martha brook blog post behind the books author stacey halls
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Behind the books: author Stacey Halls

Published 4 weeks ago. Estimated reading time: 5 minutes.

Apr 23

We’re huge bookworms at Martha Brook and we love a good fiction to get our teeth stuck into. With the arrival of spring and brighter mornings here to stay (for a little while at least), we find ourselves keener than ever to stick the kettle on and have a read before the day begins. Whilst our TBR lists grow ever longer, a book we’d been itching to get our hands on was The Household and we were thrilled to catch up with the Sunday Times Bestselling author, Stacey Halls. Read on to find out more about her brand-new historical fiction novel, where she finds her inspiration and why location is so important for story-telling.

martha brook blog post behind the books author stacey halls

Introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about who you are, what it is you do and how you came to do it.

I’m Stacey Halls, a fiction writer with four books published. My latest, The Household, is based on Charles’ Dickens’ home for fallen women that he set up in Shepherds Bush in the 1840s with his friend Angela Burdett-Coutts. I came across Urania Cottage in a biography of his, and have constructed a fictional story about it that loosely follows the events of David Copperfield, the first novel he wrote after establishing the house. He wanted to reform women who had fallen on hard times, who were coming out of prison or sex work or who were homeless. The project had mixed success; I think he was underprepared for the reality of dealing with a bunch of scrappy young women who had had to find ways to survive, and who weren’t exactly grateful for his charity.  

martha brook blog post behind the books author stacey halls

What does a typical day look like for you?

On a working day, I’ll drop my son at childcare, come home and clear up, walk the dog and go to the gym. Then I do emails and admin until lunch, and I’m more creative in the afternoon, so I’ll make notes on project ideas, write or research. The hours fly by in the day, and then it’s back to being a mum at 5pm. I often feel as though I’ve got nothing productive done. I think that finding the balance between creativity and domesticity will be an enduring battle.

What is the one thing you do every day for yourself?

Read and go to the gym. It’s a good day if I get to do both.

What makes you happiest?

Being with family and friends, ideally with good coffee.

We simply loved your brand-new novel, The Household, a fantastic historic fiction that we could not put down! How you find inspiration for your characters and their storylines?

I’ve found ideas for my stories in different places: books, museums, and The Familiars was inspired by the local lore of where I grew up in Lancashire. I’m no historian but even they have their specialist subjects: I’m particularly drawn towards women, children, domestic settings and the tension between the classes.

We’ve seen on your Instagram that you head to some pretty gorgeous locations for inspiration. Why are your surroundings so important to your writing process?

Setting is such an important piece of the puzzle for me. Because my books have all been set in the past I can’t go to Victorian London, for example, but ever since I was young I’ve felt there’s a very thin curtain between now and then. Particularly in the northern settings of my books the landscape won’t have changed much, and you can feel the centuries sort of collapse before you.

martha brook blog post behind the books author stacey halls with copies of the household
Instagram @staceyhallsauthor

Being an author, we imagine your desk is pretty dreamy! We’d love to know what stationery items you cannot live without and why.

My friend bought me a beautiful notebook for my birthday covered in a toile print, so I’m using that for ideas and notes. I am partial to a gorgeous notebook; I get a new one for each project. I have also splurged on some fancy fabric folders for my office, and some patterned in-trays which are pretty old-fashioned but a good way to keep clutter off my desk. I also have a marbleised pen pot and matching waste-paper basket.

Do you have a life mantra or favourite saying that you live by?

Every time I discover one I think “that’s going to be my mantra” and then I forget it. But lately I’m discovering that if I look after myself, taking care of everything else is slightly easier.

Stacey Halls brand-new novel The Household is out now and we’re sure you’ll adore it just as much as we did!

P.S. Want to get your hands on your very own signed hardback copy of Stacey Halls The Household? You’re in the right place! We’re giving away 30 free signed copies with the next 30 orders over £40 with the code HOUSEHOLD! You’ll need to be quick to get your hands on one. Go, go, go!

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