The bestselling author of The Devil Wears Prada, which became a smash box office hit with Meryl Streep and is now in development with Elton John and Paul Rudnick as a Broadway musical, Lauren Weisberger launched her latest — and already bestselling! — novel with Zibby at a Barnes & Noble virtual event. And they did it in person! They discussed sisterhood, breaching trust, suburbs vs. the city, the college admissions scandal, and how Lauren coped with the success of her first novel in her early twenties. There were a lot of laughs!


Zibby Owens: My name is Zibby Owens. I am the host of the podcast “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books,” which you should all listen to. This is my anthology, Moms Don’t Have Time To. Now back to Lauren. I’m going to read her bio quickly. You may know her from The Devil Wears Prada, which is the number-one New York Times best seller and was published in forty languages and made into a major motion picture starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway. Currently, Elton John and producer Kevin McCollum are adapting The Devil Wears Prada for the stage. Weisberger’s six other novels were also best sellers. Her books have sold more than thirteen million copies worldwide. That’s crazy. A graduate of Cornell University, she lives in Connecticut with her husband and their two children. There we go. That’s you.

Lauren Weisberger: I’m so happy to be here. We’re actually in person and together, vaccinated and side by side.

Zibby: It’s so nice.

Lauren: It’s terrific. It is, it’s really nice.

Zibby: It’s a big adjustment having an actual other person nearby.

Lauren: It is. I sort of forget how to talk to people.

Zibby: I know. I’m a little nervous about it.

Lauren: Same.

Zibby: Maybe you got to jump back in the screen.

Lauren: I know.

Zibby: Just so everybody knows, if you want a signed copy of this amazing book, Where the Grass Is Green and the Girls Are Pretty, you can get it on B&N, If you get it in the stores, it’s not signed, but it’s still great. Would you mind telling everybody what this book is about, please? Congratulations.

Lauren: Thank you. It’s an exciting week. This book is really, first and foremost, I think it’s a sisters book. I’ve wanted to write a sisters book for a really long time. It is inspired a lot by my own sister Dana. We have an extremely close relationship. While I wouldn’t say that either of the characters in this novel — they’re not based on her. They’re not based on me. The way that we talk to each other and the way that we relate to each other, the dialogue that we share really finds its way into this book. Sisters are brutal honesty, no filter at all times, all costs. They just tell it how it is. I very much hope to recreate that with my two sisters. Their names are Peyton and Max. Peyton is a morning news anchor, super type A, very, very ambitious, very interested in constructing the perfect life. She has a seventeen-year-old daughter, Max, that she is trying to make as perfect as she is, working very hard to get her into the best college imaginable. Then Peyton’s sister, Skye, she’s a little crunchier. She’s always worked in nonprofits and education. She’s currently a frustrated stay-at-home mom in a pretty competitive, affluent suburb of New York City called Paradise. Thank you, Guns N’ Roses’ song.

Zibby: I love how you described Skye’s room, by the way. That’s all you needed to know. It was the rope chair and the headboard and the pillows. I can’t remember the exact details, but it painted the picture perfectly. I understand who this woman is just by how her room is.

Lauren: Yes, I know exactly what you mean. Those details can be very telling.

Zibby: The thing about sisters, though, in this book, there was a lot of debate on, is there a limit to the love? Peyton has this secret that she doesn’t know if she should tell. Is that secret going to be the one thing that maybe Skye won’t accept? There’s this big question mark. Tell me about that and putting that in.

Lauren: There is, I know. Without giving too much away, that was really something that I thought was interesting. These sisters, they’re very close in age. They’ve been raised together from the beginning. There’s nothing they don’t share. What would be something that they can’t talk about? What would be something that really threatens both of their worlds, their families, has these ripple effects that extend beyond just their relationship? I think when you start bringing in children and husbands and parents, that’s a whole different story. That is what happens. I was really interested in exploring that. It’s all set in this town, this backdrop of a really hypercompetitive, really intense place where parents will go to any length to give their kids every advantage, which is something that we don’t think is so unusual in New York City, in suburbs of New York City, but it extends so far beyond that. This happens all over the country, for sure, in towns all across America now. I just thought it would be really interesting to see, when you put two seemingly normal sisters in this world where they’re kind of asked to bump up against these things, how far will they go? What will it be like? How will they react?

Zibby: There’s also this whole question, and it doesn’t have to be with siblings, but what could you do to push away the person who loves you most? If I did that, would that be it? Almost, what can you get away with? What are you afraid to admit? I feel like everybody has these shameful things on some level that they’re like, no one will love me if they know X, Y, Z.

