In 2004 Lauren Weisberger’s debut novel The Devil Wears Prada became a phenomenon. Now, almost ten years later, she’s putting out a sequel, Revenge Wears Prada, in which Miranda Priestly comes back to torment Andy Sachs some more. Weisberger spoke to BuzzFeed Fashion about the sequel — and whether or not she’s touched base with her former boss Anna Wintour over the last decade.
BuzzFeed Fashion: Revenge Wears Prada takes place ten years after the first book left off. Why did you start there?
Lauren Weisberger: I really wanted to write the sequel for a long time. I just thought so much happens in your life in a decade and I was so curious to check back in with Andy.
And the book opens with her marrying a male socialite named Max.
Part of that was: Andy’s growing up, too. Part of Max’s appeal would have been very unappealing for the 22-year-old Andy. She would have seen the family and the money and the prestige and playboy aspects [of his life], and she would have writen him off and that would have been a naive 22-year-old thing to do. She was capable of seeing beyond all that and seeing he was a really great guy.
In this book, she’s running a high fashion print bridal magazine called The Plunge. It seems, in a way, surprisingly close to Runway.
I kind of gave Andy what I was thinking would be a dream job for me. Her job has the fashion and the glamour aspect, but the best aspect of it was that she gets to cover celebrity weddings in these far-flung exotic locations. I felt like our Andy is a little bit more of a traditionalist, and she loves working at a magazine — maybe not so much Runway, but she wanted to stay in the publishing world in the original way.
Do you travel a lot?
I used to. I have two very small babies now so I don’t get out very much. I’m on the road right now, promoting the book.
How much do your personal experiences inform the book?
It informs them quite a bit. Andy’s and my career paths haven’t necessarily followed the same direction, although I’ve always loved writing. I think New York plays a big part in it — I love the city, Andy loves the city. As a writer, I think you’re always taking experiences from your own life.
How into fashion are you?
Not very. I love shopping, I love buying new things like any woman does, but not in terms of high fashion. That’s not to say my characters aren’t into it — that’s definitely a feature of the book, though less so than the first one. But personally as an author, it’s not something that I follow very closely.
It’s interesting to hear you say that because the characters’ outfits are described in a very savvy way — you drop “Celine” and all the other “right” labels in just the right places.
I guess that comes more from being a consumer of pop culture, not necessarily following the ins and outs of the fashion magazines. I’m a big tabloid and gossip magazine reader.
Have you interacted with Anna Wintour since the first book came out?
Will Revenge Wears Prada become a movie?
I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see. I would abolutely love that. I loved so much what they did with the first one.
Having started out in magazines, did you ever foresee your career leading you to this point?
I never even thought the first book was ever going to be a book, so when they published it and it became a phenomenon, it was a dream come true. And the best part of it is, it let me continue writing books, and I’m so, so grateful for that opportunity.
Most first-time fiction authors have to write the whole novel before they can sell it. I understand The Devil Wears Prada sold on a half manuscript?
Yes, that is true. It was super-exciting — a really lucky compliment.
When you wrote the first book, were you afraid of how it would affect your career?
No. I wrote a book that was meant to entertain people, and hopefully make people laugh —something you pick up and read on the beach. So that didn’t really factor in for me. I kind of hoped it would help my career — it wasn’t a fear thing. I was just happy that they published it! I thought four people would read it and they would all be in my family.
Do you hear a lot from people who are assisting really scary, mean people?
Yeah. When I’m out on tour, the best part of the whole process is when I actually get to meet the readers, and they have stories about working as assistants and I think that’s what resonated with the first book — it’s more of a universal experience than you might think.
What advice do you give them?
I tell them that it’s a short amount of time, and it goes quickly, and there’s a lot to learn and then it’s over. And after that, it’s also really important to remember you can be successful in the field of your choosing and also be a nice person. You don’t have to be terrible, you don’t have to be mean, you don’t have to be condescending or make other people feel badly about themselves. I really think it’s possible to be nice.
Why do you think the fashion and even media industries breed these really strong personalities?
I wouldn’t say that it’s really indicative of the fashion or media industries. In New York City, there’s every industry you can find, and I think you find those personalities in all of them. People say the same of men and women, and I think it’s more of a personality thing than a gender thing. That said, I feel really lucky that I haven’t had to deal with office politics in a while.