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Harriet Reuter Hapgood, the author of ‘The Square Root of Summer’, reveals what’s coming next!


Harriet Reuter Hapgood’s gorgeous debut novel, ‘The Square Root of Summer’, is about Gottie. Her life fell apart last summer when her grandfather, Grey, died, and Jason broke her heart. And as life turns upside down again she starts to experience strange blips in time – back to last summer, back to what she should have seen then…

HRHCan you tell us the plot of ‘Square Root of Summer’ in the length of a tweet. “Grief-stricken maths whizz meets wormholes in melancholic seaside romance.” That sounds more like a lonely hearts ad than a tweet…

What’s been your favourite thing about writing a novel? The final draft when you feel your brain and your typing fingers and your need for sleeping/eating/washing/collapsing are all in a super-fast race against each other, and all the messy incoherence, different drafts, multiple notepads and years of thinking are finally going to click into a brilliant whole – if you could just get it on paper fast enough before you keel over.

Have you got big plans to write many more YA novels (please say yes)? Or would you prefer to branch into adults’ or children’s lit? Yessssss……with the caveat that I am a slowpoke writer, so I might not be as prolific as “many more”! I am working on another standalone contemporary YA that’s currently in the “fire bad, tree pretty” stage of just words everywhere, chaos, scribbling, research… I’d love to write more standalone YA, try my hand at a series, some non-fiction – there’s an anthology of feminist essays on 1990s teen television and the wisdom of ‘Dawson’s Creek’ just begging to be written!

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 Where did you get the idea for ‘Square Root’? I didn’t have a single flash of inspiration, like “That’s the idea!” I started with the thought of a summer book about grief, and maybe a maths/science heroine. Ideas came from researching all the quantum physics and reading textbooks, from family photo albums, the sensory feel of my favourite books, stealing everything funny or charming my friends and family have ever done…

What do you think is an essential ingredient to romance in YA? Oh, it’s ineffable. You can write or read a perfect-on-paper pairing, or throw in all the ingredients you like for a top quality romance, but really it’s like real-life love – the spark, the fancying, the nnnnnnfffffff, the ants in your pants, don’t come from any specific ingredient. It just is or it isn’t, and you can’t make your characters have chemistry or create a good romance, any more than you can IRL. That’s a really unhelpful answer isn’t it?

If there is one thing people remember about ‘Square Root’, what do you hope it is? Grey. In all his booming, fire-jumping, questionable stew-making, raggedy-jumpered big-bearded glory. Also I hope the sheer numbers of dirty jokes are appreciated.

Finally, because we want to see where the magic happens, send us a snap of where you write! I’ve just moved house, so my current writing zone is basically a nest of boxes and a hot-water bottle. I’m hoping to eventually write in the kitchen, so I can be nearer my two greatest sources of inspiration, tea and biscuits.

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Written by Sophie Waters

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Sophie is the Head of Commercial at Maximum Pop! Having studied English Lit and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, she came to MP! to satisfy her passion for books. Sophie is a diehard Hufflepuff and feminist. She's also a huge cat lover, and can often be found rocking her socks off at a gig.