Lauren: Right. What are the boundary lines of unconditional? We say unconditional.

Zibby: Yes, that’s a better way to say it.

Lauren: There aren’t many people who fall into that category. It’s very few if you’re lucky at all to have any. Really, what is unconditional?

Zibby: I love this whole being swept into the mom madness. As a mom of four kids, and you have two kids, you can either jump on that bandwagon and go to every travel soccer game imaginable and get on every team and do everything or you have to really make a stand. I feel like it starts really early. It extends all the way through college. There’s no time off in the rat race. You did such a good job of making it all seem like, of course, this is next natural step because why wouldn’t it be?

Lauren: It is. My kids and your kids, they’re not at the college admission stage yet, but it begins so much earlier than that. It begins in preschool. It begins even earlier than that. It does, it makes you question. It makes you kind of wonder, are we doing the right things for these kids? I am not exempt from this. I spend my entire life that I’m not working or writing driving children to activities and helicoptering their lives while questioning whether I’m helicoptering their lives too much. It’s hard to know. It’s a balance. You want to expose them to all the things you can. You want to give them every possible advantage, but when is it too much? That was something that I really thought about in this book. I think when you have a situation like the college admission scandal, the Varsity Blues scandal that we all watched unfold, and you have a situation where somebody’s going to put your kid on a rowing machine and take pictures and there’s a rower and they’ve never rowed a day in their life, we can all say, that’s not a good idea. This is unethical and illegal. That’s just not the way to go. There’s so many shades of grey just below that, so many different advantages. That’s one of the things that Peyton goes through, this struggle. We’ve picked the very best private schools and the very best coaches and the very best tutors and counselors. Where do you draw the line? I just think it’s an interesting question, and not one that only the one percent deal with. I think it’s something that all across the country now with everything becoming so kid focused, it’s interesting to say, what are we all doing here?

Zibby: And where should we stop? What’s it going to take to get people to stop? Clearly, the college admission scandal, I’m not sure that was the — certainly not for Peyton.

Lauren: I’m not sure either. I think it’s unhappy kids at the end of the day that’s going to make us all stop, but I’m not sure.

Zibby: Max didn’t seem particularly happy.

Lauren: Not particularly happy. That’s true. Max is Peyton’s seventeen-year-old daughter.

Zibby: By the way, I just loved in your Instagram, how you had outfits and things you could buy for each of the characters. That was so clever. I just loved that in terms of a great book marketing idea.

Lauren: Thank you. It’s fun. Just the bedroom details, it kind of gives you a quick shortcut into looking, what are these characters like?

Zibby: The Doc Martens, I know you referenced it in the book as well, but just seeing it, it almost could’ve been my teenager, not the Doc Martens, but the sweatshirt and then all the pressure of — anyway. There’s also even this relationship between this high-powered wife and her husband. That was another dynamic that I found really interesting. Peyton has this big, big job. She’s this morning news anchor. She’s so famous. She goes to these cafés and sits and gets a glass of wine. Everybody’s just falling all over her. Her husband is this amazing, supportive guy. He’s more in the wings. Yet when a scandal breaks, what happens then? It’s an also an investigation of how much — the same way she’s pushing away her sister, with her husband too, are things forgiven? Are they not forgiven?

Lauren: It’s true. We find out very early on that they have very strong marriage. They’re happy together. They’re a really good partnership. They’re a good partnership raising their daughter. Like you said, he’s incredibly supportive, but how much elasticity is there really until something happens? I do explore that. Peyton as a character was so fun for me to write. She’s so type A. She’s so ambitious. She’s so intense, maybe not academically, we find out, but brilliant. I’m in awe of these news anchors who do this. I’ve said it before, but I am bordering on obsessed with them and how they go into this studio every day. I get nervous on Zoom. They go into a studio. They have an earpiece in. News is breaking. They have to process it and distill it for tens of millions of households that are watching them live. I’m in awe and impressed by people. In particular, her job scenes were really fun for me to write for that reason.

Zibby: I don’t know how they do that. It’s pretty awesome.

Lauren: I don’t know how they do that.

Zibby: You also root it in great conversation skills. Even when you show these scenes where — in college, Peyton and Skye will go to the professor’s house. Skye’s very shy and socially awkward and was afraid of her sister, what she would say. Yet she can go in and start talking about the dog. I won’t even reference here, the other things that they were talking about. It was a little X rated.

Lauren: You just can’t.

