ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First thing’s first: How did you come up with the idea for The Bane Chronicles?
MAUREEN JOHNSON: We always have jokes about each other’s books, and I have my designs on several of Cassie’s characters. It started over a long series of jokes like about what we would do.
SARAH REES BRENNAN: I came in a little later. Maureen and Cassie were chatting about several different adventures that characters could have had. Then we were all in France together when we started telling Magnus stories to each other.
CASSANDRA CLARE: We’d all rented this house [in France], and it had one really big fancy room that we couldn’t possibly use. We were sort of gingerly sitting in there, and then we started making jokes about Magnus and what he would think of the room. Maureen had one about Magnus during the French Revolution. Sarah had her theories about why Magnus was really banned from Peru, and it sort of expanded. I said, “It’s really a shame that we couldn’t write these as a series of ongoing stories, because it’s not really a novel format. It’s more of a series of interconnected short stories.” That was when we first started talking about it seriously.
Why did you decide on 10 installments?
CLARE: We had the realization that the best home for a project like this was probably the Internet because it allows for extremely non-traditional publishing formats. Then we started to buckle down and talk about what the stories would be and how they would be written. Since there’s three of us and we’re writing each story — Maureen’s writing half, Sarah’s writing half, I’m writing half along — it seemed fair to split them five and five.
Each installment is written by just two of you. How did you decide who would write what?
BRENNAN: When we started talking about it, it became clear what we were most interested in. I’d be like, “Well what about the other Mortal characters? What about Raphael?” What if he and Magnus had a history? And sometimes the stories we planned to write take a dramatic turn. Cassie, Maureen, and I were just on tour together, and a lot of people were asking about the characters in The Infernal Devices. Cassie and I got to talking about it on the bus, and we’re like, “Well, this could be a Bane Chronicle and then we had to break the news to our editor that we had a different Bane Chronicle!
JOHNSON: A lot of it did happen in that room in France, and it did feel like the right setting for this — the place to be doing this crazy project. We talked a lot about time periods because we had so many to choose from. We went in like it was a smorgasbord and said, “We have four or five hundred years of history to play with. What are some awesome settings since we can do anything? Where should we go?”
What can you tease about What Really Happened in Peru?
CLARE: There’s a dropped mention in one of the [Mortal Instrument] books that Magnus is banned from the entire country of Peru, and he never says why. So this is the story of… I don’t want to spoil Magnus’ banning! But it actually covers a lot of centuries of Magnus’ visits to Peru.
BRENNAN: I do not know an obscene amount about Peruvian history. So I’d be looking at it and find that in one century Peru had this huge piracy problem. Magnus and pirates, obviously! And in another century there were confidence tricksters going all around preying on travelers, so what if Magnus met a confidence trickster? That sort of thing.
It was recently announced that Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams will narrate the audiobook version. How did that come about?
BRENNAN: Jesse Williams is so amazing, so I feel super lucky to get him…. He’s too handsome! [Laughs]
CLARE: I was like, “Wow, too bad you can’t see him when he talks!” [Laughs] We gave Simon & Schuster a massive list of our favorite actors and people we really liked. We were like, “Well these are people we really like and think would be great.” The different stories have different moods and different styles. [Simon & Schuster] came back to us with a couple different people and one of them was Jesse…. I think it was Sarah’s idea of having a different narrator for each section. We didn’t want to position the narrator as Magnus telling the story. We wanted to position them each as a narrator telling the story about Magnus.
So each installment is going to have a different narrator? Do you know who else might participate?
CLARE: It’s still going to be switched out for each installment is my understanding. And I know people whose names we threw in the basket. I don’t know if they’re going to do it or not.
Who did you suggest?
BRENNAN: Are we allowed to say?
CLARE: I guess we probably could. We can be like, “Hey call me!” We threw in a bunch of different people who we thought would have really great comic timing, like Alan Cumming. For the ones that are set in England, we were interested in having British readers, so we threw in John Barrowman since he has a nice British voice and has also played one of the more better-known bisexual male characters in media. We thought he could have some fun with Magnus and his romantic life.
BRENNAN: I don’t know if we’re going to get them.
CLARE: They’re short stories so it’s kind of nice. We can go out to people with pretty busy schedules and be like, it’s only four hours of your time. It’s not a huge commitment.
JOHNSON: Yeah, just come in for a morning!