Afgelopen weekend was Cassandra Clare in Londen ter gelegenheid van de release eerder deze maand van de nieuwe Britse paperback edities van The Mortal Instruments, die in een heel bijzonder nieuw jasje zijn gestoken. Daarom organiseerde de Britse uitgever, Walker Books, samen met boekhandel Waterstones een evenement met Cassandra Clare én de artieste die de illustraties voor de nieuwe paperbacks heeft gedaan: Míla Fürstová.
Het evenement vond plaats op vrijdag 17 Juli bij Waterstones Hampstead in Londen en werd gepresenteerd door Sarah Rees Brennan, de co-auteur van The Bane Chronicles en Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy. Na het gesprek en vragen van het publiek vond er een signeersessie plaats en kon iedereen hun boeken laten signeren.
Ik had de gelegenheid daarbij aanwezig te zijn, aangezien ik toch in Londen aanwezig was voor YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention), waar Cassandra en Sarah de dag erna aanwezig waren. Ik kon gelukkig van de hele talk een audio opname maken, en heb daar een transcriptie van gemaakt.
Wél in het Engels, want de talk duurde ruim drie kwartier, en ik ben helaas niet in de gelegenheid alles te vertalen naar het Nederlands. Mochten jullie vragen erover hebben of iets niet begrijpen, dan kun je die natuurlijk altijd stellen (in de comments, op Twitter, Facebook, of via e-mail).
CC = Cassandra Clare
MF = Míla Fürstová
SRB = Sarah Rees Brennan
Van links naar rechts: Míla Fürstová, Cassandra Clare en Sarah Rees Brennan
SRB: Thank you so much for coming to see us, I love you all. And I would like to make it clear first, that a horrible mistake has been made and I should not be in charge of this. There are very, very fancy people here. I mean first we have Míla, and I don’t know if you know this, but she taught an etching studio in the Chelsea New College for Ladies, and she can teach us all how to etch.
Míla Fürstová had illustraties van de cover art van de nieuwe Britse edities van The Mortal Instruments meegebracht, en een van de etsen die zij voor de nieuwe covers heeft gebruikt, die van City of Ashes.
De illustratie voor City of Bones / Stad van Beenderen
De illustratie voor City of Lost Souls / Stad van Verloren Zielen
De illustratie voor City of Heavenly Fire / Stad van Hemelse Vlammen
MF: So basically, etching is a very ancient technique. It was used for making armoury and is about 400 or 500 years old. Everything is done on metal plates. The zinc plate is covered by wax, and turned around and smoked with candles. So it is totally alchemical and doesn’t fit into contemporary art. When the plate is covered and the surface is black, I have a needle with which I scratch fine lines into the black wax surface. Then the whole thing goes into the acid which makes the lines go deeper into the plate. You can then put coloured ink into those lines, and then there is an image taken on a wet sheet op paper. So it’s totally old-fashioned and alchemical. And what is very lovely thing about it, is that no one know how it’s quite going to come out, so there’s an element of mystery.
Een van de metalen platen die Míla Fürstová maakte. Deze is voor de cover van City of Ashes / Stad van Vuur
SRB: Can both of you talk of your art as feminists, and embracing both vulnerability and strength?
CC: I think that telling the stories of women is always a feminist act. Obviously one of the reasons I wanted to write The Mortal Instruments in the first place, was because I was fascinated by the hero’s journey in classic fantasy and modern fantasy. I saw a lot of it, but I didn’t see that much of it that was about girls. So I wanted to tell a story that was about someone who was a hero, and came of age and fought a battle against evil and was a woman instead of a man. Usually these stories are about boys who learn what it means to be a man in this world, and I wanted this one to be about girls deciding what kind of women they wanted to be. So Clary is definitely part of that. Tessa, Emma, my next heroine, and after that Cordelia and Lucie. So there’s always going to be strong women at the centre of these books.
For a long time, when people talked about strong women, what they meant was physically strong women: they can lift a lot, and they can punch a lot and they can kick a lot. That is important because physical strength is usually associated with men. But the fun thing with writing so many different girls is that you encounter strength in so many different ways. They show strength mentally, morally, physically, spiritually and not just be able to kick ass.
