Aren’t these gorgeous? Cassandra Jean and I got talking about the language of flowers and how every flower has a meaning. She’s started drawing each character with flowers I’ve picked to represent them — here’s Clary with violets, Jocelyn with day lilies, and Sebastian with monkshood.


Hey, I would just like to say that I am a HUGE fan of your writing. Expically the Mortal Instruments. I can’t wait until City of Heavenly Fire come out. I would love it if you would write me back so please do. I had a question on how to intoduce an evil character without going into to much detail to bore the readers. so how do you do that? Especially with the Sebastian/ Jonathan scene, we just sorta KNEW that they/ he was evil.

tw: answer, for mention of rape

Well, with Sebastian he was actually introduced pretty innocuously, and there were very small things he did – arguing with Clary about whether Valentine loved Jace as a son, the way he kissed her without her permission — that indicated that he was somewhat … off.

The thing about introducing “evil” characters, is that there are a million ways to do it, because there are a million different kinds of “villains” (just check . But you have to put aside the idea that all villains/antagonists have to be like Voldemort, fundamentally evil and chortling about it. A villain is one thing: someone who wants what your protagonist/good guy doesn’twant.

Your protagonist wants to get out of prison, the villain wants to keep them in. Your character wants to save a village, the villain wants to destroy it. Or your protagonist wants to destroy the village and the villain wants to save it. (Why not? The village could be full of zombies or scientists working on releasing a mega-virus that will kill everyone or something.) 

The first thing you need to know about your protagonist is what they want. One of the first things you need to know about your villain is how what they want is diametrically opposed to what the protagonist wants. 

Also remember it is in smaller personal ways that we come to hate villains. Blowing up the world is obviously an evil goal. Killing a lot of people, also bad. But those are still things heroes sometimes do when pushed to the wall (The Doctor annihilated the Time Lords; there are plenty of other murderer-heroes as well). But you know what the Doctor doesn’t do? Under-tip waiters. Physically abuse his companions. (Okay, I’m no expert on Who and haven’t seen every episode, but it doesn’t seem like something he’d do.) If he did, we’d hate him: we hate petty actions that speak to selfishness, and we hate it when a character hurts a character we care about. Example: I didn’t mind Loki when he killed a whole bunch of people in the beginning of The Avengers, but when he killed Coulson I wanted him to fall off the planet and die, even if he was Tom Hiddleston.

Oh, shut up, Loki.

Point being: Your “evil” character wants whatever the protagonist doesn’t want, they get personal with the heroes we care about (Mortmain wanting to blow all the Shadowhunters away, abstract; Mortmain torturing Jem by stopping the yin fen trade and planning to rape Tessa, specifically hateful.) They have a believable motive (which can basically be anything, just keep it personal and believable.)

Create characters people love, give them things they want, make sure the reader wants it too (which we will, if we love the hero(ine) then make sure your villain takes it away. That’s why we hate Umbridge more than Voldemort, if you think about it.

. Shrinkydink. :)


Shadowhunter Card

Descensus Averno Facilis Est

family tree

Cassie Cassie Caaaaaaass, are all children in the family tree legitimate? Like, is there any chance one (or more) of them aren’t actually one (or both) of their parents’ child?

— jemmablackthorn

Absolutely that’s possible. May be time to revisit an old post I made about the unreliability of the family tree!
Many Clockwork spoilers herein:

About Will and Jem…

Dear Cassie,

Thanks again for your response to my question about Tessa! I originally wrote this the day after Heronstairs day, but with CoHF and TBC, I know you’ve been super busy! 

I have a question regarding two big players in the Shadowhunter ‘verse: Will and Jem. Yesterday a lot of people were posting about them due to the date (November 10th) and it got me thinking.

How are we as readers meant to interpret their relationship? After CP2, you posted about the relationships between  Tessa, Will, and Jem and said “At no point do Will and Jem discuss their need for a chaperon, lest they give in to irresistible temptation and sully the senses out of each other.”

Online, however, there is a lot of discussion about it in terms of a relationship including romantic love. They are talked about as the third love story of TID, the third side of the triangle. 

Platonic friendship is wonderful and I think their relationship is great no matter what, but I also think there is something inherently different though about how something “could be canon. the evidence is there” with a queer vs hetero relationship. (Harry and Hermione are probably the biggest example I can think of this, with huge numbers of people viewing it as friendship and a very large number seeing romantic love. Their relationship is meant to be seen as friendship, more like family. They even spell it out in the last book!) It’s more of a representation issue. If Harry and Hermione don’t have those feelings, there are still plenty of other straight couples in HP.

