Author Interviews

Interview with Abigail Hing Wen

I absolutely adored Loveboat, Taipei and so when I got the chance to interview Abigail Hing Wen, I was elated! This was such a fun interview to conduct and Loveboat Reunion is a phenomenal book y’all should preorder!

About Loveboat Reunion

It’s a classic tale of girl-meets-boy, boy-meets-other-girl, heart-gets-broken, revenge-is-plotted, everything-blows-up. Spectacularly.

At least they’re friends now. They’ve left the drama behind them back in Taipei—at their summer program, Loveboat—forever.

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 Sophie and Xavier to succeed. Sophie’s college 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.


Loveboat Reunion is available for order at all major retailers. Please consider supporting your local bookstore, which can be accessed through Indiebound or Bookshop:


What was the hardest, and easiest, part of writing dual POV? Was Sophie easier to write than Ever?

It was actually fairly easy for me to write the dual POV!  I originally wrote Loveboat, Taipei from all four of the main characters’ points of view (with a few chapters from Rick’s girlfriend, Jenna), but found that I couldn’t do justice to all of their journeys in 120,000 words. So I scrapped that version and rewrote it from just Ever’s point of view. Loveboat Reunion is giving me the chance to showcase more of the stories I was exploring as I wrote the first novel.

I relate to all my characters in different ways. Ever was me earlier in my personal journey of choosing between the more traditional pathways and the uncertain but passion-filled and fun creative life. Sophie was more of me as I moved into leadership in Silicon Valley and now in Hollywood — how to be her full girly self in a world traditionally dominated by men.

Both had their own sets of difficulties, but I’ve loved exploring each of their characters. And understanding how they have parallel and contrasting experiences helped to further define them each as individuals.

What I love about LOVEBOAT REUNION is how firmly rooted these stories are in character and character development. How much of the plot do you know before writing? Do you always have an idea of where the characters will be, and what version of themselves they’ll be, at the end?

I used to be a plotter, and I still do come at almost all of my projects with a high concept. But over time, I learned to write character-driven stories instead, and now, I almost don’t know how to write a plot-driven one! If the story isn’t character driven, no one will care. 

So now I start with the high concept — Asian American summer camp in Taipei! — and figured out which characters NEED to go on the journey of self-discovery, rebelling, sneaking out clubbing, hating on their parents… and that’s how I realized Ever needed to be my main character. I don’t always know where a character should end up, because I haven’t always worked out the issues they’re dealing with myself! But over time, the threads and arcs become clear. My critique partners have also been helpful in this discovery process.

Family is a HUGE theme in LOVEBOAT REUNION. Can you talk about what it was like to feature very different family structures from Xavier versus Sophie especially as the book progresses?

Xavier comes from an old, wealthy Taiwanese family where family is business and business is family. That sort of family corporation is loosely inspired by my mom’s family story — her father ran a cement company in the Philippines and quite a few of her siblings were involved. It is not uncommon in Asia, and makes for complicated dynamics! But it also can be a strength. 

Xavier starts off very much alone in navigating his family after his mom dies, and having Sophie along for the ride was a unique and special change for him.

Sophie’s family is less featured in this novel, although I have many pages of backstory with her mother and four brothers that didn’t make it onto the page. Understanding her family origins story — including her father leaving them when she was young — helps me deeply understand her and what drives her.

What kind of research did you do for LOVEBOAT REUNION?

My husband and I participated in the Loveboat program when we were around Ever, Rick, Sophie and Xavier’s ages! There are quintessential Loveboat experiences in Loveboat, Taipei, like sneaking out clubbing, taking glamour shots and doing a tour around the island which are inspired by my own adventures when I was in the program. 

For Loveboat Reunion, I visited Taipei in October 2020. It was during the global pandemic and I did a 2-week quarantine, then loved being free and safe here. A lot of the research I did then was solidifying my sense of Xavier’s family and the world that he came from. I searched for his family’s graveyard on Elephant Mountain, didn’t find it there, but that research day eventually became important for the Loveboat, Taipei film! I also found where his family’s business would be located — near Dihua Street and the Dadaocheng Wharf, a gorgeous historical place of trade and commerce. Understanding where he came from helped me to deeply understand the dynamics among his family members and with him, as well as his arc. 

I loved Sophie’s character so much and the ways both she, and Xavier, are struggling with this idea of (re)invention and this perception of themselves. Can you talk about this theme of perception and image for both Sophie and Xavier? 

Yes, this is so spot on and the magic mirror is an allegory for this struggle between reality and perception. Sophie doesn’t like the way she overwhelms people… but while she does need to learn to manage this, Xavier ultimately sets her free by allowing her to be herself with him.

As for Xavier, he cannot be vulnerable with anyone, because he’s been hurt so much by his father and others who didn’t understand his learning differences — or his giftings, for that matter! So he’s learned to present a front to the world, the version of Xavier that’s accepted and applauded. But it’s not really him and, like Sophie, he learns to find the real Xavier and be him.

What was the most unexpected challenge of drafting LOVEBOAT REUNION that you didn’t expect when finishing LOVEBOAT, TAIPEI?

I was truly inspired by the fans posting things like “Justice for Xavier” — so, here it is! Sophie Ha and Xavier Yeh team up to take control of their own lives, and find themselves on a wild unexpected reunion in Taipei. I hope Loveboat Reunion lives up to expectations for what will happen to Xavier. 

The hardest challenge was beginning with a firm anchor. Loveboat, Taipei was done and printed, and there was no changing anything in order to make the writing of Loveboat Reunion any easier. 

Who is your favorite side character in LOVEBOAT REUNION?

Xavier’s cousin, Lin-Bian Yeh. He’s grown up living in Xavier’s shadow, but feeling deep down that his screw up cousin doesn’t deserve the keys to the kingdom that’s coming to him. He doesn’t know about Xavier’s dyslexia and thinks Xavier’s just a slacker who gets all the breaks. He himself is responsible, well-connected, well-spoken, and in a lot of ways, he and Xavier need each other.


Loveboat Reunion is available for order at all major retailers. Please consider supporting your local bookstore, which can be accessed through Indiebound or Bookshop:

About the Author

Abigail is an author, screenwriter, producer and tech leader working at the intersection of storytelling, film and technology.

Abigail was born in West Virginia to a family of immigrants: Her mother (林麗鳳) is from the Philippines and her father (邢永瑞) from Indonesia, and her grandparents emigrated to those countries from Fujian and Shandong provinces in China.

Abigail grew up in Ohio and graduated from Harvard University and Columbia Law School. As a young adult, she attended the Loveboat program in Taipei that inspired her first novel.

Abigail worked in Washington DC for the Senate, as a law clerk for a federal judge and in Silicon Valley in venture capital and artificial intelligence. She also earned her Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

In her spare time, she enjoys long walks with her husband and two boys, and hanging out with friends and over 100 family members in the Bay Area. She loves music and dances to it when no one is watching.


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