by Katelyn Haas
The latest from the author of The Devil Wears Prada is The Singles Game, Lauren Weisberger’s novel about a young woman navigating the competitive world of women’s tennis. As Charlotte “Charlie” Silver moves closer to her goal of achieving athletic success, she also must maneuver through a world of celebrities and a ruthless regime under a new coach, all of which leads her to question not only what she wants, but who she is becoming. We spoke with Weisberger about the book, her writing process and her career.
A lot of your work has tended to focus on the theme of newbie comes into fame, which leads to more power or responsibility, and the challenges that come with that. What draws you to that theme?
I guess first and foremost I think it’s fun to read a character in that situation. But beyond that, it’s a common thing that women in their twenties and thirties experience, though it may not be quite at the level of the characters in my books. But a real common theme is that you want something and you work very hard for something, whether it’s a specific relationship or career, and you work and work and work and you think this will make everything right in your life, and then you achieve it and it’s not what you think it’s going to be.
Most of your previous novels have focused more on a rising to the top in a big city, generally in the literary world. How did it feel to switch to sports?
It didn’t feel too different. I love tennis. But I think especially with women’s tennis, there’s a big crossover with sport and celebrity, and it’s not because they’re another pretty face on the red carpet—it’s because they’re talented. Mostly I’m just a big tennis fan, a casual player. I was really excited to research this and learn about the world of the tennis and all that goes into it.
How much research went into it?
I interviewed a lot of players; I certainly have a good understanding of the game. I went to a lot of different tournaments, in Connecticut, Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and spoke with current players and learned as much as I could. It’s similar to how Devil is a behind-the-scenes glimpse, and I really wanted to give the same type of—“what looks sexy on the outside may not be as such.”
Devil has allowed me to have a dream career, which is to be a writer. Each one influences the next. I wouldn’t say it gets easier, but this one was fun for me because I’ve never done a tremendous amount of research. I researched it for the better part of a year, maybe eight months, and then took another year to write it—longer than normal.
In your previous works, including The Devil Wears Prada and Revenge Wears Prada, there are some Jewish influences, specifically in the main character herself. How important is that influence to your writing?
It’s important to my writing because it’s important to me—that’s definitely my identity. I grew up in a family that very much identified as Jewish; I send my kids to Jewish preschool right now. You tend to write what you know.
What do you hope people will get out of Singles?
I think there’s something in there for everyone. If you love tennis, it’s gonna offer a real inside glimpse of what it is to play at these top levels. Even if you’re not into tennis, I aim to make it a fun beach read. There’s great travel, all of these incredible countries, fun affairs with famous men.
What has been your one of your favorite writing experiences?
I definitely would say Singles is up there. Going to Wimbledon and calling it work is always a good time.
As a successful writer, do you relate to Charlie’s struggle to stay grounded?
I identify with her effort to find that elusive balance. I think all of us, women especially, struggle with the balance of career and romance and family; you sort of get one or two in a good spot and the other one falls apart. Certainly that’s how it is for Charlie, and for most women as well.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Being finished with it. It’s true. It’s hard to do every day, it’s a very solitary thing. There’s a wonderful feeling, once every couple of years—it’s a relief.