Cassandra Clare is the author of the popular Mortal Instruments series. The third and final novel in the series, City of Glass, is due out on the 24th of March, which, is today for most people. Cassandra answered some questions for us about her beloved characters – we hope you enjoy!
Did you always know that the MI series was going to be a trilogy?
Yes. I sold it as a trilogy, three books.
If so, have you had the entire story plotted out from the beginning, or have you been creating as you’ve been writing?
I always had the story plotted out from the beginning. I sold the series as a trilogy, which means I had to submit a detailed outline to the publisher of each book in the series. Your publisher wants to know not just that you know how to start a story but also that you know how to end one, and that nothing too crazy happens. So I had the story plotted out, because it was required. I also always knew it would be a trilogy. It is structured on the hero’s journey to the Underworld — the theme of the first book is descent, thus each epigraph makes reference to descent (“The Descent Beckons”, etc.). The theme of the second is hell or the underworld, and all the epigraphs make reference to hell or the underworld (“the Gates of Hell”). The third book’s theme is ascent or heaven, and all the epigraphs make reference to ascent or heaven (“The Road to Heaven”.).
Which character in the MI world came first for you?
Clary. I think one’s viewpoint character often comes first.
Who is your fave MI character and why?
I don’t have one. It’s like picking favorite children. Even the characters I don’t like, like the Inquisitor, I like, because they’re fun to write or useful to the story, or interesting in some way. The most fun to write is probably Magnus, and the one most like me is Simon.
I’ve tried to work it out a few times but failed miserably, just how long is the time period over which the MI series is set?
You’re not supposed to be able to figure it out, really, as the gap between books is usually just noted as “a few days” or ‘some time.” The first book takes about a week, the second another week, the third, about two weeks.
You deal with some challenging issues that I’d like to discuss in relation to the MI world…
Alec & Magnus are gay – the Clave’s position on homosexuality sends some pretty negative messages to potential queer readers, was that a conscious or unconscious decision you made while writing?
I am certainly saddened by the idea that “the Clave’s position on homosexuality” might send a negative message to queer readers. Including positive gay characters like Alec and Magnus is about inclusivity and representation — the world we live in isn’t a heteronormative one, so I wouldn’t want to represent it as such. Of course, that also means dealing with issues like bigotry and homophobia — things I wish didn’t exist in the world, but which, in fact, do.
It is worth noting, though, that the bigoted members of the Clave are bad guys, and are presented as such. Merely articulating a position, or representing that a belief exists, in fiction does not mean that you support it. I believe my readers — straight and gay — are smart enough to understand that when the villain is the one expressing a viewpoint (in this case, a homophobic one), that probably means that the message of the book is that that viewpoint is bad. And, you know, “homophobia=bad” is a message I’m willing to stand behind.
Magnus and Alec seem pretty different – what was it about Alec that Magnus was drawn to?
Exactly the fact that Alec is not like him. Alec is sweet and completely sincere, whereas Magnus is sarcastic and guarded. (This is also why Magnus would never be interested in, say, Jace, who is much more like him.)
Is the Clave supposed to be a metaphor for our own contemporary institutions that govern the free world, or am I over thinking this too much?
It’s not a metaphor. Perhaps it could be described as an extrapolation — I mean, the Clave is based on my research into secret organizations rather than research into government. If anything, I based it a bit on research I did into secretive offsprings of, say, the Catholic Church — I mean, there’s an Inquisitor, and Conclaves, all those are church terms. I should hasten to add that the Clave is not meant to be the Catholic Church, not even the Catholic Church of hundreds of years ago. I just feel that things in fantasy worlds are often made more realistic when you use real-world structures as models, and in this case, religious organizations were models.
Clary and Jace are allegedly brother and sister – their desire for each other continues feverishly through all three books. Have you had any negative feedback about presenting a relationship that borders on incest?
No. I mean, I am sure someone out there has fussed about it, but not in any way that has ever reached my ears or my publisher’s (not that they would care, mind you.) It’s such a common trope, and as far as the first two books goes, nothing physical happens between Clary and Jace that does not happen between, say, Luke and Leia in The Empire Strikes Back, a movie that has been enjoyed by five year olds the world over. The difference is that Clary and Jace have real romantic feelings for each other and there’s a lot of longing in their relationship. However, no one ever fusses about longing. They fuss about sex and language.
I’d like to talk about GLASS now…(so obviously spoilers follow, guys)
When Alec is introducing Magnus to his parents at the end of Glass, we don’t really learn the outcome of that meeting. Are Alec’s parents accepting of their Alec’s revelation and how do they feel about him dating Magnus?
I absolutely feel that they are. We see the Lightwood parents meeting Magnus and shaking his hand, which is a sign of respect, and Maryse hugging Alec. I know we don’t get a lot of time to dwell on these characters, because as fond as I am of them, they’re still secondary characters in the book, but I hoped that would be enough to indicate that the family’s accepting of Magnus and Alec. And obviously Jace and Izzy are.
When Sebastian kissed Clary, he knew he was her brother. Clary was grossed out by the situation but we never really found out how Sebastian felt about that. It looked as if he actually enjoyed it. Did he?
Sebastian is not someone who gets enjoyment out of the things normal people get enjoyment out of. He enjoyed it, but precisely because he knew he was screwing with Clary by doing it and his emotions about her are a complicated mixture of fascination — she’s his sister — and hatred, and for him, hate and sex and desire and rage are all bound up. I’m sure he liked it better because she was his sister.
Is Simon going to end up with Maia or Isabelle?
See, the honest answer to that is that I have no idea. I don’t know what happens to the characters after the book is over, because that’s all “the unwritten future.” If some day I sat down and plotted out a sequel, or a sequel series, then I would start taming my vague ideas into a more concrete story, and then I would know — but now I don’t. I will say that if I ever wind up doing sequels to the MI series, they will probably focus on Simon, so presumably his love life will get a workout then!
You’re working on a prequel trilogy – The Infernal Devices. Are any of the characters in the MI series going to be in the ID books?
Magnus is in it. Other of the more immortally inclined characters are in it — the head of the New York vampire clan, who Raphael is always talking about and who we never see, is in it.
Can you share any other info about these novels?
The main characters are all related to Clary and Jace and the Lightwoods via bloodlines. I think part of the fun of reading them, for MI fans, is going to be figuring out how everyone is related to who. There are Herondales, Waylands, Lightwoods, and some new families.
And lastly, we’ve been trying to cast the MI characters on our forum. In an ideal world, if the books were ever made into a movie (is that likely to happen?) who would you want playing your characters?
The list, with photos! http://www.cassandraclare.com/cms/faqs/imaginary-casting