Mundie Moms

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cassandra Clare Talks: On Movies, Control and Women's Work

No one says it like Cassie does. Cassie recently (as in a few mins ago from when this post goes live), a post about movies, control and women's work (read it HERE). Here's what she said:

On movies, control, and women's work.
TW: Swearing, and use of the word “bitch.” Not my favorite word, but unfortunately has to be used in this context because I’m quoting what others have said. Also TW for a ton of sexism, again, in narratives I’m quoting/describing.
"Hey, just thought I’d say that I love your books (I’ve only read the city of bones and now working my way through the city of ashes) and I was just wondering, did you have any control over how the film was made?? as I was kinda annoyed about how much it deviated from the book. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good film (great cast to be honest), it just didn’t seem to match the book at all. I really hope I don’t sound rude, I was just wondering :3 thanks — [redacted]"
The thing about this question is that the answer is complicated. (I’ve usually seen this framed as either “Cassie had no control” or “Cassie had 100% control over everything!”) but the answer is more layered than that.
Movies are put together by a lot of people: they are in fact put together by a lot of departments. I did have influence over casting. (Not final say. Not ever final say over anything. But influence, yes.) Because casting is one department, and I and the casting director enjoyed working with each other. I’ve often talked about being asked about sets and props, because that’s a different department, and I did get asked about those things. Those are the things I usually talk about in interviews when I’m asked about this, because that’s where I had the most input. 
As for the storyline and script, I got asked what I thought, and I gave notes and my opinion. I gave I would guess about 100 pages of notes over the course of the film. The thing about scripts and screenplays is that everyone gives notes. All the producers give notes. The studio people give notes. Usually everyone’s drowning in notes. My notes were not any more important than anyone else’s notes. 
There were only a few issues that were “walk-away” issues for me — whitewashing Magnus, straightwashing Alec — and those were listened to, and so I stayed and tried to give my opinion and accepted that it would be taken some of the time and not taken at other times. It’s also not as if I was a huge expert on filmmaking — I knew that scripts get rewritten as the movie is filmed, but when I sat down and saw the final cut I was still surprised at how completely different it was from the last script I’d seen and even how different it was from what I’d seen filmed on set. Months had passed and the whole thing had changed. I wasn’t mad at anyone about it. I knew that I had no official say in anything regarding the film and that they were not required to keep me updated. And while it was strange to see, I knew I wasn’t objective, I knew I wasn’t a film-maker, and I decided that the best thing I could do was stand back and let my readers, and movie-watchers in general, make up their own minds about it when they saw it. I gave notes — I always gave notes — because that is what “having input” means.
I know that it can be confusing, because I have always tried to give the people in charge credit for including me at all, for even letting me on set — lots of times authors are banned from the sets of films made from their books (lest they go mad and destroy things, who knows.) And black and white — no control or all control — is easier to understand than “some meaningful input about some things, but not about others.”)
I have seen a lot of negative commentary about a joke I made in an interview about being “interfere-y” — and usually I would dump it in the tick-box of “standard internet misogynistic noise” but I do think it’s worth addressing, briefly, that this is something of a no-win situation. 
One narrative seems to be that I “bragged a lot” about my control over the film until the film came out and critics didn’t like it, and then I suddenly about faced and claimed I had no control at all. Except that never actually happened. I made one tweet, which all this is based on, where I said “I had very little control. I would tell @MortalMovie your thoughts” to a fan who did not like the movie, and who had said, “How could you let this happen to your books?”
Now, I probably should have been more specific, though it’s hard in something as small as a twitter space, in asking her about what she was upset about — maybe it was casting, in which case I guess I did have some influence, but I suspected it was storytelling, where I had much less and where the idea that I could “let” or “prevent” anything from happening just isn’t true. It would have been one thing if that had been the first time I said it, but : Here is what I posted in July, long before the movie came out. It details the areas in which I did not have control over the film, and the way in which being a creator in a situation where you have no legal right over an adaptation is a dicey business:
When you’re in a position, like I am and was, where you have no official title or job as regards the film adaptation of your book, you respond to the questions that are asked of you, and you try hard not to interfere unless asked to, because (as my mom always used to say) unasked-for advice is criticism. And the only thing that constantly criticizing a lot will get you is cut neatly out of the process, so that you may win your war to get Alec a sweater with holes in it, but you will never be there for the one about casting Magnus with an Asian actor because everyone will have stopped talking to you by then. Which they have a right to do.”
Here is where I posted eight months ago to say I had never seen the film, and that I could not “make promises about a final product I don’t have control over.”
Here is where I posted one year ago to say  ” I have always tried to be clear that I don’t control the final edit of the film (or any edit.)”
Here is where I posted about Raphael being cut from the movie, and how I was sad about it. This was a year ago. (“ (This isn’t a decision I made or have any control over — when you give over your movie rights you have to accept that decisions about how to adapt your books will be made without you.”) 
Nothing I have said since the movie’s release has been any different from exactly what I have said for the past year and a half. (And indeed, it is kind of weird even to imagine why I would about-face, since it would only be completely harmful to me and my career — it wouldn’t be so much a move of selfishness as total stupidity. The City of Ashes movie is still on the cards: why would I want to alienate the people making it? Why would I want to annoy them considering they also own Magisterium and I’m writing a screenplay for them right now? That would be dumb and bad for me on a million levels. There’s just no advantage to it. None.)
 I thought about it for a while — I’m used to bizarre internet narratives about female creators that have no roots in reality (I’ve always enjoyed the one about how Holly is in love with me. It saddens me that this is not true.) But while they don’t have roots in reality, they do have roots in sexism, and that makes them worth thinking about. 
