Let’s Go On a Pond-cation is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond that celebrates and highlights worldbuilding in stories!
In our Pond-cation posts, the Pond friends and authors team up to take all of us on a virtual vacation through the real life places in books or the places that inspired fictional places and worldbuilding. Find out more information about this guest feature here.
It’s pretty clear that all of us at the Pond are huge fans of These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong. We had the honour of hosting the exclusive cover reveal and we also highly recommended the book in our review. Today though, we have Chloe visiting us at the Pond again in a new Let’s Go On a Pond-cation post, where Chloe and Xiaolong take us on a virtual vacation through Shanghai, the setting for These Violent Delights.
So let’s get going! I’m so excited that Chloe is visiting us again to take us on a tour – which, I know, will bring the Shanghai in the book to life. To get us dressed up and ready for the tour, Xiaolong is cosplaying as Juliette herself, sporting her new flapper dress!
“I’m going to do my best Juliette impersonation,” giggles Xiaolong, the tassels on her dress swinging from side-to-side. She holds up a knife, trying her best to do a mean face, but it ends up looking like a wink. (“This knife is a plastic butter knife,” she whispers.)
“Stay off Scarlet Gang territory,” she hisses. “Or I’ll kiss you Roma… I mean, kill you!” She collapses in a fit of giggles.
Hm, Xiaolong has never been good at impersonations.
Hello, denizens of The Quiet Pond! I’m so very happy to be here.
I’m Chloe Gong, the author of These Violent Delights, which is a Romeo & Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, about rival gangs having to work together when a monster wreaks havoc across the city. Because it is set in real history, I thought it would be fun to take a virtual tour through all the places in Shanghai that appear in the book and are still around today! So come with me and Xiaolong, and let’s travel through Shanghai.
Chenghuangmiao is the place to go for delicious xiaolongbao and other knick-knacks being sold at crowded storefronts, so it’ll be our first virtual stop. It’s always bustling and filled to the brim with tourists, which might sound like a nightmare to some people, but that makes it one of my favorite places in the city because it really captures Shanghai’s constant energy. Plus, Chenghuangmiao has hardly changed from the 1920s, with the exception of the Starbucks stores that have popped up!
Xiaolong at the Chenghuangmiao
Walking through the Chenghuangmiao
Xiaolong enjoying some xiaolongbao!
In These Violent Delights, Roma and Juliette are chased through Great World by pursuers shooting bullets, and they’re forced to weave in and out of the interlocked floors and stairs. There are also a whole row of funky mirrors inside the building, and we have time to pause here and laugh at my reflection; poor Roma and Juliette needed to get away fast before they got shot.
The facade of Great World
Inside Great World
Chloe Gong (left) and Xiaolong (right) posing in front of a funky mirror!
The Bund is a stop that might already be familiar to a lot of people outside of Shanghai! Otherwise known as wàitān in Mandarin or nga thae in Shanghainese, it literally translates into “outer bank,” where ship merchants sailing in on the Huangpu River used to come and go into the financial district of the city. The characters of These Violent Delights frequent the Bund often, but with rumors of a river monster, perhaps they better watch their backs. Today, it’s become a tourist destination where people take photos of the skyline on the other side of the river, but the Art Deco buildings remain.
Skyline view of The Bund
Xiaolong taking a selfie!
This whole strip was a central congregation for shops in the 1920s, and it remains that way today! In the 1920s, our beloved characters can’t go anywhere without crossing Nanjing Road because it runs through the core of the city, and any visitor today can’t complete their Shanghai trip without browsing through the shops and restaurants here.
Along Nanjing Road
Xiaolong walking along Nanjiang Road
The French Concession
Our final stop is not so much a place but an area, because the French Concession used to cover a whole chunk of Shanghai! Nowadays, the concession itself doesn’t exist anymore and the colonial streets have been renamed, but many roads and houses in the city center still carry remnants of the aesthetic and decor.
That’s all for our virtual tour through Shanghai! If you want to visit again, These Violent Delights is releasing November 17th, and it welcomes you with open arms into the blood-red world of gangsters running amok. Until next time… now I must hop into my old-timey vehicle and drive back to the 1920s.
Chloe (left) and Xiaolong (right) riding on a vehicle
Thank you so much to Chloe for visiting us at the Pond again and joining us on our second ever Let’s Go On a Pond-cation feature. I loved the tour, and loved all the photos that she shared with us. (All photos in this post are credited to Chloe herself, and the art layer is by me!)
If you haven’t yet, don’t miss out on These Violent Delights! It’s one of my favourite books of 2020, a masterpiece of a published debut, and one of my favourire retellings! (And if you need any convincing, please read my book review!)
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
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.