New York Times Bestselling author, Soman Chainani graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University and wrote his thesis on why evil women make irresistible fairy tale villains. In 2013 he published his first fairy tale in his widely popular “The School for Good and Evil” book series which is beloved by children and teens around the world. Soman recently completed the trilogy with his new book “The Last Ever After” which was released in July, and the fairy tale will soon hit the big screen!
Soman Chainani was kind enough to join me this week to discuss his best selling series “The School For Good And Evil”, his newest book “The Last Ever After” and what inspired him to write it, why he feels the book resonates with so many, what makes female villains so irresistible, when we’ll see his fairy tale on the big screen and so much more!
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about your new book “The Last Ever After” and what inspired you to write it?
Soman Chainani: “It’s the conclusion to ‘The School For Good and Evil’ series which I started a couple years ago which takes back fairy tales from Disney. I was inspired by the fact that everybody is a little brainwashed by Disney fairy tales. Those stories have kind of taken over everybody’s life at some level by convincing them what a happy ending is so I wanted to do my own version of what a fairy tale actually is and sort of bring it back to all those shades of light and darkness that used to be there until Disney sanitized those stories.”
Candace Rose: The New York Times Bestselling “The School For Good And Evil” series is beloved by children and teenagers around the world. Why do you think the trilogy resonates with so many?
Soman Chainani: “I think it’s because of the fact that we have this idea in our head of what a fairy tale is supposed to be and this kind of turns all those things on its head so you can’t really predict where it’s going because you’re already attuned to thinking you know how the story is going to go and this just sort of blows things up along the way. The first book looks at good and evil, the second book looks at boys and girls, and the third – young and old.”
Candace Rose: At “The School For Good And Evil” girls and boys are trained to be heroes and villains. Who gets to decide this?
Soman Chainani: “I think ultimately that’s the big question. Is it going to be the pen that writes all their stories? Is there some higher power at work here or they’re completely in charge of how their story goes? These sort of speak to larger questions in our own lives and how much control we have over our own selves. This is something that comes up again and again in the book.”
Candace Rose: Would you say you’re an ever or a never?
Soman Chainani: “Evers go to the school for good and believe in love as the highest power, so they believe in this idea of a happily ever after. Nevers believe power is the greatest thing you can aspire to, so they don’t believe love will get you far in life at all. This question of love or power, what are you after? I think that’s how you can divide most of the world.
We created a test online that’s at SchoolForGoodAndEvil.com, and over two million kids have taken it. You can actually get your soul score down to the percentage point of whether you’re good or evil and see what side you’d be on. I’ve taken it a million times and I always end up 76.4% evil, so I’m definitely a never.”
Candace Rose: You graduated summa cum laude from Harvard and wrote your thesis on why evil women make irresistible fairy tale villains. Can you tell us about that and what makes evil women such fascinating characters?
Soman Chainani: “Disney has had so many movies but only a handful of them have had female villains, but those are the ones we remember, like Ursula, Maleficent, Cruella de Vil. These are the characters we love the most and it’s because they can’t rely on brute force, guns, bombs and weapons. They tend to be much more manipulative and sly about their power and I think that’s what we react to. We also react to the fact that they tend to be quite unmaternal. There’s nothing scarier to a child than a woman who is willing to put a child’s safety in danger in order to further her own selfish interests, so that’s like a primal terror for most kids and that’s why it’s so successful.”
Candace Rose: You’re an acclaimed screenwriter and film director. How would you say the film world differs from the writing world?
Soman Chainani: “Universal is making the books into a movie produced by Joe Roth who did ‘Snow White and The Huntsman’, ‘Oz The Great And Powerful’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Maleficent’. It’s going to be a big fairy tale spectacular. I wrote the screenplay for the movie and it comes down to the primal differences doing publishing and movies in that movies is much more collaborative. It’s a big political machine that comes in and takes over because it’s like a $200 million budget. I think at the end of the day on the film side you do your work and let the train go on its way, whereas on publishing I’m definitely controlling every single aspect of it.”
Candace Rose: As you mentioned Universal Pictures bought the film rights for “The School For Good And Evil”. Can you tell us about that and when will we see it on the big screen?
Soman Chainani: “It will come out Christmas 2017, and it will shoot next year. It’s been a great process so far. It’s going to be a big epic fairy tale movie – the most Un-Disney movie you can think of, so I’m excited to see it on the big screen.”
Candace Rose: Where can viewers go for more information and to purchase “The Last Ever After”?
Soman Chainani: “You can purchase the books anywhere. There’s a hardcover box set of all three in collectible editions that comes out on Tuesday everywhere. You can get it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble online – all those places. In addition you can go to SchoolForGoodAndEvil.com, there’s video book trailers on there, plus there’s the quiz so you can see if you’re an ever or a never. There’s a YouTube channel with a show that comes out once a week called EverNeverTV. You can access that by going to the website as well.”