with Lauren Weisberger, author of The Devil Wears Prada
The tortures Miranda puts Andrea through are bound to become urban
legendsdid you set out to write the ultimate "boss from hell"
story with The Devil Wears Prada?
While I didn't necessarily begin writing with the intent of creating a
"boss from hell" story, it's obviously a large component of the
book. A lot of the anecdotes and demands and craziness are products of my
imagination, stories I created at four in the morning while chugging coffee
and fighting sleep deprivation. But there's reality there, too. Some of the
stories aren't so far away from the tasks either I or my friends in various
industries whether fashion or magazines or PR or advertising went
through our first few years out of college. I imagine that assistants
everywhere will recognize some of their own experiences in Andrea's life.
I know Andrea is a fictional character, but do you have any qualities in
common with her? For example, do you eschew high fashion and opt for Banana
Republic like Andrea at the beginning of the novel?
I see a lot of myself in Andrea, from her love of writing to her tendency to
get so wrapped up in things that she somehow finds it difficult to see the big
picture. It was only natural for me to have her grow up in a small town, study
English at university, and move to New York after graduation, because that's
clearly a familiar path for me. But I think she's a hell of a lot stronger
than I could ever be. Every time I reread the book, I'm struck by the
tenacity with which she keeps showing up at work every day and how she
manages, somehow, to get through a really lousy situation. And while, like
Andrea, I care very little about high fashion, I of course wouldn't turn
down an afternoon of shopping with my friends. I definitely like clothes as
much as the next girl, just not to the extent of people who work in the
So many women all over the world have relationships with fashion magazines,
it is no wonder that The Devil Wears Prada has generated so much buzz. Have
you been surprised by all of the excitement surrounding the book?
When the excitement really picked up the past couple months and there were all
sorts of mentions in magazines and newspapers, I was blown away. It still
seems totally surreal, and seeing the name of the book in print somewhere
official is so shocking that it barely registers. It's completely
overwhelming, but in a great way.
How would you most like readers to respond to the novel?
I like to think the book isn't totally about Miranda or how awful she is,
and that Andrea's voice really comes through. Hopefully readers everywhere
can relate to the other things in Andrea's life. The repercussions of her
job on her personal life, the problems that arise with her best friend and
boyfriend and family, and the way it feels to live in the big city for the
first time, are common experiences for so many young women. At the end of the
day, I'd be thrilled to hear that readers related to Andrea and this year in
her life, and that they had a few laughs while they read. This is clearly not
War & Peace, so I'd love to hear that people just enjoyed themselves
while reading the book. That would be perfect.
Who is your favorite designer?
The closest I get to any sort of "designer" items would probably be
my weakness for jeansthey don't have to be any particular brand, but
I'm willing to do almost anything, go anywhere, spend obscene amounts of
money for that elusive "perfect pair." But I only ever really wear
casual stuff with themwhite tank tops or button-downs, the kinds of things
that I suppose one could buy at Prada but I never do since they're
indistinguishable (to my uneducated eye) from the stuff you can get at Banana.
You are a world traveler, and recently returned from Southeast Asia. How
was your trip? Do you have any other travel plans scheduled?
The trip was absolutely amazing. Vietnam and Cambodia are such special places,
unlike anywhere else I'd seen before in Asia. The people are primarily
Buddhist and as a result, were peaceful and welcoming and incredibly
hospitable. And as always when you're traveling, it was great to meet other
travelers from around the world and hear their perspectives on all sorts of
different subjects. Although the plans aren't yet definite, I'm hoping to
get to Scandinavia and Russia at some point in the next few months, and after
that, sub-Saharan Africa is first on my list. If I could figure out a way to
earn a living while traveling for the rest of my life, well, I think that'd
be a dream come true.
What is your next project? What have you been working on recently?
Recently I've been focusing a lot of my time on promoting The Devil Wears
Prada! There are all sorts of interviews to do and readings that are
planned, and I'm just preparing myself for everything that's coming up in
the next couple months. I've been doing some freelance writing for magazines
and am also working on a short story that will be included in an anthology
that's set to be published in 2004. And of course, I spend obscene amounts
of time thinking about the book I hope to write next.