One winner will receive a copy of These Violent Delights (Chloe Gong) ~ (US Only)
Welcome to our weekly special feature post, Author Of The Week!!
Each week we will be interviewing a different YA author and highlighting their upcoming release!
We will also be hosting a giveaway of the book we are highlighting!!
Introducing Chloe Gong, YABC's Author of the Week!
Chloe Gong is an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, double-majoring in English and international relations. Born in Shanghai and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, she now lives at the top of a crumbling, ivory tower in Philadelphia (also known as student housing).
After devouring the entire YA section of her local library, she started writing her own novels at age 13 to keep herself entertained, and has been highly entertained ever since. 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. These Violent Delights is her debut novel. You can find her on Twitter @TheChloeGong or check out her website at TheChloeGong.com.
Meet 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.
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I’ve always wanted to write something set in the 1920s. When I got the idea about a story revolving around a blood feud and two rival gangs at war—with former lovers at the head of each, pitted against each other—somehow everything clicked together and I ended up mashing a Romeo & Juliet retelling up with a 1920s Shanghai setting. I was already familiar with Shanghai, and I knew about its history in the 1920s, like how the streets were run by gangsters because so many imperialist foreign powers had divided up the city that there was no central jurisdiction to control the city’s ongoings. It felt like the perfect setting to explore the ideas Shakespeare was getting at in Romeo & Juliet, about love and hate and family, and all the boundaries in between, and so in my desire to look at this age-old tale from an entirely new lens, These Violent Delights was born.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
This always changes depending on my mood! I’ll often say Juliette Cai, because she’s the protagonist and the one who is spearheading most of the story, so she’s the one nearest and dearest to my heart. In writing her, I wanted a fully-realized female character: someone who was cutthroat, but all the same she doesn’t shed her femininity when beating someone up. She’ll cut you, but she’ll look good while doing it. I didn’t want Juliette to have to choose between emotional strength or physical strength. I didn’t want Juliette to have to choose just one archetype—she could be everything at once and be a heroine, just as real people can.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The title! Or rather, I had the pitch first: once I knew I was doing a Romeo & Juliet retelling by way of The Godfather, filled with violence and crime and blood, with starcrossed exes who have to work together when a monster rises in their city and starts killing members of both gangs, I started browsing through Shakespeare’s original play looking for critical points that I would be drawing from to reimagine this story. I kept circling back to that iconic line: these violent delights have violent ends, and though Shakespeare actually meant “violent” as in “sudden,” rather than violent as in blood and guts, he was the master at wordplay after all, and he knew what he was doing using that double meaning in a story about a blood feud. And so, These Violent Delights was the perfect title as I started to write, and it has stayed the same ever since.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
There’s a scene in the book that re-imagines the ball in Romeo & Juliet. In writing These Violent Delights, I didn’t want to carbon-copy the plot of Shakespeare’s play, because if someone wanted Romeo & Juliet again, they could of course simply watch the original Shakespearean production or watch a film adaptation. Any time I was working with a scene that echoed the original, I was hard at work in adjusting the context, so that Shakespeare lovers would recognize it, but then they would also see what I am quietly subverting right beneath the surface, and how I’ve played with expectations to deliver something either different, or deliver something that was expected to be coming, just not in the way that you would have imagined. The ball scene is one of my favorites for its subtle behind-the-scenes work, and my English major heart really loved it in particular!
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2020-2021?
Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan is releasing May 4th, 2021, and it’s about a Bangladeshi teenager who agrees to fake-date her school’s resident bad boy, setting off a whole domino effect of self-discovery and growth alongside the cutest teen love story. I read an early version, and I’m incredibly excited for this book to release so everyone else can experience the warmth and beauty of the story with me.
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2020?
Ooooh, this is so hard to choose! I’ll shout out a debut because I need everyone to pick up this book. Everything I Thought I Knew by Shannon Takaoka is about a girl who undergoes a heart transplant, and suddenly has to re-adjust to life again, with all these possibilities unfolding in front of her. The story isn’t what it seems at first glance, and it plays out in the most gorgeous way. It’s one of those reads that will just mean so much to teens still in high school, and I really, really recommend teenagers everywhere pick it up!
YABC: What’s up next for you?
I’m working on the sequel to These Violent Delights now, and making sure the conclusion to this duology is the very best it can be! Alongside it, I’m also working on some secret projects, always dabbling away at my little Shakespearean retellings niche.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
Drafting! Especially first drafts, which I know I’m probably in the minority for amongst other authors. The first draft is just such a magical stage to me, because it’s when the story is unfolding completely anew, and you can go down any path and anything can happen. At the end of the day, I write books because I love telling stories, and drafting is where all the storytelling happens.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
Invincibility to sugar. Doesn’t matter how sweet something is, I will consume it happily.
These Violent Delights
By: Chloe Gong
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry/ Simon & Schuster
Release Date: November 17th, 2020
One winner will receive a copy of These Violent Delights (Chloe Gong) ~ (US Only)
Romeo and Juliet was the only Shakespeare book I've read in high school that was actually interesting, and a retelling that's diverse? Nothing more I could've asked for. The gold on the cover is stunning, that vibrant color with the roses is eye-catching.