Ariana Godoy is what you think about when you imagine a writer. She’s warm, she’s bubbly and she has a lot to say – and a great way of expressing herself. Fangirlish had a chance to catch up with her to talk about her new book, Through You, a sequel to the worldwide phenomenon Through My Window, her journey to these characters (and stories), the Netflix adaptations, and being in touch with fandom.
For Godoy, the path to being a writer wasn’t straightforward, but it wasn’t a stretch, either. In fact, she started out as a teacher (first in Venezuela, and then in the US) and it was only last year that she stopped doing that. “Now, I get to do this writing full time, which is kind of the dream, right?” she told us, but not without a little nostalgia for her roots. “I actually love teaching. If I had the time, I will continue teaching.” But there are only so many hours in the day, and way too many stories in her head looking for a way out.
As a Latina, it’s easy to relate to this idea that we not just can do it all, but have to, so it’s certainly an inspiration to see Godoy choose self-care. “It’s kind of like wired into you that you have to and that’s probably bad for us, I think,” she shared, also telling us that when she started writing, she kept it a secret, because as much as Latina moms encourage us to do things, creative endeavors aren’t always seen as real work.
But Godoy got that moment of pride very recently when she did a signing in her home country of Venezuela, and her mom finally understood that this writing thing isn’t just a hobby for Godoy, it’s a career, and one she’s very successful at. And though she was a little concerned about her mom and the spicier parts of a book like Through My Window – not to mention the movie! But it all worked out, and Godoy has a proud mom, which is just how it should be.
This journey, however, didn’t start as something Godoy expected to end up with a Netflix movie deal. In fact, it started as it starts for many of us online, with fanfiction for the sake of enjoyment – and with Wattpad. And though there’s still this misconception that fanfiction writers, or Wattpad writers, aren’t as talented, the Ariana Godoys of the world are there to push back against this notion.
Godoy was especially clear that writing romance, or writing the so-called cliches isn’t actually a problem, and there’s a very gendered criticism levied towards women writers and also romance writers – despite the fact that women sell, and romance, as a genre, is quickly pushing into the mainstream.
“I feel like it’s a big deal when it’s women being successful,” she told us. And in her case, a Latina too. For her, though, it’s just something that’s out there and that she tries not to pay attention to, because she enjoys the writing and she enjoys the platform she has with Wattpad. “How could I write without the comments?” she told us. “Like, no, there’s no way I’m leaving my readers there. I’m going to be there forever.
The reader comments – something that, as a fanfiction reader and occasional writer – cannot be understated, are perhaps Godoy’s favorite things about the Wattpad platform. And on Wattpad, there is an option for paragraph comments, which for a writer is very, very helpful. “Let’s say you have a paragraph that had 10,000 comments.” You think “oh my gosh, this paragraph has to stay in the book. It’s not going anywhere because it created so many reactions.”
Then there’s the fact that, sometimes, readers will find plot holes, or point out things Godoy had never thought about, which is immensely helpful. The engagement also “creates a very strong relationship with your readers, that they are not afraid to give you honest feedback, but they’ll do it in a respectful way.” This is something Godoy shared makes her “very happy, because it means I created a community and it’s safe enough for people to interact,” not just with her, but with each other.
But also, in general, “it’s very lonely when you write,” and the constant feedback loop helps. This sort of ties into how Through My Window became a trilogy, with the second book, Through You, now available and also being adapted into a Netflix movie.“I went with the characters. Never imagined it was going to be a trilogy. I thought it was going to be just one book. And then it ended and people were so interested in the secondary characters and the brothers, [and saying] oh, my gosh, I want to know more. And I was kind of curious, too. So, I was like, okay, we can explore that.”
“Then I actually finished the book and I was like, okay. I did want to know their story. And it was so fun tying the scenes together because you can see from Claudia’s perspective, everything that’s going on with Ares and Raquel. And I actually like how we can see Ares more vulnerable from Claudia’s point of view and you see how they grew up and you see how she was there.”
But the book is different than Through My Window, “because they’re older. So, we get a little back and forth. But not as much as Raquel and Ares, because they’re a little immature. So, I like it because it’s a little like a deeper journey for them to go to because it’s very chaotic in your 20s, right?”
Godoy also shared with us how much she enjoyed the character of Claudia, and what she’s usually trying to achieve with her female characters. “I love Claudia because she’s unique … I love all my female characters because they’re all so different from each other. And I like to show t that women have so different ways to be, so many personalities.” This means that when people compare Claudia to Raquel and remark on how they’re nothing alike, Godoy’s response is basically “yes, that’s the point. I want to show you how broad the spectrum is when it comes to women. Because sometimes people tend to think you write this one character and all your female characters are going to be like that.”
They’re also not Godoy, they’re just characters. “I’m not writing an autobiography. They’re just characters. There’s part of me in there, and situations where I could be like, oh, yeah, maybe I would have done that too. But so far that’s where it ends because they’re still just their own person.” And they’re interesting, unique characters in their own right, which is the most important thing.
We’re into book two of this adventure. One more book to go. Two more movies. So, there’s still a lot to be excited about.
Ariana Godoy’s Through You is available now wherever books are sold.