Friday, June 10, 2016

Debut Authors Bash: The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

 
 
 
About Harriet Reuter Hapgood
 

Hello! I'm the author of The Square Root of Summer, a time-travel-quantum-physics-contemporary-romance YA. I'm also a magazine sub-editor (ELLE, ELLE Collections, ELLE Wedding, InStyle, Livingetc, Marie Claire, Marie Claire Runway, Stylist, Wallpaper*) and proofreader.

The Square Root of Summer lands May 2016 in the US and the UK, followed by Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and Turkey, plus an Audible audiobook. It began first as a memorial to my grandmother, Eileen Reuter, then turned into a love letter to my whole family - a bunch of mathematical German bohemian book-loving weirdos. <3 br="">
A brief history of writing: my first piece of journalism was for Just Seventeen magazine, when I was 17. I wrote half my undergrad dissertation at Newcastle University on the romantic parallels between Dawson's Creek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For my master's at London College of Fashion, I created an encyclopedia of 1990s teen TV shows. I am trying to write another book - it's California meets Gilmore Girls meets black magic...

A list of likes and interests, old-school Livejournal-style: swimming. Yoga. Emojis. Big sunglasses. Tiny drinking glasses. Junk shops. Goop. Liquid eyeliner. Tacos. Cagoules. Paris. Rain. The sea. Kissing. NYC. Pink. Tindersticks. Pacey Witter. Felt-tip pen. Joan Didion. My cat. Cats generally. Poetry. Flamingos. Moisturiser. Arsenal. Joss Whedon. Kitchen disco. Hamburgers. South London. Perfume. Lidos. Fireplaces. Berlin. Italian painters. Pulp. Bright colours. Wolves. Metallic shoes. Michael Ondaatje. Pastel pink hair. Tiled floors. Midi rings. Boys in spectacles. Bonfires. California. Climbing trees. Candles. Forests. Coffee. Ferns. Love.
 
Interview

1) Could you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

I’ve been writing, on and off, since I was a teenager – I had my first professional article published in a magazine when I was 17. For the past decade I’ve been working in fashion journalism; I’ve written for InStyle and produced magazines like Elle Collections and Marie Claire Runway. I live in a tiny flat near the sea and will shortly be reunited with my beloved tortoiseshell cat, Stanley (a girl). Mostly I’m a homebody – I like baking, patchwork, obsessively planning how to renovate and decorate the flat, rummaging in charity shops for crockery and tat to display, reading, quiet pints in the pub, scented candles, big stompy walks in the rain.

2) The Square Root of Summer is a book about grief and losing the people who are the most dear to you. You approach the subject in a great unique way, namely through quantum physics, why have you chosen this direction?

My German grandfather was a professional mathematician. And one of the last conversations I had with my grandmother was about quantum physics, oddly – we got down grandpa’s books and used them to try to figure out quantum leaps. I used lots of personal touchstones in the first draft to help me access the emotional memory of grief and loss, and the physics stuff took on a life of its own – the more I read up about it, the more cool and fascinating stuff I learned about the world. Maths and physics are just a language used to describe how the world works – once I figured out Gottie as a character, it made sense to me that she would use this language to explore her grief and her life.
 
3) Gottie is smart, what inspired you to write about a person who has such a special brain?

I wanted to write about someone who was quite isolated, which is what grief does to you; and I think being super-clever academically in a way that perhaps puts you out of step with your peers would be quite isolating. I also liked the idea of contrast, of someone who is book smart and can understand the world through equations and academics, but is fairly normal, and even dumb sometimes, socially – she can’t cook, is generally ten steps behind in every conversation that doesn’t involve maths, isn’t pop-culture clued-up…

4) Could you sum up Gottie’s personality in five words?

Daydreamy, outdoorsy, sciencey, private, curious.

5) Your whole professional life revolves around words and writing. What do you like so much about it?

