Bethany Mangle is the author of Prepped, All the Right Reasons, and Conditions of a Heart. As a Korean-American adoptee and a disabled author with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, she is passionate about incorporating diversity into her work. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys spoiling her dogs, playing video games, and spending time with her unbearably nerdy husband. She moves too much to put a location in her bio ever again.
Let’s get started with a quick rapid fire.
Q1. If you could be transformed into one animal, which one would you choose?
My own dog because he’s disgustingly spoiled.
Q2. Finish the phrase “the way to my heart is…”
Q3. Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
I’m a loud introvert.
Q4. Do you watch shows one episode at a time or binge whole seasons?
One at a time.
Q5. Would you rather travel to the past or to the future?
I’d rather visit the future. I’m curious about new inventions years from now.
Q6. What is your last Google search?
I Googled the distance to another state to visit family.
Q7. What object do you misplace or lose the most?
It’s a tie between my phone and my wallet.
Q8. What is the kindest thing someone ever did for you?
I lost a stuffed animal on vacation as a kid and a random girl gave me hers.
Q9. If given the chance to start your life over, would you take it?
No. I don’t like all the parts of my story, but I’m happy where I am now.
Q10. What is the best present you have ever received?
My family gave me a painting of my dog. Yes, I’m that dog person.
Q11. Describe your style in one word.
Q12. If you were to devote the rest of your life to philanthropy, what cause would you choose?
Helping disabled people however I could.
It’s time for a more detailed conversation, Bethany.
You’ve answered our rapid fire so well, Bethany. Now, it’s time for our readers to know more about the person behind the book.
Q. Describe your journey so far.
It feels like a journey but not necessarily in a bad way. I started writing when I was a kid. I tried to get published so early that I sent in my first full request to an agent on a floppy disk. I got my agent many years later and then released my first book, PREPPED, in 2021. It’s been a steep learning curve, but I still love writing and storytelling.
Q. So, what books did you grow up reading?
As a child, I grew up reading a lot of books that took place out in the wilderness. I remember being really interested in HATCHET and MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN. When I was a bit older, my parents introduced me to the Lord of the Rings series and DUNE. Those are all still nostalgic for me.
Q. Interesting. Has writing and publishing a book changed the way you see yourself?
Absolutely. I can be hard on myself when things don’t work out. I used to beat myself up if I didn’t get a good grade in college or I missed out on a job opportunity. I don’t do that as much anymore because I’m proud of how far I’ve come with my writing. This was always my dream.
Q. Would you share something about yourself that your readers don’t know (yet)?
I love video games. Whenever I need a break from writing, I’ll turn on a game. Some days, I’m playing Beat Saber in virtual reality. Other days, I’m chasing around Pokémon or running from zombies. It’s a lifelong hobby for me, so it’s awesome to experience all these new technologies and advancements as I get older.
Q. Now comes the most anticipated question that every author must answer. How do you process and deal with negative book reviews?
I’ve finally learned the important lesson of ignoring book reviews as much as possible. Not everyone is going to like my writing. I don’t take it so personally anymore. The only time I get upset is when a review is deliberately hostile or someone is actively making fun of my work.
Q. What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?
It depends. For my first two books, PREPPED and ALL THE RIGHT REASONS, I saw the plot more clearly. The characters were secondary. In CONDITIONS OF A HEART, I started with the main character. She’s a reflection of my own experiences, so I saw her first.
Q. How do you develop your plot and characters?
I stare into space—a lot. Once I have a scene on paper, I’ll just keep picturing my characters in that moment until something jumps out to me. I’ll think of an action someone would take in that situation or a line will pop into my head. If it’s not working, I try not to force it.
Q. What does literary success look like to you?
My idea of success has evolved a lot. I used to think I had to see my book on lists and get amazing reviews from big outlets. Nowadays, I feel like success is realizing someone showed up to a festival to see me. It’s getting an email from someone who loved my book. Those little moments feel amazing.
Q. Let’s talk about your book. Tell us about it. No major spoilers.
My book is about a teenage girl, Brynn, who’s spent her life hiding her disability from her friends and her ex-boyfriend, Oliver. After COVID, she’s not sure there’s a place for her in the world or that she’s wanted and valued. When she gets suspended from school and banned from all her clubs, Brynn realizes that the fake persona she’s been putting on for years isn’t going to hold up anymore. It’s a reality check that the people she cares about—and Oliver—won’t be there forever for a second chance.
Q. What part of the book did you have the hardest time writing?
Honestly, I don’t outline, so the toughest part of this book was figuring out the plot. I had so many different ideas. My editor is a genius, so she really walked me through the weak points and helped me find the direction. I usually do a ton of writing in revisions since I struggle with plotting.
Q. If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?
First of all, I probably need to apologize to most of them for putting them in such awkward situations. I’d also tell them that I’m glad they were willing to take risks and bet on each other pulling through. I remember being a teenager and feeling a bit unmoored as graduation approached. I’d just want Brynn, Oliver, and all the other characters in CONDITIONS OF A HEART to know how brave I think they are for pushing forward even when it felt like they couldn’t win.
Q. What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?
I’m an extreme pantser. I don’t even write in chronological order most of the time. I start out with the scenes that are clearest and then write them together as I go. It ends up getting messy if I need to make changes, but it’s just how my brain works.
Q. Let’s talk about the process of writing. When you’re writing an emotional or difficult scene, how do you set the mood?
I imagine myself in my characters’ shoes when I’m writing something emotional. I try to really consider their perspective and how they’re seeing the world in that moment. It’s tough with some characters since they won’t always make the same choices I would. I always stop to think about whether their actions are in line with their personalities, not mine.
Q. What has helped or hindered you most when writing a book?
This might sound strange, but I listen to the same one or two songs on repeat when I’m writing a book. It helps me immediately get back into the story and connect with the right vibe. In terms of what hinders me during writing, I think I’m my own worst enemy. I have a lot of self-doubt when the book is still in a million pieces and I’m not sure what to do.
Q. It’s been fun. Now, before we wrap this up, do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
I never understood what people meant when they said to write what you know. I’ve never been a superhero or a cat or a bog monster. How can I write about those things? I eventually realized I had to think more about emotions and relationships. I know what love feels like. I’ve been sad and angry. That’s really where I feel like I can pull a lot from what I know. I think that’s a lesson that could be helpful for other people too.