Catching up with Chloe Gong

Article | Oct 2023

CHLOE GONG is a student at the University of Pennsylvania, studying English and international relations. She is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed ‘Secret Shanghai’ novels, as well as the ‘Flesh and False Gods’ trilogy. Her latest novel, Foul Heart Huntsman is the captivating sequel to Foul Lady Fortune.

Good Reading for Young Adults caught up with her to discuss her new book.

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Winter is drawing thick in 1931 Shanghai, as is the ever-nearing threat of invasion.

Rosalind Lang has encountered the worst possible fate for a national spy: she’s been exposed. With the media storm camped outside her apartment for the infamous Lady Fortune, she’s barely left her bedroom in weeks, plotting her next course of action after Orion was taken and his memories of Rosalind wiped. Though their marriage might have been a sham, his absence hurts her more than any physical wound. She won’t rest until she gets him back.

I can help you get him back. Find me in Zhouzhuang. -JM.

But with her identity in the open, the task is near impossible. The only way to leave the city and rescue her beloved is the guise of a national tour: convincing her superiors that the countryside needs unity more than ever, and who better than an immortal girl to stir pride and strength into the people?

When the tour goes wrong, however, everything Rosalind once knew is thrown up in the air. Taking refuge outside Shanghai, old ghosts come into the open and adversaries turn to allies. To save Orion, they must find a cure to his mother’s traitorous invention and take this chemical weapon away from impending foreign invasion – but the clock is ticking, and if Rosalind fails, it’s not only Orion she loses, but her nation itself.

 

MEET CHLOE GONG

Foul Heart Huntsman is the sequel to Foul Lady Fortune. Can you tell us how the story in this book continues to unfold? 

Foul Heart Huntsman begins 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. Her employers are losing faith in her, and Rosalind must embark on a national tour to boost Chinese morale and make use of her newfound publicity to get Orion back. But foreign invasion is creeping in through their borders, and if Rosalind fails, it’s not only her lover she loses, but her country. 

What can readers expect in terms of high-stakes action and suspense in this sequel?

Sequels are always so much fun to write because we get to launch right into the action and suspense. The time for introduction is over, we know the characters, and we absolutely hit the ground running to go after what they want. Danger lurks at every stop of Rosalind’s tour, and we get to see her use her abilities to the fullest extent. 

What’s the significance of the title of the book and how does this title tie into the broader themes of the book?

Foul Heart Huntsman refers to Orion’s codename ‘Huntsman’ just as Foul Lady Fortune referred to Rosalind’s codename “Fortune.” Book 1 was named after Rosalind and this dichotomous relationship between the two words preceding her codename – someone ‘foul’ and someone expected to be a ‘lady’, since I wanted to adapt a bit of that Shakespearean energy in terms of identity, performance, and expectations. Book 2 is now named after Orion, and while we keep the word ‘foul’ for series continuation, we’ve switched into ‘heart’ for a contrast word because that’s the element he has to confront.

Throughout your writing career, you’ve demonstrated a talent for blending genres and creating unique historical settings. What can you tell us about the setting in Foul Heart Huntsman and the inspiration behind it?

Foul Heart Huntsman takes place shortly before the January 28 Incident, which was a conflict between the Republic of China and the Japanese Empire that marked one of the first events before World War II broke out in Asia. 1930s Shanghai was absolutely rife with espionage and politics because the city was very heavily foreign-influenced, and Western powers like the US, the UK, and France kept a watchful eye over affairs to avoid losing territory to the Japanese. Although my books are works of fiction, I wanted to capture this atmosphere because I enjoy exploring international relations: particularly domestic responses to historic invasions and imperial expansions. I may invent double-crossing, triple-crossing spies who are going through their romantic perils and familial drama, but the backdrop of the city unfolding beneath them was very real and plucked from the textbooks.

What did you find most challenging or rewarding while writing this sequel? 

It was both challenging and rewarding to be writing the final conclusion of a world I’ve been occupying for over five years. I loved finally getting to tie together plotlines that I’ve left waiting and see to fruition the character relationships that come to a head. But that also meant I really needed to make sure I had pulled everything together, because it’s the last chance I have! 

Can you share any of your writing habits or routines that help with your creative process? 

I’m a big believer in separating your resting and writing spaces. When I wrote during university, I did all my work on my bed, and it started stressing me out when it came to sleeping time or tiring me out when it was writing time, whether it was for my books or for my assignments. Nowadays, I leave my apartment in the morning, go to a cafe for some coffee, and sit down at the tables there to do my work. Because I have a designated process to “be creative” it kickstarts that part of my brain. 

With two books in the series now released, can readers expect another book in the series? Or can you share any other projects you’re working on?

Foul Heart Huntsman indeed marks the end of the series! But a huge reason why I’m able to happily say goodbye is because there are so many new projects I want to work on, and I’m very excited for what I will be doing in the YA space next. I can’t say much yet, but it may be sci-fi… 

 

Visit Chloe Gong’s website

Author: Gong. Chloe

Category: Teenage & educational

Book Format: Paperback / softback

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

ISBN: 9781529380323

RRP: $24.99

Reader Comments

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all reviews