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Aggressive notes on yogurt pots and marriage - Phoebe Luckhurst spills the funniest filth…

Phoebe Luckhurst

For readers who haven’t (yet!) read your witty novel, can you tell us about it in one sentence?

Three housemates, one Hinge date, a very stuck door – and a long, awkward afternoon when it turns out that two of them have a complicated history.

Millennials getting stuck in an attic together is an amazing premise – have you ever been locked in an attic in real life? (Or anywhere else?)

I tend to be locked out of places more regularly than locked in (specifically my flat; definitely always my fault). I did once get locked in my grandparents’ bathroom for a few hours when I was in my early teens. I didn’t have a smartphone, obviously, so I read the sides of shampoo bottles and tried not to hyper-ventilate.

Why do you like writing about millennials, and where do you see the greatest source of humour?

The modern millennial condition provides plenty to (gently) skewer, which as a writer is just so much fun. Comedy is about friction, relationships, misadventure…and housesharing long into your 30s, the wasteland of dating apps, Instagram – all provide plenty of the above. I suppose if you can’t laugh (at yourself and at your generation), you’ll cry. I’d much rather laugh.

Do you have any funny memories from houseshares?

The Lock In was definitely inspired by my house-sharing years in my twenties. Living in close proximity to friends and strangers is so intimate – and the main thing I learned is that people (myself included) are so, so weird. I’ve got plenty of common or garden memories: wildly aggressive notes stuck to yoghurts; hiding secret sublet-ers from landlords; parties that got very out of hand; sharing breakfast with a housemate’s one-night stand.... Still, my favourite of my house-sharing anecdotes is that in October, I’m marrying my housemate – although we don’t call each other that any more because that would be very weird. I hope that us getting together in our shared 4-bed in north London six years ago was funny for my former housemates to observe, rather than revolting.

Finally, can you tell us why you think CWIP is important, particularly as a brilliant debut author?

Women are funny – to me that’s obvious, but I suspect there are some people who need reminding – and funny writing makes the world a better, lighter place, so as far as I’m concerned any prize that champions the writing of witty women is doing a public service. Not to mention, it can feel so daunting to be a debut writer, wondering if anyone will connect with the story you’ve pulled out of your head. CWIP is spotlighting newbies as well as the wonderful, established writers whom we all admire. I’m so excited to have been longlisted.

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