{A Twist in the Tail Interview/Guest Post/Giveaway} Soman Chainani, author of THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL

Love fairy tales and mythology?
Fans of mermaids, dragons, unicorns, and other mythical creatures?
Enjoy when a beloved classic tale is retold?
A Twist in the Tail Thursdays features all this and more!

Check out today's review of THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL by Soman Chainani!

This is seriously one of the best book trailers I've ever seen, don't you agree?

Just watching it makes you wish a movie was in the works. And since life can truly be a fairy tale, our fairy godmother has made our wish come true! According to a recent press releaseOz the Great and Powerful producer Joe Roth and Universal Pictures have acquired movie rights and book author Soman Chainani will write the screenplay adaptation of his novel. Roth has previously produced Snow White and the Huntsman and is also working on a movie version of Laini Taylor's novel DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. Rumors state that a movie version of THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL will release in 2015!

An interview with 
Soman Chainani

Soman Chainani is the author of THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, the first book in the epic fantasy trilogy for Harper Collins that will hit bookstores in Summer 2013. The series will be turned into films by producer Jane Startz (ELLA ENCHANTED, TUCK EVERLASTING), and Soman will pen the scripts for the films with screenwriter Malia Scotch-Marmo (HOOK, ONCE AROUND).

Visit Soman on his website, Twitter, and Facebook!

The idea of a school where students learn how to be "good" and "evil" is so intriguing. How did you come up with the concept?

It’s funny, I started writing THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL about six months before the fairy tale craze started happening in Hollywood and in publishing – and I remember asking myself the same questions everyone is asking now. Why do fairy tales matter so much? Why do we respond so deeply to them in every age? And I think the answer is that they feel like a Survival Guide to Life, no matter what age you are. They present such a clear-eyed view of the world, without Disneyfied happy endings or even the expectation of happy endings. At the end of the Grimms’ stories, kids often end up baked into pies, losing tongues, or being turned into birds, just for making poor decisions. 

So with THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, I wanted to start in that kind of world with true consequences – and where there is balance between Good or Evil (which is in fact the reality of our world today. Balance might even be called optimistic.) And I wanted to deal with the notion that Good has been winning everything… and what did that mean? Why does Good always win these days in stories? And is that what children really need to learn? 

So just by starting with fundamental questions, I realized I could actually conceive a school around these principles. And so the book begins with the quite provocative idea that every child’s soul fundamentally skews towards Good or Evil, that each child is born inclined to create… or to destroy. 

Which seems quite accurate to me, by the way. To play with this idea, I created the entrance exam to The School for Good and Evil on the book’s website, which tests what percentage of your soul is Good and what percentage of your soul is Evil. Over 8,000 people have taken it so far… and it’s pretty balanced between Evers, or those that skew Good, and Nevers, or those who skew Evil.

How did you put together the school's curriculum? I want to take the classes that are being offered!

There was a real question early on of how serious or comic the classes should be. For instance, should girls in the School for Good take a class on ‘Fainting & Sighing’; should the Evil kids take a class on ‘Villain Monologues’? But it just felt like it would degenerate into spoof, which was the opposite of my intention. I really wanted this to feel like a legitimate school for the Good and Evil of the fairy tale worlds we’ve create in our heads. 

So I just focused on the dichotomies in fairy tales that felt worthy of an intensive curriculum – between animal sidekicks that usually help heroes vs. the crony henchmen that assist villains; between the beautification of princes and princesses vs. the Uglification of villains; and between the idea that heroes pursue good deeds while villains pursue vengeance. I wanted each class to feel like a place you could learn something useful every time we visit it.

How many books are you hoping to have in the series?

Three is what I have outlined. But the world is a massive one and could fill many more. We’ll have to see what the readers want and what I have the stamina for, given I’d still like to make movies.

Someone gives you a key ring and says you can open any door you want, save one. Then they leave you alone with all those keys and doors. What do you do?

The one lesson everyone should learn from the Bluebeard tales is ‘Never marry a man that plays games.’ So yes, having internalized that lesson, I would not under any circumstances open the door that was forbidden. I might have a peek through the keyhole, though. Just because I’m a bit School for Evil.

Your favorite obscure (or less well-known) fairy tale?

