Lauren Weisberger sits down with flare.com to chat about fashion, fame and her new book

Lauren Weisberger sits down with flare.com to chat about fashion, fame and her new book

Lauren Weisberger

Lauren Weisberger

Lauren Weisberger, famous for writing The Devil Wears Prada after an 11-month stint as Anna Wintour’s assistant at Vogue, is anything but a fashion diva when she arrives for our interview. Having just gotten off the plane from New York an hour and a half ago, she’s articulate, friendly and famished—ordering a cheeseburger with fries for lunch.

In the midst of a 5-week North American book tour for her third novel, Chasing Harry Winston she chats with Flare.com about how she separates herself from her characters and what she would do differently if she could go back to before publishing her first book.

How did your writing process evolve from The Devil Wears Prada to Chasing Harry Winston?
I would say it hasn’t evolved as much as I would like it to. It’s a system of rewards and punishments; it’s not in any way shape or form where I would like it to be. I get the idea of having a plan, regimented schedule and actually writing a little bit every day so at the end of a year and a half you’ll have a book. I understand that but I can’t put that into practice at all. I’m more of a deadline person; I need an angry editor’s phone call to get me motivated. It’s just hard for someone to say “Ok go ahead, I’ll see you in a year and a half?

And that’s the time frame you get, about a year and a half?
Yes, I’m not on a book a year schedule yet. I’d be lying if I didn’t say the majority of that work didn’t get done in the latter part of that year and a half.

Why base your books in NYC and not one of the other places you’ve traveled?
More so in this book than the other two, I think New York is not a character in a way that it was in the first two books. I like to think that you could take the majority of this current story out of New York and have it take place anywhere. It’s got the women, it’s got the friendship and New York is just a backdrop—it adds some colour.

Also because I’ve lived there for 10 years I know it and I’m lazy. Especially after Sex and the City I don’t think New York is this great mystery anymore to people who don’t live there. So for me now it’s just because I live there.

What kind of advice would you give someone looking to get into the fashion industry or magazine industry?
I can’t speak for the fashion industry overall because I secretly know very little about it, but as far as the magazine goes. As crazy as it sounds, I suggest looking for an internship or an assistant position because it can be grueling and crazy, but it’s also the best way to get your foot in the door. You learn from the top down and really get an understanding of the industry and get an on-the-run, on-the-job education. I ended up at Vogue as a total fluke, I sent my resume around and that was the first job offer and it was totally random.


Looking back on your experiences at Vogue and writing the books, would you change anything or do anything differently?
I don’t know that I would change anything. I would like to have had the perspective then that I have now. Prada was a huge surprise, and it was big and overwhelming when it blew up and I wasn’t expecting it to and I never thought it would. It was amazing that that happened but it was also really overwhelming and intimidating.

There was all the talking in New York at the time, there were people writing things and saying things, and for every good thing there felt like there was something negative. I read all of that and it was just insane. Six years down the line it’s easier to step out of that and listen to more of what the readers are saying—that’s more important to me now and relevant. So I just set aside what the critics say and the gossip columns and I just wish I would have known to do more of that then.

What were some of your biggest challenges with all of the books?
The pressure after Prada to write the second was friggin’ nuts. And I think that happens to everyone. And now each one feels very much the same, it doesn’t ever get any less exciting. This one was every bit as hard to write, and every bit as rewarding. Weeks before the publication I’m nervous and up all night because I just don’t know if people will like it. I don’t think that will ever go away. Well, if you care that won’t ever go away.

Was it a coincidence that when you were writing Chasing Harry Winston you got engaged?
It was a coincidence. My poor boyfriend at the time, what he had to put up with. Most of the writing of the book was done by the time we got engaged but he definitely had to sit through a lot of “hypothetical scenarios”. He was really good about it, oh my God.

It’s probably common for people to think you base your characters on yourself, but how hard is it to separate yourself from your characters?
That’s such a good question because in this book I wrote in the third person, which made this so much easier. Because in first person you tend to think that the author and narrator are the same person, I do even though I know better. I read books and think that it’s absolutely the author speaking and I Google them. I should know better but I can’t help it! Everyone assumed that with me and the narrators of the first two books (The Devil Wears Prada and Everyone Worth Knowing). So writing this one in 3rd person definitely gave me freedom, I wrote my first sex scene in this book, which I could never do before because my parents would die.

Do you relate to any of your characters specifically?
Let’s just say Leigh’s neurosis [in Chasing Harry Winston] were not hard to write. I related really well to her noise, her space and her personal space and all of her craziness, you know that was not “research?.

How would you describe your own personal style?
Slobbish. Unless I need to be doing an interview or meeting with people I work with. If I’m going for an interview, signing books or meeting with my editor those are pretty much the only circumstances that I get dressed in the morning. I don’t know as much as people think I know about high fashion, I like fashion as much as the next girl but not really more than that. So it’s a long answer for saying I don’t think I have a style, I’m just a jeans and t-shirt girl and the occasional wrap-dress when I’m on tour.

Want to know where all the fun is in New York City? Check out our Travel Club guide to this North American hot spot.