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. :)


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.

"You’re not Will"

Hi, Cassie! So, it has been more than a year since the release of CP2 and I still didn’t get over it. I feel both happy and depressed when I think about this series. And I know that we will still see the characters in TLH, but it will not be the same, because it will be in their children points of view. So, I was wondering… you have written many extra scenes for TMI, and scenes from different characters POVs (like Jace’s, when it was Clary’s POV in the book). Are you planning on sharing with us any more scenes like that from TID? I wouldn’t mind at all a POV of Jem’s, specially that scene from the CP2 epilogue ♥ Thank you so much, and I’m super excited for CoHF and your coming to Brazil! — fairchild-gray-fray

I’ve never written the scene on the bridge from Jem’s point of view because Jem knows way too much about what happens in City of Heavenly Fire. It would, bizarrely, be spoilery for TMI. So maybe TMI is done; we’ll see. 

If you want to read Jem’s POV on the bedroom scene with Tessa in Clockwork Prince, though, I wrote that. It’s called An Offering of Moonlight. I’ll paste it in, though many of you may have read it before — it’s not new. Under the cut, from the chapter “Fierce Midnight” in CP. There’s also “Burning Bright" which is Jem’s perspective on meeting Tessa for the first time.*

*And now  I noticed the first thing Jem ever says to Tessa is “You’re not Will.” Huh.

** Ooh, Cassandra Jean gave me a Jessa scrap the other day. Now I get to use my scrap!

Read More

What ifs

tw: suicide

What would have happened to Jem and Will if Tessa had never come into their lives? —(composited question)

Jem would have died from the yin fen. Will would have committed suicide, ending the Herondale line.

Jem/Tid questions


Hello! I absolutely love your books. I doubt you’ll see this or read it but if by any chance you do I would like to ask you a question. I recently seen the drawing of Tessa and Will introducing their son James to Jem and Jem appears to be crying? If so are these tears of joy or sadness? In of the Bane Chronicle books Magnus meets James and there is a scene where Magnus is at the institute Tessa and Will are running. When Jem comes into the scene James calls Jem Uncle Jem. I’m aware that they brought James up to think of Jem as an uncle but how does Jem feel about all this? Im sorry if im asking questions that cannot be answered but curiosity is killing me. :) — tiffany-tmi-tid

Well, I can only tell you what I think. I think Jem was crying out of a mixture of joy and sadness. Joy because he’s happy for Will and Tessa — obviously they’re thrilled to have a baby. (Not that you have to have kids to be happy, but they wanted them, so.) And he’s incredibly touched that they named the baby after him. (Jem=short for James.) So is crying because of that.

I am sure there is some part of Jem that is sad because he is cut off from the cycles of life: from birth, death, marriages, engagements, friendships, small human gestures and larger ones. I think he is not despairing. I think Jem is patient and believes in a better future, however long it may take that future to come. Brother Zachariah talks a little in City of Heavenly Fire about what it’s like to be a Silent Brother and how they don’t quite feel things like human beings do.

I do think Midnight Heir gives some insight in the manner in which Will and Tessa keep that part of Brother Zachariah that is Jem something to be anchored to, and Last Hours will give more. But I also think it’s okay for stories to have some open parts in which you’re free to intuit what you think. How do you think Jem feels? The fondness he has for Will and Tessa, and they for him, and the happiness they all bring each other; even the fondness he has for his “niece and nephew”, Lucie and James, is there in Midnight Heir: it’s not from his point of view, but that doesn’t mean you can’t read into Magnus’ observations of him to suss out his feelings. 

This may seem like an odd question, but quite a few of my friends and I on tumblr were wondering what Jem and Tessa’s relationship was like during the couple months before CP2 began (like during that blank space between CP and CP2). A lot of us like to imagine what they are like in modern day (something I hope to see!) but we never really got to know too much about their relationship during the majority of their engagement. Strange question, I know, and you don’t have to answer! Some of us were just very curious :) — mrscarstairs

I would say that just like in Midnight Heir you can do some interpreting of Jem’s feelings through Magnus’ observations of him, you can do some back-engineering of Jem and Tessa’s relationship between CP and CP2 by the things we know about them in CP2.

