Google+ Reading Teen: Strong Girls in YA by Shelli Wells, Author of Untraceable

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Strong Girls in YA by Shelli Wells, Author of Untraceable

Today we have author Shelli Well with us to talk about Strong Girls in YA.  I absolutely love what she has to say!  Her book, UNTRACEABLE, is out today (Nov. 29) and has gotten rave reviews by many, including Kimberly Derting, author of THE BODY FINDER!  We're really looking forward to reading this book ourselves.  Look for our review soon!

Shelli Wells

  • UNTRACEABLE - The Nature of Grace series, #1 Available November 29th, 2011
BlogTwitter | Goodreads | Facebook

Strong Girls in YA Fiction
When I started Untraceable, the first thing I set out to do was create a strong girl MC.  I really wanted to have a character in my book that could take care of herself, was tough yet real. The teen counterpart of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone character.

I think that was the hardest part of creating Grace. Making her tough and snarky yet normal enough where you wanted to be her friend and you rooted for her. A lot of tough girl MCs are so tough they seem unrelatable.

The second thing I wanted to do was keep the setting in a contemporary world. It was important to me to show that girls could be tough without living in a fantastical world or having special powers.

Lastly, I wanted to show a girl who wasn’t revolved around boys. Who has nice guys that like her. Though one is more mysterious. Both Wyn and Mo treat her with respect. I didn’t want “the typical bad guy”. The books where the girl falls in love the bad boy all the time have been done. And to be honest, I like my guys nice so you can choose which one you like most.

Looking back on being a teen, I wish I 1) chose crushes better 2) stood up for myself and what I believed in more and 3) did the tomboy things that I really wanted to do instead of making the cheerleading squad.

I gave Grace all those qualities I wanted as a teen. Yet I also gave her my flaws. I think I was exasperating to my parents because 1) I was very impulsive (I acted before thinking), 2) I thought I knew more about the world then they did, and 3) I had no concept of mortality. I think Grace carries all those qualities as well. She’s not perfect and at times you find yourself saying – why is she doing that!

So to me, Grace embodies independence, loyalty, and toughness that I think we should encourage in all girls. She is a real girl in a real world.

Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Coleman & Stott (November 23, 2011)
Language: EnglishBuy the book:  Kindle, Paperback

Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival.

When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father.
Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this butt-kicking heroine to save everything she loves.  


  1. I hate to say it but I definitely get a Hunger Games vibe from this one. That could be good or bad. Great post!

  2. I think you did a great job creating Grace. And I can so relate to your teenage years because that was me.

    So excited for your debut. I loved UNTRACEABLE.

  3. I discovered this book yesterday on another website and I'm curious about it. It seems different and I'll probably buy it in few weeks after Christmas.
    Thank you!

  4. Great post, and I'm glad so many people are talking about what makes a "strong" female protagonist.

    In my recent book, the MC is 10x smarter than I was at that age, yet readers still cringe at all the foolish things she does. This is why I won't write a memoir! Nobody would believe how "opposite of strong" the MC (me) would be.

  5. I LOVE strong female protagonists! I never find the to be "too tough that they're unrelatable" mostly because I'm a super tough girl myself. :)


Leave us a comment. Commenting people are our favorites! And we like to give things to favorites :)