Author Interview: Gone Dark by Amanda Panitch
Who else equally loves and is terrified by books that are a little too real? Gone Dark is one of those books! What happens where there’s a mass power outage? Chaos. Get to know Zara and Gone Dark in our interview with Amanda below – and pick up Gone Dark on April 12th!
Gone Darkby Amanda Panitch
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books
on April 12, 2022
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
Dry meets Hatchet in this thrilling tale of survival following a teen girl who must lead her friends across country to the safety of her estranged father’s survivalist compound after a mass power failure leaves the country in chaos.
When seventeen-year-old Zara escaped her father’s backwoods survivalist compound five years ago, she traded crossbows and skinning hides for electricity and video games…and tried to forget the tragedy that drove her away.
Until a malware attack on the United States electrical grids cuts off the entire country’s power.
In the wake of the disaster and the chaos that ensues, Zara is forced to call upon skills she thought she’d never use again—and her best bet to survive is to go back to the home she left behind. Drawing upon a resilience she didn’t know she had, Zara leads a growing group of friends on an epic journey across a crumbling country back to her father’s compound, where their only hope for salvation lies.
But with every step she takes, Zara wonders if she truly has what it takes to face her father and the secrets of her past, or if she’d be better off hiding in the dark.
Interview with Amanda Panitch
Tell us about Zara. How would she describe herself and how is that different from how her best friend would describe her?
To be honest, I think Zara would avoid describing herself as much as possible! At the beginning of the book, she does all that she can to shrink herself so that people won’t see her. If she absolutely had to, she’d probably say she’s awkward and then take a few deep breaths and make an excuse to go somewhere else. In contrast, her best and only friend, Estella, would tell you that Zara’s strong, fearless, and endlessly loyal. All of those things are true, even if Zara doesn’t know it yet. Her personal journey over the course of the book involves realizing those things about herself.
What was it like researching and writing a book with apocalyptic themes that hit so close to reality?
Working on an apocalypse book in the middle of a worldwide pandemic was quite a trip, let me tell you. I’d actually finished up a lot of the research and writing before the world really shut down, but contemplating worst case scenarios while living through an actual worst case scenario could get pretty stressful! And of course there were frequent headlines about cyberattacks happening in our real life on vital systems like our electrical grids, which made it all cut close to home. But other research helped me get through, especially the nature research and Google Street View-ing I did to map Zara and her group’s journey from the West Coast to the East Coast. It felt almost like a vacation while I was trapped in my apartment.
What are you most excited for readers to experience while reading Gone Dark?
I hope that readers will be on the edge of their seat, waiting to see what happens next! It also couldn’t hurt to think about what you would do in a disaster scenario akin to that in the book – the chances of a blackout that extensive and that long are slim, but there have been increasing amounts of cyberattacks on electrical grids, and also natural disasters causing interruptions to the grids like the one that happened recently in Texas. And, above all, I hope readers finish the book caring about Zara as much as I care about her. She was one of my favorite characters ever to write, no matter how prickly she could get.