Well, you kind of already knew that after Tuesday's post. But things only got better after I boarded the train to Manchester to attend a Walker Books reception and meet Cassandra Clare.
Before I start to talk about Cassie, I want to give a shout out to all the wonderful booksellers who were there that night, especially the ones who kindly tweeted about my extremely fabulous and extremely uncomfortable shoes (bear in mind, Dear Readers, that I normally spend about 80% of my time walking about barefoot and the other 20% in flats, mostly walking boots. I was not prepared for my five inch heels. I had to apologise to everyone I saw for swaying and wobbling all over the place and promise them all that I was not drunk. But other than that, they were a hit!). Thanks also to the lovely, lovely Walker Books people who arranged everything so beautifully and looked after me so kindly.
Having braved the reception - slightly late due to inevitable train delays - at first I didn't actually dare to go anywhere near Cassandra Clare, who was standing at the back of the room surrounded by lots of enthusiastic people. But as the reception came to a close suddenly she breezed past me with a cheery smile and called out 'Come on Zoë! We're going to dinner!'
Holy Cr*p, she knows who I am!
And then I remembered that there was a picture of me on display at the reception (duh!) and also that we have talked online a few times before. So I got up and trotted after her to the hotel restaurant. And I'm not exaggerating when I say that dinner with Cassie (and her husband and some lovely Walker people) was a complete and total blast. This famous author is just *enchanting* in person. She is perhaps the only other human being I've ever met who talks as fast as I do - and it turns out that she likes to rant about all the same stuff I do as well! In addition, she's incredibly funny and real, and has that rare knack of putting people at their ease, which was extremely useful because a few minutes before I'd been so nervous I felt sick. After being coaxed into shaking my fist at imaginary people and scaring the other restaurant patrons with my emphatic (read: loud) opinionatedness, I was relaxed enough to happily snarfle down tremendous amounts of the lovely cuisine on offer (TREMENDOUS. AMOUNTS).
Also? Her husband is Simon from The Mortal Instruments. Only grown up. With, for some reason, a different name. And apparently he's not a vampire? I maaaay have squeeeeed over him a bit. Quite a bit. He took it with good grace, bless him. He's clearly used to his wife's embarrassing fangirls.
So the following day, having followed the City of Lost Souls cavalcade all the way to Cassie's next tour stop in Sheffield, and before the event began and the fans descended, I did my interview with her. I was really lucky because I was able to get in a LOT of questions, but I couldn't do every single one, (especially where some people asked three or four). So I beg your pardon if your question didn't make it in. Hopefully you'll like the interview anyway:
(Note: this interview was transcribed from the recording on my dictaphone)
Zolah: OK, I’m now recording you, so don’t say anything too…
Cassandra Clare: Racy?
*Muffled sniggering, probably from me*
Z: So here’s the first question. Now that Jace is no longer possessed, what one moment from their European trip would Clary like to revisit with him?
CC: I think that if Clary could go back and do her whirlwind tour of Europe again with un-possessed Jace she would probably want to repeat their date night in Venice. Because it was actually quite romantic. You know - they went out to dinner, they walked along the canals…admittedly Jace stole a boat. But probably un-possessed Jace would have stolen the boat, that part really wasn’t that out of character for him. It was one of the first things they did and I wrote it to show her struggling with having kind of a good time and yet also feeling the disconnect: realizing that this is Jace, but at the same time not Jace, not the Jace she knows. Being able to do all that again with the real Jace is something she would definitely enjoy.
Z: Since Jace is now infused with heavenly fire, could Clary create a ‘fireproof’ rune to protect herself?
CC: Technically speaking Clary could create any rune! What she says in City of Glass is that she’s limited by the runes that come to her. She could sit there and think that she wants such-and-such a rune and maybe it would happen – or maybe it wouldn’t. That’s why she can’t just create a ‘Save the World’ rune or a ‘Blow Up All Evil’ rune. It would depend on whether a ‘fireproof’ rune came into her mind or not. She can’t really rely on runes to save her in any situation.
Z: When Jace is possessed, he seems to stop caring about his family. Why does he still feel so strongly about Clary? It is because Jonathan does, or is Clary special?
CC: I think that when Jace is possessed he doesn’t care about his family in the same way. He doesn’t care about them empathically in the sense that he isn’t concerned about their feelings of loss or grief or worry about him. It’s not the same as him not caring about them at all. If Alec or Isabelle were there, I’m sure possessed!Jace would be happy to see them and spend time with them, in the same way that he still seems to love Clary. But if you look at the reactions of possessed!Jace actually he’s not that interested or empathic about Clary’s feelings. He feels a desire for her and feels that she’s necessary to him, he feels that he loves her, but he doesn’t feel the way that you ideally feel about someone you love; that their happiness is more important than yours. Clearly he’s not capable of feeling that, whereas un-possessed Jace does feel that way.
Z: Like when *spoiler spoiler* and Clary’s covered in bruises and *spoiler spoiler* and Jace just says ‘Oh, I hope you worked it out’. Normally you’d expect Jace to want to slice someone’s head off in that situation!
