Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cassandra Clare at the Westgarth

Tonight I met up with the lovely Megan of Literary Life to go see Cassandra Clare speak at the Westgarth Theatre, as part of the Reading Matters conference, in conjunction with Walker Books, Melbourne Writers Festival, Readings and the Centre for Youth Literature.

I feel like I should start this post with a confession - I have not read any of Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel/Mortal Instruments books. Eeeep! Sorry! I have, however, read her short story Cold Hands in the Zombies vs Unicorns anthology. Despite this, I still thought it would be interesting to hear Cassandra talk and she's such a big name in YA that I'd be silly not to go.

Firstly, the Westgarth is a beautiful venue! It's one of my favourite cinemas and it was rather nice to get to go there for a literary event. Adele of Persnickety Snark (and now the Centre for Youth Literature) hosted the event - it wasn't like any other booky event I've been to. The night started with a performance by a theatre troupe acting out a scene from City of Bones in full costume.

Leanne Hall then took to the stage, as the High Warlock of Brooklyn, Magnus Bane (check out this pic from Readings of Leanne's costume!) and introduced Cassandra Clare. I'm going to do a run-down of some of the discussion from tonight in dot-point and apologies if some of it is slightly vague - having not read the books, a lot of stuff went over my head!

Cassandra and Leanne in conversation
  • Poor Cassandra had a broken toe and managed to make it up the flimsy stage stairs in heels (that's dedication!)
  • City of Fallen Angels - the first book in the second Mortal Instruments trilogy, explores the dark side of the characters. Whilst the first three novels were centred around good vs evil, the next book look at inner evils and has many characters falling from grace (with some pretty borderline, almost unlikeable actions). Themes such as descent and temptation will play a bigger role in the new books.
  • There was some interesting discussion about Jace's journey in the new books (interesting for me anyway, having not read them) and the idea that his plots will look more towards him needing to find acceptance, self-belief and learning to love himself.
  • Cassandra was greatly inspired by John Milton's Paradise Lost and this has influenced City of Fallen Angels.
  • The "hot alley scene" (I'm assuming fans will know this) was fun to write after building a lot of pent-up emotions, desire and teen hormones with Jace and Clary.
  • When writing Clockwork Angel, Cassandra immersed herself in Victorian era books and poetry and watched films set in this time. With the help of a research assistant, she also read diaries and first hand accounts and used these details to bring realism to the work. She had a really good research analogy about an iceberg (10% is visible, the other 90% is under the surface).
  • There was some talk of the City of Bones movie. Cassandra has read (and likes) the screenplay and initially found out about the casting of Lily Collins as Clary via twitter (and since has been in more contact with the studio and is going to be a bit more involved). She also suggested that there will hopefully be some news with Jace casting in the next couple of weeks!
  • In regard to future novels, there are possibilities for more novels set in the Shadowhunter world, but Cassandra is also hoping to work on a contemporary YA adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
  • Cassandra says the characters from her books that she is most like are Tessa from Clockwork Angel and Simon from the Mortal Instruments books. She also shares Jace's sarcastic sense of humour.
Following the discussion, there was an opportunity to get books signed (which I think most people did). I didn't get too many photos as Megan and I sat further back and I'm not great at using my phone's camera (Gen Y fail). However, there are some on Braiden, Megan and Adele's twitters.
Cassandra spoke well and was really funny, and even though a lot of the book-specific stuff went over my head, I always find it interesting to hear authors talk about their work and their writing processes. Hope everyone else who went had a good night!


Braiden said...

Wow this post went up quick....I hope to take more photos on Friday. Grr aggravated that I left my camera at home, and my iphone is craptastic in the memory-capturing aspect + it’s short day life-span.

Miss Friday said...

Awww, that sucks about your phone! I took a few more but they were really blurry haha

Anonymous said...

Awesome post darling! Much better than mine. Was feeling quite lazy, I knew you'd do a better job!

Twas fab to hang out tonight, and can't wait to hang out again next week.

ps-no idea why my stupid account isn't signing me in!!


Marg said...

The Westgarth was a gorgeous setting. It was nice to meet you there!

Miss Friday said...

It was lovely - I hope they do more lit events in the future! Lovely to meet you too Marg :)

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