Zibby: I just won’t. Just that she has a way of putting everybody at ease. That has nothing to do with where you go to school or who you are. In fact, it’s almost like the major point of the book, not the major point, but one point is all these things do not matter. It’s who you are. Can you talk to people? Can you find out what’s new with this person? What makes them tick? How’s their dog? That’s nothing that anyone can teach. It doesn’t matter who you bribe to get into what school.

Lauren: Nope, none of that matters at all. The irony of this, again, without giving too much away, is that these two sisters completely — one went to a very prestigious school. The other struggled a whole lot with her education. They took this crossover in adulthood where they ended up in sort of opposite ways than one would expect based on this background. It is interesting. Peyton, I guess it’s just her extroverted personality. Like you said, that comfort and ability to talk to people, to walk in a room, to talk to anyone, to find a common ground is a special skill that will take you much further than all of that stuff.

Zibby: I’m hoping as all of our kids get older that everybody agrees that it doesn’t matter where people go to college, if everybody just said, okay, forget it, there’ll be great educations at a million places. Even if it’s not so great, we’re all going to be just fine if you have the right values and whatever.

Lauren: Everyone’s going to be just fine. Agreed. I know.

Zibby: Tell me about coming up with the idea for this. You’ve had all these amazing books. You just keep coming up with interesting plots. Where did this idea even originally come from? Where did the characters come from? Was Peyton fully formed in your mind? Tell me how it all…

Lauren: I’ve really thought forever about writing a book about sisters. It never really felt like the right time before, but it did now. I was just so excited to get in there and try. My favorite part of writing overall, always, is the dialogue. I really wanted to have a chance to put these two women in scenes together and have them talk to each other the way that real sisters do. I just was excited by that idea. The challenging part of this one was that I did touch upon the college admission scandal. For a while, I had written the whole first draft, essentially, where the men, the husbands, were the one who were making all of the decisions and taking all the actions that were having these ripple effects for everyone. It took me a long time of writing and a lot of wasted words to realize that my strong female narrators were just reacting. It wasn’t exciting. They were just reacting to their husbands all the way through. There were two different setups, two different scenarios that overlapped. My two sisters weren’t calling the shots themselves. It just didn’t sit well. I, for the very first time, threw out like seventy thousand words, something heartbreaking. It was so painful. I tried every which way to not do that. I’m someone that, if I have to cut a paragraph, I keep it tucked off to the side to bring it back because it helps your word count, bumps it up. I don’t want to lose anything. That was really painful. Once I realized that and did a course correct, it felt so much better. These women do not always make the best decisions for themselves or for their families, but I feel like it’s more authentic. It’s real. They’re making these calls. They’re determining their futures for better or worse. They’re dealing with the consequences. It felt much better to me at the end of another seventy thousand words.

Zibby: How many words were in the book when you finished?

Lauren: I don’t know what we got edited down to, but I think it’s about 110,000. It was close.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh, that’s a big percentage.

Lauren: It was, but a good learning.

Zibby: What does your writing look like? Where do you sit and do it? How long do you allocate each day? What’s your whole process like?

Lauren: It used to look much sexier. It was much more like, I could write all — pre-kids, I could write all night and sleep all day and work from kind of anywhere. I was much more flexible about where I could work. Then I had kids, and that all went to hell. Now it’s very much, I work around their schedules. I have an office in our house. Sometimes I have an office outside of our house, but now I have an office in our house. I work when they’re in school, which is pretty basic. It is a very set time. It helps you not procrastinate, I guess, if I’m looking for silver linings. It’s not in my nature, but if I’m looking for silver linings, I will say that you know the second they walk in that door — we’re waiting for yours to walk in that door.

Zibby: I know.

Lauren: The second they walk in that door, it’s over. It’s just done. It doesn’t even matter, the activities, the snacks, the in, the out, the “Mom!”, the “Where’s this?” That carved-out concentration time is done. I think that’s probably what made it really hard to write this during the pandemic. They were home all the time. It was a little more challenging. In normal times, I get everyone off to school. Then I try to sit down. I aim for eight hundred to a thousand words a day five a week. It doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it takes two hours. Sometimes it takes six hours. It’s very much like a job. Sit down. Get the words done. Move on. Don’t read what you wrote the day before. You’ll get nowhere, I think.

Zibby: Because then you start wanting to edit it?

Lauren: You start rewriting. You’re like, finger on the delete button. Your sentences are just disappearing. It’s the wrong direction. I try very hard to not do a lot of back reading until I have a first draft.

