Cassie Clare (cassandraclare) wrote,
Cassie Clare

City of Fallen Angels wrapup and general answer post

First off, I wanted to say thanks to everyone who came by to leave a comment about City of Fallen Angels, or ask a question, or who came to a signing, or who just read a copy of the book! Thanks to you guys, City of Fallen Angels was #1 on the New York Times series bestseller list (which is a tough list to get onto, since it counts the sales of every book in a series), #1 on the Wall Street Journal Fiction Bestseller List, #2 on the USA Today bestseller list, which counts every book for sale in the entire country. So that's all awesome, and thank you all so much!

Now, on to the rest of the post. This is the big answer post I was talking about earlier, which answers the most-asked questions people had about Fallen Angels. It is of course very spoilery, so please AVOID if you haven't read COFA.

1) I hate cliffhangers? Why is the ending so mean? Why are you so mean?

I was mildly — not entirely — surprised by how intense the reaction to the ending of COFA is. I knew it was one of those endings that comes along and kicks you in the back of the knees — everything seems fine, you're four pages from the end, what could go wrong, and then wham. I expected a love/hate relationship with it — maybe not so much fainting...

I do love a cliffhanger. The vast majority of my readers came along after City of Bones so they don't remember this, but the year between City of Bones and City of Ashes was not fun for the people who got the sibling bombshell dropped on them at the end of CoB and had to wait for CoA to see whether that was the end of Clary and Jace or not. Those people are giving the rest of you the beady eye right now.

So why the cliffhanger, in all seriousness? It is not to get you to read the next book. I do have faith you'd read the next book without a cliffhanger ending. The answer is a slight spoiler: the reason COFA ends like it does is because the next book begins weeks later. The other characters do not know what has happened, and they are panicking. I want to you to feel what the characters feel, feel their pain, feel their fear, feel their anxiety and uneasiness. I also don't want you to know more than they do, because that way, actually, does lie boredom. To really feel the gut punch this development is to Clary, the Lightwoods, and the rest, you have to experience it along with them, so that you're right where they are, emotion-wise, as the next book begins.

2) Why do you hurt Jace? Hasn't he suffered enough? But Jace and Clary were so happy before! Why put them through pain again?

A wise writer once told me: "If you don't give readers what they want, they will hate you. If you give them what they want, they will hate you even more."

(Now, a note in here to say one thing: All of this stuff is just my opinion. If you didn't like the book, I respect that, and I promise I am not trying to argue you out of it. I always do this sort of post when a book is out — explaining why I chose to do this or that, or not do something else — not because I feel like I can argue folks into liking the book, but because I used to, as a reader, often wonder the why of why authors did what they did. I can give you the why — which absolutely does not mean you have to change your feelings! Authorial intent is interesting, I think, but it does not have to color your opinion.)

Readers think they want to read about characters they love being happy. And sure, in doses, you do. But not books of it. A whole book in which Jace dances through the daises is one in which you would come to the disturbing conclusion that he had become really boring (and weird about daisies.) The reason he is loved in the first place is because we have seen him suffer. The cockiness and witty remarks are fun, but without being balanced against vulnerability and suffering, they just make him a jerk.

It is worth remembering as well that he has had two happy months, give or take, with Clary, in between City of Glass and City of Fallen Angels, before the nightmares started up. He has a great relationship, a loving adoptive family, is gorgeous, and the best Shadowhunter of his generation. His life is not unmitigated misery.

I do get a lot of questions asking if I "don't like Clary and Jace" or "want to make Jace suffer." Authors tend to torment the characters they love, not the characters they don't care about. Characters must want and love and suffer for them to feel real. Like real people, characters reveal themselves through suffering — it is under pressure that your true self comes to the forefront.

Anyway, second, I should address the "They were so happy at the end of the last three books why give them more pain" issue:

1) I always planned a spinoff series about Simon, so it was never going to end there. Clary and Jace would have been more minor characters, so you wouldn't have seen much of them, which would have reduced the conflict, but it still would have been there. The last three TMI books aren't so much a new three books as they are a reimagining of the books I'd planned to write afterward anyway.

