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Writing sex scenes on a baggage trolley and the joy of Venn diagrams with Miranda Horn

Miranda Horn

Congratulations on being longlisted for our unpublished prize!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

Sure! The Second Adolescence (still trying to work out how to spell that word), is about a people pleasing geneticist who, on switching her dating app preferences to women, discovers there are some things you can’t learn from a book.

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

I’ve never set out to write comedy, but I do relish the comedy of the every day. My writing is an amalgamation of things I hear, see, and experience. I think that recognising things you or your friends/family might say, or situations characters find themselves in generates the sort of humour that doesn’t just make you laugh but hopefully also makes you feel understood. Like a shared experience. I kept a diary for three days as a teenager. It was mostly about how I fancied some boy called Alfie and how a girl at school said I was a lesbian. Which, as it turns out, was correct.

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?

God. Anywhere and everywhere. People are funny. Sit on a train, listen in to conversations, talk to people, see how what their habits are, their behaviours. Then write it down. Whether that’s on your phone notes or a pen and paper. Don’t think you will remember it. You won’t.

Speaking of which, where does your writing magic happen?

I am very much on the have laptop will travel camp. I can write anywhere as long as I’m not with people I know or feel like someone’s looking at my screen ( can you read my paranoia from there). I wrote a sex scene for my novel on a baggage trolley whilst waiting for my luggage to arrive at Heathrow Terminal 3. I have one Beta Waves concentration song I listen to religiously. It’s 2hrs 46 minutes and was my top song of 2022 Spotify Wrapped…

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

Not many things bring me as much joy as Edith Pritchett’s Venn Diagrams in the Guardian.

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

I’m delighted to be longlisted. My novel is very personal and wasn’t necessarily a funny time, so It’s quite cathartic to now be able to look back on it and draw out the humour. My advice… I would say go for it. I’m very bad for generating vast amounts of writing and then sitting on it. Get it out there! What’s the worst that can happen?

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