Cassandra Clare is the writer behind The Mortal Instruments series of novels, and we will be seeing the book City of Bones adapted for the big screen.
We caught up with the author to chat about the film, being on set and what lies ahead.
- The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is set to be one of the big movies of the summer and is the first book in this series to be adapted. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the story can you tell me a bit about it?
It is an action, adventure, fantasy about a girl named Clary Fray; she is sixteen when the story begins and lives in New York City.
She witnesses a murder and as she begins to investigate she discovers that what she thought was a simple murder is actually evidence of a secret race of warriors called Shadowhunters; they are half angel and half human and protect the world against demons and other supernatural baddies.
Her mother disappears and so she investigates the disappearance of her mother's disappearance. And as she does she gets drawn into this world.
- We have seen quite a lot of teenage literature adapted over the last few years so when did Hollywood come knocking on your door? And did you have any reservations?
I think it was back in 2009 when they optioned the movie, but it didn't really start getting going until 2011.
I was a little hesitant. I firmly believe that you can't get a good movie without risking a bad movie.
A good adaptation of your book is worth it because it is such a wonderful experience to see your world translated onto the screen.
- Jessica Postigo has adapted the book into a screenplay so what did you think of the script when you read it for the first time?
It went through so many different changes. The first version of the script that I read I remember thinking 'this is weird' as it didn't have much to do with my book at all (laughs). Over time and months of drafts, it did become closer to the book.
- Was there anything, in particular, that you were insistent that they kept in or weren't changed?
There were definitely characters that I did not want them to cut out; for instance, there is a character called Magnus Bane who has quite a small part in the first book.
But I was committed to the idea that he remained in the movie because if there were more movies, and I hope there will be; he becomes extremely important.
When you have a whole series, there are often clues in a first book that pay off later; unless you know that they are going to pay off you may be inclined to cut them as you don't the significance. So there was a certain amount of me saying, 'well this can't really go'.
- Well, that does lead me into my next question. How involved were you with the movie? Did you have conversations with director Harald Zwart about the story/characters?
Yeah, I did. I talked to Harald quite a bit about both the story and the characters. I was also very involved with casting and the production side of the movie; the props, the costumes and the way that it was going to look.
Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower take on the lead roles of Clary Fray and Jace Wayland so how did you find that whole casting experience?
It was fascinating because I never considered how complicated it was; particularly, when you are casting an ensemble. Every piece of the ensemble has to work with the other pieces.
You start at the top with Clary and Jace but you are casting Clary's best friend or Jace's best friend, as so they have to have chemistry.
They can't just work with one other actor they have to work with all the other actors. So it becomes a process of building a team, and that is complicated but fascinating.
- Lily and Jamie are two upcoming stars so what did you see in them as Clary and Jace?
Lily has the great quality of being able to marry strength and vulnerability; she can seem very vulnerable and hurt, but she also has the ability to project a steely strength.
Jamie can do really quick emotional changes. He can go from funny to cruel to happy to sad to sarcastic all in the space of a few minutes; that is very rare. It was really wonderful.
- How much time did you spend with the pair discussing the characters? Was there anything, in particular, that they asked you about?
It's funny because since the series isn't finished almost all the actors asked if their characters were going to die.
I did spend time with them and the other actors on set - I was on set for about twelve days on and off. It was really great to be able to watch them perform and watch the filming.
- How was your on set experience? Have you ever been on a movie set before?
Yes, my grandfather was a movie producer, and so I grew up on movie sets. So when I got to the set I really felt completely at home, and it was just really wonderful to be there.
I would wander around the set bothering the production crew and playing with the props. It was like Disneyland.
- The books have a huge following have you been able to talk to some of the fans about the upcoming film and what they make of the casting and so on?
They are all different so it is not like they all have one feeling about the movie. They all have their favourite characters, and they all have their favourite scenes; they all want to know if their particular favourite scene is in the movie.
I have just been trying to give them a general sense of how I feel, but they are going to have to make up their own minds. But by and large, the fans have been extremely positive as they love the look of the film, and they do love the actors.
- They all seem to be very excited about the film, so are you getting that vibe as well?
Oh yes, definitely getting the vibe that they are very excited. They are always asking me to do things that I couldn't possibly do 'can you release the movie early?; 'could you release twenty minutes of footage?'; 'could you release the new single?'
And I am, like 'I don't have any of those things' (laughs).
- What did you think of the film when you saw it for the first, and you saw the world and characters that you created on the big screen?
I saw a very rough cut, but I really did enjoy it. I thought that the cast all turned in amazing performances.
- Moving away from the film have you got any writing projects in the pipeline?
I am finishing up The Mortal Instruments series right now; so I am finishing the last book.
As soon I am done with that I have a project that is more Middle Grade - that is more Percy Jackson age -, and that has been co-written; so that is another five books.
And then I have another three books of a sequel to The Mortal Instruments out after that. So I am quite busy.
- You are saying goodbye to the original The Mortal Instruments series so how difficult has it been closing the door?
It is sad when you are writing the last book of the series, and you have to say goodbye to the characters, and you know that you are not going to write about them in the same way.
I closed out another series this year, so I do know how it feels. But it is taking me a long time to write this last book; maybe I am dragging it out a bit as I don't want to say goodbye.
- Finally, what is coming up for you in the second half of this year? Are there going to be more films on the horizon?
Hopefully. They are starting production on the second movie, which is very exciting. Hopefully, that will go ahead.
In which case I am going to spend a lot of time this year talking about the film and promoting it, and then they will go on to the second movie.
I would love to visit the set again and be part of the second movie as well as the first.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is released 21st August.
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