Interview with Cassandra Clare

Cassandra ClareTell us about your publishing journey…

I’ve always loved to write stories, but I didn’t start taking it seriously as a career option until after I finished graduate school. At that point I began writing short stories and sending them off to publications, and I also started work on a novel—The Mad Scientist’s Daughter. It was a couple of years before I was ready to take the plunge and send it out to agents. It didn’t catch anyone’s eye agent-wise, but I did send it to Angry Robot’s first Open Door month. They picked it up, and my thus my career began!

What do you love about being an author?

Well, it’s basically my dream job! I love that I’m paid to make up stories and be creative, and I love that I get to set my own hours and work from home. It really is everything I could want in a career.

What part do you dislike about being an author?

I feel like I’m not very good at the marketing side of things—I’m very shy, and I sometimes get anxious posting things on the Internet. But getting published has helped me over some of that, actually.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

This was framed as writing advice, but honestly I think it’s good life advice in general: learn to distinguish between goals and dreams. A goal is something that you can do completely on your own, without depending on luck or other people (for example, write a thousand words a day). A dream is something that’s ultimately out of your control to achieve (for example, get published). By acheiving your goals, you’re able to work toward your dream.

If you could have dinner with a literary character – who would it be and what would you eat?

For some reason, my initial response to this question was Hannibal Lecter, which is a horrific answer. But I think the reason I thought of him is because dinner with Lecter would be a grand, gourmet affair, assuming you insisted on going full vegetarian. But after thinking about it for a few minutes, I realized I could get the grandness without the horror by eating a meal at Hogwarts. I think of all the Harry Potter characters I’d most liked to eat with Remus Lupin, so if Dumbledore could arrange for the two of us to chow down in the Great Hall, eating roast chicken and butterbeers and sticky toffee pudding, that would be excellent.

What was the last book you read and what were your thoughts on it?

I recently finished Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics and I loved it! I read Night Film, her most recent book, about a month ago and it completely sucked me in, so I was excited to read Special Topics, which is her first book. I just adored the characters, the language, and the way the plot compels you forward.

You have a time machine, which era do you go back to and why?

Probably the late 1950s/early 1960s, because I love the clothes, art, architecture, and music of that time period, particularly that of the counterculture. Plus I have reeeeeeally bad vision, so I’d definitely want to go back to a time when I could at least get glasses.

If you were to cast your book, who would play the leads?cover22471-medium

For young Cat, I’d like to see Kara Hayward cast—she played Suzy in Moonrise Kingdom. For old Cat, I’d love someone like Kate Winslet, who always does a wonderful job with complex, layered characters. Finn was always the hardest for me to cast. I wrote a blog post about this very question when Mad Scientist’s Daughter first came out, and I named Danny Pudi as my choice for Finn. I still think he’d be great, but I’m also curious to hear what others who have read the book would think!

What’s your favourite TV show, and why?

This is a very difficult question for me because I love television (movies too, but in recent years TV has really been trouncing movies in terms of originality and watchablity and really general quality). There are several TV shows that I’ll always return to, like Star Trek: The Next Generation and Mad Men, but there are also several more recent shows that I’ve gotten obsessed with. I think my favorite of those would be American Horror Story: Coven. On one hand it’s full of random campy horror tropes, but on the other hand the story focuses on several fairly complex female characters and tends to deal with women’s issues. Also, Jessica Lange is a flawless queen.

What has been the best Xmas present you’ve ever received?

I grew up in South Texas, which has extremely mild winters. As a kid, I used to ask Santa for a white Christmas every year, but of course it didn’t happen, the typical late-December meteorological conditions of Texas being what they are. However, when I was in college, a freak snowstorm blew across south Texas on Christmas Eve. I was living in Houston at the time but was in my hometown of Victoria for Christmas; Victoria received eleven inches of snow overnight, one of the few places in Texas to receive that much snowfall. So when I woke up on Christmas day my neighborhood looked exactly like the end of a Christmas movie. It was perfect.

What’s the best part of Xmas for you?

I love so much about Christmas—putting up lights and decorations, shopping for and wrapping gifts, even Christmas music (I know, I know). But I think my very favorite thing is experiencing the traditions that have built up over the years. What food you eat, where you go and on what day, how the presents are opened, all of it. And it’s interesting to see how things vary from family to family. For example, in my dad’s family, gifts are opened in a frenzy of flying ribbons and paper, with people shouting thank you across the room, just on the off-chance the giver hears it. In my mom’s family, gifts are opened in a neat, orderly fashion, one person at a time while everyone snaps photos. I love the contrast.

As a kid every year my Christmases were the exact same. Now that I’m adult those childhood traditions don’t fit anymore, and every year I find myself creating new ones. It’s exciting!

Are you on Santa’s nice or naughty list this year?

Hmmn, good question.

Are there plans for another novel in the series?

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a stand-alone novel, but I am working on a couple of new novels that are similar in style and theme.

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution in mind for 2014?

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do have a set of writing goals for the year: revise and complete two YA novels and at least one adult novel.

If your characters could give your readers a Xmas message, what would it be?

Cat: Happy holidays! Hope you get all the presents you want.

Finn: May this time of year be full of happiness for you.

Where can fans find you online?

I’m on Twitter at @mitchondrial (https://twitter.com/mitochondrial), on Facebook as Cassandra Rose Clarke (https://www.facebook.com/authorcassandraroseclarke) , and of course I have a website at cassandraroseclarke.com.

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