2) They were happy enough at the end of CoG. I re-read it recently and was struck in fact by how delicate that happiness seemed. Jace spends his time staring at the Herondale box and bewailing his lack of a sense of identity, and his relationship to/with Jocelyn is never resolved. It was very easy to pick up the threads of their relationship and weave them forward into a natural conflict because they simply didn't seem that tied up to me. YMMV, of course. I've seen people complain about "forced angst" in, for instance, Mockingjay (which I loved, btw, and don't think contains forced angst!) — my interpretation of that has always been "angst that does not grow organically out of the characters and their situations — obstacles that are thrown at the characters just for the sake of having obstacles." All I can say is that I do believe that what happens with Clary and Jace in CoFA grows organically out of their characters and is set up in the end of CoG — Clary is left with the unsettling words of the Seelie Queen, the kind of words that keep you up at night ("Do you really know the truth about who you are? Do you really think your mother doesn't lie to you? Do you really think the person you love, loves you?") Meanwhile, Jace comes from a childhood of abuse, and like many abused children, believes himself unworthy of love, and fears that his own love is dangerous (hence his greatest fear being hurting Clary.) Clary tells him over and over that this isn't true, but this isn't a conclusion you can get from someone else, no matter how much they love you — which Clary realizes in the patio scene in COFA. You have to come to it on your own**. That he didn't believe it at the end of CoG was one of the main things that made me decide to go forward with Jace and Clary's story. I certainly don't believe unhappiness is necessary in romance — but I do think character growth is and both Jace and Clary had room to grow. However, if you're really happy with the way things ended with CoG, however, you can stop there, and pretend it's the end!

** I do love Jace and Clary, and love writing about their love, but I don't want either of them to be defined by the other person. I think the best kind of love is two strong complete people loving each other, which is why I wanted, in COFA, even when Clary believes her relationship with Jace is over, for her to carry on investigating, carry on fighting and doing, rather than sitting and crying.

2b) Will Jace and Clary get a happy ending? I thought they got their HEA at the end of COg and now I'm upset.

The key word of that phrase is ending. You cannot get a happy ending in Book 4, any more than Harry could have killed Voldemort in Book 4.

My first reaction to this was, uncharitably, "I told you so." When CoG came out I was flooded with mail and livejournal comments insisting that this could not possibly be the end, it was not satisfying enough as an end, we hadn't seen Jace and Clary happy and together for long enough, there were too many loose ends. I made an LJ post at the time pointing out that more books about Jace and Clary meant more pain for Jace and Clary, because conflict is the engine that drives plot. The response was "Fine! Bring it!"

I think perhaps people didn't expect it to be brought quite so hard. So let me say this: I don't hurt characters, or readers, just to be mean. I appreciate that you love these characters and have taken them into your heart. I appreciate that when characters you care about are put into painful situations, it hurts, and you want to chuck the book around and call me names. That's fine.

Epic fantasies are made up of epic adventures and epic feelings. This book isn't a victory lap for the characters from TMI; it's the start of a new trilogy. The obstacles Clary and Jace face can't be less in this new series, they need to be more. The stakes can't be lower, they need to be higher. The villain they face can't be less scary, it needs to be more scary. Otherwise it is impossible for the characters to grow.

Without unhappiness, there's no happiness, or at least no satisfaction in it — writing it would ring hollow the same way characters winning a war where the enemy just gives up and doesn't fight doesn't feel real or consequential. For me, the best and most exciting books take me to the edge of emotion and make me feel strongly, and sometimes make me sad, but that's what I love, and you have to write what you love. I believe that the journey ahead for Jace and Clary is a necessary one even though it may go to some dark places, and I hope you can trust me enough (after all, you kept going after the end of City of Bones!) as a writer to go there with us.

3) I didn't really understand what happened to Jace at the end. Are he and Sebastian now one person?

What Lilith did was very ancient blood magic. She wanted Simon's blood, to transmit his Daylighter powers to Sebastian, but Jace's blood did in a pinch — there was a "second part to the ritual" that went unmentioned until Jace was alone on the roof. Simon having bitten Sebastian brought him back enough for Jace's blood to revive him entirely; if they hadn't been inside Lilith's circle of magic, it wouldn't have worked, though. The rune on Jace's chest healed (gradually) because it wasn't one of the Gray Book runes, and it was under Lilith's control — when she died, it become under Sebastian's control. And now, so is Jace. It's okay if you don't know exactly what's going on with Jace and Sebastian at the end of the book — you're not supposed to. They do remain two separate people in separate bodies but Jace is, shall we say, not quite what he once was. Although anyone complaining he was mopey will certainly get their wish that he not be mopey any more. Be careful what you ask for...

