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The story behind Untraceable with S.R. Johannes.

Welcome to the last day! That’s right. The last day of the murder/mystery blog series! If you haven’t already, check out A Spy Like Me!

Today we have S.R. Johannes to tell us the story behind Untraceable!

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I have always loved animals. I was the girl who always forced my dad to stop the car so I could move a turtle off the highway. A girl who would run out in the rain to save a lizard from a puddle. A girl who always took in stray animals, cried at road kill, and who dreamed of preventing the world’s animals from abuse.

Seriously, I was intense about animals. Still am.

I also used to stay up and read my mom’s thrillers especially James Hall’s books Mean High Tide and Gone Wild. His books incorporated conservation awareness with thrilling elements. Not only was I on the edge of my seat the whole book, but I always walked away learning something new. Wanting to make a difference. I loved that feeling.

So it makes sense that is where I ended up.

Untraceable started with a small seed. My husband camps a lot – I‘m talking – by himself in the deep North Georgia wilderness for a day with nothing to eat (b/c he plans to catch it in the stream) and a one man tent. Just him and his dog. One day he came home from camping and in passing said, “Bloody hell, I was so deep in the woods, someone could do something totally illegal and no one would ever know.”

Okay so first let me say, I didn’t even really know there was a “wilderness” like that anymore. Sure there are mountains and trees but was there really a wilderness still that was so deep – no one could find you??? That concept intriqued me. I am a city girl but I just assumed most of the wild had been developed (unless it was in Africa!) (Needless to say I am NOT a camper unless it is a pop up tent with starbucks singles brewing on the stove).

A few months later, we went to Cherokee NC with the kids. There, is an  active Native American Reservation there and they have a festival every year. In the town, we came across an attraction for 5$ a person. At first, we started in. But then I peeked through the fence and what I saw broke my heart. A Bear Pit where bears were kept in cement pits (just on the edge of the national Park where they could smell freedom) and people were throwing apples and marshmallows at them, laughing. They had sores on their backsides from the hard ground and were obese. I made my family leave and cried all the way back to our cabin. (im a cry baby when I feel helpless)

This broke my already-fragile-toward-animals heart. It haunted me. I could not understand how native americans who always worshipped animals could be so cruel. How they could taunt the bears with freedom on the edge of a national park. Then I learned that The reservation was exempt from any state laws due to their reservation status. What? This pissed me off.

Once I did research I learned that there were 3 of these bear pits in that area on the Native American Reservation. I also learned that Bob Barker (yes Price is right guy who is VERY active in animal conservation BTW) had been trying to close them down for years by talking to the Chief there. But the Chief didn’t want to let go of the money they made from these bear Pits.

This horrible situation combined with stumbling on other research and my need for a thriller spawned Untraceable.

But I wanted to be sure to make my book a thrilling ride yet still sneak in in a conservation message for teens. No preachy stuff just a taste of something to think about. The things that happen in that book are real. They have happened and do happen. I got them from articles so they are not made up.

Maybe not all at the same time in the same place. But they do occur. Even in this day and age.

The Nature of Grace series gives teens a glance into the beauty of nature and animal while introducing them to the ugly side of when a lack of respect for nature threatens conservation – yet I did it in a non-stop action kind of way. This way, you stay up late reading. You may cry, you may laugh. But more importantly, I think you will walk away knowing something you didn’t know before which makes I hope makes each of us more conscious about the world around us.

In honor of those bears, I started a petition for the Bear Pits in NC. If you would like to help close down these inhumane places, please go here and sign it J


If you have read Untraceable, try out my new short story Unspeakable from Mo’s perspective.

If you liked Untraceable, try my new novelette, Suffocate. The first in a series of three novelettes that combines dystopia, science fiction and thriller sub genres.

Shelli is generously offering an ecopy of both Untraceable and Suffocate!

Don’t forget all the giveaways this week that end tonight! Tweet for these awesome authors!

Enter for a signed hardcover of Uncommon Criminals.
Enter for an ebook of The Emotion Thesaurus.
Enter for a print copy of The Spy Who Left Me.

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