Soman Chainani’s first novel, The School For Good And Evil, debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List, has been on ABA’s National Indie Bestseller List for 12 weeks, has been translated into languages across six continents, and will soon be a major motion picture from Universal Studios, produced by Joe Roth (Snow White & The Huntsman, Alice In Wonderland, Oz The Great & Powerful) and Jane Startz (Tuck Everlasting, Ella Enchanted). Soman is a graduate of the MFA Film Program at Columbia University, and the recipient of the school’s top prize, the FMI Fellowship for Writing and Directing. His short films, Davy & Stu and Kali Ma, have played over 150 international film festivals, won over 30 jury and audience awards, and racked up over 1,000,000 YouTube hits. His writing awards include honors from Big Bear Lake, the Sun Valley Writer’s Fellowship, and the coveted Shasha Grant, awarded by a jury of international film executives. He was also nominated for a NewNowNext Award, sponsored by MTV.
Soman’s new book, The School for Good and Evil: A World Without Princes (the 2nd in the series), just came out, and he kindly answered a few of my questions!
Kristin Centorcelli: You have a degree in English and American Literature, and extensive film experience, but have you always wanted to write novels? Will you tell us more about yourself and your background?
Soman Chainani: I think in my heart, I’ve always wanted to write novels, but been quite terrified of the discipline and solitude required to write them. I always figured it would be a nice thing to turn to once I finished with my goals in the movie world, had a stable relationship, and a nice house with a dog. Ultimately, we’re not really in charge of our own stories – a big theme in SGE – and it turns out I came to them when I’m single, living in New York, and in the middle of my film career.
What happened was I was working on my first feature as a director called Love Marriage, which I was going to make in London in 2011 – and after two years of preparing it and getting the script perfect, our financing got shaky a few weeks before production. As a result, I stepped back and found myself brainstorming The School For Good And Evil. My agent was wise enough to realize it was a book series instead of a movie and steered me towards a publication deal. I was writing the book less than a year after first having the initial grain of the idea.