MF: With me it’s more like I have no choice not to be feminist. My art has to be about me. I’m a woman. As an artist I have to be a strong woman. Even if I try not to be, it ends up as a hopefully strong character in the centre of my work. And in cooperating with Cassie, I related to Clary because she is an artist and she basically changes the world with something so fragile as art and being just honest and true to herself and doing what she loves and believes in.
SRB: Cassie was talking about how Clary got her name, about how artists see the world, whether they’re writers or whether they’re visual artists. So I thought we could talk a bit about point of view and sight.
CC: Clary got her name in part when I was still creating the Clairvoyance rune. It’s something that Jace says to her in the first book, that if you put clary sage (plant) in your eye, you’ll get the sight and be able to the supernatural world. And the world clary is connected to clairvoyance, the word for clear sight. And so I thought it would be an interesting name to give to an heroine whose gift is seeing things that other people don’t see. She’s able to see runes that other people don’t see. And she’s able to use her gift of artistry. She doesn’t start out in the book as an amazing, kick-ass girl who can bench-press 300 pounds, because she’s lived her whole life as a mundane and she’s never been trained, but she does start out as scrappy and with this talent for art. And she translated this artistic talent into this gift of being able to create runes that no one has ever seen before. And in the end it’s that gift for runes that allows her to save the world and defeat evil. So the idea of sight and seeing was always tied to Clary for me.
SRB: Could Míla talk a bit about how she sees the world and how that falls into her art.
MF: This all so resonates. Just the whole idea of Shadowhunters being half angels and half humans. I think, in a way, that we all are, that we all have this clairvoyance in us and it’s just about finding it. We all are Clary’s. As an artist it’s about experiencing every day, that asks what inspires me. And as a very young artist I sometimes lost inspiration, a little bit and then I would try and look for it and try to force it, and I would cry and I would get angry. And I would go to the library to look for images and nothing would inspire me and it would be just a battle. And then I realised that if I trust in that clairvoyance that you talked about, then it would come to me as a gentle force that we all have. All of us.
CC: It’s interesting, because we always think about writer’s block and being stuck on stories, but I never really thought about painters and artists having artist’s block. I guess they do. [laughter] I mean dancers have dancer’s block and actors have actor’s block and chefs have chef block. “I don’t understand the soufflé. I don’t know where it’s going.” [laughter] I have a permanent chef block.
SRB: It’s true, she really does. I mean she makes spaghetti sauce every once. Once in ten years. [laughter]
SRB: I was wondering if there were any aspiring authors in the room. Yes, I thought so. And are there any artists? Hey quite a few of them as well. I mean, I personally once drew a beautiful picture of a castle and my mother was like “I like the cat”. We don’t speak anymore. [laughter] But I think it’s beautiful that there are so many artists here and I think that it’s beautiful that, as you guys were saying, that we’re all Clary’s and that artists do see things that other people can’t see. And I think we’ve all had that experience. I think the process of reading books itself is a bit like “And there was love, and there was death, there is agony. Especially in the infernal devices.” You know what I’m talking about! And then everyone’s like “Well no, it’s more sort of a block of paper that you acted like a lunatic over for several hours.” And you’re like “You don’t understand me, mother.” I think we’re all able to see things that other people can’t see because in these words on paper or images on paper, you see something of great depth and beauty, and it’s that side that provides us all with a pay check and enriched lives. Ahem. But I wondered if you could both talk a little bit about how you learnt that writing or visual art was the thing that you really wanted to do?
MF: Oh gosh, so many stories. Well, I come from the Czech Republic actually. When I was Clary’s age, but younger, I was fourteen and the country was still Communist. In my country you were told that you could never leave. And I had never seen the sea. I could only dream of seeing it and of all those exquisite things and architecture around the world. And what I did as my fight with this predicament, I tried to imagine it, I tried to dream about it and draw it. Eventually, it almost feels as if I have drawn my way out of the country, out of that regime. And as coincidences come together, when I was fourteen the Communist regime collapsed, the borders had opened for the first time and we were allowed to travel. And so the sea that I was seeing for the first time, and I have drawn it ever since. And I have just continued on that lane. Just being so happy about not being trapped anymore and being able to follow the path and draw everything around the world. That’s my path.
