Following the success of the widely acclaimed These Violent Delights, Chloe Gong returns a year after her debut’s publication with its highly anticipated sequel, Our Violent Ends.
This Shakespearian retelling set in 1920s Shanghai continues after the devastating conclusion of These Violent Delights, the first book in Gong’s duology. Juliette has sacrificed her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud between the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers. Roma is shattered after the death of his best friend, who he believes was killed by Juliette in cold blood.
But there are new dangers emerging in Shanghai, from the Nationalists to monsters, that threaten the existence of these two rival gangs. Despite the betrayal and secrets that wrack their relationship, Juliette and Roma must work together to combat politics and monsters alike, all while protecting themselves from each other.
Chloe Gong’s debut novel, These Violent Delights, was a captivating rendition of Shakespeare’s classic that truly brought forth a fresh delivery of the famous love story. Gong’s sequel Our Violent Ends is set to introduce a brutally satisfying conclusion to Juliette and Roma’s story and I cannot wait to see how it ends!
The Young Folks was given the incredible opportunity to once again speak to Chloe Gong, New York Times best-selling author, and talk about her upcoming sequel, her post-college/pandemic writing process, and her future projects.
You published your debut novel These Violent Delights last fall. How are you feeling with the release of Our Violent Ends a year later? Are you just as nervous as the first time?
It’s a different sort of anticipation! These Violent Delights last fall was very much like shouting into the great abyss and not knowing what would come back, since it was not only my debut but also releasing right in the height of the pandemic while most stores were closed and we didn’t have a vaccine yet.
Our Violent Ends feels a little different with in-person events starting again and, of course, now I actually have readers who are invested in the world that These Violent Delights introduced who are looking forward to finding out how it ends! So it is less of a generalized sort of anticipation, more of wondering how Our Violent Ends will be landing and hoping that readers will love it as much as I do!
Congratulations on your recent college graduation! You mentioned that writing while also attending college took a lot of planning and reordering of priorities between your academic and professional work, as well as your personal life.
What do you expect will be different in your writing process now that you have graduated? What do you think will remain the same?
Since I’ve graduated I have so much more time to be working on my writing now. That being said, because I have more time, I’ve taken a lot more onto my plate on the writing side, so sadly (or not sadly) I am not any less busy!
The good thing about having gotten used to balancing academic and professional work is that I think I developed pretty good time management, and I’m in the habit of looking ahead to make sure I don’t miss any deadlines—or at the very least, communicating well about what I think is realistic for me. I plan to keep these habits long-term for sure, since it works well for me!
Our Violent Ends starts where These Violent Delights brutally left off. What were your thoughts transitioning into this continuation after tearing your readers’ collective hearts out?
It was a rather exciting time for me because I could truly hit the ground running with Our Violent Ends, haha! In These Violent Delights it was important to me to set the stage, to build the world, to give the readers the context that they would need to really feel the story heaving and breathing around them. The benefits of a sequel is that now my target audience have been familiarized with their surroundings, and I can dive right into the anger and longing between Roma and Juliette when they go slamming each other around in Chapter 1—quite literally.
What was the most difficult part in adapting Shakespeare’s play into two parts?
Since These Violent Delights and Our Violent Ends started as one big manuscript, the process of chopping it apart meant I had to pay attention to where certain pivotal events needed to go and where I might change things up a bit. I have always gone into this retelling knowing that I was doing a very loose adaptation, because it wasn’t the events of Romeo and Juliet that I was most interested in—after all, Romeo and Juliet still exists, so anyone can just go watch the play—but rather the thematic content and what the play is trying to say at its heart. So I distributed up the major events that would feed back to the themes, and let my own story evolve from there!
I read that you once said you visited all of the places that were described in These Violent Delights for research while you were writing it. With the pandemic impacting the operating hours of most locations the past year and a half, was there anything you did differently to prepare for Our Violent Ends?
Thankfully, because Our Violent Ends is a continuation of These Violent Delights, I had done a lot of my research prior to writing the second book. I used to travel to Shanghai a lot pre-pandemic and would drop by just about every school break, so I had been around to the major locations already and drew off my memory in writing it. Once lockdown rolled in, the experience of writing Our Violent Ends was mostly just tapping away on my couch at home!
What do you hope your readers will take away from Our Violent Ends, or from the duology as a whole?
I hope that they feel like they just spent about eight hundred pages with their close friends! I love creating worlds that make a lasting impact in someone’s mind, so when I write I want a setting that seems to breathe and characters that latch onto the reader even after they walk away. As Roma and Juliette try to choose love over and over again in a place where it’s easier to choose hate, I hope readers are along for the ride.
You mentioned that you are publishing a duology spin-off to the series and that it is set to be published in Fall 2022. That’s only two years after your debut!
How do you maintain motivation to keep writing and creating, and is there a way you can bottle it up and let me have some?
It truly comes to me as a necessity—I get itchy if I don’t write for an extended period of time! There are just so many stories I want to tell and I want to explore so many different genres. Of course, when there are deadlines, a lot of writing happens by sitting myself down and looking at what I need to get done for the day and doing it, but I also need that initial love for the story since writing is an art and it’s impossible to force art. If I ever feel like I’m hitting a block I’ll go do something else that fills the inspiration well, and usually after that I can sit back down and get working again!
The announcement of the spin-off duology was shared back in February. Is there anything else that you can tell us about what to expect?
While we’re waiting for some time after the release of Our Violent Ends to reveal more about the spin-off duology to avoid spoilers for the first duology, I’ve been having a lot of fun pitching it as a Republican Era C-Drama meets a Marvel movie. Foul Lady Fortune, the first in the spin-off duology, follows two fake married spies on a mission against imperialism with a bit of a sci-fi bent, and it’s been an adventure to write.
It’s your time to promote! What books/shows/projects that are ongoing right now do you wish to draw attention to? It can be your own projects or that of other creators.
Recently I loved Xiran Jay Zhao’s Iron Widow—which I read as an ARC and then it hit #1 on the New York Times Bestseller’s List, so it certainly doesn’t need my shouting, but I’ll shout about it nonetheless. Also for anyone looking for another historical fantasy read, E.M. Castellan’s Under a Starlit Sky is releasing on the same day as Our Violent Ends, and I absolutely adore that duology. It’s the sequel to In The Shadow of the Sun, reimagining the reign of Louis the Sun King, with magic, through the eyes of an English princess.