Zibby: That’s good advice. That’s very good advice.

Lauren: It’s born out of necessity because otherwise it’s just, write, delete, write, delete, and you’re going nowhere.

Zibby: A lot of authors I’ve spoken to have said that after they have a big success it becomes actually even harder to write subsequent books and that the pressure is mounting. How will I ever top that? or something like that. Do you ever feel like that with The Devil Wears Prada where you came out of the gate so strong and you’re like, oh, no, what if I can’t do it again?

Lauren: I’ve definitely felt that. I’ve felt that specific sort of sentiment most strongly with my second book. The first one, was this just luck? Was this just circumstance? Was this just the gods aligned and the book was this and it’s what everyone wanted to read then? It’s time to go back into your quiet office and do it again. That really did my head in. That one was probably the hardest of anything. Once I was over that, it’s not that they get any easier, but there’s also this knowledge that what happened with The Devil Wears Prada the movie, now the play, these are once-in-a-lifetime things. For some people, maybe not. There are a few times in a lifetime or career. To have something that really went to this level and that so many people know and Meryl Streep’s in your — it’s crazy. It’s craziness. I don’t think I realized it then, how crazy it was. It was the first book. I was twenty-four years old. I had no idea what was going on. I was so excited that you could walk into a Barnes & Noble and my mom could buy my book at her Barnes & Noble. That was mind-blowing, never mind all of the other stuff that came about with it. I don’t feel that pressure anymore. I feel pressure to write a good book and to deliver to my readers who have stuck with me, what they want and what they like, hopefully what they can relate to, very much so. I still want to write the best book possible. The idea that there’s going to be this craziness again, I think I now, after many years gone by, have the perspective to know that this is not normal. That was not normal. That was totally extraordinary and amazing and overwhelming and crazy. That doesn’t really translate anymore into what I work on now.

Zibby: You’re almost like a case study. I’m serious. There are all these, what happens with child stars or actors and actresses who have a big success early in their life? What happens? It’s so much rarer to find an author who hits it big that early in life. First of all, it’s hard to even get a book published that early in life, let alone have a book be a blast.

Lauren: Totally. It’s crazy. At the time, it was kind of terrifying. They sent me out on the road for four weeks at a time and then over to London and Paris. I was just sent out alone with the book wranglers. It was a lot of, “Say this. Don’t say this. Say this. Definitely don’t say that. Here are your tickets.” It was like, oh, my god. It was kind of terrifying and overwhelming. Obviously, all good things came out of it. I feel lucky now. I have this career all born out of that. In hindsight, I should’ve just enjoyed everything in the moment, but it was terrifying as it happened. They didn’t tell me — now you know. Now publishers know. There’s some books that sneak through, but you have a pretty good idea of maybe how one’s going to do. What do pre-sales look like? What do sales look like? People in the loop of what’s happening, what does your publisher — how are they positioning it? I didn’t know any of that. Like I said, I was twenty-four years old. I had no idea. I was so excited that it was just being published. I had no idea that they knew for sure it was going to hit the list and it was going to hit high. I got that phone call. I was standing on 86th and Lex, I’ll never forget, outside that Petco. She was like, “You made The New York Times list.” I’m like, “What?” In no universe was I expecting that phone call, did I have any clue from anyone that that was coming. It was a totally different time, and a crazy one.

Zibby: Are you still involved, like with this play and everything? Are you involved with the play?

Lauren: I am. That part’s incredible.

Zibby: I just interviewed, by the way, Paul Rudnick.

Lauren: He’s the loveliest.

Zibby: He said he was working on writing it. I was like, oh, I’m emailing Lauren’s publicist.

Lauren: That’s so cool. He’s so lovely. He’s one of the book writers on the show. It’s incredible. It’s so different from the making of the movie, which was really so cool to watch that because it’s obviously so very different from putting together a book. This is so different. It’s really fascinating. It’s so collaborative. You have all of these different voices in the room. You have Elton John writing the music. Oh, my god, what is, even, that? I can’t even say it without being like, what? Shaina Taub is writing the lyrics. You’ve got Paul on the book. There’s so many different, brilliant, creative people putting it together. Fingers crossed we’ll see it next year. It’s wild.

Zibby: I’m so excited to see a play again.

Lauren: Me too.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh, even if it’s terrible.

Lauren: Anything. Pretty much anything at this point. I know.

Zibby: Just put something on.

Lauren: Put me in a theater again.

