Juno Dawson: 'I feel unconstrained by the rules of genre'

Juno Dawson: 'I feel unconstrained by the rules of genre'

Juno Dawson answers our questions about her exposé of the fashion industry, Meat Market (Quercus Children's Books), which has been shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2020.

1. Can you sum up Meat Market in one sentence?

A streetwise catwalk model must confront a dangerous sexual predator at the heart of the fashion industry.

2. What inspired Meat Market?

I have always loved fashion and wanted to create a 'fantasy world' albeit one in the real world. At its heart, it's Jana's story — an ordinary Londoner who finds herself way out of her depth but taps into strength she never knew she possessed.

3. Which character in the book is your favourite?

There are so many characters I adore. Everyone loves a villain and Jana's agent, Maggie, is a real piece of work. I was struck by how many women enable abuse within fashion. I also really love Ferdy, Jana's down-to-earth boyfriend. I wanted to depict a healthy, non-toxic relationship. I think they're quite hard to find in YA.

4. What does being on this year’s YA Book Prize shortlist mean to you?

I'm always proud to fly the flag for UK YA. I think we do it so well and are often slightly overlooked on the global market.

5. What's the best thing about writing for young adults?

You can do anything you want! I feel unconstrained by the 'rules' of genre. I've written horror and mysteries and dramas...and they're all together in the bookshops. It also means I get to tour and travel and meet some really switched-on young people. I am so inspired by young activists pushing through changes at their colleges and schools.

6. What was your favourite book as a teenager?

Room 13 by Robert Swindells.

7. What is your top writing tip?

Try to write a little bit every day, even if it's just a few sentences. It's rewarding to make even a little progress.
8. What song would be on a playlist for Meat Market?

"The Model" by Kraftwerk, obviously!

9. Who would you cast in a film version of the book?

We've talked about this a lot (I'm writing the TV version right now) and I'd love Alex Kingston as Maggie. I wrote the character of supermodel Clara Keys with my friend Leomie Anderson in mind.

10. Which book, film, or TV show would you recommend to someone who enjoyed Meat Market?

If you haven't watched "Euphoria" yet, why not? But also the indie film "Picture Me" was crucial to my research.

Find out more about Meat Market by Juno Dawson and read the first chapter of the book on the YA Book Prize website.​