Home Film & TV Love in Taipei: Meet Abigail Hing Wen, Author of Loveboat, Taipei

Love in Taipei: Meet Abigail Hing Wen, Author of Loveboat, Taipei

by Neil Bui

Meet Abigail Hing Wen, author of the novel Loveboat, Taipei which is inspired by her time in the Love Boat program to learn Mandarin and more about her heritage, and tells a story of self-discovery. Loveboat, Taipei has a film adaptation retitled Love in Taipei to be released on Paramount+ on August 10, 2023.

Neil Bui: I want to start by asking about your experience in the real life Love Boat program and what parts of your experience inspired you to write Loveboat, Taipei, the novel Love in Taipei is based on?

Abigail Hing Wen: So I had no idea that I was going to a Love Boat. I received a letter from the Taiwanese government at the time. They would send out invitations to Presidential Scholars, Coke Scholars, everyone with a Chinese last name got this trip for free. So I showed up thinking I was going for language and culture with a bunch of my friends who had also gotten this letter. And lo and behold, they turned out to be this party, this crazy party all summer, where as you know from the books and the film, the kids sneak out clubbing and in the books they drink snake blood sake. They take glamour shots. I too snuck out clubbing. I love to dance, and so that was a fun time. I did take glamour shots, but not naked ones like Ever. And I would say that the internal journeys of the characters are mine, and then the external journeys, all the shenanigans that go on in Loveboat, some of those are quintessential stories that you kind of hear about through the years and some of them are just entirely fictionalized.

Neil Bui: What parts of Loveboat, Taipei the novel did you feel were ideal for live action adaptations?

Abigail Hing Wen: Definitely seeing the city of Taipei, that was the part you can’t really capture in a book as well, but to see it on the screen is incredible. The kinetic energy of the dancing at the clubs and also the performance that Ever puts on at the end and and then the sneaking out scene. That was one of my favorites, and unfortunately most of that didn’t end up in the final cut, but there was a lot of really cool footage of the kids running all around campus and crossing paths with the counselors.

Neil Bui: One thing that I really noticed about the film is from the first 5 minutes, it really does feel like we’re in Ever’s shoes where we grew up in America, and we’re coming to Asia for the first time and really engaging with the culture.

Abigail Hing Wen: She is definitely our guide. She’s the fish out of water and bringing us into this really amazing world. I grew up loving fantasy novels, and even though Loveboat, Taipei is not, it’s a contemporary, realistic story. I think of it almost like a fantasy novel. It’s about a girl who goes through a portal into another world and has this amazing experience learning about this strange new, beautiful, amazing place and then comes home transformed.

Neil Bui: What would you say are the themes that you really want the film as well as the novel to really touch on for audiences?

Abigail Hing Wen: Well, there’s definitely a theme of identity, but also a deeper theme of like what does it mean to honor your parents while still finding the courage to pursue what it is that you love? For me, a big theme is really coming to our own power by being ourselves and being fully ourselves, like embracing all parts of our heritage, our backgrounds and the things that make us diverse and uniquely ourselves.

Neil Bui: I like to end interviews on who is your favorite character growing up, whether that means something you watched or read, but essentially made you a dork.

Abigail Hing Wen: I was definitely a dork. I was just commenting last night, I was at the Modernist Club, which is this really cool, swanky private club after the screening in San Francisco. I’m like I am not cool enough for this. This is too cool for me. But I grew up reading Laura Ingalls, The Chronicles of Narnia. I read a lot of David Eddings, which I learned later was a Tolkien derivative. I did love all those characters as well, but I think Laura Ingalls was the person I quoted my entire marriage according to the Ingalls family, so I would say yeah, it’s Laura for sure.

Other Works by Abigail Hing Wen

Loveboat Reunion (2022)

Sophie Ha and Xavier Yeh have what some would call a tumultuous past. It was a classic tale of girl-meets-boy, boy-meets-other-girl, heart-gets-broken, revenge-is-plotted, everything-blows-up. Spectacularly.

Now fall is here, and it’s time to focus on what really matters. Sophie is determined to be the best student Dartmouth’s ever had. Forget finding the right guy to make her dreams come true—Sophie is going to make her future happen for herself. Xavier, on the other hand, just wants to stay under his overbearing father’s radar, collect his trust fund when he turns eighteen, and concentrate on what makes him happy, for the first time ever.

But the world doesn’t seem to want either to succeed. Sophie’s computer science professor thinks her first major project is too feminine. Xavier’s father gives him an ultimatum: finish high school or be cut off from his inheritance.

Then Sophie and Xavier find themselves on a wild, nonstop Loveboat reunion, hatching a joint plan to take control of their futures. Can they succeed together… or are they destined to combust?

Expansive and romantic, glamorous and tender, Loveboat Reunion takes readers back to Taipei through the eyes of two fan favorite characters, on an unforgettable journey of glittering revelry and self-discovery.

Loveboat Forever (coming Nov. 7)

Pearl was ready for a worldwide stage. Instead, she needs to stage a comeback. Seventeen-year-old music prodigy Pearl Wong had the summer of her dreams planned: she’d been accepted into the ultra-exclusive New York Summer Symphony, where she was going to prove once and for all that she belonged in the rigid, unforgiving classical music world.

Then a fall from grace put her in need of new plans—and a new image. Where better to rebuild her shattered reputation than at Chien Tan, the Taipei summer program for elite students that rocketed her older sister, Ever, on a path to romance and self fulfilment years ago?

Pearl’s agent agrees. It’s the perfect plan. But as the alumni know, Chien Tan is actually Loveboat: a well-kept secret extravaganza, where prodigies party till dawn. There’s more awaiting Pearl at Loveboat than she could have ever imagined, like a scandalous party in the dark, a romantic entanglement with a mysterious suitor . . . and a summer that will change her forever.

Set six years after the events of Loveboat, Taipei, Loveboat Forever brings the whole gang back to campus for another reunion.

Where to watch Love in Taipei

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