Hello Cassie. I know you’re always very busy but I have got this question on my mind for one month more or less and I don’t have any idea of how I can answer that and because it is on Julian and Emma I taught that you can answer that. I wanted to know why you decide to switch the role and make Emma the one with experience and Julian the one who doesn’t even had a girlfriend. ‘Cause I think it’s going to be pretty awkward and probably that means that Julian is super calm and probably shy. I know it is a stupid thing but a lot of people are asking the same thing so I taught that you can answer that, to make me and the other fans happy. — hgcastloveyou
There’s a lot of stuff to unpack in this ask.
First, the idea of “switching roles.” Well, that only applies if you are hewing to a world view that matches up with romance novels as they were written twenty years ago — that all romances are between a blushing virginal girl and a very experienced man. It’s not like we don’t see that heavily traditional view in popular entertainment now (Fifty Shades of Gray) — but that doesn’t mean there’s any real narrative reason to stick to it except the thinking that you should give people what they expect because they expect it.
This anxiety is not about sex. It is about power. It is about the idea that sexual experience matches up with other “power markers” that are coded as masculine: wealth, dynastic power, fame. It is about the idea that a woman with more power than a man is an uncomfortable thing, and a deep seated discomfort with the idea that if Emma has dated before, and Julian hasn’t, and she has more experience than him, than that means she has more power than he does/will run roughshod over him/he will be a wimp.
Now, it isn’t like there aren’t romances that don’t flip this stuff, with great success. Think of Outlander. There is nothing “awkward” about the fact that Claire has experience and Jamie doesn’t. It doesn’t mean she has all the power. It means they have power in different arenas of their lives. It also is useful in showing that sex isn’t necessarily a marker of power. Sometimes sex is just sex.
I have no idea why Julian not having dated before means he would be shy and calm. Simon, Will, Jem, Alec, Gideon, Gabriel — none of them dated before; we’ve all seen them with their first girlfriends/boyfriends. Will is the opposite of shy and calm. It’s not like men have sex for the first time and then become masters of the universe, capable of slaying demons and rescuing maidens in a way they weren’t previously.
Emma is older than Clary. Clary started out at fifteen in the books: Emma is seventeen, almost eighteen. It should be okay for a girl that age, in a book, to have had safe consensual sex with a boyfriend before, and to continue to be a normal girl. Clary was a virgin; Jace wasn’t. Tessa and Will were both virgins. In this case, Emma isn’t a virgin and Julian is. I’m not flipping roles so much as exploring different configurations.
Julian is not avoiding sex and relationships because he is shy. Julian is avoiding sex and relationships because he has secrets he can’t share, and he doesn’t want to sleep with someone he can’t share his personal secrets with. That’s his choice, and it’s a reasonable one for the character — but it doesn’t mean he’s weak or undesirable or unable to connect with other people. Or that his relationship with Emma is “awkward.” I think here is where I should say that it is a good idea to keep in mind that Lady Midnight may in no way be the book you expect it to be. There’s no way, at this early stage to know what it’s like/about/what the relationships are/how they play out. Jules and Emma are parabatai — as the book opens, that’s the only relationship they do have, and if Julian were to become more to Emma, and they had a romantic relationship, he would not be so much of a huge a-hole as to hold it against her that she had boyfriend(s) before. And that is already a lot of ifs.
Though the “traditional” relationship may be experienced man + inexperienced woman, there’s no reason for all of us only to ever write that one kind of relationship. If all books were about the same relationship, the world would be a boring place!