My terribly uninformative answer is: uh, I dunno. I’ve been doing this my whole life, so I’ve never questioned the whys and wherefores! I just like it? A bit like poetry, or pop music, or falling in love – there’s no good reason or logical explanation, you just feel it. And you can add the explanations afterwards, which for me and writing would be – I like the sound and feeling of typing (I do 90 words per minute when I’m on a roll), I like the mental challenge of figuring out what the story is (whether that’s fiction or a journalism feature) and going from a bullet-point list of information or exposition to convey, to a scrappy draft, to polishing it up. It is also an excellent profession if you like buying books, dictionaries, encyclopaedias and reference tomes, because you can claim them on expenses.

6) What are your three favourite YA reads?

I’ve read The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson as often as its heroine Lennie has read Wuthering Heights, which is to say: a lot. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is always guaranteed to leave me sobbing – in a good, cathartic way. And We Were Liars by E Lockhart is just phenomenal.

7) On your website you write about your grandmother, could you explain why she inspired you so much?

She was just a fun person! Fun in the “interesting, charismatic” sense – she could also be fierce and forthright and terrifying. She liked red wine at 10am, didn’t suffer fools, and spent a peculiar amount of time fishing mice out of her garden and carrying them across a busy main road to drop them in a field. She could be very rude, and very funny, swore like a sailor, made us “fizzy jelly” (translation to American: Jell-O whisked just before it sets, so it has bubbles in it) and witch’s hats for our boiled eggs at Halloween, and smoked almost constantly.

8) Time travelling is an interesting concept, where would you want to go if you could actually do so and why?
I would go back to medieval times with penicillin and be worshiped as some kind of god. That or be burned as a witch, but I would also take my phone with me because the burned-at-the-stake selfie would be uh-may-zing.

9) What is it like when someone wants to publish your first book?

Utterly discombobulating. I’d been working on it for ~so long, and it’s ~so personal, and suddenly it becomes this professional THING and you get an editor, and marketing have a plan, and the copy-editor has an opinion and so does the proofreader, and there are contracts and taxes and forms, and it all just takes on a huge life of its own – all this stuff happens that’s entirely *because* of the book, but not really *about* the book. While writing it pre-agent, pre-publishing deal, it’s all about craft, and research, and structure, and making your characters, settings and themes come alive. Then when my agent and I submitted the book, life suddenly became about: international phone calls and glamorous meetings, auctions and spreadsheets and this hectic whirlwind.

10) What are your plans for the future?

I’m working on a second book for the same publisher. This is another standalone contemporary, but probably with some magical-weird-other-worldly twist to it. I’m researching California, medieval folklore and black magic, meteorology and philosophy… And thinking about friendship, ties that bind, memory, ghosts, baggage, the past… After that, more YA, I hope! I’d also really like to write a non-fiction book, a series of essays examining Dawson’s Creek and 1990s teen television through a feminist lens.
 
Book review
 
Amazon USA Amazon UK
 
Review by Suze
 
Gottie's life changed a lot last summer, it started as the best time of her life, but ended as the worst. Her beloved grandfather, who was always there for her and was her second parent, passed away and her boyfriend broke up with her at the same time. A year later Gottie is still not feeling better, grief is consuming her. The only thing that keeps her mind off her lonely and miserable situation is her paper about quantum physics. That changes when Thomas finally comes home after five years in Canada. He used to be her best friend, the boy she never wanted to let go.
 
Black holes are trying to swallow Gottie. While she travels through time she tries to make sense of her past and present and of her connection to the people she loves. She has a new chance at a relationship, but she might not be ready for that yet. Can she see a future through all the heartbreak of the past?
 
The Square Root of Summer is quite different from the regular summer romance. Gottie is a smart girl and she loves physics and formulas. It's what keeps her going. She's broken because almost everyone she loved left her at some point. Harriet Reuter Hapgood writes about her misery in such a beautiful emotional way. She uses science to enhance the intensity of Gottie's feelings which works very well. Gottie's father is from Germany and I liked the German expressions and words that appear between the English every now and then, it's a nice detail that added to her character. I love it when a story is unusual and Gottie's is exactly that. She can disappear in wormholes which is interesting and fun to read about.

Harriet Reuter Hapgood's writing flows easily. The Square Root of Summer is a controlled chaotic story. It has to be because of the time traveling and due to Gottie's emotions which are often all over the place and I never lost track of what I was reading. Everything keeps making sense and I somehow understood exactly what happened when and why. This makes the story great and I think it's a fascinating angle. I loved the ending, it's fitting and I really enjoyed it. The Square Root of Summer is a wonderful summer read, it's original, gripping and intriguing.
 
