Cassandra Clare interview: Fascism, demons, diversity, and maintaining her empire without a drop of coffee

The search to find meaning in our lives leads us to fantastical tales: stories of heroes battling evil appear again and again in the literary fabric of the world, and it is precisely because of the depth and intensity of their experiences, that we are able to carve out a sense of significance in our own existence.

It’s the allure of reading books – and one that author Cassandra Clare (real name Judith Lewis) expertly cultivates. 

Having spent over a decade creating a world of the fantastic, a film and Netflix adaptation cultivating droves of fans across the world, to call Clare a “powerhouse” would be a gross understatement. Her books deal with that quintessentially awkward transitional teenage era, and encompass treatises on morality, the human condition and what it means to be a hero against a backdrop of a deeply dangerous world inhabited by demons, angels and warlocks – and the young Shadowhunters who do battle with them. 

Her latest book, Lord of Shadows, deals with the insurgence of an extremist branch in the government. Sound familiar? She certainly thinks so. “As we went through our whole US election, they definitely coalesced as a more fascist, more nationalistic [chuckles] more xenophobic group and so it was really interesting, having all that planned,” she tells me in an exclusive interview, “It felt like I was reflecting things that were going on at the time I was writing.”

Clare is no stranger to potentially hostile governments. Having been born in Iran, the political landscape was tenuous, to say the least. “My dad was part of a western program of business at the University of Tehran, and my parents were very happy there but they did wind up leaving because things were looking a little – can I say dodgy? [laughs]. They were very passionate travellers so we spent a large portion of my childhood travelling – to India, Nepal, Europe.”

Though Clare was a voracious and consummate reader, it was not…

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