ALL LESSER MORTALS BOW DOWN.
The New Queen of Fantasy: Cassandra Clare's Breakout
Updated June 15, 2012, 12:11 p.m. ET
Cassandra Clare's fantasy series about teenage demon hunters has sold more than 12 million books world-wide. This spring, she signed a multimillion-dollar contract for her next three books.
Now some of her readers have grown so addicted to their favorite characters that they're inventing their own stories based on Ms. Clare's "Mortal Instruments" series.
Ms. Clare, 38, isn't bothered by the use of her characters. As a former fan-fiction writer herself, she wrote thousands of pages based on characters from Harry Potter and "The Lord of the Rings."
"I totally support their writing of it," says Ms. Clare, who lives in Amherst, Mass., with her husband and three cats. "It's a huge compliment."
Ms. Clare, who used to work as an entertainment reporter for the Hollywood Reporter in Los Angeles, began posting fan fiction online after a friend suggested she write some Harry Potter stories. In her "Draco Trilogy," Harry Potter and his nemesis, Draco Malfoy, accidentally switch bodies during a botched experiment in potions class. The series gained a devoted following. She also wrote a parody of "The Lord of the Rings," in the style of "Bridget Jones's Diary."
Ms. Clare, whose real name is Judith Rumelt, got the idea for her own fantasy books about a decade ago, after she moved to New York to try to break into publishing. A tattoo artist in Greenwich Village showed her some tattoo designs based on ancient runes, which were believed to grant protection to the warriors who wore them. Ms. Clare imagined a race of half-angel, half-human demon hunters who used magical skin markings to protect themselves and gain special powers. She wrote a novel about a teenage girl in Brooklyn who discovers that she's descended from powerful demon hunters.
Margaret K. McElderry Books, a young-adult imprint of Simon & Schuster, acquired her first three books for $75,000. When the first book came out in 2007, with a flashy cover featuring a bare-chested young man covered in magic tattoos, it became an instant best seller. After her third book was published, Ms. Clare quit her job as a freelance copy editor. She removed her fan fiction from the Web before the books were released. "I felt like it was juvenilia," she says.(OP: OKAY, SURE THAT'S WHY, RIGHT CC?.)
Lately, she has been landing deals that rival the contracts of blockbuster authors. Margaret K. McElderry Books paid a high-seven-figure advance for "The Dark Artifices," the next three books in her fantasy series about demon hunters. Simon & Schuster UK Children's paid a low-seven-figure sum for U.K. rights to "The Dark Artifices." She signed a separate deal with Scholastic for a middle-grades fantasy series about magicians, which she is co-writing with young-adult author Holly Black.
A film adaptation of "Mortal Instruments" is now in the works. Her fans jumped on the news. Some responded with fan-fiction stories referencing the actors who have been cast in the movies.
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