By Shaniah Shields, Michelle Ye, Leanne Francis and Jia Wen Ho
At just twenty four years old, Chloe Gong has established herself as a trailblazing voice in fiction with her Own Voices stories inspiring and representing readers worldwide. Born in Shanghai but raised in New Zealand, Chloe Gong is the Number 1 New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Secret Shanghai novels.
Gong started writing her debut novel These Violent Delights (2020) the summer before college, where she double majored in English and International Relations. These Violent Delights enjoyed great commercial and critical success with Gong winning the Sir Julius Vogel Award in 2021 for Best Youth Novel.
Gong is determined to break stereotypes in her writing, “I want readers to be able to see themselves [in my stories] and I want future authors to be able to point to me and say if she can do it, then I can as well.” This is reflected in her novels which have Asian protagonists and LGBTQ+ representation amongst others. After the success of her young adult novels, Gong is also adding adult fiction into her oeuvre this year with the publication of her new series: ‘Flesh and False Gods.’
Writing and Publishing These Violent Delights
Ever since she was in high school, Chloe Gong has been writing. In fact, she had written eight manuscripts, each almost 100,000 words long, before she wrote her bestseller These Violent Delights. An avid reader of young adult fiction, and a huge fan of The Mortal Instruments, she started writing stories out of boredom and of an urge to create her own world and characters. As she wrote, her writing evolved; what started as replicas of the stories that she loved slowly developed into original concepts and stories ideas. Gong had the idea for These Violent Delights since she was eighteen and started writing it when she was nineteen. Though she did not live in Shanghai for long, her parents showered her with stories of Shanghai, and it was like her second home. Drawing from her affinity with Shanghai and a lot of research into the historical facts, These Violent Delights was lauded as vivid and real.
After finishing the manuscript for the book, Gong knew she wanted to publish it. She turned to Google and cold emailed agents that she felt were a good fit for the book. It was difficult because she was back in New Zealand during the pandemic, far removed from the publishing giants on the other side of the world. Though it was a bit unconventional and she didn’t attend networking events, she found and signed her first agent who navigated her through the publishing industry, and eventually helped her land a book deal for These Violent Delights. After graduating, Gong took another leap of faith, pursuing her passion for writing and becoming a full-time author.
A prolific writer, since her debut novel, Gong has published three additional books including Our Violent Ends (2021), Foul Lady Fortune (2022) and a two-novella collection Last Violent Call (2023).
As one might surmise from her titles, Gong approaches Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with a new lens in her debut duology, and in doing so makes the narrative her own. These Violent Delights draws on Gong’s cultural heritage and international history to retell the popular tale of tragic romance in 1920s Shanghai. Tensions between Juliette Cai’s Scarlet Gang and Roma Montagov’s White Flowers are heightened not just by the shards of their broken relationship, but also by a lethal monster that eludes capture. And woven throughout the main plot are threads of multicultural identity and shameful colonial histories.
Gong’s most recent novellas, introduce new facets of characterisation. A Foul Thing, gives readers another glimpse into the lives of Juliette and Roma; without the weight of inevitable tragedy on their shoulders. Similarly, This Foul Murder revisits Benedikt and Marshall and creates new space for their characters to grow as they investigate a murder on the Trans-Siberian Express.
Described as “The Hunger Games meets Antony and Cleopatra,” Immortal Longings is the first instalment in the ‘Flesh and False Gods’ series, due to be published in July 2023. Gong’s newest series is a fiery venture into the adult epic fantasy genre, weaving romance and betrayal with deadly battles and power plays.
Immortal Longings takes place in San-Er, the twin capital cities of the kingdom of Talin. Each year, the palace hosts a series of deadly games, offering players the chance to win unimaginable riches. After murdering her parents to free the people of Talin, Princess Calla Tuoleimi enters the competition, hoping to finally end her family’s tyrannical reign. When another player forms an unexpected alliance with Calla, she must decide what she's playing for – her lover or her kingdom. Gong’s debut adult fantasy promises to be another enthralling novel and certainly not one to be missed!