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?
About Will and Jem…
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?)
Jem.(From the Infernal Devices written by cassandraclare)
The snowdrop flower is a symbol of hope.
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!
Beautiful, really sad alternate cover for Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Jean
All I want in life, is to be able to write a book/series that’s as beautifully written as The Infernal Devices. I’m currently studying to become a vet, & as much as I adore animals… I want to be an author so much more. But I can’t write an interesting sentence to save my life. I’m sure you hear it everyday, but you are amazing, & authors like you are what keep my dreams alive. — jessikweh
First: thank you.
Second: If you can’t write a sentence of surpassing lyrical beauty right now on command, don’t worry about it.
One of the most common comments about books I see is “I don’t like the writing, I’m just there for the plot/the characters/the world-building.”
The thing is, all that stuff is writing.
Creating characters: that’s writing. World-building: that’s writing. Plot: that’s writing.
Being able to write sentences that drift down gently upon the reader like beautiful crystalline snowflakes is a hell of a skill. But it is a piece of a skillset, the screwdriver in a toolkit full of tools. If you are freaked out about your sentences, concentrate on world-building or character creation for a while. Being able to create characters people care about is hard. And it is also writing. You are bringing a person to life with nothing but words on a page. You have to give them a life, a heartbeat, goals, despairs, risks, blood. That is the alchemical magic of writing, just as much as we beat on, boats against the current, drawn back ceaselessly into the past or The barefooted drummer, beating a folded newspaper with whisk-brooms in lieu of a drum, stirs the eye’s ear like a blast of brasses in a midnight street.
Beautiful prose makes us feel all sorts of feels, but characters we love make us laugh and hurt, and plot that engages makes us gasp and flip pages. The ability to create any of these things is a talent. And like the development of any talent, we learn by example. If you want to write beautiful prose, read a lot of beautiful prose. (Read poetry. Poetry is all about the distillation of language into the specific and the beautiful, and it isn’t obscure or incomprehensible, I promise. Try Elizabeth Bishop: “One Art” or “Insomnia.” )
Learn the rhythms and the echoes of prose you admire. Take a month and read only beautiful prose; you’d be surprised at the effect it has on your own work. It’s like a language immersion class. We learn to speak by hearing; we learn to write by reading.
But don’t think that stylistic loveliness is all there is to writing. (There’s nothing particularly poetic about the prose in, say, Harry Potter, which is actually one of its strengths. You can mainline plot and character because the writing is so undistracting and straightforward. That’s not a bad thing. The “I don’t like the writing but I like the plot/characters” thing is something I first saw said about Harry Potter, and even then I thought, but characters are writing.) Plot and character are the bones and skin of a story, style is like designs drawn on that skin. Work on the bones, the skin the design first, whatever makes you comfortable. Ideally, they all work together.
Happy New Year!
The Year of the Wooden Horse.
(A little wooden horse that Will has made for Tessa upon hearing of their incoming infant!)
Jem and Tessa~ (The Infernal Devices written by @CassieClare)
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.
You use a lot of other languages in your books and I was wondering how you did the translations? Or do you speak them?
I’m writing a book and including other languages and I was wondering if I could use Google Translate?
First: Definitely, I do not speak Mandarin, Welsh, French, and Spanish. I’m conversational in French and speak some Spanish and Italian.
Secondly, no, Google Translate is never a good idea except if you’re trying to get a basic idea of what a website is about or something like that.
The translations in my book are done by native speakers — the French was translated by Angélique Issen who runs TMIFrance, and the Mandarin was translated by native speaker Margaret Pon, who is the mother of the lovely Cindy Pon.
The phrases, and then the translations of the phrases, then go to Wolfstone Translations to be checked over. I would never do the translations myself! *— even though I’ve lived in France, literally the worst translations you can get are if you think you know a language, or if you do know a language well enough to chat in it, but you don’t know the idioms, you don’t know when things are supposed to be inaccurate because that’s how it’s colloquially spoken (“I’ve got all the feels” means nothing at all in standardized English, but all languages have expressions like it) and you don’t know how the same word is interpreted differently in different locales (“pants” in America and “pants” in England.)
You’re never going to get every single thing about a language right, and there will be native speakers who disagree with other native speakers about how language should be used. Language is a mutable thing. Consult native speakers; if you can’t, work with a reputable translation agency. Ideally do both.
And now: DIRTY HUNGARIAN PHRASEBOOK.
* The only exception I can think of would be the Spanish in TiD, because the only person who speaks it is Gideon, who just learned it — there’s no reason his Spanish would be accurate.