Venezuelan writer Ariana Godoy is reinventing the publishing and film industries at the same time with a novel that garnered millions of reads. Her critically successful romance-thriller novel A Través De Mi Ventana is one of many novels she’s written on Wattpad, a writing platform where anyone in the world can share their original stories. The 2022 film starring Spanish actors Julio Peña, Clara Galle, and Pilar Castro was first imagined as just another one of Ariana’s short stories for her readers on Wattpad. It quickly became a first chapter, then seventy, all following the story of Raquel, a teen girl who starts a messy fling with her crush and neighbor Ares over a broken Wi-Fi connection. Before she knew it, the Venezuelan author had gained over 305 million reads from readers all over the world and was offered a film deal from the streaming service giant Netflix. A month and a half since the film adaptation of A Través De Mi Ventana (Through My Window) was released, Ariana is still reeling from all her unexpected successes.
“I never had the intention for it to become this big thing,” she tells HipLatina. “I was just enjoying it a lot and then more people kept coming—30 million, 40 million, 50 million! I was like, ‘Wait, when is it gonna slow down? It’s not stopping!'”
But even before Ariana became known for A Través De Mi Ventana, she always knew she wanted to be a writer. From scribbling in her diary to making up her own stories for fun, writing was always a creative outlet. “I couldn’t stop writing on my notebook, on everything. Anything I could get my hands on would be for writing,” Ariana reminisces.
Then in 2009, she fell in love with Wattpad as a reader and later began writing full-length novels of her own. The immediate access to community, ongoing responses from readers with each chapter release, and the ease of sharing her work online for exposure and readership all gave her a much more dynamic experience than something like traditional publishing.
“There were no barriers,” Ariana says. “Everybody else was doing it and I was like, “Okay, I can do it too! There’s no ‘you have to be this’ or ‘you have to be that’ or like you have to have a certain experience. You can just get up one day and decide to post your stories.”
A 2020 study from The New York Times found that traditional publishing is still one of the most white-dominant industries in the world, both in terms of companies and the writers they publish. It’s also where authors are often stripped of creative control. In today’s digital age, Wattpad offers a more liberating alternative to the way books are written and read, and how films and TV shows are being made.
In fact, that’s how many other modern teen films got their start, too. Global film franchises like The Kissing Booth and After both began as hugely popular book series on Wattpad. Many of them who hit critical readership milestones in the millions then get turned into physical copies through Wattpad Books, the platform’s publishing imprint. Unless you grow your audience some other way, many authors don’t have the attention on their work that Wattpad writers do.
“Before my books came out, I already had a community, which is a great advantage because you know people are gonna buy the book,” Ariana notes.
These days, it’s becoming more common to see streaming services like Netflix or Hulu looking to adapt these stories into film. Especially because Wattpad provides data to their writers about reader engagement and overall popularity, production companies can already predict the success of a film adaptation before it’s even been greenlit.
But for Ariana, being offered a Netflix film deal as a Wattpad writer for A Través De Mi Ventana was something she could’ve never imagined. “First, it was the producing company Nostromo Pictures that really believed in the project and worked with Wattpad. Then we got Netflix, which was a shock. When they told me it was one of the big ones, I didn’t even think about Netflix. I was like, ‘You’re talking about the BIG one, not ONE of the big ones.’ It was crazy,” she explains.
Since then the next few months of Ariana’s life became a whirlwind and she’s reached a new and larger audience. Watching the story she had written come alive on-screen felt like a moment from someone else’s life, she shares. But, like most writers, she had to come to terms with the fact that the book version and film version of her story would essentially be two different products. What might have taken her many paragraphs to describe in her book would only be just an instant in the movie’s runtime.
Luckily for her, she was heavily involved in the film production from the beginning, which gave her a lot of unexpected autonomy and creative insight. For writers, especially women writers from marginalized communities like Ariana, it’s rare to see that happen in the industry. She shares she got to see the script and talk to the director and screenwriter adding that they had a good relationship and still do.
It worked so well between them in fact, that Ariana was offered (and accepted!) a multi-film deal from Netflix! The deal has greenlit second and third sequels of A Través De Mi Ventana that are already in the works, turning it into a full franchise.
Ariana has already published books based on the perspectives of a few side characters but the original novel is a stand-alone. This means that the next two films will be based on an entirely original story. Again, Ariana has been offered unprecedented involvement in the film, helping out with the scripts, and is excited to see her story continue.
Still, it’s not easy being a Latina writer in industries like publishing and entertainment, which haven’t always been welcoming to the Latinx community. Even now, they still have work to do to increase the diversity of voices they claim to fight for. For Ariana, receiving these amazing opportunities has been nothing short of mind-blowing and a win for the community as a whole.
“When you’re an immigrant, when you’re Latina, the doors aren’t always open for us. So sometimes you have to kick the door down,” Ariana says. But she also wants other Latina writers to take away something else from her experience, noting:
“It’s taken me twelve years to get to this spot. It’s not something that happened from one day to the other. You gotta keep fighting, you gotta keep working hard, improving your craft. That’s what made a difference in my life, that I kept going. Let’s keep pushing those doors down!”
A Través De Mi Ventana (Through My Window) is now available to stream on Netflix.