What a great question. Best one I’ve been asked in a long time. Does anyone still read Bony Legs by Joanna Cole? What a beautifully written, frightening fairy tale. That one haunted me as a child – and fed my obsession with female villains.

Most overrated fairy tale?

This is sacrilege, but I always found Snow White a bit undercooked. In most versions, she never outwits her stepmother, is repeatedly poisoned, only to be rescued by far more clever dwarves, and at last ends up comatose in a glass coffin until a prince chances upon her. How is she at all a teachable or empathetic character?

This or That?

Seven League Boots or Glass Slippers?

I’d personally want the Seven League Boots, but glass slippers play a big role in S.G.E, so let’s say this is a close one.

Talking Birds or Talking Mice?

Goodness, both of these are in S.G.E. also. But talking birds tend to have more personality.

Prince or pauper?

I’m a bit high maintenance, so let’s say prince, provided he isn’t a stuffed shirt.

Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm?

Hans Christian Andersen stories tend to be more intense and emotional. But the Grimms stories have the horror, which I love.
teachable or empathetic character?

Would You Rather. . . ?

Ride in a pumpkin carriage (sticky) or climb a hair-rope (tiring) to get where you're going?

In the Groom Room, a medieval spa and gym for the Good students, the boys have climbing walls with ropes made of blond-hair. So definitely, that’s my choice, since I’ve already fully integrated them into my story! (Plus, sitting for long periods of time makes me irritated.)

Face 3 Billy Goats Gruff or 3 Bears from Goldilocks?

Those three bears seem quite reasonable – and appear to keep a very organized house.

Drink an Alice-ish "Drink Me" potion or eat part of a witch's gingerbread house?

Eating any portion of a house that’s left to rot in the sun day after day can be pleasurable or healthy. I’d probably drink the “Drink Me” potion in the hopes it’d add 50 pounds of muscle on me.

Thanks for running such a wonderful blog! Hope you all enjoy the book and don’t be shy about letting me know your thoughts. Visit www.schoolforgoodandevil.com for tour dates, photos, video trailers, fan art and more surprises in the months ahead.

by Soman Chainani

I’ve been obsessed with fairy tales as long as I can remember. I find myself simultaneously thrilled and terrified by them, at once lured by their innocence and taken by their honesty. No child is safe in a fairy tale. You can end up marrying your prince. You can lose your tongue. You can be baked into a pie. In brief, brutal tales, these storytellers give us romance, adventure, action, comedy, horror. They make us laugh and weep – and most importantly, teach us the lessons of life.

In recent years, fairy tale mash-ups, retellings, and revisions have become popular, but I had my sights set on something more primal: a new fairy tale, just as unleashed and unhinged as the old, that found the anxieties of today’s children. To acknowledge the past – the alumni of the genre, so to speak – and move on to a new class. That was the goal.

Perhaps most of all, I wrote THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL because of my irrepressible love for female villains. Though only seven of Disney’s fifty-three animated features have them, these are the ones we remember the most: Ursula, MaleficentCruella de Vil  Snow White’s Queen, among them. What is it that makes a wicked woman so delicious? What makes her so much scarier than a man? Here are questions worth years of my life. Questions worthy of a trilogy.

And as I began to explore this brand new school, filled in by the lightest and darkest parts of my imagination, I began to see that the witch is nothing without the princess.  We put them in opposition, expecting one to win out, but never give them the chance to live each other’s lives. What would happen then? For at their heart, in their search for identity and security, for happiness outside of themselves, for a life worth living…

Aren’t a princess and a witch the same?

Thank you so much, Soman!
I loved seeing a little bit about the inspiration behind S.G.E.! 
I had so much fun reading all of your responses ^_^
I adored the book and can't wait to read its sequels and see the upcoming movie!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Soman Chainani
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Received: For Review

“The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.” 

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil. 

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…? 

THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

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  1. Ahahaha! Great interview! Loved the questions and responses. :D Oh I think you have the last two questions and answers mixed up. Just so you know, you might want to fix that. ^_~


    1. Thanks for the catch :) I tend to be lazy and overwrite my HTML. I had a stray there! ^^;;;

      Weren't his responses great? I thoroughly enjoyed reading everything!

  2. Such a cool trailer! Love the epic music :D

    Also, great to hear that the author thought about the balance between serious and comic – that's definitely a question I can see arising with a concept like this one.


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