Author Q&A and Giveaway: Perdita

Top Five Reasons This Novel Should Be on Your TBR List:
1. The Cover
2. The merging of past and present always makes for an intriguing read.
3. Lighthouses are beautiful and fascinating.
4. This sounds like it has magical realism elements.
5. Classic novels such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights inspired the writer.

Be sure to stop back on 2/3 to check out Aimee's review of this one!

Tell us who you are. 

 I am a lover of books and a writer who has been inspired by the beauty of Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada. I am also a wife, mother and professor of cultural anthropology. 

I am drawn to creative writing because I feelit can capture ideas and emotions that other kinds of writing simply cannot. 

 As a teenager I loved reading the classic gothic novels: especially Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Wuthering Heights by her sister, Emily. I thrilled to the sense of mystery, romance and power of Nature in these novels, and I felt those feelings and energies in the setting where I wrote Perdita. 

How did you come to write “Perdita? 

 My adventure began when my husband, Stephen, asked me if I’d like to be an assistant “keeper” at a lighthouse on Georgian Bay for the month of August. I had just started a new job and our son was five years old at the time. Frankly, I was exhausted and wanted a real vacation not some job as an assistant lighthouse-keeper! 

 Catching the drift of my mood, Stephen quickly explained that the lighthouse was automated (run on solar power) and we would go at the invitation of a community group who was running the lighthouse as a cultural heritage site. The deal would be this: in exchange for a month at the lighthouse (rent free), we would be asked to open and close the lighthouse (now a museum), welcome tourists, and keep the grounds looking nice. 

 Before I knew it, I was bundling our son and two cats (Wilbur and Orville) into the car and, with Stephen at the wheel, was heading up to the Cabot Head Lighthouse on Georgian Bay. Our trip turned out to be beginning of a long “friendship”—and the launch of a novel that was inspired by the rugged beauty and mystery of the location.

Author Hilary Scharper and son at Cabot Head Lighthouse. (Photo by author.)

Why are we fascinated by lighthouses? 

 In my experience, lighthouses are places that a person cannot simply take on his or her own terms. Maybe that’s why I became drawn to the Cabot Head lighthouse as a setting for “Perdita.” As I spent more time there, I came to realize that a lighthouse is always much more than a beautiful holiday destination. Even on a peaceful day, there was always the possibility of a storm in the air. It was almost as if Nature was always reminding us that it wasn’t domesticated in these parts. 

 Stephen was the one to coin the term “eco-gothic” to describe my novel and its lighthouse setting. 

 In “Perdita” I’ve attempted to create a different kind of literary space: one in which humans and Nature co-exist in a variety of unpredictable relationships. 

 Relationships that can be both antagonistic and complementary…. 

 More on lighthouses at

About the Novel

By: Hilary Scharper
Sourcebooks Landmark 
January 20, 2015 
$16.99 Trade 

 “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…

Buy Perdita by Hilary Scharper: Amazon | B&N | BAM | Indigo | IndieBound | Kobo

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. 


Cape Prius—1897 
July 3 

 Seven hours passed, and the waves were—Mr. Thompson said they were fifteen feet or more in front of the Lodge. The rain had not ceased, but the sky had turned an evil gray, and we heard thunder far off in the distance…. 

 “The storm is moving fast,” said Mr. Thompson, and he shook his head glumly. 

 I began to pray fervently. It was but three o’clock in the afternoon, but the entire sky had turned a livid gray, and it seemed as if night had dropped upon us like a curtain falling. Now we could see lightning blaze across the horizon…. 

 The rain came down in sheets, and the waves took on an even more ominous and angry aspect. My heart sank as I thought of the boats in that water. 

 Then—“There,” shouted Mr. Thompson, gesturing toward the eastern skyline. 

 And appearing suddenly from around the Point, we could see the outline of a large boat. Its foremast was rolling horribly—up and down, back and forth—and we could see, as it neared, that the first jib sheet was ripped to pieces. The mainsail was shredding rapidly in the wind, and the waves were pushing it toward the shore, where it would surely be smashed into pieces against the rocks. We saw the men lowering the lifeboats and then push off, desperately making for shore. 

 “Allan,” I cried. He had run out into the storm without warning toward the boats, and I leaped out after him.

As part of the Perdita Blog Tour, there are THREE signed copies of Perdita up for grabs. The giveaway ends 2/7. Reading Lark is not responsible for prize delivery.