Zibby: I’m just going to sit there. Give me the M&M’s and leave me alone. You could just put my kids on the stage. I’d be happy to watch whatever’s there.

Lauren: It’s so true. A return to that, please. Yes.

Zibby: Are you working on anything now?

Lauren: I have my next idea. I’m sorry, I’m not totally ready to share it yet.

Zibby: It’s okay.

Lauren: It’s a similar — it’s definitely a book about relationships. It’s definitely something that I think toes the line in terms of public and private persona, I think is what I would say, which is also something that’s really interesting to me.

Zibby: Have you started cranking out the words?

Lauren: Close. I’ve started the process of lots of notetaking.

Zibby: How do you do it? Do you outline the whole thing at all?

Lauren: I don’t. No, I don’t. Typically, I try to break it into chapters and do a notecard’s worth of notes about what I would like to see in each chapter. I guess that’s outlining. I don’t know. I don’t outline the whole thing. It’s not very detailed. I don’t know how it’s going to end exactly. Although, it’s going to be a happy ending. It’s always a happy ending. Hopefully, it’s not tied up in a way that’s easy to predict. Hopefully, a surprise happy ending where these characters find their way at the end.

Zibby: I just read a book with the saddest, most awful ending.

Lauren: You did?

Zibby: Yeah, I know. I interviewed the author. She was like, “I like to write unhappy endings.” I was like, okay.

Lauren: I’m just going to go over here and cry now.

Zibby: I can’t stop thinking about it, so maybe it’s a good trick. Anyway, good to know it’ll be a happy ending.

Lauren: It will be. Spoiler alert, it’ll be happy.

Zibby: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Lauren: I do, but it’s not very exciting advice. It falls very much into the category of, be disciplined, which nobody ever wants to hear, but I so firmly believe this. It’s how I ended up writing Prada because I was working and being young and single in the city. I was just working on it in a writing workshop. I needed to cave out time to do it. For me, at however old, that was Friday nights. I stayed in Friday nights. Now I would never go out on a Friday night or any other night, practically. Then, that was a big sacrifice. I’m going to stay in on a Friday night.

Zibby: That is a big deal when you’re twenty-four or whatever. Were you younger?

Lauren: Younger, twenty-three. I said, I’m not going out. I’m going to stay in and order my one sushi roll and salad. I’m going to work on this book and get it done. It’s really hard for people who aren’t professional writers or who aren’t under contract or don’t have a deadline where somebody’s hanging over them for something, all of which I think makes it easier to write, when you don’t have that, but you still have a job and a family and all these other obligations. It’s really hard to say, I’m going to give myself this gift of time. My ticket is weekly. Daily is just never going to happen. A weekly chunk of a couple hours, after six, eight, ten weeks, you’re really going to have something. That level of consistency is what gets it done. That’s what I would probably say. It’s not the most welcome advice.

Zibby: It’s not that boring.

Lauren: I think it’s honest.

Zibby: It’s useful.

Lauren: The alternative is wait until the inspiration strikes. You’re going to cancel everything and write for a week on end. Then you’ll never look at it again, and you’ve got nothing. I also don’t know that that’s the way.

Zibby: It’s hard to do anything in life that way. People can’t even figure out when to read a book, let alone write a book.

Lauren: That’s exactly right, as you well know.

Zibby: I feel like if you’re not putting it in the calendar, at least you have to have a certain time of day. You have to dedicate something, some mental energy to making it happen. There’s too many other things. It just won’t happen. It’s so easy to be distracted.

Lauren: It needs to be a deliberate decision.

Zibby: Oh, we have lots of questions in the chat. This is perfect. Let’s read through. Am I good, or what? This is amazing. I didn’t even check. We have some questions. This is from Sherri Lynn Puzey, who, by the way, runs Moms Don’t Have Time to Grieve, which is also part of my little thing.

Lauren: Love.

Zibby: “When did you come up with the idea for this book? Was it something you thought of before the big scandal that we all know about, or was that the inspiration for it?”

Lauren: That was a little bit the inspiration for it. It was not before that big scandal. It was after. I wanted there to be a morally questionable subject, thing that these sisters were wrestling with. I didn’t want it to be something as unsexy as financial crime. I wanted it to be something juicy. When I started thinking about that, that really opened up the floodgates of all of this hyper-intensive parenting. It pulled in the suburbs perfectly. It just all lined up where I could really see — it’s inspired a little bit by that. That’s not the main crux of the book, but it really allowed me to get into all these other areas.

Zibby: So we will not be seeing an insider trading scandal book from you?

