March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Interview: Cassandra Clare on SLJ Popular Pick “Lady Midnight”

Pop Picks-Clare-Lady Midnight A Shadowhunters NovelAs we kick off our SLJ Popular Picks initiative, we were lucky enough to chat with the mega-popular author Cassandra Clare while she was on tour for Lady Midnight (S. & S., 2016; March 8). This series opener was one of the first Popular Picks that SLJ reviews editors selected.

What inspired you to set this brand-new series in Los Angeles?

I grew up in Los Angeles and spent my teenage years there, so writing about teens in that environment feels natural to me. Los Angeles is a fascinating city because it’s so modern and sprawling but set in this place of dramatic natural beauty, where mountains and desert and ocean meet. The better you know a city, the more fun you can have transforming its landmarks and lesser-known spaces into something magical. I was an imaginative teenager, always seeing supernatural creatures and potential magic around every corner. In the “Dark Artifices,” I’ve [been able] to revive those imaginings and place sea demons on the Santa Monica pier. L.A. has this contrast between the glamorous and the seedy that is great fun to play with in the context of Shadowhunters and Downworlders.

The call and need for diversity in books for children and young adults has resounded in the past few years, and yet your titles have been diverse for over a decade. Why is diversity in YA so important to you?

Characters in fantasy books have to feel real, no matter what supernatural elements they tangle with. It’s always been important to me that my characters reflect the real diversity of the human experience. I aim to work against the erasure of people of color, neuroatypical people, people whose identities don’t fall in line with what is considered “normal.”  That construction of “normal” is inaccurate and…is harmful to all of us. It’s the responsibility of authors to make sure their books reflect the world we share, even as we write about magic and fantastical creatures.

Photo by Kelly Campbell

Photo by Kelly Campbell

Will we ever get Church’s backstory, as in who or what he really is, and why and how he ended up at the mercy of the Dark Sisters?

As far as anyone knows, Church is just an ordinary cat who fell into the wrong hands and was made immortal through necromantic experimentation. I don’t have plans to write more about his past, but he will appear in the “Dark Artifices.” He’s enjoying the beach these days.

Congrats on the new Shadowhunters TV show! As we know, writers don’t usually have much say about what occurs in film and television versions of their books. But how do you feel about the positive outcome of this new series? Do you feel that new readers are coming to your books because of the series?

I hope the television series may prompt viewers to check out the books, but it’s hard to tell what the relationship between the source material and the TV show will be. I wasn’t involved with writing the show, and it is quite its own entity at this point.

How do you feel about libraries and librarians?

I am a huge fan of libraries. As a kid who loved reading, [I found] libraries were some of my favorite places in the whole world. As I’ve grown up and become a writer, librarians have been incredibly supportive to me and my creative work. Libraries are vital resources in our communities. They don’t get enough credit for how wonderful they are. To all of you librarians out there, THANK YOU! You do great work for kids and adults alike.

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This article was published in School Library Journal's April 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Shelley Diaz About Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz ( is School Library Journal's Reviews Team Manager and SLJTeen newsletter editor. She has her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children’s & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.

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