Interview with Jessica Johnson, Orwell Youth Prize winner

Jessica Johnson was an Orwell Youth Prize Senior winner in 2019, responding to the theme ‘A Fair Society?’. We asked her where she got her inspiration for ‘A Band Apart’ and what motivates her to write

Interview with Jessica Johnson, Orwell Youth Prize winner

What was the inspiration behind your piece?

The inequality between schools in the UK, whether it be between the North and the South or state and independent, is what made me want to write my piece. I go to a state school in the North, so it’s something that directly affects me and I felt it was important to give a student’s perspective on the matter.

Why do you write?

I’m inspired by what goes on around me, so I like to write about things which seem really normal too us because they’re so ingrained into our society, but have a massive impact on individuals. Inequality in the education system is an example of this. 

What advice would you give to fellow young writers?

I would encourage them to write about something they feel passionate about, but also to be open to criticism and to write and re-write their pieces.

What's a piece of writing that has influenced you?

I’m definitely influenced by Orwell a lot in my writing, but I also took aspects of ‘The Pedestrian’ by Ray Bradbury in helping to form a dystopian short story, and ‘The Class Game’ by Mary Casey to get a better feel for the dialect between the characters.


You can read Jessica's winning entry, A Band Apart, right here on Voice.

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The Orwell Youth Prize

The Orwell Youth Prize

The Orwell Youth Prize is an annual programme for 12-18-year olds culminating in a writing prize. Rooted in Orwell’s values of integrity and fairness, the prize and the activities around it introduce young people to the power of language and provoke them to think critically and creatively about the world in which they are living.

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