Lauren: I don’t understand it enough. I’m always like, wait, what did he do? Why? I don’t get it. No, you won’t.

Zibby: Barbara is asking, “Will you be going on a book tour this year?”

Lauren: I wish. You’re looking at it.

Zibby: Woo-hoo, book tour!

Lauren: I’m in New York. We’re together. This is it. I wish. I think that’s one of the harder parts of this. You’re alone in a room for a year or two. You’re working. One of the best parts is getting out to meet the readers. The travel, all of that’s exhausting and can be a hassle, but it’s so amazing to actually go and meet the people who read your books. To see their faces when they tell you point blank, oftentimes like a sister, exactly what worked and what didn’t for them, I love that. When somebody says, “I’ve read every one of your books. I was really disappointed when you made this decision,” that means something to me. I want to hear that. From an anonymous critic on a website somewhere, not so much. From actual readers, to see their face and give them a hug and hear what’s going on in their own lives and connect, to connect with them — I think we’ve grown up together, a lot of us. I miss that this year. Zoom is cool because geography doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of people who can’t come to book events. There’s a lot of cities I don’t normally go to. This is much more inclusive. I hope in the future maybe it’ll be some combination of both of those things. I do miss the in-person this year.

Zibby: I will represent all the readers and say that I’ve read all of your books. I would like to tell you one thing that worked particularly well on this book. I also do not know how to cut into a pineapple.

Lauren: Oh, good.

Zibby: If there’s one thing to take away, I would keep including details like that.

Lauren: Perfect. I love it.

Zibby: Caroline Platt, “I imagine people recognize themselves in the characters in your books all the time. What happens when your friends recognize themselves and think that you had them in mind when writing new characters?”

Lauren: It’s a great question.

Zibby: It is. Caroline’s in my book club, by the way.

Lauren: She is? Hi, Caroline. It’s a great question. I do blatantly pull from my own life and from my own experiences and from my friends and family, but I try really hard to do it in a way that’s not — I don’t base a character on a friend. It’s very much, they say something funny. My girlfriends and I will be at dinner talking. We’re all on a Zoom on a cold, January night talking about our latest, best Amazon purchases. Somebody will say something funny. I’m like, “I’m going to use that. That’s perfect.” With my close friends and family, that’s never come up. With the next few layers out, people have said — but they’re never right. When I’m basing the character — not basing, but when it’s inspired by — if it’s a negative, they never recognize themselves, never, never, never. It’s kind of fascinating to me. It’s more, it’s pulling things. Somebody says something really funny, and I email it to myself. There’s a random discussion or a crazy scene at the soccer field where you’re like, I can’t believe I’m watching this. I can’t believe this is happening right now, but it is. That’s great fodder. It’s more like that and less like I am targeting this person and writing their life fictionally in the book. That was perhaps a little more Devil Wears Prada era, not so much now.

Zibby: Got it. Is that where you got the woo-hoo ladies?

Lauren: Yes.

Zibby: The woo-hoo ladies, when you’re like, “Woo-hoo!”, were those people you actually knew? Does that happen?

Lauren: Yes. One of the titles we had flirted with for this book, actually, was My Friends Don’t Woo-Hoo, which I sort of loved, but there were issues with it for lots of reasons. I do feel like there are kind of a couple types of women. There’s some that when they’re at the restaurant, at the beach bar and the waiter brings a tray of drinks, they’re, “Woo-hoo!” They’re woo-hoo-ing. Then there’s others who aren’t. I feel like it’s a thing.

Zibby: I think I have an occasional woo-hoo. I do it more in writing. Woo-hoo! Is that bad? I don’t know. It’s hard for me to bring it on.

Lauren: Something to think about.

Zibby: Wait, speaking of titles, did you have to get permission to use this title?

Lauren: No.

Zibby: No?

Lauren: No. In a work of art, you can use copyrighted things. I’m sure there’s lawyers who know more about this than I do, but that’s my general understanding. That’s why you can use Prada. You can use these proper nouns for a creative purpose, like the Campbell’s Soup can. It’s all under the rubric of okay.

Zibby: I have to say, it took me a minute to remember who sang this song. Is that so embarrassing? I was like, I know this song. I started singing it. I was like, oh, awesome. Then I’m like, was it — I’m not even going to —

Lauren: — It shows you had, probably, better taste in music growing up than I did.

Zibby: It shows that I have no memory at all. That’s what it shows.

Lauren: Either one. It’s fine.

