Since hitting the New York Times bestsellers list with her 2020 debut novel, These Violent Delights, Chloe Gong has stolen the hearts of readers around the globe with her mesmerising and heart stopping Secret Shanghai series. With its 1920’s Shanghai setting, espionage, romance, monsters, secrets and betrayal, it’s no surprise this series has taken the world by storm, which is why we’re beyond excited to have had the opportunity to chat to Chloe all about the latest in its instalment, Foul Heart Huntsman, book two in the These Violent Delights spinoff duology.
Hi Chloe, I’m thrilled to have the chance to chat to you today to celebrate the release of your sensational new YA novel, Foul Heart Huntsman, the sequel to the much beloved Foul Lady Fortune and fourth book in your Secret Shanghai series. With as few spoilers as possible, what can readers expect from the next instalment of Rosalind Lang’s story?
I’m so excited to be here! Foul Heart Huntsman opens in 1932 Shanghai, a few weeks after the events of Foul Lady Fortune, with Rosalind’s secret identity exposed and her spy partner Orion kidnapped and brainwashed. Rosalind embarks on a national tour to boost Chinese morale and make use of her newfound publicity to get Orion back—but with foreign invasion impending, if Rosalind fails it’s not only her lover she loses, but her country. I love writing sequels because we get to launch right into the action and suspense. The time for introduction is over, we know the characters, and we hit the ground running to go after what they want.
The last time we spoke was back in 2020, just before the release of your New York Times bestselling debut, These Violent Delights. I imagine life has changed quite significantly since then for you?
Life has been wild during these few years. I graduated college, which means I went from being a student-author to a full-time author and suddenly I have so much more time to write. However, that also means I need to draw the boundaries much more strictly between work and being a human, or else I’ve come close to burning myself out. It’s been absolutely surreal to watch the release of each book: I’m incredibly grateful that word-of-mouth was so powerful for These Violent Delights in a time where all the bookstores were closed during Covid, because I doubt that my other books would have followed successfully if the first one hadn’t found its audience. Just about everything has changed since we last spoke, but I’m still writing, and I hope to keep writing for a long time!
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Looking back, what would you tell pre-These Violent Delights Chloe about the way you’ve grown as an author and person in the years since its release?
There was so much that pre-TVD Chloe worried about that was ultimately out of my control, so I’d tell her that the joy of the publishing industry is found in keeping your eyes on your own page and telling the stories the way you want. You’ll find your readers, and you’ll find that exact audience niche who gets exactly what you’re trying to say.
In Foul Heart Huntsman you introduce multiple new POV’s (including some from my favourite characters in the series, which I have to thank you for). Was there a character you particularly enjoyed diving into the mind of or any you found more challenging?
I loved writing Phoebe! While all the characters and their POVs are challenging in their unique ways, it was Phoebe who surprised me the most… which I should have expected, in retrospect. While I was writing the first draft, I had outlined a sequence of events for her, but suddenly she was taking the helm and stumbling onto revelations about herself that I hadn’t expected. I ended up moving a few things around in later revisions with the intent to give Phoebe more of the spotlight, because she deserved it.
Foul Heart Huntsman is your third book release of 2023. How has it been releasing three books in a year? Are you finally able to take a nap now Foul Heart Huntsman has hit shelves?
I’m so excited to nap. Having three releases in 2023 was a bit of an accident, because I had originally pitched Last Violent Call—the novellas that came out in February—as bonus content that would go after the final conclusion of the Secret Shanghai universe, aka Foul Heart Huntsman. But then my editor suggested putting them before Foul Heart Huntsman since it was where they belonged chronologically, and I figured she was very right since it would build such fun anticipation, so it was slotted in half a year before the finale’s release. It has also been very, very tiring!!! I wouldn’t have done it any other way because I’ve loved the chance to publish the novellas, and my adult debut, and this finale, but I’ll be slowing down after this to recuperate my brain cells.
In our first interview, I asked which one quote from These Violent Delights best represented it. With that in mind, I ask the same question but this time for Foul Heart Huntsman.
Ooooh! Technically this quote appeared first in Foul Lady Fortune, but since it’s spoken again in Foul Heart Huntsman, I’ll say: “Your life is mine as mine is yours.”
Get your copy of Foul Heart Huntsman by Chloe Gong here.