I need more survivalist and prepping YA books. Okay? That is one of the main reasons I enjoyed Prepped! It’s a story about the conflict between your future and family, community betrayal, and sisterhood. Keep reading this author interview to see Mangle’s answers to all my burning questions!
Always be ready for the worst day of your life.
This is the mantra that Becca Aldaine has grown up with. Her family is part of a community of doomsday preppers, a neighborhood that prioritizes survivalist training over class trips or senior prom. They’re even arranging Becca’s marriage with Roy Kang, the only eligible boy in their community. Roy is a nice guy, but he’s so enthusiastic about prepping that Becca doesn’t have the heart to tell him she’s planning to leave as soon as she can earn a full ride to a college far, far away.
Then a devastating accident rocks Becca’s family and pushes the entire community, including Becca’s usually cynical little sister, deeper into the doomsday ideology. With her getaway plans thrown into jeopardy, the only person Becca can turn to is Roy, who reveals that he’s not nearly as clueless as he’s been pretending to be.
When Roy proposes they run away together, Becca will have to risk everything—including her heart—for a chance to hope for the best instead of planning for the worst.
What kind of research did you have to do for PREPPED?
I looked into all kinds of survivalist techniques and emergency situations. For example, I spent a lot of time researching off-grid living and sustainable farming to better shape my idea of the doomsday community. I didn’t use a lot of it, but I liked having multiple ideas available, especially when I was revising.
One of my favorite themes had to be the individual versus her family, can you talk about her relationship with her mother and her sister?
When I started writing Prepped, I wanted to show a complex family dynamic that changes over the course of the story. Becca loves her family, even though she doesn’t always understand why. Her relationships are always in flux because she’s uncertain about her future, and that shows in how she engages with others. Instead of just building Becca’s mom and sister as their own characters, I also wanted to highlight how they reflect each other. Becca’s mom, for example, sees some of her younger self in Becca, but to her, that’s a negative reminder of what she gave up to be a part of this doomsday community.
What do you think readers, who aren’t in a community similar to in PREPPED, can take away from the book?
Even for readers who aren’t part of a doomsday community, I hope they take away the idea that it’s not selfish to be true to your dreams and who you are as a person. Becca has so much pressure to fit into this very niche idea of who she should be. Prepped is the story of her breaking out of that expectation and fighting for the future she wants for herself.
Did you always know it was going to end that way when you were writing?
I didn’t know the exact ending while I was writing, but I knew I wanted it to be a little more open-ended to show that you can’t plan for everything. As I revised, I got a clearer picture of what the ending would look like. However, I did know the last line from the time I wrote the first line. I just kept moving it down the page.
How was your debut journey?
My debut journey was a bit unusual because of quarantine and the pandemic. Since this is my first book, I didn’t know what to expect in the first place, so that made it easier to be flexible when things were changing. I relied a lot on my agent, editor, and publicist to see me through it. I don’t know what I would have done without such an amazing team to support me.
About the Author
Bethany Mangle writes young adult contemporary fiction because she refuses to ever grow up. She graduated from Hood College and George Washington University with degrees that have nothing to do with writing. Although she currently lives in Mississippi, Bethany has called many different states home. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, baking questionable cakes, or spoiling her dog.
Bethany’s short fiction has appeared in a variety of publications, including Maudlin House and The Citron Review.
Her debut novel, Prepped, will be published on February 23, 2021 by Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry Books.