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Cassandra Clare On The Bechdel Test, Women In Heroic Narratives, And Adapting Books To Screen


Cassandra Clare is the next YA author to get her books taken to the big screen. Her series, The Mortal Instruments, will be premiering in theaters on August 21st. At SDCC, Spinoff Online caught up with Clare to talk to her about the impending film, writing a female-led urban fantasy story, and how involved she was with the adaptation of her books.

The series follows Clary, a normal girl who ends up finding out she’s a lot less normal than previously thought after discovering unknown powers that throw her into a fantastical world of magic she has never known. To put the series’ popularity into perspective, the SDCC panel for Mortal Instruments was so big that it took over the famed Hall H.

Clare is very much aware of female representation in the fantasy YA sphere. She talks about writing the books back in 2001:

…when I sat down to write it, I thought I’ve seen and am a fan of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter and a million other of these books that are almost always about boys discovering that they are the chosen one – you know, the hero myth, that they have great power, and with great power comes great responsibility (laughs). And I was like, where is that stuff necessarily for girls? I mean, there’s plenty of books that center on women, and books that center on strong women. But I wasn’t finding that epic hero narrative about a girl, so that was a big part of the reason that I wanted to write the book.

If you want another reason to like her series already, she even made sure that it passed the Bechdel test in both book and movie form!

I wanted to make sure that every book passed the Bechdel test – you know, are there two women in it, are they separately named, do they sit down and talk, and do they talk about something other than a guy? So I wanted to be like, yes, every one of these books passes that test. And I want the movie to pass that test, too, which it does – which I’m happy about.

There’s something to be said for a conscientious author. Clare has had a major hand in developing her story to go on film in a way that not many authors have: the movie is being produced by the same people responsible for the Lord of the Rings franchise, who were apparently very open to her involvement. Hopefully, that involvement means the movie is just as self-aware as the author.

Here’s to YA fantasy that passes the Bechdel test, and authors that see opportunities to represent lady heroines in genres that need them.

(via Comic Book Resources)

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