I thought about how much the word bragging was used to describe how I talked about the movie, though I’ve never thought of the movie as an achievement of mine, or me as being anything but randomly lucky to have a movie made of my books. I thought about the fact that this “bragging” was being applied to the publicity I was doing for the movie — publicity being a specific, professional requirement for creators, but one that, when the creators are female, is often tagged as “bragging” or “boasting” because the fundamental aspect of publicity — that you are working to get attention, which is what publicity is, is antithetical to the way women are supposed to behave(never, ever, ever as if they want attention. Only the worst kind of women want attention, and if they do somehow wind up getting attention, they should be humble, grateful and apologetic for having accidentally wound up being paid attention to. Which is a bitter Catch-22 when publicity and being in public are a requirement of your job (I actually am fairly shy and for a long time hated doing publicity and appearances; I used to throw up before them. And I still saw constant comments along the lines of “Look at that bitch, loving the attention!”)
I realized that somehow my joke about being “interferey” was being rewritten as a narrative of me bragging about Controlling All Aspects Of the Film, as if I were the Moriarty of film-making. And I thought: how weird, that there is a contingent of people who think it is actively wrong for a writer to give her opinion moviemakers about the movie based on her books, when that opinion is solicited? (I was told my opinion was welcome, so I gave it — I gave it a lot, which is why I joked about being “interferey.”) I don’t know how more clearly to explain it, but being asked for one’s opinion does not mean that that opinion is going to be taken. I was not anyone’s boss. I could not make anyone make a change — no matter what, not under any circumstances — to the film unless it was a change they wanted to make. No matter how much I “interfered”, I interfered by giving my opinion, not by breaking into the editing studio at night and re-splicing together all the film so it ran in a different order.
And I would interfere again — a lot of the things I gave my opinion about were things like not casting Magnus white, and preserving the introduction of the gay love story in the film. Yes, I gave my opinion about other things — but just because I gave my opinion didn’t mean they had to take it! Hollywood is not exactly programmed to take opinions from women and implement them. You have to have an almost inhuman amount of money and power for that. I guess it just saddens me to see that the reaction to a woman saying “I gave my opinion!” boils down to “Shut up, bitch, shut up, shut up.”
At first I thought it was especially odd given that the opinion I was giving was about my own work and not say, someone else’s, but then I realized that the problem was that it was about my work. Because saying you gave an opinion about your work — indicating you were willing to even have an argument about it, especially an argument with men — indicates that you think your work has value, and for a woman to think her work has any value is one of the worst things she can do, especially online. If I say “I care about my work and I’d like to see it represented accurately, because there are a lot of people attached to the story as it stands” — that’s bragging, and that’s bad. (How dare I be so uppity? How dare I think I have fans? Though of course, if I were to say I didn’t, then I would be a bitch for not acknowledging them.)
I thought about saying “I stand by the movie” but then I realized that was ridiculous because the movie isn’t a political movement, it’s a filmed adaptation of a book, and it seems weird to alter what I’ve been saying for the past year and a half for the benefit of a small handful of people who will read this and say “Yes, of course, women should give their opinions, except for bitches who we don’t like, and everything they do is bad, because it’s easier to pre-judge it for our own convenience than actually think about how these issues are complicated” because — that’s what they always do. But for the sake of my readers, who I do care about, and the idea that this particular lie might be something that upset them, it seemed worth clarifying.
I remember tweeting That Tweet: it was the day the film came out, and that night I spent with the cast and crew in Berlin. I remember looking at my phone and being like, “Someone seems very angry at me for saying I did not have control over the film.”
And they were like, “But you didn’t.”
And I said, “The internet is strange.” Then Jamie told us about someone who had sent him an enormous cheese and a pair of handcuffs.  
I realize I have wandered far from the original question and probably scared the original askers (rest assured, askers, that none of this is about you, and your question was completely fine)  but in watching people discuss my behavior as if I were a monster and realizing that there was literally no way to avoid that (if I say I had influence over casting, I’m bragging, but if I say I didn’t have control over the storyline, I’m “jumping ship” and betraying the film, even though I’m only saying the same thing I’ve said approximately 1,000 times over the past year) has reminded me why I’m a feminist.
The “jumping ship” narrative is especially toxic because it indicates that what is important about what a woman does is that she be nice, and be grateful (to, I think the idea was, the producers: the point at which you are judging a female creator for not being, in your opinion, sufficiently grateful to billionaire male Hollywood producers for paying attention to her is the time when you have left our galaxy far behind), and shut the fuck up even if that means lying. (I see that a lot about female creators: the narrative of “she should have said this.” Whether this is true or is not true is apparently irrelevant.)
I like loud, talky, angry, interferey women. I think that’s how women have to be, or they don’t get listened to. I think deliberately and with malice aforethought taking the words of female creators and twisting them to reinforce the idea that women shouldn’t talk, and if they do talk they shouldn’t talk about their work, and if they do talk about their work they should say only negative and apologetic things, and they should take on themselves, actively, blame that does not belong to them because being blamed is a woman’s job actively contributes to silencing women and crushing their desire to create and to share those creations. And I think it is a shame when this is a thing that is done by other women. 
To answer the original question: I did not have control over the film. I’ve said that a thousand times, and I know it’s confusing, because I have thanked the moviemakers for letting me have input. For listening to me at all. I have talked about having influence and being asked questions and being allowed to contribute and collaborate. But those things are not control. Control in Hollywood over a film is actually a legal issue. If you have a certain amount of control over decision-making, or if you wrote a certain amount of the script, you must legally be credited. There is a pretty easy way to tell if an author has control over a movie: look for a producer credit or a co-writing credit attached to their name. If there isn’t one*, if all it says is “based on the books by”, then you can assume no, they didn’t have control over the movie. In the end, it isn’t a matter of he-said-she-said, or sound bytes in interviews, or hastily dashed off tweets, but what’s in black and white in a contract and on the screen. When I said I did not have control, that is a contractual fact, and that is what I mean when I say it.
And now to close out with a quote from Owen King, sent to me by a fellow writer who read this essay before I posted it. 
"Guy character: "[My movie] can’t suck because it can’t. Because I’m not making it to suck. Who goes into something that they really care about, that’s really personal to them, and thinks, Oh well, it’ll be okay if it sucks?"
His girlfriend: “All I can say to that, my dear, is that you’ve clearly never been a woman.”
***If there is one, they might not have control either; sometimes EP credits can be pretty nominal. Holly reminded me of this, because she is in love with me.

