Today’s interview is with the wonderful author of the upcoming These Violent Delights, Chloe Gong!
To say that I’m calm would be an absolute lie because friends, I’m anything but calm. Chloe is here today! I’m so excited that this review is finally going up. These Violent Delights is one of my highly anticipated of the year and I can’t wait for you all to read it. Read on to find out what inspired the story, Chloe’s favorite part about writing the book, swapping places with characters, and more!
These Violent Delights is one of my highly anticipated of the year! I can’t wait for it to release and I know so many readers are excited for it too. Could you start by telling us what inspired you to write it?
CHLOE: Thank you for having me here to talk about These Violent Delights! I’m so very excited for everyone to read it. The inspiration that came to me first was the idea of a blood feud. Inherited conflicts are so interesting to explore in fiction, especially once it really gets narrowed down to two characters on opposing sides and how that pushes and pulls at their dynamic. It then seemed a natural procession to go from blood feud → reimagining Romeo and Juliet in a new cultural lens, and I’ve always loved Shakespeare so I knew I wanted to do it justice and truly delve deep into themes about love and hate and family. Of course, to me, retellings mean changing it up enough for it to feel fresh and exciting, so I chose 1920s Shanghai because it’s my favorite place and time period.
Can you give a brief summary on what These Violent Delights is about for those who haven’t come across it yet?
CHLOE: These Violent Delights is a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1926 Shanghai, about two heirs of rival gangs having to work together when a monster wreaks havoc across the city. It’s roaring 20s glamour meets The Godfather-style violence, and whether our star-crossed exes Roma Montagov and Juliette Cai will end up killing each other or kissing each other is up for debate.
Might I just say that I really love the sound of that?
What was your favorite part about writing These Violent Delights?
CHLOE: The atmosphere! I’m a very visual writer and I see scenes in my head before I write them out, so for a setting as visceral as 1920s Shanghai, it was the magic of making the world come alive that really made this book special for me. The aesthetic of Shanghai at that time was truly gorgeous. I did a lot of research, visited preserved parts of the city, and consumed a lot of media to try get an overall sense of the environment, so all the “zoom-out” narration moments to capture the heart of Shanghai are my favorite parts of the book.
Okay, if you’ve read this and still haven’t added the book to your tbr please do? I mean that sounds so good!
Was becoming an author always a dream of yours?
CHLOE: Yes and no! I’m 21 right now, so I almost feel like I haven’t had that much time to really think about what I want to do with my life, because I still have the time ahead of me to pick a life path. But, I’ve been writing since I was 13, so I’ve definitely always known that I wanted to write and tell stories.
If you could swap places with a character for a day (yours or otherwise) who would you want to be?
CHLOE: Oh, definitely Juliette. That’s a boring answer, I know, because duh, she’s the main character of my own book, but I think I wrote this book because I wanted to explore how exciting it would be to live during 1920s Shanghai and to be the heiress of a cutthroat gang while politics and monsters loom in the shadows. Juliette is way more capable than I am though, so I would probably only last a day in her shoes before I get killed, but that would be a fun day, at least!
I love this answer so much! 😂
So, let’s say you’re stranded on an island and you only have three books with you. What would those three books be?
CHLOE: These are always the hardest questions because it’s so hard to choose! After much consideration, I’m going to go with:
Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett, because it’s one of my favorite contemporaries, it’s so cute, and the main characters are also stuck in the wilderness for some time so it’ll inspire me to get off my deserted island.
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, for no reason other than nostalgia since I grew up on this series and I’ll probably keep reading the Shadowhunters books until the day they stop coming out.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, since there’s just something about the suffering of others that I imagine would make a stranded-on-island experience go far more pleasantly.
What was the most interesting thing you learned about while researching for These Violent Delights?
CHLOE: Before writing These Violent Delights, because I was stepping into the culture that I was raised in–even though I didn’t actually grow up in Shanghai–I definitely had a lot of preliminary knowledge that I drew off of. The proper research came in for the hard historical facts, and sadly enough, what blew my mind the most was how much control that foreigners had over Shanghai at this time, and they asserted themselves with segregated, ‘No Chinese’ areas. Imagine that! The Chinese being kept out of places in their own country! Colonialism is truly something else, so after learning about it, I definitely needed to examine it within the text of the book.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
CHLOE: This might be advice that aspiring authors have heard time and time again, but I stand by it: write what you love! I know it’s definitely not that easy and the market is a huge component in getting published, but when I really adore the book I’ve produced, it truly doesn’t matter how many times I need to go back and shine it up, I believe in it with my whole heart and I never tire of reading it. This won’t work for everyone, but a good starting point is making sure that you are working on what you want to be working on, and a reader can feel that love pouring from the words.
This is honestly the most wonderful advice I’ve ever heard ♥
Any future projects for us to look forward to?
CHLOE: I’m hard at work on the sequel to These Violent Delights! And after that, there will either be more historical Shanghai or more Shakespeare, I can never stray far from those two 😉
And I’m already excited!
A huge thank you to Chloe Gong for this amazing interview! I loved reading these answers and I hope you all did too. Please add These Violent Delights to your tbr and pre-order the book. You most definitely won’t regret it!
About These Violent Delights
Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.
The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.
A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.
About Chloe Gong
Chloe Gong is an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, studying English and International Relations. During her breaks, she’s either at home in New Zealand or visiting her many relatives in Shanghai. Chloe has been known to mysteriously appear by chanting “Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s best plays and doesn’t deserve its slander in pop culture” into a mirror three times.