Giveaway
 
One lucky international winner will receive a paperback copy of The Square Root of Summer.

a Rafflecopter giveaway If you're from the US/Canada you can also enter the giveaway to win a signed poster & signed swag - buttons, stickers, postcard.
  

47 comments:

  1. Thanks for joining the #16DABash!

    -N

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  2. This is a great giveaway! I've heard so many great things about this book!

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  3. Hello Harriet, The square root of summer sounds fab ♡ Looking forward to reading it. Thank you

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  4. Love the title and the cover! For me those two are the top reasons to pick up a book, and you got both of them ! Yes, that is why I want to read it, in addition to the great synopsis!

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  5. What an interesting sounding book and I loved the interview. Your grandmother sounds amazing.

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  6. It sounds like a lovely book.Thank you for sharing it.

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  7. Thanks for the giveaway! I want to read it because it sounds like a good summer book.

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  8. I hope your book will become a worldwide success ! :)

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  9. I want this book in my life. It's been everywhere these days. Pick me, please... please...

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  10. I have only heard good things about this book and am dying to read it.

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  11. This book sounds really good! I can't wait to read it :)

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  12. congratulations on producing such an interesting sounding book! :D

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  13. It's nice to see a female YA character who doesn't "hate math". Sounds like a great read.

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  14. This looks like a fab book. Thanks for the chance x

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  15. this book sounds great ... I'd love to read it!

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  16. Sounds like a good read . Thank you for the chance .

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  17. I have heard great things about this book. I love the cover

    Megan @ reading away the days

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  18. This book sounds FABULOUS and I have read so many great things about it already! Also, you totally had me at swimming, owning a female cat with a traditionally male name, and of course, references of things from the late 90s :D Dawson's and LiveJournal? I think I would have considered my (much) younger self moderately obsessed with both!

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  19. This book sounds like everything I'd love to see in a YA novel and more! I've been waiting for this for so long- Gottie sounds like a fabulous main character and I can't wait to read more about her!

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  20. oh my god eager to read it thank you so much for the oportunity :)

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  21. This book sounds so amazing...I've been drawn to that interesting synopsis for a while now, but haven't had the chance to read it yet!

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  22. Hi!! The Square Root of Summer sounds so cute and interesting I can't wait to check it out. 😊😊

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  23. Sounds like a fun book! Would love to read it!

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  24. 🤗🤗. Great giveaway. Perfect read for the summer

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  25. I've been eyeing this on Amazon for a while now but I've just bought books and I'm really poor right now haha. It seems like an interesting and fun read. I can't wait to read it someday!

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  26. I just love books in General :) Give me a book and I'm the happiest girl and this one seems very interesting can't wait to read it ^^

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  27. I love YA romances and would love to read it.

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  28. It's very interesting! I like reading very much but unfortunately I don't like writing the reviews because I cannot do this. But I found http://college-writers.com/ who does it when I need it and it's very cozy :)

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  29. im looking forward to reading this

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  30. looking forward to spending some quality reading time with this xx

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  31. I keep hearing about this book and even though I'm not a fan of math. I'm still excited to read this over the summer. Who knows, I might be inspired ��

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  32. I'm a huge math geek and the title makes me go gaga! Sounds and looks great!!!!

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  33. Great giveaway - yes please - just my sort of thing x

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  34. It sounds like such a stimulating and unusual read and I look forward to reading it

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  35. Lovely interview. Harriet has such a warm, down to earth vibe about her and a brilliant sense of humour. She doesn't seem to take life too seriously and I'm completely with her on that. Hope she goes on to greater success in the future.

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  36. I enjoyed the book review. Thanks for sharing. Loved the interview too.

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  37. It would be great to win a paperback copy of
    The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood.
    I liked reading your interview and this book sounds interesting.
    Thank you for having this giveaway.

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  38. Thanks for the competition - This looks like a great read.

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  39. I think this book is going to be beautiful ^^

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