It's been a decade now since Lauren Weisberger first published The Devil Wears Prada--a juicy roman à clef about her time working for Anna Wintour that spawned a hit movie in 2006 starring Anne Hathaway as the abused assistant Andy Sachs and Meryl Streep as the Wintour-esque Miranda Priestly.
Well, bad news for Andy: The devil is back.
In Revenge Wears Prada, the sequel to Devil Wears Prada that hit shelves just yesterday, we pick up 10 years after Andy's infamous eff-you to Priestly and the world of Runway magazine. For those of you who enjoy a fluffy chic-lit novel that you can devour in a weekend, this is for you. (Just don't look for anything more than that.)
We caught up with Weisberger last night at her sold-out book signing, hosted by Gilt City NYC at Bagatelle, to find out what Andy's been up to, the return of Emily and how her own life has changed since publishing The Devil Wears Prada.
Fashionista: This is your first sequel--what made you want to revisit these characters? Weisberger: These were my first characters from my first book, and I just started thinking that it's been a decade. So much happens in ten years, especially in your 20s and 30s, and so much had happened in my own life. So I just started feeling curious about what was going on with Andy and Emily and the whole crew, and it just seemed like the right timing.
The first book was so personal--how much of this book is based on changes in your own life that have happened in the last ten years? Fewer than the first book, but I think I still pull a lot from my own personal experiences. In the last ten years I got married, I had two kids, I’m still writing. It’s not totally the same for Andy--she’s still writing, she also got married, and I don’t want to give anything away, but motherhood plays a role in this book--not necessarily for Andy! So in that way I definitely pull from my own life. But at the same time it was really fun to invent from scratch the back story of these characters from the past ten years.
Did the success of the movie put any pressure on you while writing a sequel? I didn't feel like it put pressure so much as it was just really fun. I had seen the movie more recently than I had read the book--I didn't go back and read the book again until I started writing the sequel--and I was definitely conflating the two at times. But I didn't feel more pressure, I just knew that readers had connected to these characters whether it was from the first book or from the movie, and I definitely wanted to stay true to who they were.
People will be dissecting this book for new gossip about the fashion industry--is there still that connection? This book is definitely less about the fashion industry. Andy is an editor-in-chief of a magazine herself, but it's a high-end bridal magazine. There's the celeb-glamour aspect in that she's going to these exotic, far-flung locations and she's attending and covering all these celebrity weddings, but there’s much less emphasis on the fashion and more on the writing and the travel. I gave her my fantasy job essentially, and that was the most fun for me to write.
Not to give too much away, but you really put Andy through the ringer in this one! Is it hard for you to do that to characters that you've been with for ten years? No, it’s not. I love them, but I really want to see them developed and I want them to feel realistic. I makes it more interesting to read, I hope it picks up the pace a little. It's true, I definitely throw a lot of obstacles in her way, and that’s how you see what kind of character she is and how she reacts. Just speaking strictly from a writing standpoint, that was deliberate. And I hope I didn't make her suffer too much!
Emily plays a bigger role in this book, and I read in an interview that the only person from the movie that you saw in your head while writing the sequel was Emily Blunt. Was it fun to explore Emily more? Yes! It was really, really fun. It was one of my first ideas--one of the reasons I wanted to write the sequel was because when I was thinking about this whole Runway world, Emily was the best part of it. She was my most favorite character, and I just thought it would be great to reunite [her with Andy]. They’re so different and they can be best friends. And we won’t give too much away, but she’s still Emily! The movie did such a great job with her, and Emily Blunt was so fantastic, she had all the best lines. It’s true--I don’t picture Anne or Meryl, despite the fact that they were so phenomenal, just because I've known these characters before the movie, but something about Emily Blunt--I picture her as Emily now, she’s just become Emily.
Did you expect this many people to connect with the book? I didn't expect anyone outside my family to read the first book in all honesty. I didn't think it would be published, I didn't set out for it to be a book, so when they told me it was being published I assumed that exactly four people were going to read it and they were all going to be in my family. I didn't expect any of it. So [it's success] was delightfully surprising. And one of the most fun parts is getting out there. The book tour starts today, and I finally get to meet the readers. You sit in this cave and write all day long covered in spit up, it’s a very solitary profession, so for this super-small amount of time you get to get out there and meet people and hear what they think of your work. I’m really looking forward to that.
It’s been ten years for you since you wrote the first book—what’s been the most exciting thing that’s happened for you in that time? Oh, by far, meeting the greatest guy ever and getting married, and we have two babies together. That’s phenomenal. You know, all the book stuff is great, but it can’t compare to that.