So, as Will and Jem, are your creations, what are your thoughts on all of this? Are readers meant to understand that Jem and Will are bi of some sort (romantic and or sexual)? Is it part of the goals of writing about a not typically portrayed love triangle? Are the love interests of the protagonist queer? How would you define their relationship? 


P.S. I really enjoy all of your posts regarding representation in fiction, as someone who isn’t straight.

 Hi! Thank you first for your kind words about my posts.

When you’re dealing with representation, and reader interpretation, you’re always dealing with tricky business. I incredibly appreciate the imagination of my readers. I also know my word is not the last word on what happens in my books: no book follows every moment in the lives of its characters. What happens in the liminal spaces — the time before Jem and Will met Tessa for instance — very much belongs to the reader.

I feel uncomfortable telling readers what they’re “meant to understand.” I want them to feel like their reads are valid. There are readings I disagree with (like that Will and Jem would have been better off if they’d never met Tessa, that Tessa doesn’t really love Will/doesn’t really love Jem, etc) but that doesn’t mean they’re not meaningful for the readers who interpret the story that way.

Jem and Will have an incredibly intense relationship. They also live in a time/place where friendships and relationships between men were romanticized, and were spoken of in incredibly romantic and flowery language. I think they often speak to and about each other in a way modern readers interpret as romantic because it sounds romantic. The Victorian Romantic Friendship Reader describes the era as a time when “when men could openly express an unashamed, unselfconscious, all-consuming love for members of their own sex.” Tennyson, as far as we know (okay, there’s some debate) was straight, but wrote a long elegy on the death of his friend Arthur Hallam in which he calls him “all I love,” “him I loved, and love / For ever,” and “my lost desire.” (The poem is “In Memoriam”, which shows up a lot, not coincidentally, in Clockwork Princess.)

Will and Jem definitely have a romantic friendship, and I do think the love triangle is a true triangle in the sense that Jem and Tessa love each other, Will and Tessa love each other, and Will and Jem love each other. Is their love canonically a sexual love? Here is where this is is a tricky issue because these are two distinct moral goods at play here.

 It’s very important to me that I not be given credit for representation that is not explicit in my books. I believe we are at a time when books can show characters who are not heterosexual, and those books can be published (though of course there are still many obstacles for diverse books and pressure on creators not to create diverse works, which makes it even more clear that we have a responsibility to do so.) Therefore queer coding, or later saying “Of course So-and-So was an LGBTQ character, or of course there are LGBTQ characters in my work but we never heard about them in the work and they never had any relationships and nothing would clue you in on their identity…” is not sufficient. There are gay couples in the Shadowhunters ‘verse where their sexuality is explicit on the page: there is no question with Magnus and Woolsey that they are bi and gay; there is no question in TMI about Alec and Magnus, or Aline and Helen, or any question in the Bane Chronicles that Magnus is bisexual and in relationships with men and women. That’s part of why I, along with Maureen and Sarah, wanted to write the Bane Chronicles so much—to have Magnus front and center. He deserves to be, and LGBTQ readers deserve such a protagonist. But I also think they deserve better than queer coding and hints at sexuality that isn’t hetero — that stuff should be on the page, and if it isn’t — if it’s your “headcanon” as a writer — then that’s great, but that isn’t per se representation.

 That said, I strongly believe readers should have the freedom to interpret works as they will, without a creator looking over their shoulders: There are liminal spaces in my books which are designed for readers’ imaginations to fill in. No two readers ever read quite the same book. I don’t want to take away any possible interpretations from readers: it would feel like robbing them of enjoyment I believe they should have and depriving my work of some layers. The author’s dead, and to an extent I want to be considered dead—as long as nobody comes and pops me off this mortal coil when I’m eating a yoghurt so they can enjoy my books more. I don’t ever want to get in the way of my readers enjoying my work the way they want to. 

So I hope you understand when I say: I can’t entirely answer that question. Do I mind Heronstairs? Not at all. I am totally 100% behind those who ship it. (Ship and let ship, I say.) Do I think Heronstairs makes total sense within the framework of the narrative of Infernal Devices? Yes, it does. Nothing contradicts it. Do I think Will and Jem are bisexual representation? No, and I shouldn’t get any credit for them being so. Does that mean they’re not bi? No. Does that mean they are bi? No. It means you get to decide now.


(Hopefully we can all agree they are adorable?)