CC: I don’t have a story that’s nearly that good. I think I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer, but I used to tell myself stories or told my friends stories and I would just memorise them. So I would just memorise where I was, I would memorise where I was up to that point and I would start again the next day. So it became a very long, long story. and mostly because I have terrible handwriting and when I wrote down stories I couldn’t read them later. so I was just memorising everything. And eventually my father, and this was like a long time ago, bought me a computer. And you know they weren’t that common, having your own personal computer. Because of this computer I actually started typing things and I realised that I could type out the story and go back to it and fix it and change it and edit. I spent years with writing and writing all the time. This was what I loved to do, I would do it every night before I went to sleep and I would never show the stories to anybody, except that my dad would sneak into my room and he would read them and he make fun of me later. [laughter] Really didn’t help. Only when I was like in my twenties that I got the courage to start showing my work to other people. I think once that happened it gave me the courage to become a real writer. I mean everyone who writes is a real writer, but I think it helps when you have people to show your work to. And give you feedback and help you work on getting better. And I think that was the first time that I really remember thinking “this is what I want to do for a living.” But I thought nobody does this for a living, that ridiculous. Of course there are books in bookstores and somebody must write them, but I couldn’t figure out how you would start to become a professional writer. So it was over many years that I figured out how that worked. And also my friend Holly [Black, co-author of Magisterium series] explained it to me.
Vragen uit het publiek:
Question: Míla are you going to redesign The Infernal Devices covers as well? Because they’re my favourites.
MF: Thank you! I’m not sure I’m deserving any questions. Well, we’ll see what happens.
CC: I would love for Míla to do The Infernal Devices. I was so excited when my publisher first sent me the image for the first book. She said they wanted to redesign a second set of Mortal Instruments books and so we’re giving them a different and very unusual look. And I was like “Great, that sounds interesting”. And I thought this was really amazing, and I would ask all my friends “I’m not crazy, right?” And we all agreed it looked great. And so Míla did the rest of them and I loved them and think they’re beautiful. I think the style would work really well with The Infernal Devices, with the steampunk, the gears and the sort of Victorian feeling. You know, I’m for it, we’re all for it. So Walker [Cassie’s British publisher] has to make that call. We want to do it.
Question: Will Jem and Tessa have any kids?
CC: Right, Jem and Tessa show up in The Dark Artifices. It’s interesting, because for so long Jem has sort of not aged. When Tessa met him again he still sort of looked like nineteen, but now he’s kind of like twenty-five and I think he has had some time to get used to being human again, aging, eating food, seeing sunlight. I think there was a certain amount of readjustment to the human role that he needed to do. Talking ― at all. So I think that now would be about the time that they would start thinking about having kids, if they’re going to have kids. There was sort of a time period where Jem needed to readjust to what’s it like to be a person. Like sleeping, opening his eyes… So you notice that I didn’t answer, but I kind of did.
Question: Which book did you enjoy writing most and why?
CC: Oh, that’s tough. I mean I love writing them all in different ways. Usually, for being last books of a series. So it would probably be a tie between City of Heavenly Fire and Clockwork Princess, which I enjoyed for the amount of pain that it gave me. And that I felt it would inflict on others. Sarah was one of my test cases. Sarah and Holly. I kept writing, I rewrote the end of it fourteen times. And each time I would give it to them and make them read it and asked, “Are you sad?” [laughter] “Yes, I’m really sad.” And I’m like, “Not sad enough! Gotta be sadder!” So only when they were actively crying, I was like OK.
SRB: My heart is not a toy! Never trust a redhead.
Question: I really admire your characters Jem and Simon. And I was wondering if you had created your perfect hero yet, or if you have yet to bring us someone more perfect?
CC: Oh, that’s an interesting question. I mean, Jem and Simon are a lot of fun because they’re not your traditional alpha male characters. You know, they’re not cocky, they’re not arrogant, they’re different from each other, but they have a different kind of personality and way of being strong. I love a lot of the characters I’m writing now. I really love Julian. I mean Sarah loves Julian, right?
SRB: I love Julian. He’s so good, and nobody understands what he suffers. And half of his sibling should be put to death because they’re not grateful enough.
CC: Yes, Sarah spent a lot of time like, “Why are his brothers and sisters not more grateful? Do they not realise what they have?” And I was like, “Nobody is grateful to their family like that.” And Sarah was like, “They should all worship at his feet!” [laughter] Well, he does make pancakes.
