author websiteCassandra Clare was born in Tehran and spent much of her childhood traveling the world with a suitcase full of books. She now lives in New York City, whose urban landscapes inspired her New York Times bestselling young adult fantasy novel, City of Bones. You can also find her work in the upcoming young adult anthologies Geektastic and Vacations from Hell. She prefers vampires to werewolves.
Q. In your essay in A New Dawn, you weigh the benefits (and pitfalls) of dating a werewolf versus dating a vampire. Which of the two would you pick?
A. Well, in the essay Aunt Charlotte says that Bella ought to pick a nice safe human boy to date, but of course Aunt Charlotte is just being stuffy. In real life I would of course eschew the nice human boy for the sexy vampire or werewolf. And I’d have to say I’d go for the vampire-the immortal life thing is too good to pass up.
Q. Along those same lines: Edward or Jacob?
A. Aieek! Who can choose? Edward, I suppose. I am a sucker for a tragic backstory.
Q. In City of Bones, your heroine Clary Fray has romantic feelings for both her best friend Simon and mysterious demon hunter Jace. How does her dilemma compare to Bella’s?
A. Bella, it seems to me, is well and truly torn. She has sincere feelings for both boys. Clary’s situation is complicated by the fact that she can’t be with Jace. It’s impossible. She has to look elsewhere, but she doesn’t really want to, and she knows that’s unfair to Simon.
Q. You write about vampires in your Mortal Instruments series. How are your vampires different from the vampires in the Twilight series?
A. I chose to go with a very traditional vampire mythology. My vampires are allergic to crosses and sunlight, can’t go into churches, fear holy water. I decided on this because I wanted to fit my vampires into a much larger world mythos of angels and demons that are the cause of everything supernatural in our world. I wanted to explain the mythology we already have in a new way rather than inventing a new mythology. Whereas Stephenie has really created a new kind of vampire-stripping them of their traditional weaknesses, but adding new ones.
Q. Obviously, you thought vampires were interesting enough to feature in your novels. Why do you think vampires continue to fascinate us?
A. Vampires fascinate us because they are monsters with human faces. They are both everything that terrifies us-a creature that wants to eat us!-and simultaneously everything we’re attracted to (youth, beauty, strength).
Q. You describe your novels as “urban fantasy”-a genre everybody seems to have a different definition for. What do you mean when you use the term? And do you think the Twilight series falls under that category too?
A. When I use the term I mean a subgenre of contemporary fantasy in which the urbanity of the setting is important. The city itself can come to be almost a character in the plot. Urban spaces take the place of what used to be the dark forest of fairy tales-full of violence, magic and intrigue. I would call Twilight contemporary fantasy, but perhaps not urban fantasy, because it’s small-town, rainy, naturalistic setting is so important.
Q. Clary’s first name is similar to your last name. Are there any other ways you and your character are similar?
A. Oh, good Lord, no. And the name thing is sort of an accident. I actually picked Clary’s name before I decided on the spelling of my own pen name and then it never occurred to me that the two were similar until it was pointed out to me later. Hindsight! Anyway, I deliberately made Clary very different from me. She has a male best friend-I never even had a guy friend until college. She’s very headstrong-I’m way meeker. And she’s a visual artist, a visual person, where I’m a word person.
Q. Growing up, you traveled around the world, and you continue to travel as an adult. I should ask you something smart (like, “How does this affect your writing?”), but instead I’m going to ask: What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been?
A. Oh, it’s so hard to pick a favorite place. It’s like picking a favorite friend. I’d say my favorite big city is London. My favorite small city is Lucca, in northern Tuscany. And my favorite spot in the world is at the top of Temple Four in the ancient ruins of Tikal, in the Guatamalan jungle. The view is amazing.
Q. What are you working on right now?
A. Right now I’m working on the first book in the companion series to The Mortal Instruments. It’s called The Clockwork Princess. It’s set in Victorian London and deals with the story of a girl who goes looking for her missing brother in London’s underground supernatural world, and finds out she’s a supernatural creature herself.
Q. If you could tell us to read one book this year, what would it be?
A. That’s tough! Right now there are so many books coming out that I’m looking forward to but haven’t had a chance to read yet, like John Green and MT Anderson’s new books. At this point, my current favorite YA book is The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart.