True Colorz is your web source for all things YA in the LGBTQ community! Our blog features new releases, featured authors, interviews, and reviews/recommended reading.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Featured Author: Juliann Rich

Minnesota writer Juliann Rich spent her childhood in search of the perfect climbing tree. The taller the better! A branch thirty feet off the ground was a good perch for a young girl to find herself. Seeking truth in nature and finding a unique point of view remain crucial elements in her life as well as her writing.

Juliann is a PFLAG mom who can be found walking Pride parades with her son. She is also the daughter of evangelical Christian parents. As such she has been caught in the crossfire of the most heated topic to challenge our society and our churches today. She is committed to writing stories that shed light on the conflicts that arise when sexual orientation, spirituality, family dynamics and peer relationships collide.

Juliann lives with her husband and their two chronically disobedient dachshunds in the beautiful Minnesota River Valley.

Connect with Juliann Rich on Twitter @JuliannRich1 or visit her website:

Q&A with Author Juliann Rich:

  1. Tell us about your cover design. Is there any symbolism from the story reflected in the cover?

    What a great question! Bold Strokes Books graphic artist, Sheri, did an amazing job with the cover for Caught in the Crossfire. The first thing that struck me when my publisher, Len Barot, sent it to me was Sheri’s choice to feature Ian McGuire, the love interest on the cover rather than Jonathan Cooper, my main character. While I was immediately drawn to the model’s intense gaze, I also felt conflicted because I’ve always thought of this as Jonathan’s story. But then I realized that to look at the cover is to literally step inside Jonathan. It is to feel what he felt when he first laid eyes on Ian. It was a brilliant choice and I was instantly sold on it.

    But then Sheri took her cover design much further by superimposing a filter through which Jonathan sees his world. Perfect and startlingly accurate to the storyline, Sheri reveals how Jonathan’s awareness of his attraction to Ian, and thus his sexual identity, is just beginning to break through. The rainbow, perhaps the strongest symbol of the GLBTQ community, is represented in the little patches of color, but it is just emerging and still without true form. And beneath it all is this heart-breaking bleed of blue, this stain of sadness, which tells us that acceptance of his identity comes at a high price for Jonathan.

    I don’t have enough words of praise for Sheri and Len. Nor could I love my cover more if I tried!

  2. What part of the story was the most fun to write? The most challenging?

    Strangely, the answers to both questions are identical.

    Getting inside the minds of Jonathan and Ian has been the most fun and rewarding. Through Jonathan I have gotten back in touch with the ideals that fueled me when I was younger: that the world should be fair and kind and gentle. And through Ian I discovered a voice of anger and indignation at a world that frequently falls short of those ideals.

    Likewise, living inside the minds of Jonathan and Ian was the most challenging for I am A) not a guy, B) not fifteen and C) not gay. It took tremendous work to remove myself from the story and let their voices come through. But doing just that allowed me to write words like “craptastic” and “snotsicles” and how much fun is that? Loads.

  3. Which of your characters is most like you?

    I am a lot like Simon minus the ability to, you know, sculpt and paint and be an artistic genius! He is also more patient and eloquent than I am when debating matters of religion, but his views are my views, his heart is my heart. Like Simon, I have learned through the difficult times in my life, that what voice and strength I have are not my own. They are given to me in order to speak for and build a better world so it was crucial to me to have Simon in this story, speaking words of affirming love and acceptance.

  4. Is there anything from your own teen years that has been placed into your books?

    I grew up in an evangelical Christian home with devout parents so yes, certainly many of the scenes involving splashing in lakes and mosquito bites and the sound of cricket songs in the night and the scent of wind through a forest of birch and pine come directly from my memories of bible camp as does my insight into how I structured the world of my book and the characters who populate it. But I was also that kid who cared too much, who spoke too freely, who hurt too deeply and who carried my wounds and my heart’s desires too visibly. I understand being on the outside. In the sequel, Searching for Grace, there is a scene that I plucked directly from my high school years. I had stumbled out of favor with a particularly cruel crowd and they sent a banana over to my table at lunch with the intention to shame me through sexual innuendo. Eventually school counselors put an end to the bullying, but I remember feeling as if the entire school loathed me, not for anything I had done but for who I was.

  5. Is there one genre of YA that you would love to write but haven’t?

    I am currently stretching my wings with a paranormal story loosely titled Don’t Ever Let Go that is both a ghost story and a murder mystery set in Savannah, GA, with two alternating timelines, 1953 and present day. However, I have not ruled out the possibility that the book might murder me and I will become the ghost! I honestly don’t know if I have the writing chops to venture beyond the contemporary voice, but I am determined to try because there is something about these characters that won’t let go of me.

  6. If there is one message you would like readers to get out from your book, what would it be?

    I have two distinct messages. The first is for my young adult readers: You are not alone. You’re loved and lovable, just as you are. And for my adult readers who come to my books with the desire to understand the lives of the kids they love, I say this: Choosing to accept and affirm your child is one of the most Christ-like choices you can make.

  7. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    Reading is something we do for fun and pleasure so of course I want my readers, both young and young at heart, to take away from my novels the feeling that they have been entertained. I want them to laugh and be surprised and fall a little bit in love with the characters as they live, for a brief while, inside their lives.

    That said, Caught in the Crossfire is a coming of age, a coming out and a love story set against the backdrop of the evangelical church so I’d especially like my GLBTQ teen readers who are born into strict religious families to recognize their voices in this story. I’d like them to feel less alone through their connection to Jonathan and Ian, Simon and Dawn. And for those readers who feel they must choose between their spirituality and their sexuality, I’d like them to feel encouraged to seek truth on a personal level.

    For all my readers - teen or adult, GLBTQ or straight - I hope that they feel EVERYTHING: the rush as Jonathan falls in love with Ian, his struggle to reconcile seemingly conflicting aspects of himself, and his tremendous strength when he chooses authenticity over acceptance. I firmly believe that one character’s story – told with painstaking honesty – can affect personal and societal change, and I hope that Caught in the Crossfire will spark many healing conversations.

Now Available for Preorder from Juliann Rich:

Caught in the Crossfire Two boys at bible camp. One forbidden love.

That’s the dilemma Jonathan Cooper faces when he goes away to Spirit Lake Bible Camp, situated along Minnesota’s rugged north shore, for a summer of fun. He is expecting mosquito bites, bonfires with S’Mores, and photography classes with Simon, his favorite counselor who always helps him see life in perfect focus.

What he isn’t expecting is Ian McGuire, a new camper who openly argues against phrases like pray the gay away. Ian is certain of many things, including what could happen between them if only Jonathan could surrender to his feelings.

Jonathan, however, tosses in a storm of indecision between his belief in God and his inability to stay away from Ian. When a real storm hits and Ian is lost in it, Jonathan is forced to make a public decision that changes his life.


  1. Where do we purchase the e-book version of this book?

  2. Hi Jeff,
    It's available for pre-order right now via both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It comes out June 16th, but you can find it on either store right now. Here's the link for Amazon, but you can look on my website for all the links ( if you'd prefer.

  3. Best is purchasing it directly from Bold Strokes Books, my publisher. It will be available on their website ( shortly.

  4. Ok, thanks. I went to buy it this morning and could not find it in ebook. I'll wait until the 16th. Thanks.

  5. You're welcome, Jeff! Thank you for your interest in my book. The sequel, Searching for Grace, will also becoming out in September, 2014. More details about that will come soon. Feel free to follow information on my website and keep in touch!