I do love Julian, and he’s very different also. He’s had to bring up his brothers and sisters and so he’s got all of this responsibility to care for these much younger children and so it means that he can never do anything wrong. But you know, of course he wants to. And when he does that makes it all the more interesting and more exciting. There’s also Mark, who has been in Faery land for some accountable number of years, like he doesn’t even know how much time has passed by there. He’s completely sort of detached from the way that Shadowhunters live their lives. I mean, very unclear on all things, and he’s kind of fun because he’s so…
SRB: He’s very Shakespearean in a way. Both in the way that he speaks Faery and speaks like a wise fool. Mark is in Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy that Cassie and I have recently written together and isn’t out yet.
CC: And then James and Matthew from The Last Hours are really fun for me. James is a little bit like his father in some ways, but also a little bit like Tessa. So he’s like this interesting mix of them, Tessa being sweet, and Will being kind of arrogant. And Matthew is a lot of fun, I think you guys are going to like him. He’s really, really fun to write. I don’t know, they are all pretty awesome.
Question: For The Mortal Instruments what was the hardest part, except for the ending, that you wrote? That you struggled with or had a writer’s block.
CC: I think there were some parts where I felt everything had to be very carefully calibrated, probably Jace being evil. Because he had to be recognizably Jace, but at the same time not-Jace. He had to be enough Jace that Clary would feel torn about still wanting to save his life and she would feel torn about what to do. He had to be different enough that it was definitely not him. So that was hard to do. I knew that I wanted to do, to make him evil, but once I actually came around to writing it, it was definitely very difficult to do. I enjoyed it, but it was hard.
SRB: It’s true, there was a particular scene that she wrote. It’s not in the book, and she was like “Hmm, I think it’s too far in this.” And I was like, “No, it’s great!“.
CC: Was it sexy business?
CC: They go to this nightclub in Prague, and like they go into a bad part of the nightclub and some sexy business happens, but I had to cut it because my editor was like “No.” So, I was just on set [Shadowhunters TV series] and I had dinner with the cast and I sat down with them and they were very nice, so I asked if anyone had any questions. And they all had the same question: What did Jace and Clary do in the nightclub? Like physically. And I was like, “Oh, that’s really pervy! I mean I wrote the entire scene, I’ll mail it to you.” And they were like, “Yeeeeah…” ;) So I have to send the whole cast this extremely perverted scene.
SRB: I volunteer to call my favourite cast member and read it to him.
CC: Which one is your favourite?
SRB: Well it used to be the boy playing Alec, but I’ve changed my mind. Because Cassie went on set and all of the actors were reading the books, and Harry Shum Jr., who is playing Magnus, staggered over to Cassie and said, “I’ve been reading your books”, and Cassie said, “Ah yes, thank you―”, “I’ve been reading The Bane Chronicles!” And I was like “YES!”, and he said, “I love Saving Raphael Santiago.” And I was like, “I wrote that one. Tell him I love him! Tell him I love his dancing!”
CC: He had good questions, so I passed them on to Sarah and she was like, “I love him, tell him we will be together.”
Question: Could you give us a little sneak peek about a Malec wedding?
CC: Hmm, I’m trying to think of a sneak peek that wouldn’t be as spoilery as Malec wedding. All I can tell you is that you’ll see Magnus and Alec in the first book of The Dark Artifices and we do find out where they are in their relationship and we also have a short story coming up, called Born to Endless Night, in which Magnus and Alec find a baby on their doorstep. What to do with this baby, is the question. Actually, the issue becomes before the wedding, but that’s what happens when you find a warlock baby on your doorstep. so they want to talk about marriage and all that. So you’ll definitely see that stuff.
Question: So speaking of the cast, were there any of them that you particularly liked, or do any of them resemble the characters they’re playing?