4) "Will there be more crossovers between Infernal Devices and Mortal Instruments in CoLS? Will Tessa and the rest show up in CoLS of CoHF?"

I can't tell you if Tessa and the others show up in the next books. I can say that I can't do anything in TMI that spoils who lives and who dies in ID, and vise versa. I also can't do anything in either series that relies so heavily on the other series that those who haven't read it will be lost. But there will continue to be small hooks tying the series together.

5) Will there be more Magnus and Alec in CoLS?

I like that people love Magnus and Alec so much. They continue to have strong parts through the series. They are secondary characters, and I try to balance out the storylines so that Izzy/Simon and Magnus/Alec get about the same screen time/development.

6)"When Magnus sees Camille & his brain walks down memory lane. He thinks of a girl(Tessa?) that is one of the few remaining constants..."

Yes, Magnus thinks of Will, Tessa and Jem. "He saw a boy with black hair and blue eyes like Alec’s, heard violin music like the sound of silver water. He saw a girl with long brown hair and a serious face." Some have mentioned to me that in their version Jem is missing. I don't know why that would be but he'll be back in later printings. As for Tessa being one of Magnus' constants, well, that'll have to wait...

7) Were Will and Magnus having an affair?

A lot of people do seem to have come away with that impression. Camille is deliberately invoking Will to make Alec jealous. However, she never specifies anything about what relationship Magnus and Will had. I guess you have to make up your own mind until Clockwork Prince. :)

8) Now that Jace gave up his blood for Sebastian, does that mean Sebastian now has angel blood and is part angel?

Well, he sure didn't do it willingly. The full effect of what being bound to Sebastian means for both Jace and Sebastian will be explored in City of Lost Souls. But yes, killing Sebastian will kill Jace — and vice versa.

9) "Where did the killing of all of Valentine's circle members come into the plot? If Lilith was only aiming to resurrect Sebastian? Why did she get Camille to kill all those circle members...?"

Someone came into my journal and actually answered this one anonymously: "Lillith needed Shadowhunter blood to inject into the parents of the dead babies, in the hopes that they would then be born like Sebastian. That's what she needed Camille for, and Camille decided to kill those Shadowhunters whom had purposely hurt her kind as well as other Shadowhunters, namely those who had been loyal to Valentine until the end, probably in the hopes that if she was ever found out then she would be given leniency." Nicely done, anonymous!

10) Why is this book shorter than the others?

It isn't! City of Fallen Angels is 115,000 words - not remotely short by YA standards. Same length as CoA. Just printed to be smaller, to save money I'd imagine as the print run was large.

12) Jace seemed different in this book — more sad, mopey, etc. Will he return to the Jace he was in previous books?

I find this one a poser. Jace has not previously been a happy guy. He was a sarcastic guy, but that was because he was unhappy. Are we really asking if he will return to the Jace he was in City of Glass — the guy who picked a huge fight with Clary, put his hand through a window, thought he was a demon, lost his tutor, his father, and his little brother, tried to kill himself, and then died? Cause wow, that guy was an upper and a half.

I think if you lined up "funny lines" Jace has in City of Glass and the ones he has in City of Fallen Angels, there would not be a discernible difference. I think this question arises from a general sense that Jace is "different" and it is true; he is different in CoFA — he's fighting demon possession (or succumbing to it) for most of the book, which takes a physical toll, so he seems exhausted and vulnerable and sick. I think that gives rise to a feeling of anxiety about him and a corresponding sense that he is somehow more wounded or injured than he ever has been before.

He also has a different relationship with Clary than he used to. There is a huge difference between the way people behave when they're flirting/not in a relationship and they way they act when they are. Jace uses sarcasm and snideness to cover up his real feelings – always has. "I use my rapier wit to hide my inner pain" was completely honest. Now that he is in a relationship with Clary he can't keep hiding what he feels from her — that is the point of relationships. He has plenty of sarcastic lines and scenes with Simon, Jordan, and others (and it's not like he never jokes with Clary — “Don’t be sexist. They could find me a female instructor.” “In that case you have my permission to make out with her, as long as I can watch") but he spends a lot of CoFA trying to fight off possession. That is not the case in CoLS and CoHF.

