Yes, Shelf Lifers, you’re seeing it here first—an exclusive look at the cover for young adult mega-author Cassandra Clare’s forthcoming Clockwork Angel!

Clockwork Angel is the first book in Clare’s new fantasy trilogy, “The Infernal Devices,” and her fourth novel to date. Clare herself is a worldly entertainment-magazine veteran who struck YA gold in 2007, with City of Bones. It was the first novel in her “Mortal Instruments” series — the fourth book, City of Fallen Angels, releases next March — that follows teenager Clary Fray as she navigates a dark, horrific New York underworld. And no, I don’t mean the basement-level bus terminal at Port Authority. Clary’s urban reality includes demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves, and faeries that roam the city’s shadows, wreaking havoc on mere mortals on the sort-of down low. She soon joins the demon-fighting ranks of the Shadowhunters, human-angel hybrids charged with protecting humans while also keeping the peace, somehow, among the half-demon Downworlders. Add in some supernatural boys, a tangled web of family secrets, and Manhattan’s inherent magic, and you’ve got the deeply textured alternaworld that Clare developed so deftly.

In the new series, Clare brings us back to this Shadowhunter-Downworlder universe — and back in time to Victorian-era England. Infernal Devices revolves around Tessa Gray, an orphan who heads to London in search of her disappeared brother and, like Clary, falls deeper and deeper into an alternate magical reality. Along the way she finds two good friends in Jem and Will (who graces the new cover), and also crosses paths with some familiar names and faces from the Mortal Instruments saga.

We caught up with her editor, Simon & Schuster’s Karen Wojtyla, for some dirt on the cover, the characters, and the saucy period drama that Clare has in store for us. S&S will also be giving away 25 signed, advanced readers copies of Clockwork Angel, which you can sign up for here.

How important is the cover art—designed by Cliff Nielsen, who also made the three “Mortal Instruments”covers—in helping tell a story to the audience, before they even read the first page? What’s this cover all about?

I think it gives you a lot of the atmosphere of these books. The covers are approachable but they’re also otherworldly, and also give some of the setting. You get a feeling of London and from the clothing you get a feeling of the period, but also, it is clearly not a historical novel. In this case too, the little clockwork gears that are scattered in the edges of the cover in order to give that sense of the clockwork people that are in this book. [The novel’s] got touches of that steampunk technology, of gears turnings and mechanisms moving and being wound. So it’s much more tactile.

Why did you and/or Cassandra decide to develop a companion series instead of starting entirely from scratch?

It’s certainly her idea, not mine. She always really wanted to do a Victorian setting, so I think she had that in her mind because she could have so much fun with the period, with that kind of gaslight [technology], with the dresses. She’s lived in a lot of places too, and she wanted to move the settings around. I love the fact that it links into that [Mortal Instruments] world because I think she’s created one that’s so rich, she could do a lot more than just the three books she’s done already, with this idea of the Shadowhunters and their connections to the demon world. There’s a lot there.

I’ve read that Cassandra’s already drawn some family trees and deliberately connected characters between the two series. Any chance you can divulge those relationships now?

They do, the families carry on through in this trilogy. The Shadowhunters are such a small group, really, and they don’t marry widely in the world. They hold a meeting at some point and you’ll recognize a lot of the names, because there are Herondales and Lightwoods too. And then there is a character from the first trilogy who is also in this one because he’s lived long enough. Yes, warlocks can live a long time.

How is the relationship between the Shadowhunters and Downworlders different in the Victorian version of this universe, versus what we’ve already seen?

At this time, they’re much more enemies. The accords that bind them are much more recent. Some Downworlders, like particular vampires, are not abiding by them, and there’s more prejudice on the part of the Shadowhunters. You’ll have to think of it as the differences in those societies too—America in the 21st century is a much more democratic place, a much more inclusive place, than London in Victorian times.

How much does the setting of this series define the book and the characters’ relationships?

It affects the way the characters treat each other. There’s a different decorum and a different way of looking at each other, and at looking at other people. There’s more divisiveness between the Shadowhunters and the Downworlders, and there’s much more snobbery. There’s more class stratification among vampires. People have servants and there are different levels. And Jem is partly Chinese, so [the book’s] also dealing with that aspect of people’s prejudices at the time.

What makes Tessa unique as a protagonist, from Clary?

One of the things [Cassie] is very interested in is identity, and she does that in a more fantastic way than someone who doesn’t include vampires and partly angelic kids. It’s always a figuring out, when you’re a teenager, who you really are and what you really can or can’t do. So for Tessa, who’s had this very ordinary life, finding out that she’s this non-ordinary creature is going to open this whole new dimension. She’s very different from Clary—she doesn’t have the artistic streak, and I would say she’s a little bit less developed at the start of the book. She’s less opinionated, and more of a 19th century girl in that sense. She’s constrained by what she can do. She can’t see as many possibilities for independence, so that’s also going to be new to her.

Can readers new to Cassandra Clare pick up Clockwork Angel without reading “The Mortal Instruments” series first?

Absolutely. Because Tessa, when she comes to London and falls into this world, it’s going to be new to her. You’re going to be seeing it for the first time, again, because you’re seeing it through her eyes. It’s its own entity.