In the same way Instagram made it possible for anyone with a phone to become a celebrity, Wattpad made it possible for anyone with a keyboard to become an author. It’s a site where anyone can upload stories and read others’ works, and is a hub mostly for fanfiction and romance (I myself have written Lord of the Rings fanfiction.) The most successful authors have garnered thousands of fans, and though the literary establishment has thus far ignored this trove of creativity, other industries— film— are taking notice. Fifty Shades of Gray is one monolith of the online-story-turned-movie genre. This April, Perfect Addiction, a Wattpad darling turned Prime Video film, is similarly topping the charts. Passion, fantasies, and sweet escapism abound in this story by Claudia Tan, who was just sixteen when she wrote this little slice of love.
Produced by Constatin Film, J.B. Pictures, and Wattpad’s own production company, the film centers on a boxing trainer who finds out her boyfriend has been cheating on her. Then, “she devises an elaborate revenge plot to take him down by training his drop-dead gorgeous rival in the fighting ring. But a sizzling, passionate affair wasn’t part of the plan…” reads the Wattpad description, with an unblushingly juicy flair I could not top. But that’s par for the course for Claudia, who has written 8 hit works on Wattpad, and shows no signs of stopping.
When did you start writing Perfect Addiction? What inspired it?
I was about sixteen. I was vibing with sports romance at the time, and I wanted a fresh take on it, because usually in sports romance, the guy is at the center of it, and the female lead is usually in a subordinate position. So I wanted to flip things around and have the girl be the one that trains the guy.
Have you always wanted to be an author?
That was definitely an aspiration of mine since I was young. When I was on Wattpad, I was practicing, in a way. Wattpad was my training ground.
How did this book begin to pick up traction?
When it comes to these kinds of platforms, posting consistently and quite frequently is the main thing. It’s trying to get on top of those lists, making it seen by by readers, and posting chapters consistently is kind of how you get up these ranks. I posted once every three, four days. I had a lot of backup chapters in my reserves, too, because I was juggling school at that time. It was a bit of a struggle to post consistently when I had like homework due as well. But I just made sure I people kept coming back to finish the story. And that was how it slowly gained traction. I think, maybe I was halfway through writing the book, when there were just so many readers tuning in every week.
When did PR and movies, all this, begin to happen?
This happened several years ago. The series already gained popularity on the platform by the time the movie opportunity came, and it was also because Wattpad finally had a studio division and they were trying to pitch things around. So it came at the perfect time. I’m really grateful for Constantine and JB Pictures for coming in and wanting to do this film. It was an amazing opportunity.
Were you ever interested in the “literary” route of writing?
I think I definitely was. But there were a few things that stopped me from kind of pursuing that really hard at the time. I think, number one, I was still in school, and I didn’t feel like I had the time to pursue that full time. Also, I was really young, and I didn’t feel like my writing had matured enough for, you know, this series to be like, re-edited and all that, and for it to be published. So I wanted to wait until I was a little bit older, a little bit more mature, and come and revisit the series again. And that’s exactly what I did. Now, I’m rewriting it from a more mature lens. I’m happy I waited.
How involved were you in the creation of the movie?
Not that much. Like, they would send scripts to me, and I would do some feedback, here and there. But apart from that, I was not involved in casting or anything like that. But they did bring me to set to visit for a few days. That was really fun.
Did you feel very strongly about the movie being accurate to your story?
I think that’s every author’s hope, of course. And these things are hard. When it comes to movies, I feel like a lot of authors aren’t that involved in the process, unless you are a producer or something. It’s just unfortunately how the industry works.
For me, reading on Wattpad was mainly for fulfilling my personal fantasies. Do you think your stories were that for you?
Definitely; when I was writing it, I’d never had a boyfriend, I was never kissed. Like, I was desperate for love. And romance was a way that I could fulfill that, my deepest fantasies.
How about now, now that you’ve grown older and gained experience?
I’m in a very long term relationship now, and there are some things that probably are unrealistic in the stories that I write, but I feel like it’s still good escapism. I still get giddy when I have to write a kiss scene. It’s still really fun for me. Now, at least I can acknowledge that it’s just fun escapism, it’s just something that all of us like to dream about. It’s not necessarily real life, but it’s a nice escape.
What are some struggles you face as an author?
Deadlines. I’m the kind of person that has so many passions. I not only write, I do music as well. So it’s hard for me to do one thing for a very long period of time. And sometimes that’s what writing is, sitting in front of a computer for hours on end every day and churning out words. And sometimes that can get a bit stifling for me. And I’m glad that I have my other passions to escape to, have a bit of a breather, and come back and write again.
CONNECT WITH CLAUDIA:
Story / JoAnn Zhang
Photos / Courtesy of DECAL & @taufiqnadzri
Makeup / Sha Soraya
Edit / ARIFCV