We know they are happy with each other, but that both of them also have things that are making them unhappy — the threat of Mortmain hangs over them both: Tessa carries the burden of knowing about Will’s feelings, and Jem carries the burden of knowing he’s dying faster than he’s letting on.

We know Tessa is learning Mandarin for Jem, which is a pretty strong sign of commitment, learning a language for someone when they don’t even require it. We know Jem is writing music for Tessa. We know they don’t fight, since the fight they have in CP2 is their first.

I think I get a lot of these questions about Jem because there’s a sense that since we rarely get his POV we don’t know what goes on in his head. But we do know a lot! We know characters through their actions and their dialogue as much as we ever know them from seeing their thoughts (think how well we know Gatsby, when we never get his thoughts at all and he’s not the POV narrator.) For instance, Jem on how his interactions with Tessa between CP and CP2 have been informed by his determination that she not know the truth about his health:

In the beginning, when I first realized I loved Tessa, I did think that perhaps love was making me well. I had not had an attack in so long. And when I asked her to marry me, I told her that. That love was healing me. So the first time I was—the first time it happened again, after that, I could not bear to tell her, lest she think it meant a lessening of my love for her. I took more of the drug, to fend off another illness. Already by that time it was taking more of the drug to simply keep me on my feet than it used to take to keep me going for a week. I don’t have years, Will. I might not even have months. And I don’t want Tessa to know. Please don’t tell her

Kind of like we know exactly how Jem feels about Will taking drugs in CP, despite not being in his head, from his punching Will and subsequent speechifying. :)

One note about engagements in the Victorian era: Jem and Tessa would not have been given free reign to do a lot of physical stuff with each other. They could hold hands, take walks together, maybe kiss. They would be separated at nightfall and certainly no visiting of each other’s bedrooms would be all right (though Shadowhunters are always popping in and out of each other’s bedrooms, but J&T would be more watched after the engagement, not less.) This is why their making out in the music room in CP2 is a big deal and results in Jem being like “We must be married RIGHT NOW.”

Otherwise, there are certainly open spaces in between CP and CP2 in which one might imagine how Jem and Tessa’s specific interactions might have gone — but that’s okay! Sometimes it is fun to have space to let your imagination roam.

Oh, this is heartbreakingly beautiful!

Jem and Tessa~ (The Infernal Devices written by @CassieClare)

Oh, this is heartbreakingly beautiful!


Jem and Tessa~ (The Infernal Devices written by @CassieClare)


Jem Carstairs from the Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare"The curtains had been pulled back from one tall window, and pale silver light poured into the room like a rain of needles. In the square patch of moonlight before the window, someone was standing. A boy—he seemed too slight to be a grown man— with a violin propped against his shoulder. His cheek rested against the instrument, and the bow sawed back and forth over the strings, wringing notes out of it, notes as fine and perfect as anything Tessa had ever heard."
Made with watercolors. Next up is Tessa! (:


Jem Carstairs from the Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

"The curtains had been pulled back from one tall window, and pale silver light poured into the room like a rain of needles. In the square patch of moonlight before the window, someone was standing. A boy—he seemed too slight to be a grown man— with a violin propped against his shoulder. His cheek rested against the instrument, and the bow sawed back and forth over the strings, wringing notes out of it, notes as fine and perfect as anything Tessa had ever heard."

Made with watercolors. Next up is Tessa! (:

Aw, babies. They look so young.


lil’ Will and Jem. (from the Infernal Devices @CassieClare)


Heh heh.

Clockwork Princess Epilogue (SPOILER) by ArtofARoman


Heh heh.


Clockwork Princess Epilogue (SPOILER) by ArtofARoman