Cassie Clare (cassandraclare) wrote,
Cassie Clare

Insane Reading Project

So over on my writing blog (soon to be combined with this blog for ease of updating), I just announced that I've sold a new Shadowhunter series, this one set in Victorian England. [Description from the press release: While The Mortal Instruments is set largely in present-day Manhattan, The Infernal Devices takes us back one hundred and forty years to the heart of Victorian England, exploring an earlier era in the history of the Shadowhunters — a time before the Accords, when Downworlder and Shadowhunters were at each other's throats. A time when orphaned teenager Tessa discovers she isn't human after all, but a warlock, capable of changing her shape to resemble anyone she desires to be. Tessa must use her power to descend into London's supernatural Downworld, where vampires stalk the gaslit streets of London, werewolves slink in the shadowy lanes of Whitechapel, and warlocks hold masquerade balls for demons and Downworlders in opium-smoke-filled ballrooms. But living in Downworld isn't simple — Tessa has to learn to trust her natural enemies, the demon-killing Shadowhunters, if she ever wants to control her powers and find her brother. Torn between the darkly gorgeous and devoted Will, a Shadowhunter hiding a deadly secret, and the brooding Jem, whose addiction to a demon drug is slowly destroying him, Tessa must draw on all her strength to save her brother and keep herself alive in this deadly new world.]

Now, I'm very excited about getting started on this series. I love the Victorian era, and I did a concentration on Victorian lit in college. I love the clothes, the politics, the fast-moving urban technology and development, the spiritualism, the novels, the popular arts, the strange fruits of colonialism, the gaslight, the whole business. I am of course also scared silly at the thought of having to do all that research, though Libba has kindly offered to lend me her research books. I've also bought an inordinate crapload of research books on my own, from A Victorian Household to The Victorian Visitors, to Leaves from a Victorian Diary, Slumming, The Victorians and their Reading, and a ton more. WHICH! — leads me to my Insane Reading Project.

I have decided that from the moment I finish final copyedits on City of Glass, I am going to read nothing but books — fiction and non — published in the Victorian era, or written later but set in the Victorian era for the next year. I have a fairly loose definition of this — my book is set around 1865 but the Victorian era stretched from 1837 to 1901, and I'll read anything set within those dates. I'll accept alternate history, too. ("The Difference Engine" would count.) Overviews of history with sections about the Victorian era are ok too. ( London: The Wicked City, and Gotham both count.) And I'll take anything set in London, New York, India, China, or Paris in and around that era, because the book series visits all those places.

And yet... I am still wondering how long it will take before I start going cross-eyed. I talked to an author at Vericon who said he'd done the same thing while writing his historical duology, and it had turned out to be a fabulous, immersive experience, but I have a feeling he may be much more disciplined than I am. But — I am looking forward to it nonetheless.

So, in short, if anyone has any recommendations for fiction, contemporary or otherwise, set in the Victorian era (mysteries, I've found, are especially helpful as they're often exhaustively detailed in terms of location and legal and social detail) — please let me know! Or nonfiction reference books you think might be helpful. I will read basically anything that sticks to my rules.

Any and all help appreciated!

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