On the Mortal Instruments series

Introduction: Shadowhunters and Downworlders

By Cassandra Clare

There’s a question that every writer both is intimately familiar with and dreads having to answer. Where did you get the idea for your books?

It’s not because it’s a bad question. It’s a fair question to ask, and it’s not as if we don’t understand why we get asked it–of course people are curious about the genesis of an idea! But the truth is it’s very rare that any book or series of books grows out of one single idea. Usually it grows the way a rolling stone gathers moss or the grit in an oyster adds layers until it’s a pearl. It begins with the seed of an idea, an image or a concept, and then grows from there as the writer adds characters, ideas they love, bits and pieces of their fascinations and interests, until they’ve created a world.

I’ve told the story of “how I got the idea for City of Bones,” the first of the Shadowhunter books, so many times I worry sometimes I’ve memorized the story and forgotten the experience. So when I sat down to write this, I tried as much as possible to throw myself back into the moment when the first inkling of anything that would eventually become the Shadowhunter world crossed my mind.

I had just moved from Los Angeles to New York, and I was in love with the city. With its history, with its energy, its day life and its night life. My first roommate was an artist, with a deep  …

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