13) "On page 270 of COFA the Silent brothers tell Jace and Clary that when a shadow hunter is born, a ritual is performed, a number of protective spells placed upon the child by both the silent brothers and iron sisters. So my question is if Clary was not born in the shadow hunter world and could not go to the brothers or sister than how did her mother have them placed on Clary when she was born?"

You will find out in later books, I promise. Right now I can tell you that Clary is protected.

14) "Will you ever release non-edited editions of TMI? Because I'm sure the publishers made you remove some parts so it wouldn't exceed YA guidelines."

Hee! You are not the only person who has thought that, but there is no secret dirty version of City of Fallen Angels. I write what I'm confortable with and so far, this has been it. I wouldn't have wanted Jace and Clary to sleep together in this book because I think it would have been a mistake considering what was going on with Jace. Doesn't mean there won't be sex in the future in TMI or ID.

15) What does nous sommes deux livres d'un meme ouvrage?" mean?

My dedication? It means "we are two volumes of the same book" and is inscribed on the inside of my wedding ring.

16) What does the title of City of Fallen Angels mean?

It's metaphorical. The tagline for the book was "Who will be tempted by darkness?" and the book is about temptation and falling prey to darker impulses. Simon falls when he bites Maureen; Alec when he frees Camille; Clary when she raises the dead; and Jace, of course, most spectacularly of all. We all fall from grace, is the message.

17) Where were Church and Chairman Meow?

They're fine. They will return.

18)"Did SWH dagger cause what's happening with Jace and Sebastian?"

Jace's father's initialed silver dagger — which, yes, stands for Stephen William Herondale — does seem to be around for a lot of bad stuff, doesn't it? Jace cutting Clary, the dream with Max, the ritual on the roof... so no, it didn't cause what's happening with Jace and Sebastian; Lilith did, but as Jace is open "like an unlocked door" all sorts of magic can subtly affect him.

19) "Also, you said that the graffiti that Jace spots during his brief stay in the cell in the Silent City was a clue for Clockwork Prince. I am puzzled as to why a character from Clockwork Prince would go all the way to New York to (presumably) see the Silent Brothers and then leave a cryptic mark in one of cell's that says 'JG'?... I'm guessing you won't answer this question, considering it is probably a spoiler for CP, but hey."

They wouldn't — go all the way to New York, that is. There is only one Silent City, with different entrances. The Silent City of London is the Silent City of NYC.

20) Why was Magnus banished from Peru?

I cannot say, but it had to do with a llama.

21) "will the fact that Robert cheated on Maryse play a part in later books? Or was it just something mentioned in this one?"

It affects Robert and Maryse's relationship and therefore the Lightwood kids tangentially. It does a lot to explain why Robert's never around. But it doesn't matter WHO he cheated on her with. That will never be important.

22) Is there hope for Jace? Hope for Clary? Hope for a happy ending?

Of course. Just as without conflict there is no plot, without hope, there is no story.

And lastly, not really having to do with COFA — why was the date for Clockwork Prince pushed back and will it affect the other books?

The release date for Clockwork Prince is, as Amazon says, December 6. (The cover will be revealed in May.) It was originally slated for end of September, but I was in an accident last year, smashed two ribs and injured my wrist, and couldn't write for a few weeks. You'd think a slip of a few weeks wouldn't matter and in most cases it wouldn't but the deadlines on these books are so incredibly tight, since they're producing them so incredibly fast (I know it doesn't seem like it, but they are; I'm not taking less time to write them, so they're literally crushing all their production dates) that missing one date snowballs: they had to scramble to find a new date, and the earliest was December. Again, it's a production issue — for instance publishers "reserve" printers ahead of time so that they can get their books actually printed on paper; lose your spot in line and you have to take the next available. As long as books are physical objects we actually hold in our hands, this kind of thing can happen. I am sorry about it — really sorry — but there's nothing I can do. This should not affect the publication of Lost Souls in May; beyond that, dates are tentative anyway: gives the general outline.

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