Writing is a passion. Publishing is a business.


Interview with SOMAN CHAINANI

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 15 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 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. Before joining the Columbia University film program, Chainani graduated Harvard University summa cum laude, with a degree in English & American Literature. While at Harvard, he focused on fairy tales and wrote his thesis on why evil women make such irresistible fairy-tale villains, winning the Thomas Hoopes Prize and Briggs Prize for his work.

What are you reading right now?


What first sparked your interest in writing?

I just always seemed to have a gift for storytelling and really enjoyed the process of working out the perfect story structure. I'm not a linguist like some authors - more a dramatist, and enjoy the process of finding ways to surprise readers and myself in the process.
What do you love the most about writing? The least?

I love being stunned by something as I'm writing - and getting caught up in the fever of a particular plot moment or a character arc. When it's all racing along and you feel the book writing itself is when it's all very special (usually towards the end of a book.)

As for the least, I think sometimes the solitude and the deadlines, which preclude you from taking your time with it and really enjoying the process at times, can be tricky.

Tell us a little about your writing process.

I write from about 10am-4pm every day, with a short lunch break in there. I try to get 500 solid words in a day in terms of new material, plus reviewing the material from the day before. I write fairly slowly but consistently.

What are your passions?

Tennis, movies, and storytelling.

What inspires you?

Good characters and a penchant for high comedy.

Why middle reader?

Because it's so undefined. I feel like the teen genre has been a bit John Green-ified in recent years, so there's not much room to find a tone. In middle grade, it feels like I can really dive in and work with a blank canvas.

Why fantasy?

Fantasy requires the strongest characters to make up for the lack of grounding in the world.


I'd had the idea for a very long time - I've been a fairy tale “expert” since college, to some degree, so the idea of a princess and witch switching places was irresistible to me.

This series seems like it must be so much fun to write. Is that true?

It's definitely a blast at times - but it's a very, very difficult series to write. The number of characters, the level of difficulty, the intensity and complexity for a first series is a bit insane.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Only write a story you care deeply about.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?

Check out the interactive website at www.schoolforgoodandevil.com. All sorts of fun things on there, including my personal blog, which features a lot of tips about writing.