Zibby: No memory. All gone. Alexa wants to know, “What kind of research do you do? How long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Lauren: That’s a great question. It really depends on the book. The Singles Game was incredibly research heavy. That, I did a lot, a lot, a lot of research. I went to tennis tournaments everywhere. I interviewed loads of people at the WTA, at the USTA. I interviewed players and coaches and executives. I really tried to get a feel for what it would look like for somebody to be a professional player on the circuit and the challenges and triumphs and all of that. In a book like this, it’s definitely less research. I live in one of these towns. This is my life too. I’m not an outsider. This is my life. I also struggle every day, like I said, with, am being insane with my children? Am I just being over the top? Is this crazy? What are we doing? Is this okay? Then I keep doing it. The research is really a lot from my world, my friends, my family, what I know and see, and of course, what you read. Technical definition of research, much less so for a book like this.

Zibby: I have to say, when I got remarried to my husband — he used to be in the tennis world. I got maybe four copies of it as gifts.

Lauren: You did?

Zibby: Yeah. Every couple weeks I would get another in the mail. I had them everywhere for a while. I wish we had known each other. We could do another one just on that book.

Lauren: That’s perfect.

Zibby: Vicky wants to know, “Do you take some downtime in between books?”

Lauren: I do. I guess you would say it’s kind of right now.

Zibby: This is hardly downtime. This is crunch time publicity.

Lauren: I mean next week sort of when the publicity stops before I start writing again a little bit. I’m thinking this summer. There’s also a weird window. It’s one that gives me intense anxiety. When you get the heads-up from your editor that the book is closed, it’s shut, it’s done, it’s off to the printer, the file has been sent, it’s like, oh, I’m so happy. Ahh, I’m so terrified. I hate it. It’s so bittersweet. In that period, you’re talking about other things like marketing and publicity plans, but there’s no more actual writing, editing. The work of that is finished. That feels a little bit like a break to me also.

Zibby: Okay, we’ll give you that. Barnes & Noble wants to know, “Was it different writing a teen character instead of an adult?” Oh, that was from Anna.

Lauren: Yes, it was very different. I had never written from the perspective of a teen before. Max, she’s seventeen. She’s strong. She’s confident. She’s super bright. She’s quirky. She knows her own mind, but she’s also the product of a very intense family. What is that going to look like for her? I thought it was interesting to see, we’ve all had time periods in our lives — it’s not necessarily high school or college for everyone, but a period of time where you really desperately want it to be over. It honestly might be the last year for everyone. You’re really just ready to leave it behind and move on, focus on what’s ahead, focus on the future. I got so excited by the idea that her whole life was ahead of her. That feeling, it’s hard to almost go back to and remember. I don’t even know if we appreciated it when we were there. I don’t think we did.

Zibby: I feel like that was really overwhelming.

Lauren: Agreed. You didn’t have any easy answer to these questions of what your life was going to look like at all. Yet there was all this possibility. That was really cool. The technical parts of writing a teenager were challenging. I had to invoke my seventeen-year-old niece all the time and call her up and be like, “Are we TikToking? Are write Snaping?” She’s like, “Ugh, you’re so embarrassing. Whatever language you’re using to describe this is awful. We need to adjust this.” She definitely regulated some of the teen descriptions of what would happen. Can this scene happen at a Starbucks? Is that a thing? Can it not? I had a lot of questions in terms of, are we making this believable? That helped.

Zibby: Yet you still included the guy whose name was Stroker.

Lauren: I just had to. It’s just funny. See, it makes you laugh.

Zibby: It does. There were so many times I just kept chuckling. I love your sense of humor because it’s so understated and funny. It comes at all these different times. It’s hilarious. It’s really, really funny. Was that based on your niece and your kids, the age gap where you had Aurora — wasn’t it Aurora? — and Max?

Lauren: Yeah. It wasn’t really. Mine are closer. I did kind of think that was interesting.

Zibby: That was a very sweet relationship they had.

Lauren: Right? Wasn’t it?

Zibby: It was really sweet. Breezy wants to know, which is a really cool name, “If the book were made into a movie, who do you want to play the main protagonists?”

Lauren: This is the hardest question. It’s so hard. I would love for it to be made into a movie. I don’t know who I would picture. It also doesn’t help that I don’t know anyone anymore. Where’s US Weekly when you need it? It’s gone. They need to tell me who would play them.

Zibby: I’m not good at this game either.

Lauren: I’m not good at this game at all.

Zibby: I also want to say Margot Robbie for everything. She’s not right at all.

