Published by Sourcebooks, Inc. on January 20th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Paranormal, Romance
Also by this author: Perdita
“Stunning… richly complex and unpredictable.” —Historical Novel Review
Marged Brice is 134 years old. She’d be ready to go, if it weren’t for Perdita . . .
The Georgian Bay lighthouse’s single eye keeps watch over storm and calm, and Marged grew up in its shadow, learning the language of the wind and the trees. There’s blustery beauty there, where sea and sky incite each other to mischief… or worse…
Garth Hellyer of the Longevity Project doesn’t believe Marged was a girl coming of age in the 1890s, but reading her diaries in the same wild and unpredictable location where she wrote them might be enough to cast doubt on his common sense.
Everyone knows about death. It’s life that’s much more mysterious…
This was a great historical fiction about a woman and a place. Check out my full review for Perdita here. Scroll down for the interview and giveaway!
About the Author
Hilary Scharper, who lives in Toronto, spent a decade as a lighthouse keeper on the Bruce Peninsula with her husband. She also is the author of a story collection, Dream Dresses, and God and Caesar at the Rio Grande (University of Minnesota Press) which won the Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award. She received her Ph.D. from Yale and is currently Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Toronto.
Tell us who you are.
I am a book-lover, a mother, a wife and “officially” a cultural anthropologist and university professor—but I think that even before I decided to follow an “official career,” I dreamed of becoming a novelist. Books, and especially works of fiction, have played such an important role in my life and I don’t think there has ever been a time when I’m not reading fiction. Works of fiction are often simply regarded as “play” time (something that is outside of “work”), but to me novels have always been a profound source of insight and inspiration for all aspects of my life.
I find it strange how our imaginative worlds—and the spaces of imaginative thinking—are sometimes sharply contrasted with “real life,” as if they are somehow extreme opposites. Of course they are different and of course there are times for “fact” and times for “fiction.” (To every season there is a time….) But what we read, and what our imaginations ponder, shapes our “real” worlds. And, of course, “real” worlds are always rich sources of our imaginative lives.
I guess I am a writer of fiction because I so enjoy the slippery slope between so-called reality and fiction. Ernest Hemingway once wrote: “All good books have one thing in common—they are truer than if they had really happened.”
Now that I’ve become a writer of fiction, I have a better sense of what he meant…
What inspired you to write this book?
It was a photograph—taken by an anonymous person around 1900. (You can see it on my website: http://perditanovel.com/cabot-head-lighthouse-c-1898/).
How did you come across this photograph?
Over ten years ago, I found myself at a lighthouse near Lake Huron. My husband, Stephen, had arranged it for our summer vacation. I was so fascinated by the lighthouse that I began to do some research and found some old photographs.
One photograph from 1900, in particular, caught my attention.
In the photograph a young woman is standing in the doorway of the lighthouse, looking out into a wild and windy landscape. Somehow she reminded me of myself. There I was—over 100 years later—also at the same lighthouse. Although I was there for a summer vacation, like her I was also looking out at a windy landscape. Unknown to each other, separated by over a century, both of us were in a similar situation. No doubt the woman in the photograph had tons of work to do: cooking, laundry, cleaning the (light)house, tending children. So did I. Work for my job plus all those domestic chores. Over 100 years later, I was in the same “boat”! (I mean—same lighthouse!)
Yet the wind had not abandoned either of us—even as we stood in our doorways looking out—it still invited us to step out into the “wild.”
I have often wondered what the woman in the photograph did. In deciding to write a novel, I made my choice and stepped out into the “wild”….
Cabit Head Lighthouse, northern Ontario, Canada, c. 1900.
3 signed copies of Perdita by Hilary Scharper
(open December 15, 2014 – February 7, 2015)