Stacey wrote and illustrated story books as a child and gave them away as presents.
“I took a favourite Enid Blyton story and put myself in it. It wasn’t creative – it was plagiarism.”
Daughter of shopkeepers, Stacey’s dream was to be a singer or an actress.
“Then I thought interviewing stars for a magazine world was as close as I would get.”
Rejecting university, Stacey worked as a legal secretary for six months, before changing her mind, and studying Journalism – whilst working weekends.
“I got work experience on The Sunday Times Magazine, the Mail on Sunday and Waterstones magazine.”
That led to a job in London, as editorial assistant on a new book magazine for The Bookseller.
“Meeting authors and trade insiders gave me faith in the industry. I realised authors were normal people.”
After 5 ½ years Juliet switched to magazine journalism, working for Stylist, Psychologies, and Fabulous.
She wrote her first novel at 24.
“It was universally rejected by agents. But Juliet Mushens said, ‘if you write something else, send me that.’”
A visit to Gawthorpe Hall gave Stacey the idea for The Familiars.
I was always aware of the Pendle witches, and walking round the house I felt a connection. I began to research – taking real people, I wrote it as fiction.”
Taking a nine week sabbatical, she wrote the first draft in 7 weeks, then sketched an idea for her second. The Familiars sold after a 9-way auction.
Who is Stacey Halls?
Date of birth: 1989 in Rossendale, Lancashire.
Education: Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School. University of Central Lancashire, Journalism.
Family: Married to Andy, a journalist.
The Day Job: Just started as a fulltime writer.
Favourite Writers: Sarah Waters; Daphne Du Maurier; Hilary Mantel; Elizabeth Jane Howard; Philip Pullman.
Second Novel: The Foundling, due out in February 2010.
Top Tip: “Just finish the draft. And then edit.”
Website: www.staceyhalls.com Twitter: @stacey_halls.
The Debut: The Familiars. Zaffre. €10.40. Kindle: €4.18.
Fleetwood Shuttleworth, mistress of Gawthorpe Hall needs a midwife. She trusts Alice Gray, and when Alice is arrested, charged with Witchcraft, Fleetwood does all she can to save her, because both their lives are at stake.
The Verdict: An enthralling look at women’s fight against power. I loved it.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 16th November.
© Sue J Leonard. 2019.