CC: Yes, exactly. Jace would be asking ‘What happened to you? Who did this to you?’, he’d be freaking out. He’d say ‘I hope you punched their face in’. But here Clary comes up to Jace, covered in bruises and upset and he knows *spoiler spoiler* but he’s just not reacting empathically. He’s only concerned about her in so far as she feels necessary to him.
Z: Basically he’s reacting like Jonathan.
CC: It’s like Jonathan has taken the top level of Jace’s emotion’s away, the section of emotions that makes us our better selves. Isabelle says in City of Glass something along the lines of: There are some people who see others as just players on a stage. I believe that’s what Jonathan does. He just sees people as players on his stage. They don’t have their own reality, their own importance. They only matter in so far as they’re important to you. They matter only in so far as they fulfil your desires or thwart them. That’s what Jonathan/Sebastian does to Jace. He puts him in that state.
*At this point there’s some muffled excitement from me as I express how much I love this answer. Then I pull myself together and move on*
Z: Since Jace is now full of angel’s blood AND Heavenly Fire will he now change even more compared to other Shadowhunters? Is he more weapon than human?
CC: That makes me think of Darth Vader. You’re more machine than man!
*Muffled giggling noises, probably from both of us this time*
CC: No, Jace is still really human! And I think that actually the experiences that he’s been through in City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls have peeled him open a little bit and made him a bit more open to humanity. He kind of needed to go through that. He had a lot of concerns – he’s always had a lot of concerns – about who he really was. Was he really a good person? And I think this is pretty incontrovertible proof for him that yes, he is, because he now knows what it is like to live as a not-good person, and that’s not who he is. So I think that while the Heavenly Fire is going to change him physically it’s not going to change him emotionally and spiritually.
Z: But it is going to change him physically?
CC: Well, he has this thing that’s potentially a dangerous weapon that resides inside him. Think about it as a bomb that can only go off once.
*Impressed sounds from me*
Z: Have the series and characters turned out as you expected them to – or has anything developed along the way that surprised you?
CC: Definitely some things have surprised me, mostly in terms of characters that I never expected to come to the forefront as much as they have. Magnus for example - he wasn’t originally designed to be that important of a character. I always knew that he was going to date Alec, or at least be instrumental in Alec’s coming out, but their relationship kind of evolved organically and he’s taken on a bigger role. Simon certainly has a much bigger role than I originally envisioned!
Z: So not changes in your plot then?
CC: There really have been no changes to plot, nothing’s happened to the story that astonished me. Everything that was supposed to happen in the first three books did, and then for the second series I always knew that Sebastian would be the villain, that he would come back. He’s an interesting character to write about. So I would say that basically the place you start out stays the same and the place you finish stays the same, but the way you move between them can change.
Z: That’s exactly how I think about it! This is really fun!
Z: *Suddenly remembers she’s supposed to be interviewing* Ahem. Are you worried about depicting the deepening intimacy in Jace and Clary’s relationship? Not just because it’s so important to the fans, but also because some authors have experienced backlash on this issue?
CC: Are you asking me if I’m worried about Jace and Clary having sex?
CC: *More laughter*
Z: Well, they got quite close, didn’t they?
CC: They did get close! I’m not worried about depicting this so long as I feel they’re in the right place for it. I would like to present it as a positive thing. I’m interested in representing sex positivity in YA novels and I believe in depicting safe sex as a responsible decision between two responsible people, which is why I there are many mentions in the books of things like birth control and condoms. People [within the books] have straightforward conversations about it. They talk about ‘When are we going to have sex, where are we going to have sex, what does it mean if we have sex?’ I think all of that is important if you’re going to write about characters who will be having sex. Given that all of that stuff is in there, I don’t think anyone will be too astonished if Jace and Clary do have sex.
Z: When did Jace and Clary officially become boyfriend and girlfriend? Did one of them ask, or was it just assumed? I think it was just assumed!
CC: I think ever since the party in City of Glass, they’ve both assumed they were boyfriend and girlfriend. I don’t think there was ever a discussion about it. It was just ‘on’.
Z: Was Jace and Clary’s relationship inspired by any characters in classic literature? Like Lucie and Sydney in A Tale of Two Cities?
CC: Sydney and Lucie applies more to the couples in the Infernal Devices. The whole story is like a very loose, not-faithful retelling of what happens in A Tale of Two Cities. There are definitely aspects of famous fictional couples that have influenced things about Jace and Clary, things that I loved that informed the development of their relationship. Like Pride and Prejudice, and the sort of prickly early dealings when the guy is really annoying until he comes around and proves himself to be a better man than you initially thought he could be. That’s one of those great tropes that I think we all love. Jace is initially really prickly but eventually turns out to be, at heart, basically a really good person. I think having Clary be the one who recognizes that and helps bring it out of him is one of those things that I find very satisfying. So I’d probably say yes, Pride and Prejudice.
And at that point, our time was up! A few hugs all round, and everyone was off on their own business - me headed for home, Cassandra for a room filled to bursting with adoring readers. I'm SO glad that I got to meet her! Thank you again to everyone at Walker for trusting me enough to include me in the book tour!