"Well, you’ve heard this a lot but.. I LOVE your books! Your stories have changed my way of feeling things, every character (even the villains) made me see a little of me. Your mind is brilliant and I love you for sharing it with the world! I have a question for you. I’m a BIG fan of Tessa, Will and Jem. I wonder what year and how long Tess and Jem were together. If City of Bones is going in 2007, they got together in the 90s or in 2000? Because we see Brother Zachariah, so.. That’s it! Sorry for my bad english. Can’t wait to see you in Brazil! Much love <3 — hiclickhere

Well, the Clockwork Princess epilogue is dated in the book. 2008. So we know that that’s when Tessa and Jem got together, because we see it.

I’m pasting in the timeline for the series below, because the question of where the Clockwork Princess epilogue fits in is a popular one! There is no answer to how long Tessa and Jem “were together” because — they only just got together, so recently that they are not together as of City of Lost Souls or the beginning of City of Heavenly Fire. 



I had to redact a bunch of this ask’s spoilery bits but I think I managed — in essence, I’ve gotten a lot of asks about where the epilogue of Clockwork Princess fits into the timeline of TMI.

Here’s the basic timeline of the TMI books:

CoB: takes place in August 2007, the year the book was published.

CoA: begins in very early September 2007-  a few days to a week after CoB ends. 

CoG: begins in September, about 1 week after CoA ends. The whole book takes place in 1.5-2 weeks. It is mentioned that the leaves on trees are beginning to turn fall colors.

CoFA: begins in Mid-October (Halloween decorations are up, Simon mentions the month) and ends around the third or fourth week of October. In CoFA, it is also mentioned that Clary has been training to fight demons for 7 weeks.

CoLS: The prologue is set in late October. The first chapter begins two weeks later, in the 2nd week of November.

October had 5 weeks in 2007. Here’s a link to a 2007 calendar:

The Clockwork Princess prologue takes place in 2008.

We don’t know when in 2008, but we do know enough to know it takes place after the events of City of Lost Souls. It is either during or after the events of City of Heavenly Fire

As for Bro Z, he appears in City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls. It is explained in City of Fallen Angels that he was among the few Silent Brothers who was not in the Silent City when Valentine attacked, and therefore survived.

So yes, basically, the epilogue of Clockwork Princess takes place in the future of the characters in City of Lost Souls. You can search it for clues about Heavenly Fire if you want. :)

City of Heavenly Fire, the final book in The Mortal Instruments series, comes out in only six weeks on May 27, 2014. That means you have six weeks left to revel in the saga of Clary and her golden boy Jace and her dark angel brother Sebastian and the most loveable dork/vampire Simon and the man-eating, demon-killer Isabelle and poor, lovesick Alec. After this, guys, it’s finito.

As we roll up to the final book, Simon & Shuster is releasing a new edition audiobook for City of Bones, which will be narrated by Mae Whitman, who plays Amber Holt on Parenthood

The last installment of The Bane Chronicles, The Course of True Love (And First Dates)was published as an e-book on March 18th and Simon & Shuster has just finished the audio version narrated by Gareth David-Lloyd. David-Lloyd starred in the Dr. Who spin-off Torchwood

Whee, Mae Whitman — as I announced earlier this week - and we were thrilled to get Gareth David-Lloyd, who played Ianto on Torchwood

to read the last installment of Bane. Gareth has a gorgeous voice, and Jack and Ianto on Torchwood (pictured above!) were a seminal example of queer representation in pop culture science fiction and fantasy. After such a great lineup of readers, this is a terrific note to go out on — hope you guys are as happy as we are!


Jem.(From the Infernal Devices written by cassandraclare)
The snowdrop flower is a symbol of hope.


Jem.(From the Infernal Devices written by cassandraclare)

The snowdrop flower is a symbol of hope.

For fun, one of Cassandra Jean’s postcards of scenes from City of Heavenly Fire. Above, Raphael, Magnus and Luke.
You can see the last postcard here.


For fun, one of Cassandra Jean’s postcards of scenes from City of Heavenly Fire. Above, Raphael, Magnus and Luke.

You can see the last postcard here.

It&#8217;s #TMITuesday and I&#8217;m sharing 3 secrets about #COHF!Find out how you can get exclusive access to them here: remember, these are secrets &#8230; so keep them to yourself Shadowhunters! 
(Basically, you have to tweet, tumblr or email the link, and that&#8217;ll unlock a video of me blathering - and reading a bit from CoHF!)

It’s #TMITuesday and I’m sharing 3 secrets about #COHF!
Find out how you can get exclusive access to them here:
And remember, these are secrets … so keep them to yourself Shadowhunters! 

(Basically, you have to tweet, tumblr or email the link, and that’ll unlock a video of me blathering - and reading a bit from CoHF!)