With the release of the sixth and final book in the bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, we spoke to the prolific author about her series and about the finale ‘City of Heavenly Fire‘, published this week.
The young adult series has sold 26 million copies worldwide, and the film adaptation of the first book was released at the end of 2013.
THN asked Cassandra about the origin of these already iconic characters, the impressive role of strong female leads, her influences and what she thought of the casting of Lily Collins and company for the film. Have a read of our interview in full below:
Where did the stories begin with you and how did you come up with the characters?
The story began for me when I was living in New York and I had just moved there. I had been researching folk law, and I found a story about the ‘nephilim’ who in the Bible are the offspring of men in angels. Then at the same time a friend of mine took me to her tattoo shop. She wanted me to get a tattoo – I didn’t go through with it but I did get the idea of creating a race of people who were able to use tattoos to make themselves stronger and faster through a specific angel-based magic. So that was how the idea of Shadowhunters came about. Clary was the first character I created – she was based on a few of my friends at the time. The other characters slowly came into being around her.
There have been a lot of female popular leads in young adult fiction of late. Do you think that The Mortal Instruments books play a part in this trend?
I think that they certainly are a part of the trend. It always does make me a little sad that we even NEED to point it out – “isn’t it amazing that we have these strong women characters who are young and doing all of these awesome things!”. I hope it’s not a trend because it makes me feel like then it’s a thing that’s going to pass. However I do think it’s great that a lot of public attention is on them now and that we have come to a place where we realise that books about strong young women will sell, as long as the stories are good and relatable. It’s certainly taken us this long to figure it out though!
So, in regards to the film what did you think of the casting of Lily (Collins), Jamie (Campbell Bower) and Robbie (Sheehan) in the film?
I think they were great! Lily portrayed Clary’s strength and vulnerability. Jamie is so funny, which is a really essential aspect of Jase. Robbie captured that adorable boy-next-door feeling about Simon and I thought they worked really well together. They had great chemistry; the three of them.
How much of an encyclopaedia of the Shadowhunter world did you create and would you ever publish it?
I created the Shadowhunter’s Codex, with my husband. It certainly doesn’t cover everything in the Shadowhunter world but it was meant to be an introductory handbook to the basics that you might need to to know.
Your book is littered with famous literary quotes. What did you read when you were growing up and what were your influences when you were writing the book?
The books are absolutely littered with literary quotes, and quotes from classics. When I was growing up I read a huge amount. I read everything from the good and the bad, the trashy and the classic. I love classic stories, The Odyssey, Paradise Lost, I love the story of war and heaven. I was a big poetry fan too. I think that all of that is reflected in my work because I often do think in poetry quotes or in reference to classics. There are poetry quotes at the beginning of each chapter of The Mortal Instruments.
So what’s your view on film studios changing the ending of the books when they get made into films?
Mostly, I don’t like it. Usually if it’s a book that I know well, or even if it’s a book that I don’t know well then I prefer to stick to the book’s ending. Sometimes I think there are necessary changes that need to be made to make something adapt from a book to television or a film. In the past, I’ve certainly been disappointed by seeing big changes made to books that I love. On the other hand there are things like Lord of the Rings, which are great movies. They definitely did make some changes but I could understand from a story-telling point of view why they made them all.
Will you be sad to say goodbye to these characters?
Yes I will definitely be sad to say goodbye to Clary, Jace and friends, I’ve lived with them for a very long time and I feel comfortable with them. Writing them feels like slipping back into a comfortable pair of pyjamas or something, I know them so well. I’m certainly going to miss a lot of aspects about them. You never create the same character twice, so when you say goodbye, it is kind of a bittersweet feeling.
Do you think you’ll ever create a sort of spin off, or do you think you’ll ever focus on a set of characters and carry on writing for them?
I have The Last Hours still to come and that focuses on children of the characters in The Infernal Devices. Then there’s also The Dark Artifices, which is five years after the end of City of Heavenly Fire. So I feel like I still have a lot more time to spend in the Shadowhunter world. I think when I have to leave the whole world behind and close up the story completely, I’m really going to have separation anxiety and I’ll probably have to go on vacation or something to get over it!
The Mortal Instruments: City of Heavenly Fire is out now. You can pick up a copy here: The Mortal Instruments 6: City of Heavenly Fire