HarperVoyager has snared YA writer Juno Dawson's first three adult novels, a trilogy set around a government agency for witches, at auction in a six-figure deal.
Publishing director Natasha Bardon acquired UK and Commonwealth rights for the contemporary witchcraft trilogy from Sallyanne Sweeney at MMBcreative. First novel HMRC will be published in spring 2022. A French-language deal has also been agreed, with Pygmalion.
HMRC tells the story of Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, established by Queen Elizabeth I as a covert government department based in Manchester. However, when the genocide of all witches is foreseen by the agency's oracles, consensus on how to tackle the prophecy threatens to tear apart a group of lifelong friends.
The publisher said: “Through HMRC, Juno explores topics concerning women today—gender, feminism, the patriarchy and the corrupting nature of power—in a fun, sharp, provocative and joyous novel that will enchant Juno’s fans and charm new readers alike.”
A leading light in the UK's YA literary scene, Dawson's books include This Book is Gay (Hot Key) and Clean (Quercus Children's Books), as well as Meat Market (also Quercus Children's), which won the YA Book Prize 2020. Through Nielsen BookScan's TCM in the UK, she has sold 135,846 books for £600,000 to date.
She is a regular guest on television and her writing has appeared in Glamour, Dazed and the Guardian. She made her acting debut last year in Michaela Coel’s “I May Destroy You” and also writes for TV, with multiple shows in development both in the UK and US.
Dawson said: “I am delighted HMRC has found a home at Voyager with Natasha, an editor I’ve wanted to work with for many years. HMRC is honestly the most fun I’ve ever, ever had on a novel. I completely lost myself in the mythical world of these very modern witches, and I hope readers do too.”
Bardon added: “I’ve admired Juno’s work for years and was absolutely thrilled to see her turn her talents to adult fiction. She has deftly created a brilliant and believable world with a host of characters readers will love. HMRC is a perfect blend of topical plotting, magic and heart. It’s exactly what I’ve wanted to read in this crossover area for a long time.”
“Juno’s adult debut is everything I hoped for and much more: a smart and compulsive joy from the opening page,” said Sweeney. “HarperVoyager’s vision for the trilogy blew us away, matching Juno’s own ambition for it, and I can’t wait to see her readership reach new heights in 2022.”