Rise of the School for Good and Evil
Published on: 03 September 2023
Soman Chainani, author of The School for Good and Evil, wasn't expecting to find himself back in the EverNever World so soon after finishing the first series! Here he talks about how he came up with the idea for the prequel: Rise of the School for Good and Evil...
Author Soman Chainani and the cover of Rise of the School for Good and Evil
Back down the rabbit hole
After landing the massive six-book plane that was The School for Good and Evil series, I expected to take a nice long break from all things SGE, maybe travel to the south of France and go to tennis camp, bask in the sun, eat escargot. The logic followed, that after a reset like that, I’d have a nice clean slate, ready to be filled with fresh ideas for my next move. The fresh ideas did come. The escargot, though, would have to wait.
With production for Netflix’s film adaptation of SGE blasting full steam ahead, I was tapped as author and executive producer to chime in on questions about lore and character backstory. Soon, I found myself tumbling back down the rabbit hole, and landed smack dab back in the world of The School for Good and Evil.
Only, this School was not the one of Sophie and Agatha, the School of the movie, where two ordinary village girls are kidnapped to attend a school for fairytale heroes and villains. This was a School more than two hundred years older, a School before the time of the characters in the series, except for our two immortal heroes: the twin School Masters, Rhian and Rafal, powerful sorcerers who must protect the balance between Good and Evil by protecting the brotherly bond between them. Only their souls are polar opposites…
Why exactly my imagination took me back to the time of the School Masters is a mystery. But it could have a bit to do with the Netflix film, more specifically the incredible Kit Young, who plays both Rhian and Rafal in the movie. While brainstorming Rise..., I’d just come from a month in Belfast, where director Paul Feig was filming the School for Good and Evil movie. On set, Kit and I had become fast friends. My background is as a filmmaker, and there was such an electric energy to Kit’s performance, like a bolt of lightning to my imagination.
What it hit was every question left unanswered in the original series: how are the School Masters selected? What was the school like before Sophie and Agatha arrived? What was it like for famous students like Captain Hook, Aladdin, and others before they became fairy tale legends?
And so Rise of the School for Good and Evil was born—a tale of jealousy, seduction, and manipulation, all wrapped in one big swashbuckling adventure. While SGE is a traditional old-fashioned fantasy epic, I wanted to try a new style with this book: sharper, faster, like an adrenaline thrill ride.
My feeling was that lots of new people would be introduced to the series through the movie. And I wanted to have a book for them that would be easy to grab off the shelf and get right into. A lean, mean book that could stand proudly next to any TikTok. Because I’m under no illusions—in this day and age, anything authors write is competing for people’s attention with algorithmically curated For Your Pages. While some authors might shy away from the competition, I welcome it. I think it forces me to rise to the challenge, to make a book that’s such a page-turner, each flip of the page feels as easy as a scroll of the feed. Only with a book, I think the reward of diving into a bunch of pages is greater in the long run. Because the thing with deep dives is that that’s where you find hidden treasure…
So I’m hoping that you guys reading today will find such treasure in Rise of the School for Good and Evil. Some characters do indeed dive deep under the sea to attempt a high-stakes underwater prison-break…
But you’ll have to read to find out more!
With much love,