In her first series, The Mortal Instruments, Cassandra Clare combined the comfortably familiar settings of Brooklyn and Manhattan with the underground universe of demons, Shadowhunters, vampires, fairies and warlocks. But for the prequel trilogy, The Infernal Devices, she must have felt that was too easy. The first two books, Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince (which came out last week), take place in Victorian London. Orphaned American shapeshifter Tessa Gray and the demon-killing Shadowhunters that take her in are all at the mercy of a rapidly changing world, where scientific advances can be amazing and deadly, and where propriety and gender roles are talked about much more than they’re actually followed.
“The Victorians were much less hung up and repressed than we think of them as,” Clare told TheFABlife of what she discovered while researching the book. “I had always thought of them with these apocryphal stories that they couldn’t say ‘arm’ or ‘leg’ in public and that they covered their piano legs because they were supposed to be naughty. This was all total crap apparently. None of that stuff ever happened. The books of the time period that were really popular are shocking. They were full of sex and violence and betrayal and adultery and sin.”
In Clockwork Prince, Tessa is not only trying to help find and stop the man who seeks to take over the city with an army of clockwork soldiers, she’s also trying to find out the workings of her own heart, torn between tempestuous, deep-dark-secret-holding Will and gentle, probably-dying Jem. And by “trying to find out,” we mean “making out” in some pretty hot and heavy scenes.
It’s been more than six months since Jamie Campbell Bower was announced to play Jace, opposite Lily Collins’ Clary, in City of Bones, the first movie adaptation of Cassandra Clare‘s The Mortal Instruments series. After that, there seemed to be no forward progress in bringing demon-killing Shadowhunters to the big screen. What gives? Clare herself stopped by the VH1 offices last week while promoting Clockwork Prince, book two in Mortal Instruments prequel series The Infernal Devices, and gave us a very good reason for the movie’s delay: The original script didn’t stay true to the books.
“Nobody could settle on a script that they liked, and so there was a lot of back-and-forthing, and finally, it came down from the head of the studio [Screen Gems] that she wanted the script rewritten,” Cassie told TheFABlife. “She didn’t feel like it stuck close enough to the book. I kind of agreed with her. There were some characters that were taken out and things that were switched around, and it was very different from City of Bones.”
They brought Pretty Little Liars screenwriter Marlene King onboard to rewrite the whole darn thing, bringing back more of Clare’s characters and giving it a “great teen voice,” Clare said.
Of course, no screenplay is going to match the book word-for-word, so we wondered what was most important to Clare as she sees her books adapted. “I really want them to stay true to the relationships between the characters,” she explained. “Jace’s relationship to his adoptive family was really important. I feel like the whole twist with Jace and Clary and their relationship was really important and guides the next two books, and you can’t really take it out. It’s so taboo at the same time, but they’re just going with it. That’s what makes these books.”