Hello friends and welcome to Color the Shelves!
I’m here today with one of my most anticipated releases and I’m sure…one of yours as well. I’m bringing you an interview with Chloe Gong, the author of These Violent Delights, one of the very few books that completely destroyed me this year (where do I send my therapy bill?). If you’re looking forward to this book, you’re in for a treat, and if for some reason you haven’t heard of it yet, you’re ALSO in for a treat and here is why: These Violent Delights is a Romeo and Juliette retelling set in 1920s Shanghai where two gangs are not only fighting each other but also a mysterious monster that’s spreading a plague through their ranks, and city.
The prose, plot, twists, turns, the romance and yearning are all so excellent and I highly recommend you get your hands on it as soon as you can. Without further ado and before I turn this post into a gushing review, here is the interview:
Hi Chloe, I’m so happy to have you joining me today on Color the Shelves! To kick off this interview, can you tell us a few things about THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS that the synopsis leaves out?
Thank you for having me here! The synopsis covers just about all the major components of THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS: a blood feud, a monster, star-crossed exes working together. Buuuuuut… perhaps what it leaves out is that this book centers around the effects of colonialism and imperialism in the early 20th century and draws parallels to our current social climate, especially as an epidemic tears through the city.
THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS is a bit hard to classify since it has some retelling elements, science, a mystery, etc… so it’s a mishmash of a couple different genres. How did you come to blend together all the elements that make it what it is?
This is also something I think about a lot! THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS is officially classified as YA fantasy for being alternate history/a retelling, but it doesn’t have the markers of what is usually found in fantasy, such as a magic system. In technicality, it’s an alternate historical sci-fi mystery, but since that’s a mouthful, fantasy it is! I feel this mishmash definitely comes down to the fact that I didn’t set out to write anything within one category, and I love to dip my toes into the facets of different genres and pull them together in a way that interests me. I’ve always loved the plot beats of a mystery, and I love the plot reveals of sci-fis. Alternate history is one of my favorite things for being able to play around with facts and details while sticking to the true atmospheres of the past, so as I was writing, I didn’t hold back on making sure this was a story I was going to love.
The story, being a Romeo and Juliet retelling, follows mainly two main characters, Roma and Juliette. In a contemporary setting AU, how would they meet? And what would they be doing?
Ooooh, even in a contemporary setting AU, they would definitely still be rivals of some sort. Maybe as students under the same teacher’s tutelage, and they’re racing against each other to find the answer to some problem or the conclusion to some research. They would start out on a good foot, and be friendly, but when they realize that they’re each other’s competitor… the gloves come off for the fight.
What was your favorite part about writing THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS?
The atmosphere! When I decided my setting was going to be 1926 Shanghai, the objective at the very forefront of my mind was that it had to matter, I couldn’t just use it as a backdrop. Every passage where the streets are coming alive or the politics are rumbling to a head were my favorites, because when I read I love being absorbed in a world, and when I write, that’s what I hope to achieve!
(Fadwa: and it’s brilliantly achieved, the world jumps out of the page)
If the book were turned into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?
Halsey’s hopeless fountain kingdom album, for sure, because it revolves around another Romeo & Juliet retelling and the star-crossed lovers vibes are immaculate. Also PVRIS’s Old Wounds because it’s a perfect song for Roma and Juliette’s history, and Ursine Vulpine’s Without You because it captures the vibe of the blood feud so well. I can just imagine it playing against the ending credits, oof.
As a follow up to the above question, do you have a dream cast for your characters?
Surprisingly, I don’t! I always have trouble envisioning faces for my characters, which probably shows in my writing because I don’t like narrowing down very specific physical descriptions. All that I would require for a dream cast is that they’re actually teens!
And last question, which might be my favorite to ask, what’s something you’d like your readers to take away from THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS or something you’d like to tell them?
THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS is about the thin line between hate and love, about needing to attack an enemy just for the chance to touch them. It’s about colonialism and the way it entrenches so deeply into a society, the widespread damage it does and the ways that people living under the system are forced to contribute to it. But also, I hope readers delight in the violence, and take away a story to hold close to their heart.
(Fadwa: if this doesn’t make you want to pick it up, I don’t know what will)
About the author
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. Her debut novel, THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS, is being published by Margaret K. McElderry/S&S in 2020 with a sequel to follow in 2021. She is represented by the wonderful Laura Crockett at TriadaUS Literary Agency.
About the book
Publication date : November 17th, 2020
Publisher : Margaret K. Mcelderry | Simon & Schuster
Genre : Young Adult | Fantasy
Synopsis : 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.
That’s it until next time.
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.