I think it's safe to safe that IF Cassie had any control over the movie, it would have been done a lot better, or as many fans have said, done right. Our favorite lines would have been in the movie, the humor would have been written in, some scenes would have made it to the big screen that didn't and the movie would have been marketed to the right audience. AND if Cassie did have the control that we wish she did have, I think we'd be talking to her from the set of City of Ashes right now.

Laini Taylor: Night of Cake & Puppets Novella To Be Released in November!

Check out this exciting news! Laini Taylor is set to release her A Daughter of Smoke & Bone novella November 26th titled: Night Of Cake & Puppets. 

In Night of Cake & Puppets, Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Told in alternating perspectives, it’s the perfect love story for fans of the series and new readers alike. Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan.

I can't wait to read this!!! Read about the release here.

Julie Kagawa Announces Her SKERIT PROJECT & It's AWESOME

I am soooooooo excited about today's announcement from Julie Kagawa. We're already HUGE fans of Julie's and I'm so giddy over the new series announcement. Taken from Julie's announcement here, this is what she said:


Dragons and Warriors Face Off in a Modern-Day Battle

New York, NY, October 2, 2013New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Julie Kagawa today unveiled TALON, her new highly anticipated series from Harlequin TEEN. The Young Adult series, which has already been picked up by Universal Pictures, features dragons battling an ancient order of dragon slayers in a contemporary setting. TALON, the first book in the similarly named series, will be published on October 28, 2014.

