Author Chat with Soman Chainani (Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we are chatting with Soman Chainani, author of
Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales!
Read on for more about Soman, his book, and giveaway!
Meet Soman Chainani!
Soman Chainani is the New York Times bestselling author of the School for Good and Evil series. The fairy tale saga has sold more than 2.5 million copies, has been translated into 29 languages and will soon be a major motion picture from Netflix, which Chainani will executive produce.
Each of the six books in the series—The School for Good and Evil, A World Without Princes, The Last Ever After, Quests for Glory, A Crystal of Time, and One True King—has debuted on the New York Times bestseller list. Together the books have been on the print and extended lists for 38 weeks.
Soman is a graduate of Harvard University and received his MFA in Film from Columbia University. He began his career as a screenwriter and director, with his films playing at over 150 film festivals around the world. He has been nominated for the Waterstone Prize for Children’s Literature, named to the Out100, and received the Shasha Grant and the Sun Valley Writer’s Fellowship (both for debut writers). Every year, he visits schools around the world to speak to kids and share his secret: that reading is the path to a better life.
Meet Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales!
You think you know these stories, don’t you?
You are wrong.
You don’t know them at all.
Twelve tales, twelve dangerous tales of mystery, magic, and rebellious hearts. Each twists like a spindle to reveal truths full of warning and triumph, truths that capture hearts long kept tame and set them free, truths that explore life . . . and death.
A prince has a surprising awakening . . .
A beauty fights like a beast . . .
A boy refuses to become prey . . .
A path to happiness is lost. . . . then found again.
New York Times bestselling author Soman Chainani respins old stories into fresh fairy tales for a new era and creates a world like no other. These stories know you. They understand you. They reflect you. They are tales for our times. So read on, if you dare.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
As a relentless student of the Grimms’ tales, what I loved about them was how unsafe the characters were. You could very well end up with wedding bells and an Ever After – or you could lose your tongue or be baked into a pie. There was no ‘warmth’ built into the narrator, no expectations of a happy ending. The thrill came from vicariously trying to survive the gingerbread house, the hook-handed captain, or the apple-carrying crone at the door – and relief upon survival.
In recent years, fairy tale mash-ups, retellings, and revisions have become popular – and for good reason, given how enduring and inspiring the source material is. That said, 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. As soon as I started thinking in those terms, I knew I wanted to do a school-based novel. I was walking in a park before an appointment when I had the first image… a girl in pink and a girl in black falling into the wrong schools… I got so caught up thinking that I missed my appointment entirely.
YABC: Who is your favorite character?
When my brother was reading the book, he called me up and said “You know this Sophie girl… She’s the real you.” Though it’s a rather uncharitable assessment, I have to say that writing Sophie is the highlight of my day. She delivers monologues as if the whole world is listening and I relish the tightrope act of making her at once ludicrous and alluring. I also love writing Hort.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The title, definitely. I always have the title first.
YABC: What scene in any of your books are you most proud of, and why?
The Wish Fish scene is close to my heart because it sprung from a moment that happened with my niece Uma. When she was young, we used to ask her every night before she went to bed: “What do you wish for more than anything in the whole world?” Every night she’d have the same answer. Ice cream. But then one night, out of the blue, when she was four or five years old, she wished for… a suitcase. We couldn’t understand why, nor would she explain it. Did she run away? Did she want to hide inside it? The mystery of it ended up inspiring the Wish Fish scene, which I think is still the most unsettling moment in the entire School for Good and Evil series.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
Some days, you aren’t at your best. But I have to push forward, even if it isn’t my best day. That’s where having played tennis my whole life is supremely helpful. On so many days, you aren’t at your best, but you still want to win. Writing is the same. You want to write a good book, you want deliver for your audiences, but you can’t be in the zone for all 300 days it takes to write a novel. Or even most of them. Still… you keep going. That’s the mark of a professional.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
Julia Iredale is a brilliant artist – she read the first three stories and instantly sensed the feeling we wanted, which was danger, intensity, but also beauty and romance. There’s something so sinister and yet alluring about that wolf and the way he’s approaching the girl. It’s a seminal image in a way, filled with metaphor and meaning, and I can’t think of a better cover for Beasts and Beauty.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
Beasts and Beauty is out on September 21 and is a book I’m immensely proud of. I can’t wait for readers to go into the darkness and edginess of it and experience fairy tales in a whole new way. Then there’s The School for Good & Evil movie, coming out in 2022, which from what I’ve seen, is going to really blow people away. And I’ve recently finished my next two projects, which we’ll announce soon enough, which will take us through 2022 and 2023. But starting in October, I’m going to take some time off and fill up the creative well. I’m ready for some new directions.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
Bluebeard was the toughest story, because it just dug into this primal darkness within me. I think I was afraid of the story, even after it was done. I can’t even reread it, to this day. My editor felt the same way – we never really touched it after the first draft. It was this dangerous jewel that terrified us both and better to let sleeping monsters lie. I’ll be curious what readers make of it.
Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales
Author: Soman Chainani
Publish Date: September 21st, 2021
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