How nice for me that one of the biggest YA series in the last few years, Mortal Instruments, has it's film debut perfectly timed for a YA Wednesday post... I'm really excited to see City of Bones after getting a sneak peek a couple months ago at Book Expo America, and for once, I actually like the movie art cover treatment for the book (the cover you see here).
I've heard it time and again--seeing your book adapted for the big screen is tricky, some authors love way the movie version turns out, others not so much. We asked Cassie Clare to tell us about her book-to-movie experience. Here is what she has to say about it:
Today, the film adaptation of my first novel, City of Bones, will be released upon the world. I never really thought a movie would get made out of my books.
I was in disbelief for a long time. My grandfather was a film producer, and I
used to work in entertainment journalism, so I knew well that the odds are
stacked against any book being adapted for film. Something like 90% of
published books are never optioned, and 90% of those that are never get made. I
was fully aware that the numbers were not in my favor, and that even the small
steps forward were no guarantee of a film project actually being completed.
Heck, sometimes film projects even make it to a final cut before being shelved!
I was so well prepared for disappointment that I didn’t actually believe it was really happening until I arrived on set in Toronto. It was a moment of shock. Something I had created was going to come to life in a whole new way.
People always ask me what the most exciting part of having a book made into a film is. It’s a fun but truly nerve-wracking process. A lot of parts are exciting but also very scary. Will this actually happen? Will it work out? Is the whole project about to dissolve? Will the studio like it? Will the fans like it? Will people who’ve never heard of the books like it? There are so many unknowns, so many parts of the process you don’t even see. All that said, one part of the process was just pure fun: Being on the set and interacting with the physical world of the film.
One of the things Harald (the director) did that was interesting was give the movie the feeling of taking place in the real world, a world that didn’t look artificial and glossy. Every set was hand built, every prop sourced carefully: the books came from local libraries, furniture from local furniture stores and thrift stores, the paintings were hand painted, the sculptures created just for the film. Everything looked completely real. House interiors looked like real houses, and the inside of Madame Dorothea’s apartment looked like a real palmistry shop. One of my favorite things about urban fantasy is the grittiness of it, so I loved that Harald found a way to bring that into the film.
I had been on movie sets with my grandfather when I was a kid, but this was different. It was completely surreal to see the world that has been hanging around in my head for so long, right there in front of me. Because everything seemed so real, I took to hanging out on the set. It felt like actually hanging out in the Shadowhunter world. A dream come true!
One day I was lingering in the Institute library set, which was full of beautiful hand-painted books and illuminated manuscripts. Lots of beautiful things to admire! There was even a fire lit in the fireplace, which made the room cozy but also made it feel a little haunted. Harald came over to me and said “You know, Valentine is here.” I looked over and realized Jonathan Rhys Meyers was sitting in one of the big armchairs by the roaring fire. I’d never met him before, and he was fully dressed as Valentine, covered in runes and completely convincing. He was holding a huge sword in one hand and a screenplay in the other. The screenplay was the only thing that gave him away as an actor, rather than a terrifying megalomaniac rogue Shadowhunter.
you like to meet him?” Harald asked. I looked at the sinister figure sunk into
the chair, and all of my instincts told me to RUN. He was too convincing. Even
though I knew we were all living firmly in the mundane world, it still seemed
completely nuts to go over and let someone introduce me to a crazed villain. To
an actor! I reminded myself. An actor. He has a script. The
real Valentine would never be caught holding a script.
I agreed, and Harald brought me over to the fire and introduced us. Of course, Jonathan Rhys Meyers turned out to be very nice. That minute of being scared was one of my favorite parts of my time in Toronto, because for a moment, everything felt so strange, as if anything could happen. For a moment, it all felt real.--Cassie Clare