Meet the Author: Hilary Scharper

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Author Hilary Scharper at Georgian Bay.
I am a Canadian author, living in Toronto. For much of my early life I spent my summers at a family cottage on southern Georgian Bay (near Lake Huron). At a very young age, I began taking long walks along the Bay’s rugged coastline and developed a deep love for the area. The cottage was sold when my parents were divorced (I was nineteen at the time) and after that I spent many years separated from my beloved Bay.

Over ten years later, my husband, Stephen, would bring me out of exile by asking me if I’d like to be an assistant “keeper” at a lighthouse on Georgian Bay. I had just started a new job at the University of Toronto, our son was five years old and full of life and energy, and we had just moved back to Canada. I was exhausted and wanted a real vacation not some job as an assistant lighthouse-keeper!

I looked at him dubiously. Lighthouse? And assistant? Just what did that mean?

“It’ll be fun!” he assured me.

At first, I assumed that we’d have to do lightkeeper duties: namely make sure that the light stayed on all night! But Stephen quickly explained that most lighthouses were now automated (run on solar power) and that lighthouses were being “rescued” by community groups and run as heritage sites.

Rescued? (I was immensely relived that neither of us would be required to do “night duty.”)

Rescue was indeed the right word. The automation of lighthouses had started in the 1970s and had done away with the need for a lightkeeper. As a result, governments in Canada and the United States had started to consider lighthouse buildings as obsolete and unnecessary. In many cases, lighthouses were left neglected and then eventually slated for demolition. (Sadly many still are!)

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Author Hilary Scharper and son at Cabot Head Lighthouse. (Photo by author.)
In our case, however, a local group had voiced their desire to preserve the Cabot Head lighthouse on Georgian Bay as part of Canada’s collective nautical heritage. The deal was this: in exchange for a month at the lighthouse (rent free), we would be asked to run the site. In other words, we’d open and close the lighthouse (now a museum), welcome tourists, and keep the grounds looking nice.

In August of 2000, we bundled our five-year-old son and our two cats (Wilbur and Orville) into the car and drove up to the Cabot Head Lighthouse.

Our time at the lighthouse turned out to be a life-changing event: we kept coming back summer after summer, staying longer each time. Eventually we became “stewards” at the nature reserve where the lighthouse is located. As my relationship with Georgian Bay deepened, I started writing a novel—“Perdita.” I decided that it was only through fiction that I could best express the extraordinary character of the place—both in terms of its wild natural beauty, as well as a haunting “conversation” seemingly going on between its past and present.

More on Cabot Head Lighthouse at:

Perdita by Hilary Scharper
Sourcebooks Landmark
January 20, 2015
$16.99 Trade Paperback

“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 |!ndigo | IndieBound | Kobo

3 signed copies of Perdita by Hilary Scharper (open December 15, 2014 – February 7, 2015)
Please note that this giveaway is hosted by the publisher. Winners will be drawn by the publisher and they will contact you if you have won.

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Come back tomorrow for my review of Perdita!!

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1 reacties:

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15 January, 2015 delete

I'm reading Perdita at the moment, and I will review it next week ;)
The place where the story is set (where the author worked) must be beautiful.