In Prepped, Bethany Mangle writes about a doomsday prepper community from the point of view of 18-year-old Becca. The reader gets a perspective on the rules and requirements of growing up in such a community—and what it could take to escape it. I got to ask Bethany a few questions about her YA debut.
Lauren Cosby: I have never read a novel about a community of doomsday preppers set in present day. Especially a YA! It’s such a unique premise. Where did you find inspiration for this story?
Bethany Mangle: I work in nuclear power where emergency preparedness is a huge aspect of our professional lives. I was watching a drill at work one day when I started to wonder what it would be like to be prepared for the worst all the time, no matter how outlandish the scenario. I started writing that night.
LC: How was your writing experience for Prepped, your debut novel?
BM: My writing style is pretty chaotic, so I was mostly drafting in bits and pieces instead of writing in a linear way. I had a lot of fun working on Prepped and getting to research things like sustainable farming.
LC: Which character in Prepped was the most fun to write?
BM: That’s a tough one. It was probably the most fun to write Sydney because she’s such a bright person. She doesn’t get bogged down by things. I really enjoyed writing her perspective and getting to contrast her personality against Becca’s.
LC: Do you relate to any of the characters you wrote?
BM: I can definitely see myself in most of my characters. Whenever I’m writing, I’m always thinking about what I would personally think or say or do in a particular situation. While that doesn’t always translate to what actually happens, it’s still part of my process.
LC: Do you have any doomsday prepper tendencies? If so, what are they?
BM: I like to be prepared for things, but I’m definitely not anywhere close to being a doomsday prepper. I have a generator in case we lose power and I like to keep extra essentials around the house. That’s about it, though.
LC: Did you begin writing this book before or during the current pandemic? How did it impact your story?
BM: I finished the book well before the start of 2020, so the pandemic didn’t have any influence on the original idea or manuscript. It was interesting looking back on it later and seeing how I viewed certain elements differently in light of the pandemic.
LC: What’s next for you? Are you working on anything you can tell us about?
BM: Lately, I’ve been wrapping up revisions for my next book, All the Right Reasons, which comes out in Spring 2022. It’s about a girl who gets cast as the lead alongside her mother on a dating show for single parents. When she accidentally starts falling for a contestant’s son, she realizes there’s a lot more to reality TV than she ever expected.