CC: I think they all have ― all the ones that I’ve met, I mean it’s a big cast and there are people that I’ve never met at all and I haven’t seen their auditions and I know nothing about them ― but in terms of like the core cast, the recurring characters, I think they did a really good job, in terms of finding the right people. It’s interesting, because some of them were really easy to cast, like Dominic [Sherwood] was cast first. They really wanted to cast Clary first, but it was much harder to find Clary. They found Dominic for Jace, and it just clicked and so they went with him. And then Kat [Katherine McNamara] had to come in and out with a bunch of other people, but I think she truly loves Clary and she gets it, and she’s really smart. I think that she’s great for Clary. Another one is Simon [played by Alberto Rosende], he’s super sweet and friendly. When you meet him, it’s like “I like this guy, I want to be friends with this guy, I want to hang out with this guy.” And it’s such a great quality to have. And Matthew [Daddario] was interesting because the way he was cast interesting. They could not find an Alec. They kept looking at different people and not finding the right person. I had seen auditions and I hated them all, they’re not Alec. I think what they were looking for in terms of Alec, was not how I think of Alec, and probably not how you think of Alec. How I think of Alec is like a warrior, a soldier, like somebody who fights, fights side-by-side with Jace, and is pretty tough. So I went into their casting server and I went into the section that was for people who had auditioned for Jace, because they still had them all. I watched like fifty-five auditions, and I got down to Matthew. And I was like, “him, that guy, that guy is Alec. Why did you pick him for Jace?” Because he has a different quality than Jace has, but he is so Alec. So I wrote them this letter, not expecting anything would come of it, like “Matthew Daddario would be a great Alec. You should bring him in.” And I’m sort of used to them being like “whatever”, but they wrote back and were like “yeah, he is awesome!” So I was talking to Matthew about it on set, and he got this cal and they were like, “You remember that thing you tried out for? Well, not that, different part, but same show. Get on a plane and come to Los Angeles.” And he did it and everybody loved him and he was cast like that. so they were really looking for people with the right qualities for the characters.
SRB: I think that shows Cassie has an eye and really knows her characters very well.
Question: Where does you inspiration come from for the new covers?
MF: I work very, very closely with the publisher. There was an amazing young woman who was guiding me through the books. And it was established very early on that, quite similarly to the Coldplay album cover that I designed, there would be distinct graphic shapes in which there would be things happening. Our very first conversation was about including only objects, that was the publisher’s view. And I sort of rebelled at that. My point was that if I included characters, if I punt in Clary, Simon and Jace, and fixing how they were going to look. So I really insisted that I would like the central figure, you know the feminist Clary, and the others to be there and carry the story, and sort of make the other objects come to life.
Question: Míla, Clary is an artist ― she invents runes ― which rune could you invent if you could?
Oh, good one. But I love the one for clairvoyance. That’s the one that is striking and when I was drawing the characters, I decided that I wanted to link all the elements with runes on the banners and I found myself always drawing that one. That’s the one with which it all begins for me.
Question: Since we were talking about spoilers and the Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, would you maybe spoil us a bit for Simon and Izzy’s date?
CC: Simon and Izzy’s date comes up in the next story. I guess I can say that the date goes really badly, but then goes really well. Simon would consider it to be satisfactory, but basically he doesn’t know what to do to have a romantic date with Izzy, so he asks Clary what her romantic date with Jace was like. A date that Jace and Clary would enjoy, but Isabelle does not. [laughter] And she’s like, “Why are you taking me on this terrible date?” So then they kind of have to work through the date that would work for Jace and Clary, which involves looking at weaponry, but not for Simon and Isabelle.
Question: Were there any of the film cast that you wanted to keep for the TV series?
CC: It wasn’t my choice, about re-casting, but I knew that they wouldn’t use them again. So I never thought about keeping any of them in, because I knew that it was an absolute no-go. The people who do the TV show are a completely different set of people from the ones that did the movie. a totally different casting director, and part of even the deal with ABC Family and doing the show was that “our casting director will cast this and cast who they want.” And so there was never a chance, it was never going to happen. And since I knew it was never going to happen, I never thought about it. Because why think about stuff that is never going to happen, you’ll just bug yourself out. I do love them, and I sometimes still DM with them, and they all seem to be doing really well.
SRB: Thank you guys very much for all you kind attention, and thank you very much to our fancy, fancy ladies!
De nieuwe edities van The Mortal Instruments bij Waterstones Hampstead
Wat vinden jullie van de nieuwe covers?
Dat was het voor nu. Hou de website in de gaten, want het verslag van YALC komt ook binnenkort online!