I love the details of how it all comes together, so I’d be curious about anything you can share about your process.
It was extremely difficult, extremely difficult. At first I thought I had to give up, and I wouldn’t make it happen because you just have to call a lot of people and reach a lot of people, and I got a lot of “nos”, like weeks of “nos”, and that is really discouraging. But eventually I figured out how to make some progress. I went back to the beginning of Anna’s life and decided to report chronologically. I had some success with that strategy. The thinking was that people she knew when she was 20 would be much further away from her than people she knew when she was 60. And that turned out to be the case with those people. It was easier to get people from long ago talking. I made a lot of progress and after working on the book for about a year and a half, Anna got wind of the fact that I was working on it. I was very careful. The reason I was so careful was that when I approached people, they would say one of two things. Some people said, “She’s going to shut you down, and she’s going to use Conde Nast to stop you. And they’re going to do everything they can to make sure that doesn’t happen, and if they have to threaten your publisher but they’re going to threaten your publisher .” The other group of people said, “I thought she was great, and I think she’s going to help you with this.” That group of people turned out to be right. She eventually helped me. And what happened was after about a year and a half, I spoke to a representative in her office, and I explained this as a biography of a woman in a unique position of power, and what came out of that conversation is that they said, “Anna wants happy to put you in touch with some of her closest friends and colleagues for interviews.” They sent a list of names with the likes of Tom Ford, Serena Williams and Hamish Bowles, who has been with Vogue for a long time. And I then asked if she was okay with me interviewing some other people who wouldn’t talk to me without her saying okay, and she said yes to everyone. This all happened through her representative. She herself refused to sit down for an interview. She declined several requests to sit for an interview. But once that happened, the floodgates opened for me, so I was able to get the people who would be the main characters of her career, like Grace Coddington, Phyllis Posnick, and Sally Singer, in addition to Serena Williams and Tom Ford. So that was important, and people who… [first] hung up on me picked up the phone to talk to me. You have to be very, very persistent as a journalist, as you know very well. And you have to go back and ask people again and again and again, and it all came together in the end. It was a lot of work. It was very, very difficult. Lots of doubt along the way.
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