Article by Ava Driggers ’24
On Earth Day, the Chameleon Literary and Arts Magazine hosted Concord Academy alum and author Henriette Lazaridis ’78 on campus for a short reading and Q&A. Lazaridis, a Boston-area native, has written for The Huffington Post, ELLE, and The New York Times, among other notable publications. Her first novel, The Clover House, was a Boston Globe bestseller and addresses themes of exile, nostalgia, belonging, and identity in a historical fiction narrative. Her newly published second novel, Terra Nova, is a historical fiction story set in 1910 and inspired by Captain Robert Falcon Scott, a real explorer who led multiple expeditions to the Antarctic.
The inspiration for her snowy second novel came from growing up in blizzard-ridden Massachusetts and playing with her dog in the snow, Lazaridis recalls fondly. Her obsession with Robert Falcon Scott began at a young age after watching a documentary about his 1910 race to the South Pole. Lazaridis says that while she may have forgotten key details like his death on the return journey, the heroic portrayal of Scott stuck with her, and ultimately served as the seed for Terra Nova.
The novel is written from two main alternating perspectives: Watts, a male explorer and Robert Falcon Scott analog, and Viola, a suffragette, and photojournalist tasked with documenting their mission. At the author’s event, Lazaridis read an excerpt from each character’s perspective and spoke on the evolution of the novel throughout her writing process. While she had always planned to add a female lead to the narrative, she struggled to write Viola, re-writing multiple drafts of the entire book. Lazaridis emphasized the importance of cadence, tone, and vocabulary in bringing a character and time period to life. To illustrate this, she pointed to Watts’ relatively terse and frank phrasing in comparison to the multi-clause sentences and elaborate vocabulary in Viola’s chapters.
The event’s attendees had a variety of questions for Lazaridis, ranging from her CA experience to the publishing process to her writing style. Lazaridis thanks the supportive CA faculty who fostered her love for writing and helped her to grow. During her time at CA, Lazaridis was also an editor of the Chameleon, the school’s oldest student publication. Lazaridis’ reflection on her time at CA and discussion of the writing process gave students a sense of what a career in writing might look like and offered an inside scoop to readers on the work going into all their favorite reads.