t know if this was something she would want to tackle in a short story or something to address in The Wicked Powers.
- SPOILER: Would Cassie consider writing a travel novella about James and Cordelia going to Constantinople? Maybe, it would be very sweet and cute. Cassie can see herself writing something to be published online. It would be an adorable extra, but she isn’t sure whether she could write a whole short story because then you needed conflict. Cassie doesn’t want to inflict anything terrible on them right now.
- SPOILER: Does Cassie think it’s possible for Matthew to have a happy ending? “Matthew is based on somebody I know and love very much: my stepfather who was an alcoholic before he met my mother. And by the time that she met him, he had been in Alcoholics Anonymous, and he never drank again in his life. I remember talking to him about it, because he was the sweetest guy, you could talk to him about anything, and he was the most kind person. I said: ‘It’s so wonderful that you’re no longer an alcoholic and he said: ‘I am an alcoholic. I will always be an alcoholic. I am just an alcoholic who doesn’t drink.’ It lodged itself into my heart, because I loved this guy so much as a father and that he has this thing in his past makes me so sad. And as I went on to know him [Cassie was clearly emotional talking about her stepfather because he died in 2017.] I began to realise that in fact that he didn’t think of it that way. He thought of having been an alcoholic as just something that was part of his life, he didn’t drink, he didn’t think of it as a bad thing or shameful thing or negative thing. He thought about it as something that had made him stronger and made him kinder. And when I think about that, I think about Matthew. […] I didn’t want anyone to wave a wand at the end of the book and say ‘Matthew, you’re cured. You’ll never want to drink again.’ I want to go through the process of Matthew realises that he has a problem, Matthew wants to stop, Matthew does stop with the help of his friends, and he may always be an alcoholic who doesn’t drink, but I think that like my stepfather it’ll be a thing that makes him kinder – he’s already very kind – sweeter, stronger, better. So I don’t want anyone to look at the fact that he had this illness as a tragedy. I want them to think of it as a thing that makes Matthew who he is, who is a very wonderful person and I think he deserves a happy ending. […] And while it is not always about deserving, in this particular case, I think it would be a really nice message to see Matthew get a happy ending. That’s all I’m gonna say.”
You have made it to the end! 🙂 I hope you enjoyed reading this recap of Cassie’s event. I know it was longer than usual, but so many important and meaningful things were shared that I didn’t just want to sum them up in a couple of sentences.
Like I wrote before, if you share or translate the recap, please link back to this article giving me credit. And if you do have any questions about what was shared, feel free to reach out to me via Twitter (@TMI_Source).
I assume Lucie and Jessie married, lived to a ripe old age and had a very happy ending. At least I am hoping so, after all the struggle they go through to have that chance. Though their story fades out at the end of The Last Hours, I wished Cassie would re-visit their story again.