Exclusive: Cassandra Clare Chats ‘Chain of Iron’ and More!

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[Note from Frolic: Our resident YA expert Aurora got the opportunity to chat with the one and only Cassandra Clare! Cassandra’s new book, Chain of Iron, hits shelves March 2!]

Aurora: What was your inspiration behind Chain of Iron

Cassandra Clare: Chain of Iron is the second book in a trilogy, the Last Hours, the latest series in the Shadowhunter Chronicles. It’s set in Edwardian London in 1903, a time period I love reading and writing about. In Chain of Iron, I wanted the characters to face a very different kind of threat than they did in Chain of Gold, where they reckoned with unusual demons that could strike in daylight and cause deadly disease. In book two, life is beginning to return to something like normal for the Shadowhunters of London, though many are still reeling from the events of book one. Then a serial killer begins targeting Shadowhunters, and Cordelia, Lucie, James and their friends are determined to stop the murderer. I love a good murder mystery and had a lot of fun writing this one!

What character in this novel do you most relate to and why? 

All of the characters have some of me in  them, of course. But I probably most see myself in Lucie, because she’s a writer, and she looks for stories and material for her fiction everywhere she goes. Also I love everything involving the romance-adventure novel she is constantly working on, The Beautiful Cordelia.

Why do you feel novels with powerful and unique characters are so popular and have such a voice right now? 

Novels with powerful and unique characters have always been popular, and hopefully they’ll keep being popular! I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve found reading to be very helpful as the pandemic stretches on. It’s a way to travel and meet new people when you can’t physically do either.

Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from it. 

Edwardian-era demon hunters take on a serial killer! Fancy parties are thrown, secrets are kept, and friendships are tested. Adventure, humor, magic, and romance abound! Readers new to the series will want to start with Chain of Gold.

What’s next for you in the bookish world? 

I’m working on my first adult novel, Sword Catcher, which is high fantasy and set in a fictional, fantastical world very different from that of the Shadowhunters. I’ve been enjoying making up maps and mythology for this new setting, and am really for readers to get to know the city of Castellane. It’s also a lot of fun to get to write a real palace intrigue, full of secrets and betrayals and conflicting loyalties and all that good stuff. It shares some pleasures with the Shadowhunter books, of course—plenty of adventure and romantic business—but the setting and the new people make it feel very fresh and new to write!

Who is your current favorite writer? Why? 

I’m always adding new writers to the pile of favorites, so it’s certainly hard to pick one! But lately I’ve been very into Ben Aaronovitch. He writes fantastic supernatural detective novels set in London. He does a great job of very much evoking the contemporary London I know and love, and manages to at the same time tell compelling modern police procedural stories, and also dark, macabre supernatural thriller stories. Oh, and they’re quite funny, also. In this moment of not being able to visit the real London, his London has been a very enjoyable one to spend time in.

Any writing advice for aspiring writers?  

Read as much and as widely as you can! Try genres you don’t normally read. Learn about a part of the world you don’t know anything about. And read deeply in your own genre, because no matter what you write, your path has already been well-trodden and there’s a lot to learn from those who have gone before. Also: you will never finish anything if you only write when inspiration strikes. Developing a routine and a schedule, where you have times you are committed to writing no matter how inspired you might or might not feel, is a crucial part of being a writer. There’s a quote I love attributed to Picasso: “Inspiration exists, but it must find you working.”

About the Author:

Cassandra Clare is the author of the #1 New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly bestselling Mortal Instruments series and the Infernal Devices trilogy, and coauthor of the Bane Chronicles with Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson. She also wrote The Shadowhunter’s Codex with her husband, Joshua Lewis. Her books have more than 36 million copies in print worldwide and have been translated into more than thirty-five languages. Cassandra lives in western Massachusetts. 

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