The series revolves around dragons with the ability to disguise themselves as humans and an order of warriors sworn to eradicate them. The dragons of TALON and the Order of St. George have been at war with each other for centuries. The fabled creatures, whose existence is unknown by the general public, are determined to rule the world. Their foes, a legendary society of dragon slayers, are equally bent on driving the fabled beasts into extinction. However, when a young dragon and a hardened slayer unknowingly befriend each other, it has severe repercussions for both organizations.

“I’ve always been fascinated by dragons because no other mythological creature is as complex,” said Kagawa. ”They can be ruthless, savage monsters or loyal and noble protectors. That led me to thinking about dragons in the modern world—how they would adapt and fit in. How would they live? Would they have jobs? What about emotions and love? I hope to answer all these questions in TALON, while at the same time sneaking in the parts we all love in dragon stories—flying, fire-breathing lizards of doom.”

“Julie Kagawa breathes new life into every mythos she takes on, and with her modern dragon world, she outdoes even herself,” said Natashya Wilson, Executive Editor at Harlequin TEEN. “Unique and unforgettable, TALON is both a wildly entertaining read and a relevant book that explores the dangers of blind prejudice and absolute power and the transformative nature of love.”

Universal Pictures has picked up the film rights to TALON with Chris Morgan attached to produce. Morgan is the writer of the studio’s Fast & Furious franchise and the upcoming Keanu Reeves samurai movie, 47 Ronin, as well as the producer of the recently announcedThe Legend of Conan film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“With TALON, Julie Kagawa has created an epic romantic adventure that is sure to be a benchmark saga of dragon lore,” said Morgan.  ”I’m incredibly excited to help bring her vision to the screen.”

Julie Kagawa is the author of two previous series—the Blood of Eden series, optioned by Joni Sighvatsson of Palomar Pictures, and the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling Iron Fey series. Kagawa’s titles have been published in more than 20 countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, France and Germany.

Review copies of TALON and interviews will be available to media closer to publication.

About Harlequin
Harlequin ( is one of the world’s leading publishers of books for women, with titles issued worldwide in 34 languages and sold in 110 international markets. The company publishes more than 110 titles monthly and more than 1,300 authors from around the world. Harlequin is a wholly owned subsidiary of Torstar Corporation (, a broadly based media company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TS.B). Harlequin’s website is located at Harlequin has offices in 18 countries, including offices in Toronto, New York and London. For more information, please visit and Follow Harlequin on Twitter: @HarlequinBooks.

DRAGONS AND JULIE AND AWESOME WRITING AND I don't even know what else to say other than this is AWESOME!!!!!!!!! I heart Dragons! Knowing that Julie Kagawa is writing a Dragon series has my fan girl heart beating in over drive. I can not wait to read read this series!


City of Heavenly Fire Snippet

Cassie's great at teasing us. Really she's good at giving us snippets, and then leaving us hanging. Her last snippet about killed us, and the one she posted yesterday leaves me hanging.... 

“Clary,” Jocelyn said. “I want you to meet Tessa Gray.”

Seriously? We need more than this (yes I'm impatient when it comes to waiting on Cassie's books). LOL just saying. How did Tessa and Clary meet? In City of Glass we know Clary saw her, but they didn't say anything to one another. And what will Jocelyn's response be? What is going on?! I need to know these things. haha I don't know if I can wait till next Spring for this book. 

WATCH: The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa (Book Trailer)

We're so excited for Julie Kagawa's next installment in her fey series, THE IRON TRAITOR to hit shelves later this month. Yesterday Julie shared the book trailer for The Iron Traitor. Check it out below:

Pretty sweet huh?! Stop by Harlequin Teen's site HERE to help promote the trailer and to enter to win an sweet prize pack they're giving away. Read more about that here on Julie's blog. 

Epic Reads's DIVERGENT Read-A-Thon

The fabulous team at Epic Reads is hosting a DIVERGENT Read-A-Thon!! Pick up your copy of Divergent and read along. 

Here’s how to participate:

1. Locate your copy of Divergent. (Don’t have one? Get it in hardcoverpaperback or ebook.)
2. Start reading! Aim to finish the book by end of day Sunday, October 6th, 2013.
3. Update your reading progess! Use the hashtag #DivergentReadAThon when posting on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook. You can also update your reading progress on the forums here.
4. Recruit the Divergent nation! Let’s see how many Initiates we can get to all read Divergent at the same time.

Other Things To Know:

–– We will post a daily status report on this blog with our thoughts on what we’ve read so far as well as post some of the highlights from fellow read-a-thoners. Stay up-to-date with our reading progress by following us on Instagram@EpicReads!
–– Stay tuned because next week we’ll be re-reading INSURGENT. (We’ll also be giving away Allegiant posters next week!)