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Boredom used for comedy reveal by Gemma Tizzard

Gemma's desk setup

Congratulations on being longlisted for our unpublished prize! Could you tell us about your novel in one sentence?

When Stars Align is about a novelist called Lucy who has a chance encounter with one of the most famous movie stars in the world. When they start to have feelings for each other it should be a dream, but due to the pressures of fame and media scrutiny, it feels more like a nightmare. So no, apparently I couldn't tell you in one sentence, as I've used two, but it is a fun rom-com about meeting your celebrity crush and it being far more complicated than you imagined.

Have you always been interested in (comic) writing, or did you fall into it unexpectedly? Have you ever kept a teenage diary?

I've always loved comedy and I come from a family of very funny people. We are always making each other laugh, so I'm not sure if that is a personality trait we share or something I had to learn at a young age to keep up, but it's always felt quite natural to see the comedy in things. I've always written but I didn't ever really keep a diary. My life was too boring so I went straight to writing fiction to make it more exciting. Now, I use the Notes app on my phone to jot thoughts and ideas down, like the very laziest form of journalling.

We’d love to hear about where you get ideas for your wondrous wit? Do you have any tips you could impart to aspiring witty writers?

I get ideas from everything – the news, what's happening in the world, what's happening in my life, what isn't, how I feel about it. My tips to aspiring witty writers would be to pay attention to what you find funny and then try and work out why. Also, listen to conversations and the way people speak to each other. I think a lot of the humour in what I write is in the dialogue. All my friends know if they say something funny I'm probably going to steal it and use it at some point in some shape or form.

Speaking of which, where does your writing magic happen?

I write wherever I happen to be, so could be on my bed, on the sofa, up a tree (rarely), but I do have a desk. It is small and I try and keep it clutter free to focus the mind. This only works if I throw my phone into another room or I'll end up down a rabbit hole looking at Instagram Reels or TikTok for hours rather than working.

What is the best piece of content by a witty woman you’ve read/watched/listened to/experienced recently?

There are so many. I'm a big fan of Mhairi McFarlane, I'll read anything she writes. I also love comedians, Celeste Barber and Aisling Bea are always making me laugh. I have Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey on pre-order and I can't wait to read that.

Finally, what does being longlisted for the CWIP prize (twice!) mean to you? Do you have any advice for other witty writers thinking about entering the prize?

Being part of CWIP last year was a real joy, I'm excited to be doing it all over again. This competition really has made such a huge difference to the writing careers of so many people now, and I get to see that happen in real time in our WhatsApp group of the longlistees from last year. It is such a lovely place of witty, encouraging, supportive women who are making their dreams come true. What's not to love? I genuinely didn't expect to be longlisted again this year, so I guess that's my advice for anyone thinking about entering – if you never try, you never know! Be brave and get your writing out there – you have nothing to lose and so much to potentially gain.

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