Ji Strangeway is a creator. A filmmaker by day and writer and poet by night, Strangeway has built a career crafting compelling narratives that capture the attention and imagination of audiences across a variety of artistic mediums.

She is less focused on what she does than on why she does it. For her, it’s all about telling stories that address themes of struggle and triumph, stories that evoke a sense of hopefulness even in dark spaces.

Strangeway’s debut novel, Red as Blue, is set in a fictional Colorado desert town in the 1980s. The book follows 15-year-old June Lusparian, a Mexican-Armenian teen struggling to make sense of everything—her life, her sexuality, and her future.

“Red as Blue,” Strangeway explains, “is a story that was huge for me to write because it covers so many things that were burning in my heart. It covers the teenage angst I felt growing up gay in a conservative, violent, toxic, and closedminded environment.”

Raised in Colorado, Strangeway faced racism, bullying, and homophobia throughout her childhood. During that time there were few role models, as openly-LGBT characters were largely absent from books, TV, and movies.

“When you don’t have anything to fit you into the picture of the society you live in,” she says, “you have no hope.”

Strangeway created Red as Blue to offer a beacon of light for those struggling to find meaning in life. At its core, Red as Blue is about the power of love rather than the love of power.

Touching on numerous settings and themes ranging from the LGBTQ community to the punk rock scene to the Reagan Era and high school shootings, the book is a hybrid graphic novel that combines prose and screenplay with illustrations.

And it questions some of our mostly deeply-held beliefs about beauty, love, and acceptance.

“I want to show today’s generation, as well as future generations, that transformation of energy and creativity is vital in overcoming adversity. And that love is the answer—it is and always will be.”