Bestselling author Stacey Halls has been selected as one of the 10 Women’s Prize x Good Housekeeping Futures authors.
A panel of industry experts have chosen 10 female authors aged 35 and under who are exciting, boundary-changing, and inspirational. In other words, the classics of tomorrow for today. Keep reading to find out why she believes it is her duty bring women’s stories from the past, into the present.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your most recent novel.
I wanted to write about two things – the fairy-tale setting of Hardcastle Crags in West Yorkshire and coercive control. There wasn’t an obvious story attached to the setting, which is a stunning wooded valley with a chocolate-box mill perched on a river. But the atmosphere and seclusion of the place -it feels cut off from society and even time – spoke to me, and the threads of a story came to me about a nanny who takes a position with a wealthy family of manufacturers on the decline. I also wanted to explore emotional abuse through a historical gaze – coercive control was only made a crime in 2015, though of course it has always existed. There was just no knowledge of it.
Tell us about your journey to publication.
This is my third novel, and the first draft was written in the first half of 2020. I went into my own sort of lockdown before the rest of the world, moving to Hebden Bridge to write it. It was my first time living alone and the first time I’d lived near my family in a decade, so I had an idyllic three months writing, reading, walking and having friends and family to stay before everything shut down. This is also the first novel I’ve written as a full-time author, so I had more time to pick over it, take it apart and put it together again.
What motivates you as an author?
I suppose you’re always trying to write a better book than the one before. You hope the next one will be the best thing you’ll ever write, and then the minute you begin it always falls short. Russell T Davies says writing is an act of loss, which sounds quite depressing, but it’s true.
What do you think you’d be if you weren’t a writer?
In a dream world an actor, but I doubt I’d be very good. I auditioned for the part of Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films when I was 15 and that’s the extent of my brush with stardom.
WP X GH Futures is about celebrating the female voices of the future – what do you hope to have achieved as a writer in ten years’ time?
I hope to continue to tell stories about women in the past that bring them into the present. For too long women have existed in the margins of history, and I feel it’s my duty to bring them out and onto the page.