Lauren: Done. We can do her. She’s Skye-ish. She’ll be perfect.

Zibby: She’s not hippie-dippie enough for Skye. Also, don’t have they more brown hair? Is it blond or brown? I can’t even remember.

Lauren: Peyton’s blond. Skye’s brown. I don’t know. It’s hard to say.

Zibby: I’m picturing Peyton more as the Megyn — ugh, this is my brain. You know the movie that came out about the whole scandal with Megyn Kelly? Did you watch that movie?

Lauren: I didn’t see it. I’m also movie illiterate, which doesn’t help. Sorry, Breezy. We’re going to work on that for the next one.

Zibby: Before I do any more conversations, I’m going to pick my characters. Dee wants to know, “What was your hardest scene to write in your latest book?”

Lauren: It’s a great question. The hardest scene, always, for me is the opening scene no matter what. I think that’s true of every book. It’s the one I rewrite the most. You’ve got these competing inputs when you’re writing the first scene. You want to, of course, immediately draw the reader in. I am ruthless as a reader, ruthless. If I am not pulled in right away, I’m done. I don’t fight through anything. I don’t see it through. I feel like there’s more books than I’ll ever be able to read. I’m only going to read what I am super into. Luckily, I don’t think everyone’s like that. People can be maybe a little more forgiving, but I don’t want to take for granted that they’re more forgiving. I really want to pull everyone in in the beginning. You want to introduce your characters and really get to show who they are without a whole lot of description. You need a scene that’s going to really give you a glimpse into their lives and maybe what is about to start. Recently, I have started thinking about this added pressure of it needs to be really super compelling and action packed because you’ve got e-book download samples. People are going to download a sample. It’s always the very beginning. They’re going to decide whether they want to read the book or not based on that. That’s always kind of hovering here. I find, definitely, the first chapter the most challenging, also the most rewarding when you get it right, or if you get it right, or if you ever believe you get it right.

Zibby: I was just interviewing Maggie O’Farrell who wrote Hamnet. Have you read Hamnet?

Lauren: Yes. No. Yes.

Zibby: Parts of it?

Lauren: Parts of it, yes.

Zibby: Okay, whatever, you know the book I’m talking about. Her advice was always start in the middle. Don’t try to start at the beginning of your book. Just jump in and start in the middle. I loved that. She’s like, “You never really know where the beginning is, so just start in the middle.”

Lauren: I love that.

Zibby: It takes all the pressure off. Then if that ends up being the beginning, so be it. I loved that.

Lauren: I do too.

Zibby: Why did you choose Where the Grass Is Green and the Girls Are Pretty as a title? Then we almost have to wrap up, so this will be our last question.

Lauren: Again, my girlfriends and I were on Zoom. We were trying to title this book. We came up with so many, so inappropriate, so funny. I have a list of potential, not real titles. Ninety percent of them I couldn’t even share with the publisher because they were not going to fly. We were having so much fun with it. We then just moved into song titles. Of course, we went straight back to the eighties because this is the soundtrack of our adolescence. I love Guns N’ Roses as much as the next girl. I wouldn’t say that I’m the biggest fan on earth, but I love the song. I love that it’s so catchy and you can sing it in your head. It also happens to actually describe what’s going on in the book. I renamed the town Paradise after this. I just think the whole package — it’s odd that Guns N’ Roses brings us to the suburbs, but they sort of did.

Zibby: I’m surprised it’s not green.

Lauren: I know. We thought about it.

Zibby: It just didn’t work.

Lauren: No.

Zibby: I could’ve used a green.

Lauren: You could’ve used a green. There’s a lot of red looking around here.

Zibby: Lauren, thank you. Thanks for doing this. This was so fun.

Lauren: Zibby, thank you. This was so much fun.

Zibby: Barnes & Noble, thank you for letting me barge in on Lauren’s day here.

Lauren: We loved this.

Zibby: Thanks for having us both. Everybody out there, thank you for watching. Go get the signed copy of Where the Grass Is Green and the Girls Are Pretty at or go pick up your regular, unsigned but still amazing copy at the stores. They’ll be everywhere. Go get them.

Lauren: Perfect. Love it. Thank you, guys, for tuning in. Zibby, thank you so much. This was so much fun and refreshing to be in person together. Loved it.

Zibby: It was so nice, but now I can’t turn you off. Now you’re still here. I’m just kidding.

Lauren: I’m still here. I live here now, FYI.

Zibby: Bye, everybody. Thanks.

Lauren: Bye.



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